Life Therapy and Counseling
I’m here for you…When you’re experiencing emotional pain and are ready for change, I help you do two things: understand the cause of your distress, and learn how to feel better, so that you can live a healthier and happier life.
Personal and Professional Experience
I believe in a world where more of us are healthy and whole, making our way through life’s difficult challenges, and realizing our dreams.
To help realize such a world, I formed Life Therapy as an alternative to traditional medication therapy and psychotherapy that complements both. It is the informed and skillful art of attending to, serving, and caring for ourselves as we heal and make our way through life’s most difficult challenges.
Life Therapy comes from my formal and continuing education, personal experience, and 30+ years of helping my clients heal and make their way to a better place in life.
I truly love my clients and our work together. Life Therapy works.
Areas of Therapy and Counseling Expertise
I help individuals, couples, and families heal and make their way through difficult challenges like the following (Click on the issue of interest to you for more information):
Most Asked Ttherapy Questions
Marriage counseling is the older term and still popular. It assumes that partners are legally married. Couple’s therapy is a more inclusive term and gaining popularity. It acknowledges that many couples are not legally married. It also acknowledges that some partners have non-monogamous or polyamorous relationships.
The Gottman Method has the highest success rate at 75%. It is research-based, emotion-focused, and teaches partners how to manage conflict. Prior to the Gottman Method, the highest success rate was 50%. Unlike other methods, the Gottman Method also includes relapse prevention.
Yes, in therapy you are accepted as you are and can talk openly about what you’re feeling. You gain insight into the causes of your anxiety and learn practical ways to overcome them. Depending on the type and severity of your anxiety, a combination of therapy and medication might be the most effective way to feel better and live a happier life.
Yes, therapy helps you understand what’s causing your depression and anxiety, and learn practical ways to overcome them, so you can feel better and live a healthier and happier life.
Therapy begins with you telling your therapist about your problems so that your therapist can listen and understand without judging you. Your therapist might have you answer some questionnaires to learn more about you and your background. Your therapist is on your side to help you understand the causes of your problems and recommend practical ways to overcome them. The goal is to help you feel better so that you can live a happier and healthier life.
10 Benefits You Receive
As my client, you receive the following 10 benefits:
- Timely appointments without long waits in a waiting room
- A safe, comfortable space to talk openly and be heard and understood
- Attention to your whole life and circumstances, not just your symptoms
- Holistic care as a whole human being—body, mind, and spirit
- Comfort, support for healing, and guidance in making your way to a better place in life
- Education that validates and helps you better understand the difficulties you face and your ability to respond to them
- Life Therapy—an effective, evidence-based holistic alternative to traditional medication therapy and psychotherapy that complements them both
- Guidance in making your own decisions about what to do to get to a better place in life
- Free telephone support between sessions
- Confidential care from a well-trained, caring professional with over 30 years of experience helping clients get through their difficult challenges
“How can we begin thanking you for the incredible caring and love you have shown. Sometimes some of the things we had to face and make decisions about were very difficult. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the guidance you have given us. It gave us peace and strength. We knew we were not alone and were making the right choices.”Daughter on behalf of her family after going through a difficult transition in life.
Therapist and Counseling Expertise
Anxiety, Panic Attacks
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Research in 2019 estimated that anxiety affects 30% (3 in 10) of adults in the U.S.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Panic Disorder are the most common anxiety diagnoses.
Depression and anxiety often accompany each other.
The good news is that odds are high that, if you are suffering with anxiety, you can make your way through it to a better place.
In Life Therapy, your anxiety is viewed as a symptom instead of a psychological disorder.
As odd as it might sound, anxiety is your friend. It’s an alarm alerting you that you’re not in a safe place and haven’t been for a while. It’s time to make your way to a better place.
Almost all of my clients are dealing with anxiety when they begin working with me. So far, all have gotten to a better place. They got there either by Life Therapy practices alone or by a combination of Life Therapy and prescription medications.
Burnout is extreme emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion resulting from high levels of stress and tension for a prolonged period in circumstances that exceed your internal and external resources.
Exhaustion, negative opinions of one’s work, low job satisfaction, low sense of worth, and reduced performance are common indications of burnout.
Burnout is often due to your circumstances rather than failure on your part. Although, sometimes insufficient boundaries also play a role.
Burnout affects work/personal life balance. It diminishes the quality of both.
The sooner you address burnout, the sooner you feel better and improve the quality of your health and life.
If you are caring for someone with a chronic, life-limiting illness or injury, you are doing stressful work that can leave you emotional, mental, and physically exhausted.
You often face unexpected challenges on any given day. Such caregiving is a challenging, potentially exhausting marathon that can lead to burnout.
Sustaining your health, stamina, and well-being is essential for both you and the one you care for.
If you are already feeling burned out or feel yourself getting there, take action sooner rather than later. Contact me today for a free initial, no-obligation, consultation.
Career Decisions, Job Loss
Difficulty deciding on a first career can be stressful, tiring, and discouraging. It affects your whole life. You want a career that is meaningful and right for you.
Dismissal from work also affects every aspect of your life: finances, relationships, your identity and purpose, physical and emotional health, and much more.
You have important decisions to make about what to do next. Will you stay in or change your career?
You also have the work of finding your next job. That’s full-time work in itself.
I’ve helped many clients move forward to a better place in their careers. Perhaps I can help you too.
With encouragement, education, personal assessments that identify the kinds of work you are best fitted for, and guidance with your job search, you will also make your way through this transition.
“Mark, thank you for your presentations. The students are still talking about your presentations and interactions with them. Your experience, expertise, and enthusiasm related to your work was so informative and motivating.”Nursing professor at Western Carolina University after presentations on spiritual care, grief and loss, and complementary and alternative medicine.
Chronic Disease, Aging
Thanks to advances in testing, medical treatments, and pharmaceutical medications Americans are living longer with chronic, life-limiting diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia, psychological disorders, and many other diseases.
If you are living with a chronic disease you know first-hand the challenges of primary and specialist office visits, tests, and medication schedules. You know how the circle of your family and friends shrinks as your circle of medical providers expands.
While living well with chronic disease is challenging, it is also possible.
If you are struggling to live well as you live longer, let’s talk. Perhaps I can help.
Crises of Faith, Existential Crises, Philosophy of Life
It’s normal to ask, “Why is this happening?” and other questions related to your faith or philosophy when you’re dealing with a difficult challenge in your life. The most outstanding people of faith and wisdom throughout history struggled and questioned.
My Master of Divinity degree and minor in philosophy, as well as years as a spiritual care professional with hospice, qualify me to listen deeply, accept you as you are without judgment, and talk with you about your questions and struggles.
I have cared for clients of many different faiths and philosophies as well as those with no faith or philosophy at all.
Some resolve their questions. Some come to live well with their questions unresolved.
If you are struggling with questions of faith or philosophy, perhaps I can help you find your own answers or be at peace with living with unanswered questions.
Dear Mark, thank you for your kindness and spiritual counsel. I’ll never forget you.”Client working on her own spirituality.
Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is life-changing. Fear, sadness, anger, mental confusion, disappointment, and guilt are common reactions.
Medical care is both essential and limited. It addresses the physical and cognitive aspects of dementia, but not the emotional and social aspects.
I’ve learned from my patients and their family members that it’s possible to live well with dementia. I’ve also learned much from my wife, Lisa, who is certified in gerontology and dementia care, and the residents in the Assisted Living and Memory Care community where she works.
Have you received a dementia diagnosis? Contact me today for a free initial, no-obligation, consultation. Perhaps I can help you live as well as you can with dementia.
The sooner you get started the better.
In any two-week period in the U.S. from 2009-2012, 9.8% of adults aged 40–59 had depression; almost 1 in 10. 7.6% of those 12 and older had depression, almost 1 in 8. (Source: CDC)
Depression is a cluster of symptoms that arise in response to a range of causes including stress due to life events, grief due to the death of a loved one, marital and relationship conflicts, divorce, a new diagnosis, debilitating injury, job loss, and other significant changes.
Research suggests that depression doesn’t spring from simply having too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Rather, there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. (Source: Harvard School of Medicine, Causes of Depression)
In Life Therapy, depression is viewed as a symptom instead of the actual problem. Like anxiety, depression is an alarm alerting you that you’re not in a safe place and haven’t been for a while. It’s time to get to a better place in life.
Research clearly indicates that the combination of prescription medication and talk-therapy is significantly more effective than either one alone.
The Life Therapy that I provide is a type of talk therapy. I provide a comfortable, safe, accepting space for you to talk about your struggle with depression. Together we find a way forward to a better place that is customized to you and your unique needs.
If what you’ve been doing to live with depression and get to a better place in life isn’t working, let’s talk. Contact me today for a free initial, no-obligation, consultation. Perhaps I can help. …Read More
Thanks to advances in medical treatments and physical therapy, many are living longer with disabilities.
If you are living with a disability, you know first-hand the challenges of primary care and specialist visits, tests, medication, and physical therapy schedules.
You might have also experienced a reduction in the circle of your family and friends as your circle of medical providers expanded.
While living well with a disability is challenging, it is very possible.
If you are struggling to live well with a disability, let’s talk. Perhaps I can help.
Every 13 seconds, someone, somewhere in the U.S., files for divorce.
66% of divorces are filed by women.
41% of first marriages end in divorce. The average first marriage lasts 8 years.
60% of second and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
Divorce means that the love you and your spouse once had is gone. Grief is a normal response to that significant loss.
Divorce breaks the promises you made to each other on the day of your wedding.
Divorce changes your life forever.
If you have children, their lives are forever changed too.
Since you have to live with yourself after the divorce, you want to do all you can to prevent divorce and improve your marriage.
If your marriage is broken and beyond repair, divorce is often the best for all involved. It makes it possible for everyone to recover and move forward to a better place in life.
The process of divorce is often easier when both spouses want it. They agree that it’s best for both of them and their children, if they have them.
When one spouse wants to divorce and the other doesn’t, the process is usually more difficult for everyone involved.
Divorce is stressful prior to, during, and after the legal process. It’s emotional, physical, and mental labor whether you want the divorce or not.
Under the stress, your cognitive field of perception narrows, and emotional resiliency diminishes. It’s more difficult to make well-informed decisions.
After a divorce, it’s normal to be disoriented and struggling to answer questions about your identity and purpose in life.
What now? Who are you now? What do you do now?
Talking about what has happened as well as your thoughts and feelings helps you make better-informed decisions. It also makes it possible to either reconcile or end your marriage as amicably as possible.
Grief is a normal, natural response to any significant loss, especially the loss of a loved one.
Unfortunately, grieving is more difficult today than it was a couple of generations ago. We no longer have the individual and social skills we need for dealing with grief. We don’t know what to say or do for those who grieve. We often grieve alone in isolation.
Few psychotherapy, behavioral health, and social work degrees require courses and training in grief therapy and counseling.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s so-called Five Stages were identified over 40 years ago. They were about observations of her patients who were dying in the hospital. They weren’t about those grieving for a loved one who died.
They’ve been misunderstood as a map of sequential steps a grieving person needs to take to grieve correctly.
About 80% of us make our way through grief on our own or with the support of family and friends. About 20% of us experience complicated grief. Half or less of those with complicated grief get grief therapy or counseling.
Complicated grief is grief that complicated by additional factors such as—
• Multiple deaths within the past 12 months
• Family conflicts
• Health concerns, especially a psychological disorder
• Having to move due to the death
• Loss of income
If you are stuck in your grief, avoiding it, and not moving through it, you might be suffering with complicated grief and need the care of a professional who is trained in grief therapy and counseling.
I specialize in grief. I took courses in grief for my master’s degree and many hours of continuing education in grief since then. I have successfully counseled countless numbers of grieving clients, especially during my 10+ years with a nationally awarded hospice organization.
Identity, Purpose in Life
Your identity is how you are both alike and different from others. Your purpose in life is what you choose to do with your life. Knowing who you are and your purpose in life are essential to your health, well-being, and sense of fulfillment.
Your first identity crisis occurs during your adolescence. That’s when you establish your identity and independence from your parental figures.
Other identity crises are triggered by significant life events such as—
• Becoming a widow or widower, especially after being your spouse’s primary caregiver
• Getting married
• Becoming a parent, step-parent, or grandparent
• Separating and divorcing
• Revealing your gender, sexual identity, or sexual preferences
• Career changes
• Significant personal accomplishments
• Going to jail
Identity crises often include reconsidering and revising the purpose of your life.
Figuring out your identity and purpose in life is difficult work, especially after a significant change in your life.
If you’re struggling with your identity and purpose and talking with family and friends isn’t helping you move forward, let’s talk. Perhaps I can help. Contact me today for a free, no-obligation, initial consultation.
Sound, renewing sleep is essential for your health, well-being, and life. Prolonged insomnia increases your risk of—
• Reduced cognitive function
• Short term memory loss
• Impaired judgment
• Weak immune system
• Sensitivity to pain
• Reduced sexual desire
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
80 to 90% of those suffering with chronic insomnia have an associated concern, such as stress, anxiety, and depression. In other words, insomnia is often associated with the circumstances of your life.
You need to make your way to a better place.
Self-medicating with over-the-counter drugs, alcohol, and illicit drugs not only increases your health risks, but it also enables you to stay in your unsafe place.
Some prescription medications that help you sleep also have undesirable side-effects. They can also enable you to stay in the unsafe circumstances you’re in.
“Dear Mark, we really appreciate the time you took to talk with us. Your input has ‘stuck’ with me. Your kindness and support have helped make a difficult time a little easier.”Couple that received counseling during a difficult time in their relationship.
Marriage, Couples, Relationships
It’s normal for couples to have conflicts. Some conflicts are more likely to break relationships than others. I teach my clients the 8 Red Flags of Relationships that can break a marriage or relationship:
1. Family members or In-laws: Unsupportive family members or in-laws can undermine a relationship.
2. Faith/Philosophy: Differences in faith/philosophy can end a relationship. Religious observances and holidays can be especially challenging.
3. Sexuality: Differences in sex drive and preferences, as well as infidelity, can break a relationship.
4. Finances: Financial struggles and differences in financial priorities and goals can end a relationship
5. Relationships with children: Disagreements about how to raise children or relate to each other’s children, can break a relationship.
6. Use of alcohol/other substances: Use or abuse of alcohol and other substances can damage a relationship beyond repair.
7. Chronic, life-limiting disease or injury: The physical, emotional, medical, and financial challenges of chronic, life-limiting disease or injury can end a relationship.
8. Communication: Failure to communicate openly and honestly, blaming, placating, computer-speak, distracting, lying, and keeping secrets can damage a relationship beyond repair.
If you have conflicts in one or more of the 8 Red Flags, your relationship is at risk. If your communication as a couple is poor, your relationship is at serious risk of coming to an end.
The quality of your communication is the quality of your relationship.
When you have good communication as a couple, it’s possible to make your way through the other conflicts. When communication shuts down, you have no way to resolve your conflicts. If you have one or more of the 8 Red Flags fluttering in your relationship, let’s talk. Perhaps I can help. Contact me today for a free, no-obligation, consultation. …Read More
Parenting and Families
Whether you are caring for children as a couple or single parent, it’s normal to experience conflicts and other difficult challenges with your children.
Blended and multicultural families have their own unique challenges.
Figuring out how best to keep your children safe, teach them to take good care of themselves, educate, and prepare them for adulthood is hard work that often includes difficult problems.
The difficult challenges of parenting intensify when parents have conflicting styles, goals, and methods.
Conflicts in relationships with children are one of the 8 Red Flags that can break a marriage, partnership, and family.
Getting married life-changing. I offer pre-marital preparation, not to determine if you’re marrying the right person or not, but to help you—
• Better understand each other
• Become aware of the 8 Red Flags of Relationships
• Know what to do when one of the Red Flags waves in your relationship
• Learn basic healthy communication skills
• Set yourselves up for making a happy marriage together
Like puberty, your first love, your first job, learning to drive, graduating, getting married, having children, and other significant changes in life, retirement is life-changing. For many, it’s a crisis and difficult adjustment.
If adapting to retirement is stressful, keeping you awake, feeding anxiety and depression, or challenging your identity and sense of purpose in life, you’re not alone. Many retires face these challenges.
I help retirees make their way through this significant transition, resolve their stress, clarify who they are, and form their own answer to the question “What now?”
In Life Therapy, healthy and life-affirming sexual activity is viewed in a positive, appreciative way. It’s a normal, natural part of life and a source of great pleasure.
Life Therapy supports clients in enjoying healthy sexual activities that are safe, sane, and consensual for all involved.
Life Therapy also recognizes that sexuality is often an area of extreme distress due to abuse, shaming, negative views, and other serious problems. Sexual problems are one of 8 Red Flags of Relationships and are frequent causes of relationship problems and breakups.
Contact me today for a free, no-obligation consultation if you have concerns about the following or other sexual issues:
• Sexual shame, fears, and insecurities
• Gender, sexual identity, or sexual orientation
• Sexual abuse
• Degrees of sexual desire, either high or low
• Changes in sexual desire, either a loss or gain
• Sexual and emotional intimacy
• Sexual differences and incompatibilities
• Sexual performance
• Male sexual issues
• Female sexual issues
I care for—
• Clients of all religious faiths, philosophies, and moralities
• Individuals, couples, and those in polyamorous relationships
• Heterosexual couples in traditional marriages as well as couples in nontraditional relationships.
• I’m a listed LGBTQ Ally, Kink Aware Professional, and Poly-friendly Professional
“You were a “calm in the storm” that truly helped me through.”Client after working through a difficult transition in her life.
The American Psychological Association reports that—
• 77% of adults in the U.S. regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress
• 73% regularly experience psychological symptoms due to stress
The most common definition of stress is, “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension”. Another popular definition of stress is, “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.” www.stress.org.
“Stress” usually refers to “distress” rather than “eustress.” Eustress is beneficial stress.
With me as your Life Therapist, you learn about three distressing Stress Response Cycles: cumulative, chronic, and traumatic. You learn how to identify, manage, and resolve them.
In The Resiliency Advantage, author Al Siebert writes, “When groups of employees make lists of their challenges and difficulties, they often tell me that…they feel pressured to—
• Do more work
• Of better quality
• In less time
• With fewer people
• In new ways
• Using new technology
• And new methods
• On a reduced budget
• While worrying if their jobs are safe.”
Book a free 30-minute initial consultation
Whether you’re struggling to live, living your life to the max, or somewhere in between, this book is for you. It’s a series of short and simple affirmations: words that encourage and empower you to live well. When you practice saying these words to yourself and others, you do much more than just say them. You empower both yourself and others to, live healthier lives, fulfill the life-affirming desires of your hearts and realize your dreams. You transform the world. These affirmations, formed in the womb of therapy sessions and written by the originator of Life Therapy, Mark W. Neville, have proven themselves to be healing and empowering words in the lives of countless clients.
Wouldn’t it be great to have an owner’s manual for your life? That’s what this book is. In this owner’s manual, you learn about your life: what it is, its purpose, how to take good care of it, make the most of it, and fulfill it. You also learn how to troubleshoot and who to contact for support when you need help. Like any other owner’s manual, you might read it cover to cover or just stick it somewhere and read sections when you need to. Either way, it good to have close by.
This book, the fifth in the Your Spirit, Your Life Series, is for Earthlings. It’s thirty-six spiritual sayings about earthy living. We Earthlings are human beings living human lives. We’re indigenous to Earth. We’re from here, not visitors from a higher, spiritual realm. We aren’t just passing through, on our way to our true home, up there somewhere. Earth is our true home. We’re born, live and die here. This book is about how we live and realize our dreams here.