Paul R. Gess, M.Div

Phone: 206.363.9601Email:

Therapeutic Approach

“Give me a safe place to understand and be understood…
to challenge and be challenged…to change and be changed”

I believe one of the most important steps in change is making sense of “why we do what we do”, “why we don’t’ do what we want to,” or “why we feel the way we feel”. Without this understanding it is easy for us to feel stuck. This “making sense” can be both a challenging and rewarding process as we begin to understand and eliminate the road blocks preventing us from experiencing a more fulfilled life.

The kind of approach we need from a counselor varies depending on the issues to be resolved and our personal needs as a client. Sometimes you need to be understood.and to have someone listen. Other times you need direction.and to have someone provide a new way of seeing things. Learning from your past, challenging your beliefs, or trying new behaviors can all be ways to initiate change. Client-centered, cognitive, family of origin, systems theory, and behavioral therapy are words counselors use to describe these various approaches. I also take seriously the spiritual dimension of therapeutic issues and, without imposing my views, am happy to discuss this dimension with you.

Education and Experience

My career began through certification as a Marriage and Family Therapist (1989-1999). I currently am a state Licensed Mental Health Counselor (June, 1989). I have a Master of Divinity degree, which includes a Masters degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy obtained at the California Family Study Center in Burbank, California (1982). My undergraduate training led to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Welfare from Seattle Pacific University (1977). I also am a Nationally Certified Communications Instructor through Interpersonal Communications Inc., which is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota (1982).

I have been in private practice since 1982 in the North Seattle area. During this time I also spent two years contracted with Family Reconciliation Services. This state-funded program of Catholic Community Services was designated to address families in critical environmental and emotional crisis. I served a 2-year term on the Board of Ventures Unlimited Services, and for a year served as Mental Health Professional on part time status at the Snohomish County Corrections. In 1998, I joined Northwest Family Life and added domestic violence and abuse issues as another part of my practice. Besides working with individuals and couples experiencing various personal and relational struggles I am director of our State Certified Domestic Violence Treatment Program.

Personal Experiences and Interests

I enjoy gardening, reading, bird watching, cooking, the world of internet and computing, and attempting to unleash the full potential of my Blackberry Curve.

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