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John Birkland MA, LMFTJohn Birkland MA, LMFT

People often describe my therapeutic style as warm, earnest, and calm. I would also add that I am a very curious person by nature and enjoy asking questions. I very much enjoy learning new things – both about other people as well as the wider world around us. Often when I first meet with someone seeking therapeutic services I find that they have a number of questions to ask themselves, such as: “How does therapy work?”, “Is it for me?”, and even “So where is your couch?” Sometimes they also express reservations - embarrassed by their problems or worried that they will be judged for past experiences and behaviors. I work to set them at ease because, it has been my experience, we all have more in common with each other than I often think we realize. (Certainly I believe that what makes us all similar to one another is greater than what makes us all different.) This includes many emotional and relationship problems with which we often believe no-one else struggles or which we often fear no-one else will understand.

As a therapist, I often find that people’s attempts to solve their problems make sense from a particular perspective but may create other problems for them at the same time. People sometimes unwittingly work against themselves. I believe that it is my job to help them identify and examine these contradictions in order to “straighten things out” and live in a way that is more harmonious with all parts of themselves. I do this by helping them examine thoughts, habits, and discover unspoken assumptions. I also assist them to better understand and integrate negative emotional experiences (sometimes from years earlier).

I particularly enjoy working with couples and have received advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (a particularly effective therapeutic model that has been validated by research). Often when working with couples I find that their problems go deeper than simply needing to “communicate better”. Often people unwittingly become locked in negative emotional cycles - sometimes from past relationships - they have the “same fight” over and over again. When this happens I assist them to identify and examine the cycle that has them stuck. Together we collaborate to defeat and change it.

When not helping others I enjoy both talking with friends and reading. I also enjoy taking walks in the summertime with my significant other, and also exercising here and there when I’m able to squeeze it in. My partner was born and raised in Kenya so I also have personal experience navigating bicultural and biracial romantic relationships.

I received my Masters of Arts from Adler Graduate School in Richfield Minnesota and my Bachelors of Arts from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. I grew up in Iowa and moved to the Twin Cities permanently about 10 years ago. I have enjoyed working with individuals and couples ever since.

 

Education

I obtained my Bachelor of Arts from Gustavus Adolphus College and my Master of Arts degree from Adler Graduate School. I am now a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

I have always been a curious person and for many years I wanted to become a therapist. Therefore, I majored in Psychology, Philosophy, and also the Classics (studying primarily Latin) while at Gustavus. I picked up work experience in educational administration, teaching, and non-profit management post-graduation as I worked my way toward obtaining my ultimate goal of therapeutic licensure. I now work as a therapist full time.

Training

I have received additional training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy, one of only two methods of couples’ therapy that has been empirically demonstrated to produce positive outcomes (reducing distress of 90% of participants in one study). It is an experiential therapeutic model that is based on attachment theory. If you are interested in learning more I would invite you to watch this video.

I am also trained in Prepare-Enrich, a widely used premarital couples’ counseling assessment and curriculum.

Clinical Experience

    Counseling Book
  • Marriage Counseling
  • Relationship issues
  • Infidelity and affair recovery
  • Co-dependency
  • Trauma
  • Grief and loss
  • Anxiety, fears, depression
  • Anger
  • Spirtuality
  • Forgiveness
  • Depression
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Underachievement
  • Premarital Counseling

Professional Memberships