Dr. Faline Christensen
From the time I was five years old, I knew I wanted to be a doctor; I just didn’t know what kind of doctor.
When I was a teen, my mother and I went through a lot of conflict. Maybe you have a similar experience. I was the oldest of 13 children. Yes, that was probably part, but not all, of the reason for conflict. I remember desperately wishing that there was such a thing as a parent-teenager counselor, who could help us get along.
What I didn’t know until many years later was that there was indeed such a thing. It was a relatively young field at the time, and it was called “family counseling.”
I studied psychology briefly in college. While I found it interesting, it didn’t really feed my hunger to learn ways for people in families to have satisfying relationships.
Fast forward 20+ years: my husband and I raised our own family of nine children. My children weren’t perfect, but then neither was I. When I went back to school “to supplement my knowledge,” I realized powerfully that I needed to change myself in lots of ways, because my little family deserved a much better wife and mother.
I also discovered I could actually become a marriage and family therapist. It was a spotlight moment, when my dormant dream of helping people in families and marriages became a real possibility.
My husband has been supportive, patient, and encouraging all along my journey in every way that I need him to be. My goals and his goals became our goals. Individual dreams became our dreams.
For the next nine years, while I studied and learned with laser focus, my family was the first to reap the benefits as I brought home and practiced all the good things I was learning.
I completed three degrees, including, finally, a doctorate in Marriage & Family Therapy. This process of personally changing in significant ways became a great asset for me as a therapist, because I learned first-hand what my clients had to do to make their changes. This learning, combined with the rich fulness of life experience, has enriched my understanding of people and of how to help them improve their marriage and family experiences.
My husband and I have now been married 50+ years. And yes, we do have the satisfying, fulfilling, enjoyable, and exciting friendship relationship of our dreams! I am a marriage and family specialist.
I have hearing impairment.
You will probably notice that I wear hearing aids. Because of my hearing loss, I have learned to pay close attention to your facial expressions and your body language. I listen carefully.
I want to know YOU, what’s happening for you, how you feel about things, what life is like for you… My desire is to be able to stand in your shoes, see the world through your eyes, and really understand how you see things, and why you think the way you do. I will do whatever is needed to hear you!
– Texas Tech University, 2003: Ph.D. Marriage and Family Therapy. Dissertation: “Divorce: The Experiences of Women of Faith.”
– Auburn University, 1998: M.A. Marriage and Family Therapy. Thesis: “The Relationship Between Step-children and Step-grandparents.”
I’ve always wanted to better understand people, how they think, why they do what they do, and how relationships work. When I was in college, I discovered family systems theory, and it was what I was looking for! It addressed why an individual would relapse when the family wasn’t included in the changes they experienced in therapy.
The more I studied, the more I knew I’d found my home in the therapy world. Since then, I’ve really dug into attachment theory, trauma work, shame work, emotionally focused therapy, self-soothing, and Dialectical Behavioral Skills.
I have found an incredible number of links and overlaps between these theories and areas of study that have had a profound impact on the work I do. These links help me to make sense of all types of distress and disorders.
As my work continues, my understanding of humanity increases. My desire is to assist you and many more clients to be healthy, adaptive, and resilient. I am a specialist.
– Purdue University, 2012: M.S. Marriage and Family Therapy. Thesis: “Relationship Quality and Depressive Symptoms in an Autoregressive Longitudinal Study”
Chara Whiting, MS, LMFT
Phone: (281) 682-1147
Secure email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. John VanderKaay
I got married almost 24 years ago, and neither my wife nor I knew how to be married well. Fortunately, we didn’t kill each other or divorce each other the first several years. But those are the best things we could say about our marriage.
However, as part of my graduate program, I had to attend counseling. My wife and I also then went to counseling. I would often come home from classes and tell my wife, “I learned this today in my counseling class. Can we try it?” Because she was and is an incredible woman, she agreed to try, despite the environment I had helped to create.
As we experienced counseling and used the tools and techniques I learned in classes, we began to see our marriage transformed. That transformation ignited in me a passion to help other couples have the kind of marriage we were beginning to experience.
Shortly after we got married, I also became a U.S. Air Force chaplain, and I had an incredible career in war time, a situation that challenges marriages and families greatly.
Dealing with trauma, both personally and professionally, I had extensive experience in dealing with PTSD. During that career, I also had many hundreds of couples come to me for counseling, and I was blessed to see their marriages transformed, also.
As I neared the end of my military career, I felt led to take my education to a higher level to enable me to help couples like you in better ways. That calling led me to complete my Doctor of Ministry in Marriage & Family Counseling.
As I left the military and worked in marriage and family ministry, I continued to expand my learning to help couples. Being an ordained minister and Board Certified Pastoral and Christian Counselor, I had no legal requirement to be state licensed to provide counseling.
However, in 2017, since I already met the educational requirements, and it would provide another level of accountability and demonstration of professional achievement, I decided to pursue licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA), and eventually earn independent licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). I am a specialist.
– Denver Seminary, 2015: D.Min.
– Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 1998: M.Div.
– Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 1997: M.A.