Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Why Is Compass Therapy So Action-oriented?

If you've experienced counseling and therapy in the past ten years, did you ever get that lagging feeling that things were moving at a turtle's pace. That too many sessions started with, "So, how are you doing this week?"And that the therapist said way too many times: "So how do you feel about that?"

In my opinion, much of modern therapy is dominated by passive forms of listening to the client, as though waiting for them to somehow heal themselves through talking for endless hours about what they are going through.

I rejected that approach soon after earning my doctorate in Clinical and Counseling Psychology (University of New Mexico) almost 45 years ago. I thought to myself, "Aren't clients wanting to see me precisely because I am an expert in all things that psychologically effect the human condition? Aren't they hoping to get definitive answers for what ails and pains them, instead of having me 'hem and haw' as though I don't have a worthwhile perception?"

So I started my lifelong practice of giving clients cogent information about every aspect of psychology in which they had knowledge deficiencies. Developmental Psychology. The Psychology of Men and The Psychology of Women. Cognitive Psychology. The Psychology of Addictions. The Psychology of Human Sexuality. The Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships. The Psychology of Romantic Love. The Psychology of Recovering from Trauma.  The Psychology of Stress or Anger Management. Etc.

For the decades that have spanned my career, I have read the latest General Psychology textbook in the academic world once a year, just to review the whole field of behavioral science. I've desired to keep abreast of any and all new developments.

Now back to creating an Action Moment for self-learning and self-help in every session. I usually use the first fifteen minutes of a session to review what the client has been learning and how they are applying it in real life. Then I scope in on a bite-sized issue for this particular session, and switch to Active Learning. I will use role-playing, psychodrama, hypnosis, EMDR, and even invent new techniques on the spot, if it will help my client to make progress.

For instance, last week a woman who considered herself to be a lapsed Christian, said, "I feel so guilty that I worship God on Sunday, but don't trust him during the rest of the week."

I said, "Okay, could you please stand up right now and place your hands on the back of this leather lounge chair."

She did so. I continued. "Now rest your hands lightly on the chair without leaning on it at all."


"Is this what you do on Sundays? You rest lightly on the Lord, while still supporting yourself entirely. Then the rest of the week, you live life your own way as though you don't know or trust God at all?"

She pondered, then smiled. "Exactly. I say I trust God, but I end up never trusting him."

"So let's change this here and now. Please walk around and sit down in the chair, which for our purposes represents Almighty God. Think of the Bible verse that says, 'Underneath are the everlasting arms.' Surrender to the chair. Let the chair do all the work of upholding you and safeguarding you from falling to the floor."

She did so, gingerly at first. Then she sank fully into the chair. A sound of relief escaped her lips. Joy flowed across her face.

"Oh my goodness. This feels really good. I'm actually trusting in the chair—and it's holding me up! I feel safe and protected. And happy."

"Do you suppose you might try doing this with God this week?"

"I'd like to, but how can I make that transition?"

"Easy as pie. Talk to the Lord right now. Tell him about your new intention."

She bowed her head, still sitting peacefully in the chair. "Dear Heavenly Father, I'm sorry for all the time I've spent not really trusting you. But this week I want to let go and let God—I want to surrender to your presence like I'm doing with this chair. In Jesus' name. Amen."

"You just took an action step," I said, inviting her to return to the sofa where she had previously been sitting. "Now just stay mindful of this new intention, and let's see if you can put it into practice this week. Next session I'll look forward to hearing what happened."

For 25 action techniques you can use for self-help, or in individual or couple therapy, read Christian Counseling That Really Works.

To view a Visual Tour of my office, while hearing me succinctly describe my action approach to therapy, visit:

Blessings, DR. DAN

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Death of A Loved One: The End, or A New Beginning?

For those of you who have followed my lifelong work (books, spiritual direction, and psychotherapy), carried on with my beloved and magnificent wife Kate, I need to share with you (so prepare yourself).

Kate passed away on July 5, 2019.

Oh my God! I was shocked and absolutely devastated. Annihilation is a good term for the inner chaos and nothingness that gripped my soul. I hardly remember the whole month of July. It felt like I was having open heart surgery every day. The emotional pain around my heart area felt like a knife had been plunged there.

On the other hand, there was a profound and surprising bright side. Kate has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's over a year ago, and the doctor believed it had begun long before that. She was also suffering with heart problems, and intractable pain from two recent back surgeries.

Nonetheless, what had kept her intellectually alert for so long was her vigor to always read new books, always begin writing a new one of our books (which she did the very week of her diagnosis!), always learn a new Tango or Salsa step, and always have invigorating and intimate conversations with me. Talk about bearing the Fruit of the Holy Spirit!

In Memory of the Magnificent Kate Montgomery

Even though we both saw the ravaging decline in her capabilities over this past year, I can tell you she prayed her heart out and tried her best to keep some kind of hardiness throughout her deteriorating condition. This in the face of agonizing memory lapses, memory erasures, and occasional severe identity confusion.

I let my private practice go during the last nine months so that I could attend to her. Through God's compassionate empowerment, we managed to experience the most peace, joy, and love we had ever known. But there was an ever-menacing dark side. Kate would slip into borderline personality episodes, where she would be overwhelmed by paranoia and thrown into bouts of rage -- then remember nothing of this the following day.

I felt so sorry for her, and would often stand over her while she slept at night, my hands raised in holy supplication for God to keep the nightmares away. I was also deeply moved that in lucid moments Kate's concern was for my well-being after she passed. She wanted me to continue with my Grand Adventure in Christ, which started at my conversion to Jesus Christ at the age of seventeen. And she said she would be watching over me as soon as she died and went to heaven.

She said the week before she died, "Danny, go ahead and grieve my passing for a season. But then rejoice in the Holy Spirit that I'm happy with Jesus and all who are in heaven. You must get out and date again. If you don't, I'll kill you -- just kidding. I know how relational you are. I want you to know that I won't feel jealous if you date and fall in love again. In fact, I'll be cheering you on with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!"

What a brave and compassionate woman, this glorious soulmate/wife I loved for 30 years! In fact, we had just celebrated our 30th anniversary shortly before she died.

Dr. Dan and Montgomery - 30 Year Anniversary

 Dear friends, it's been about 3 months since God took Kate home peacefully in her sleep. I am thrilled to know that because of Jesus Christ she is whole and happy and united with the heavenly family of God.

Kate Montgomery Resurrected by the Holy Spirit As She Died!

I miss her terribly, and every now and then another 90 foot tsunami smacks me down into heartbreak and heartache. But each time the Holy Spirit provides a ready help in my time of need. By God's grace, I am invariably revived and rejuvenated.


And I'm determined to live life abundantly, as Jesus said. I do this for Kate's sake, for Jesus' sake, for my sake, and for your sake.

Thanks so much for your love, prayers, and support—and your special love for Kate Montgomery!

Sunday, June 23, 2019


Sixty thousand people pack out the Chicago Stadium on June 21, 2019. People of all ages, young and old. 

To see a rock band whose members are old and wrinkled, one of whom just had a heart-valve replacement, and whose greatest hits were written years ago. 


The music and lyrics of course: themes that appeal to the unconscious in young and old; that tap the heart, like Mick Jagger, singing "Sad, Sad, Sad."

The sheer musicality of their individual performances that coalesce into the ROLLING STONES: Four men who come together to create a rock concert none of them can do alone. 


That said, as a Psychologist, I know that a group is defined by its individuals. 

And I observe the following traits in Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Woods, and Charlie Watt that contribute to their enduring appeal as The Rolling Stones:
  • mental acuity
  • emotional aliveness
  • bodily zest
  • spiritual presence 
Mick Jagger demonstrates a remarkable recovery after heart valve surgery, literally going right into motion by dancing, getting his body, heart, and mind back in shape. In the Chicago stadium he connects with electrostatic force to the audience: in Body, Mind, Heart and Spirit.  Surely no signs of PTSD as he displays amazing physical fitness and stamina in his honed body. 


Mick, Keith, Ronnie, and Charlie each have a way of staying in good enough shape to vibrantly produce these high energy concerts:
  • a way of life that combines sufficient personality health with interpersonal relationality that keeps them emotionally healthy and spiritually connected to people throughout the lifespan. 

Notice how they are each lean and trim, devoid of obesity! Surely an excellent role model for we Americans, of whom 40% are obese

As a psychologist and martial artist for 50 years, I join The Rolling Stones in  a commitment to a healthy height to weight ratio. Here is a BMI calculator from the Centers for Disease Control.

The Rolling Stones demonstrate the hallmarks of mentally healthy graceful aging: a living demonstration that we all need the inspiration to pursue: 
  • hardiness to overcome adversity and live optimistically 
  • emotional resiliency to weather the storms of life with a stable serenity 
  • passion to live with gusto and meaning to your final hour on earth
I term these qualities as fine examples of a balanced 
Human Nature Compass: 

Mind in rhythm with Heart 
Body in rhythm with Spirit.


I invite you to learn more about it in:


Sunday, June 16, 2019


What does Jesus Christ reveal to us about His Second Coming? 

We know from the Bible that Jesus Christ came the first time two thousand years ago. We know that Jesus delivered the Gospel and ministered to many, performing miraculous healing of body, mind, heart, and spirit for three short years as the self-declared Son of Man and Son of God. Then Jesus was crucified. He died on the Cross for our sins, and was buried in a tomb, only to rise three days later as the Resurrected Christ to sit at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. 

Jesus gave as His parting gift the earthly presence of the Holy Spirit, who resides within Christian believers; who woos and convicts individuals throughout the world: the Helper, who along with God the Father and God the Son, are the One God in Three Persons: the Blessed Trinity.

Just how does Jesus Christ return? Why does He return? What happens on Earth and in Heaven as a result? 

The Bible says, and we Christians believe, that Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and Son of God, returns to Earth to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5). 

Read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and see for yourself how Jesus urgently wants us prepared for His Second Coming:

“But understand this" says Jesus: "If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:43-44 NIV).

Did you notice how Jesus describes Himself coming as a ‘thief in the night?’ 

The Apostle Paul adds: “I don’t think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—“We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 MSG). 

But how do we prepare? Jesus came the first time to show us how: 


Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd who carries a lost sheep home on His shoulder. He is now into 2,000 plus years of gathering His flock, all the while guiding and providing for them.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” 
(John 10:27).

Do you listen to Jesus' voice? 
Read the Gospel of John. 
You will hear it there.

Jesus adds this directive:

“If you love me, obey my commandments” 
(John 14:15 NLT). 

Why must we obey Jesus' commandments? He tells us quite clearly:

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. 
The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide 
for the many who choose that way. 
But the gateway to life is very narrow 
and the road is difficult, 
and only a few ever find it” 
(Matthew 7:13-14 NLT). 

“But"—Jesus adds, giving us hope and the awareness 
we cannot do this on our own—
"with God, all things are possible!” (Matthew 19:26).

As the blind hymn writer Fanny J. Crosby wrote: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way.” 

Why? Because suddenly, out of nowhere—no one but God the Father knowing the day or the hour, not even Jesus—The Son of Man returns!

MARK 13:32

“But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, 
and all the angels with him, 
then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 
All the nations will be gathered in his presence, 
and he will separate the people 
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 
He will place the sheep at his right hand 
and the goats at his left” 
(Matthew 25:31-33 NLT).


We do well to take in now what Jesus declares to us today: 

“Stand up for me among the people you meet and
the Son of Man will stand up for you before all God’s angels. 
But if you pretend you don’t know me, 
do you think I’ll defend you before God’s angels?“ 
(Luke 12:8-9 MSG).

In the Book of Revelation, the Second Coming begins with judgment:

"The Angel swung his sickle, harvested earth’s vintage, 
and heaved it into the winepress, 
the giant winepress of God’s wrath” 
(Revelation 14:19-20 MSG).

At the Great White Throne Judgement, Jesus Christ consigns all who have ever lived on Earth as damned to Hell, along with the Devil. Those redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb are saved from perishing and resurrected into Heaven. Earth and Heaven are then transfigured into the New Jerusalem, or the New Heaven/Earth or Peaceable Kingdom.


In the Peaceable Kingdom, people stream forth alongside the River of Life and the Tree of Life; a place where God is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and the Prince of Peace reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit world without end: where at long last, 

"They will be my people, 
and I will be their God” (Jeremiah 32:38).


Monday, June 10, 2019


I was privileged to meet and talk with Germaine Greer, a leader of the 1970’s feminist movement and author of The Female Eunuch, after a speech she gave when I was about 35 years old. At that time I was a Psychology Professor at Pepperdine University—and  a Psychologist. 


Germaine Greer was one of a triumvirate that included Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique:


 and Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and author of Life on the Road:


I talked with Germaine Greer after she had delivered a brilliant speech on the feminist position concerning the difficulties inherent in communication and relationships between men and women.

I responded: “I have an overarching theory of what I think happens between men and women that can put an end to battle of the sexes.”

Germaine's eyes lit up and she guided us to a private corner of the room. "Go ahead, Dr. Dan," she said warmly.

I showed her a diagram of The Self Compass.


I explained how, due to factors like testosterone and socialization, men too often get stuck overemphasizing the upper two compass points of the Self Compass: Strength and Assertion. They are left with personality deficiencies of emotional detachment, narcissistic entitlement, and dictatorial control. They become dehumanized Top Dogs who seek to get their way all the time, emotionally wounding millions of women in the process: detached men incapable of loving unions.

Germane nodded affirmatively. "I agree completely. This makes perfect sense."

I continued to explain that women, by contrast, are too often fixated on the Love and Weakness compass points as Underdogs. Overblown Weakness makes them fearful, helpless, avoidant, and easily hurt. Too much Love makes them overly dependent on seeking men's approval to affirm their existence, and busy striving to serve everyone, keep the peace, and make people happy.  

"That describes how I lived the first twenty years of my life!"

"In today’s world," I said, "women are into 'consciousness-raising,' not realizing that they are merely flip-flopping from Underdogs into Top Dogs. This amounts to exchanging one set of personality deficiencies for its opposite. So there is a switch from too much Passivity to too much Aggression with no net gain in human personality wholeness.

"So from your view, Dan, the solution is for men and women alike to develop a whole Self Compass so they can find intimacy with each other," said Germaine.

"Exactly," I said, "And I take my hat off to you as the truly brilliant feminist that you are."

“I must say, Dr. Dan,” Germaine replied, “You have just accurately interpreted my whole life story to me in five minutes. I now see that, according to your SELF COMPASS, I spent my first twenty years as an Underdog and the next ten years as a Top Dog—but with an emptiness inside me. I overdid it by being stuck there, you’re saying. Well, I’m going to start using your COMPASS MODEL and see if I can’t get the peace and joy and love I've always wanted.”

“Carry on and may God bless you.”

“Thank  you,” she said. “I don’t believe in God but I do believe in your Self Compass and I will carry forward with that.” She gave me a hug and we said goodbye.