Featured Therapist for January, Matthew Purinton
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our Staff Therapists. This month’s Featured Therapist is Matthew Purinton, MSW, who joined our staff in 2007. Learn about Matthew in the interview below!
Tell us a little about what makes you unique as a therapist and person.
I think what makes me unique as a therapist is that I feel like I’ve been moving towards becoming a therapist my entire life. My mother is a licensed professional counselor. Growing up, there were many times I would be out with my mother at the store or a restaurant and someone would approach us and say that my mom helped them and changed their life. I wanted to grow up to be like my mom.
I was born with a rare disability and I have lived with chronic pain since I was eight years old. My parents taught me that you cannot always choose what happens to you in life, but you can choose how you react to it. I decided that I would try to view every experience as an opportunity to learn, and I would use that knowledge to try and help others. My parents took me all over the country as a child meeting with experts in treating pain. When I was 12, I learned hypnosis for pain management at the University of California, Los Angeles which is a pioneer in this field. As a young adult, I learned about meditation techniques at the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. These experiences led me to devote my professional life to integrating various techniques into therapy to help others dealing with chronic pain, psychological trauma, and chronic illness. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure when it comes to chronic illness, and I cannot take my clients’ pain away, but I can help them change their relationship with it. I can help them reclaim the parts of their lives that are most important and redefine their independence. I am driven to help them reclaim their agency in the world, redefine their identity, and cultivate positive relationships.
What type of clients do you work with?
At Council for Relationships, I enjoy that I get to be a generalist who specializes in medical family therapy, trauma informed therapy, and chronic pain management. This means that I get to work with a wide spectrum of clients. I am qualified to work with couples who are dealing with infidelity or communication problems. I have experience working with children, teens, and young adults dealing with loss. Also, I enjoy working with those who are on a journey of self-discovery. My clients come to me with their deepest fears and darkest thoughts; it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to help them improve their lives.
What is your background? Why did you choose Council for Relationships?
I earned my Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. I chose to become a social worker because social workers are warrior healers. We help people uncover their hidden potential. Social work differs from psychology in that it’s not built around a model of personal pathology. Social workers understand that much of the challenge in coping comes from the disjointed relationship between the individual and their social environment. I was drawn to work at Council because of its pioneering work in systems-based therapy. As a therapist, working with relationships gives me a broader scope of interventions that I can employ to help my clients. I believe that there are few things that have a bigger payoff than strengthening and building relationships. Humans are relational beings. Building healthier and stronger relationships can lead to a better quality of life and meaningful change.
What is the goal of therapy?
I believe the goal of therapy is healing and change. Therapists do not heal their clients; instead, we serve as helpful guides on clients’ journeys towards healing. We build social support and develop resources to cope with trauma, loss, and pain. Change can happen, but it’s not easy. I integrate a wide variety of techniques into the therapeutic process depending on the client’s needs and goals. It’s important that my clients know they are not alone whatever their process may require. I reassure my clients they have my full support in helping them to face their trials and tribulations.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give people who may be struggling emotionally and would like to seek to counsel but may not be ready?
Therapy can be an intimidating process, especially for people who have never been to a therapist. Therapists wear many hats. We are there to listen but we are also life advisors. We spend our time learning about the human condition and investigating the best practices available for helping people to heal from trauma. We have expert knowledge in family and social dynamics. Therapists are educators and mediators. We have a wealth of knowledge and experience we can use to help clients cope with the seemingly intolerable. Therapy is not about judging or blaming, it’s about meeting the client where they’re at and helping them achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves. Human beings have an incredible capacity for resiliency and self-healing; therapists help to bring those capacities out. Therapists help to unlock that potential. I am proud to be a therapist, and there is no other vocation I would rather pursue. I’m proud to be a therapist at the Council for Relationships. Council believes that therapy is a human right, and that access should not be determined by socioeconomic status. Council is committed to providing the highest quality therapy, as well as training the next generation of couple and family therapists. This work is incredibly important to me, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Matthew currently sees clients at our University City office, or online, anywhere in Pennsylvania. To set up an appointment, you can reach him at 215-382-6680 ext. 3135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.