Charles Joel Taylor is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and the Executive Director of Mountain Crest Counseling Services in Happy Valley, OR. Charles and the other counselors at Mountain Crest specialize in working with clients with anxiety, trauma, adjustment challenges, and developmental disabilities. In sessions, Mountain Crest therapists take a person-centered approach and utilize a variety of evidence-based treatments—including EMDR, CBT, and DBT—to meet the needs of their clients.
We asked Charles more about the work he and his team do with clients and their guiding philosophies on therapy.
Charles’s background and personal life
How did you decide to become a therapist?
I knew I wanted to become a therapist when I first went to college at eighteen. I had grown up from an impoverished background as the oldest of three siblings with a single mother. During my life, I've experienced various traumas that I have found my way through. I knew from these experiences that I wanted to inspire others to find their way through their life and make meaning and hope for their own future.
What was your previous work before going into private practice?
I used to provide job development services for individuals with disabilities. My practice still provides theses services for individuals, although I am not directly doing this at this time.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am a well-versed fisherman. Be it trolling on a big boat for salmon, rowing a raft down a river in the middle of winter for steelhead, or wading through the Deschutes fly fishing for trout, I am always engaged in some sort of fishing.
I am also a martial arts practitioner. I received my black belt in 2010 in Kemp Karate. I then explored Aikido for 2 years, Sambo for a 1 year, and as of now have been committed to doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for the last 6 years.
Charles’s specialties and therapy philosophies
What guiding principles inform your work?
Creating a non-judgmental space is very important for me. I am also very invested in creating a strong therapeutic alliance with my clients. I believe my relationship with them is one of the most important aspects of my work. I am at a point in my career where I find utilizing procedural methods of therapy, such as EMDR, very beneficial. Rather than updating me on the week's issues, clients get a real opportunity to work directly with their trauma and see the measures that indicate their progress.
Can you tell us more about your specialty in trauma?
I think the hardest thing for individuals is imagining a life where their trauma isn't triggering them anymore. Some people really struggle with the thought of letting it go, or they are afraid that working on their trauma will somehow allow them to be re-traumatized in the future. When working with clients I always address that getting over life trauma does not mean we forget. We are really only trying to eliminate the negative emotional and somatic experience of being triggered by something from our past. We will always hold and remember the things that happen to us, and we should use that information in order to guide and inform our decision making in the future.
Can you tell us more about your work with clients navigating mood disorders?
Many people come in and have experienced some level of a mood disorder, especially given the turbulent year that was 2020. We experience a wide range of emotions for many different and often healthy reasons. One of the things I really emphasize in sessions is the difference between normal emotional responses and mental health problems. Helping people see the difference between the two is not always easy and can often be very confusing. I try to help clients slow down, evaluate their experiences in the present moment, and connect with their body to help differentiate.
Can you tell us about your career counseling specialty?
I have always felt that career counseling is one of the most underappreciated aspects of a therapist's duty in treating clients. I can honestly say that most of my clients at some point will bring up major issues as it relates to their career choice, ability to earn money, or their current job issues. Careers matter to people and can have a major impact on daily functioning. I help clients in navigating their current career issues or assisting in guiding future career choices. Sometimes this looks like role playing in asking for a raise, and in other cases it may involve learning how to quit a toxic work environment.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I find it the most rewarding when people realize that things can change. So often individuals are stuck in believing that things will never be any different, and it can be really difficult to get individuals out of this mindset. When it happens, it is extremely rewarding and really opens their minds to what can be different. This is when I really see my clients make great improvements in their lives.
Therapy sessions with Charles
What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?
Our first session includes me reviewing your intake information. If you are attending therapy specifically in EMDR, I do a longer EMDR-specific psychosocial intake.
Are there any books you often recommend to clients?
I always recommended Getting Past your Past by Francine Shapiro to my clients. It really helps them understand the value of EMDR and the work that we are doing together. I have also been a fan of The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk and frequently will recommend that as well.
Do you assign “homework” between sessions?
Yes! I don't believe that showing up to therapy will get you the desired changes. You need to work on your life out in your living environment. Homework will be varied depending on your treatment plan and presenting problems.
How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?
I use various measures to check progress. I will also hold clients accountable by having them share their homework and new insights. When homework is not complete, we will work on what is getting in the way of that, potentially even doing the assignments in therapy together.
How can I prepare for our first session?
Be ready to share your life story and answer questions about who you are. One of the best things you can do is specify your goals. If you know exactly what to work on, we can work together much easier.
How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?
With EMDR, there are specific measures that will tell me if you have processed memories and will have a specific treatment plan we are moving down memory by memory.
Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?
There are many people we can reach out to and things we can do that offer therapeutic benefits. Therapy is not always the answer. However, if you are struggling so much that relationships aren't working, you are unable to fulfill you social or occupational responsibilities, and/or you have lost the ability to properly care for yourself, it is probably time to each out to a therapist.
What advice would you share with therapy seekers?
Find a therapist you trust or feel comfortable with. Therapists are people too, and sometimes we don't all fit together well. Therapy is a process and a commitment, and in order to increase its effectiveness, it should be done with someone that feels secure to you.
Visit the Mountain Crest Counseling Services profile to read more about Charles and his practice or contact them for an initial consultation!