As a counselor I bring over 31 years experience working with children, youth, adults, and families in a variety of professional settings. Over these years I have come to know that we are all capable of living deeply fulfilling lives, and that beneath whatever suffering we may be experiencing, we are all a wonderful and meaningful part of this world. My collaborative counseling approach aims to help clients safely embody presence, perspective, curiosity, creativity, playfulness and compassion by interweaving the principles of Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO) couple therapy, and the practice of Mindfulness.
- Trained in Internal Family Systems (IFS) as a Counselor (www.ifs-institute.com)
- Trained in Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO) as a Couple Counselor (www.toniherbineblank.com)
- 28 year career with YMCAs and JCCs as Executive Director of year-round Children’s and Family Camps in PA, WA, NY, MI, and MA
- 12 years as a YMCA CEO
- 15 years of dedicated mindfulness practice and multiple retreats with
Thich Nhat Hahn, Pema Chodron, Jack Kornfield, and Adyashanti
- Professional jazz musician
- Father of two young-adult sons
From time to time, most of us have internal conflicts. When in conflict these “parts” of us have become unbalanced by challenging beliefs, attitudes, and feelings that were taken on at different stages of life. When we feel trapped and burdened by inner conflicts and also by our efforts to avoid hurt and pain, counseling can guide and support us in bringing curiosity and compassion to all of our “parts” with the aim of restoring balance, and having more inner harmony.
Supportive counseling can guide you to tap into your inner wisdom and develop the self-knowledge, and self-acceptance you need to work with your life challenges.
Internal Family Systems (IFS)
“Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a psychotherapy method that was developed by the psychologist and family therapist Richard Schwartz in the 1980’s. IFS is based on the idea that psychic multiplicity is normal. We all have “parts” and, in addition, we are all born with a core wise “Self” that is characterized by valuable qualities that include curiosity, calm, clarity, connectedness, confidence, courage, and compassion. However, some of our parts invariably feel obliged to take on protective roles in response to shaming or frightening events, especially in childhood. Although they aim to keep us safe from further harm by banishing injured, vulnerable parts from our awareness, they continue warding off or distracting from emotional pain beyond the time of danger and can affect our quality of life profoundly. Some protectors are proactive e.g. self-criticism), others are reactive (e.g. impulsive anger).
“In IFS we do not do battle with parts who have developed extreme ideas nor do we push them away. Rather, we get curious about their motives and who they protect. We trust that they can express themselves and will emerge when they feel welcome and safe enough. Through the relationship between the Self and parts, IFS aims to heal vulnerable parts and release their protectors. This approach can help individuals, couples, families and larger systems restore harmony and balance.”
Richard C. Schwartz, PhD & Martha Sweezy, PhD
Intimacy from the Inside Out (IFIO)
“Intimacy from the Inside Out© is a psychotherapy method using a systemic approach to heal, improve, and provide relationship help. IFIO uses the intimate relationship itself as a vehicle for growth and healing of the individual, as well as the couple. This way of couple counseling embraces that each of us as human beings are resilient and have access to inner resources of self -love and self-regulation. It is a non-pathologizing approach that helps people make sense of their life experience in a safe and collaborative way.
“In IFIO counseling each member of the couple is invited into a process, which leads to a self compassionate, and secure relationship with him or herself. This then makes it possible to stay connected with oneself and one’s partner even in times of stress and relational rupture. Inviting the exploration of each partner’s individual inner life supports couples in envisioning a lively dance that includes: Communicating well; Repairing inevitable rupture; Making room for the needs of both individuals, as well as the relationship; and Exploring authentic heartfelt connection.”
Toni Herbine-Blank, MSN, RN
Over the past year, my children and I have been through some of the most challenging and difficult times in our lives. As a family we have been going through a divorce, moves, changes in career, personal transitions, the quietus of a wife and mother, single fatherhood, traumatic events in my children’s lives and other hardships. I am a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist. I have dealt with and continue to deal with therapists day in and out in my line of work. I have never worked or known of a counselor that is as dedicated to the children and families they treat as much as David is. This is a calling for him. He is invested in helping my children. He is able to walk that fine line of working and allying with the children and at the same time working with the parents. He is constantly trying to bridge that communication divide that is almost always responsible for breakdown in relationships. He goes above and beyond to make sure that the children get the help that they need. He is inquisitive, creative, caring, and supportive. He “gets it”. He has a deep understanding of the issues and at the same time is open to learning about other’s perspectives. I believe that he played a significant role in saving our lives, literally. I am lucky and forever grateful that our paths crossed and that he became part of our family.
I am a high school freshman and although I wanted to seek counseling to help me work through both personal and family struggles, I wasn't sure it would actually be helpful to me in the end. After my first visit with David Marks, I felt differently. I was surprised that I felt comfortable instantly and I was even more surprised that I was able to connect with David. He is warm and kind, listens to what I have to say, and is able to understand what I need most. I trust David and I was able to open up to him so he could guide me to put the work in where I needed it most. He has helped both my family and I by providing us with the tools and skills to work better with each other and to better understand ourselves. David recognizes what obstacles we are coping with and he guides us to find the strategies to connect with each other and to make overall positive changes for our futures. He truly understands the difficulties teenagers and their families encounter and he is invested in helping us to grow individually and as a family unit. I feel more confident in myself and I feel more in control of my life after working with David Marks.
I had only average experience with previous therapy and was unsure about starting IFS work with David. I cannot express how grateful I feel for going through with it. My perspective about myself and the external world has completely changed in less than a year of working with David. He creates a comfortable space which has helped me find my own truth and values. I feel incredibly rewarded after each session and can see clearly the progress we have been making. Furthermore, David has taught me how to make my own progress outside of his sessions. David is extremely flexible and open. He is willing to make sacrifices in his life in order to help with yours. Besides traditional meetings, David has helped guide me in a variety of different ways. We have done walking meditations through the woods that have taught me beneficial mindfulness practices. He has provided day-long IFS sessions that incorporated my parents. These have fundamentally helped change my relationship with both my mom and dad. David even facilitated for me a three day long personal counseling retreat. This retreat provided me with a reset on life, and it has shifted the way I want to live going forward. The care and attention David brings is exceptional and rare to find. Thank you David for helping me understand that change is possible, and for helping me achieve that change.
David has been working with my family and has been a great source of support for us. His experience and knowledge is amazing. Even more so, the amount of care and concern he has for our whole family is beyond words. David certainly has a special gift and especially has a knack for working with teenagers like mine. We look forward to continuing our journey with David, he has helped our lives become more fulfilling and happy. We are so very grateful to be able to work with him.
When we made an appointment with David, we were reaching out at a very painful and uncertain time in our relationship. I think we both wondered whether or not it was possible to mend things between us and restore the intimacy we both yearned for. There was also a great deal of anxiety there in regards to going to counseling and opening up parts of ourselves that had long been guarded. Yet, some kind of magic began to happen in our sessions with David almost immediately. He created a space where it was okay to be exactly who we were at any given moment. He taught us to accept and welcome all our myriad parts and helped us to communicate with them and gather them into the folds of our true Self. He did this with genuine care and compassion and encouraged us to give ourselves and each other real, unconditional love. In a lot of ways, it had been a long time since we’d loved ourselves so fully and this love began to illuminate our relationship. Soon, we realized that we could be with our individual parts and with each other’s parts and it would not destroy us. In fact, it softened us, cultivated our compassionate hearts and allowed us to let each other in and express love. I don’t think we know the words to properly express our gratitude for the healing and connection that has newly developed between us. We have been given tools to see the patterns of our interactions and our conflicts and most of the time can now come out the other side consciously, finding the ground of understanding and acceptance. We make choices to support and uphold each other and share with each other our most vulnerable parts because we know that to do so is a gift to ourselves and to our relationship. David’s honesty, love and guidance has been the light showing us the way. He is a true blessing in our lives and is held dearly in our hearts. We can’t thank the universe enough for sending such a wise and compassionate being our way.
I am introverted, shy and have always had great difficulty being vulnerable and opening up. I had worked with 5 different therapists/counselors over the past 3 years and never lasted more than a couple sessions with any of them as everything felt forced. It was like I was acting rather than letting my true self show, as I never felt heard or seen. It seemed like I was just another client, unimportant, a means of making money. I thought maybe I’m just too broken, too traumatized to ever be “fixed”. Then I stumbled upon Family Life Healing and met David. I was hesitant at first, as I had never worked with a male counselor before and much of the trauma I suffered as a child stemmed from men. To my relief I felt an instant connection the first time I spoke to David, permeated by a feeling of safety, soothed by the non judgmental tone of his voice. He has a calm, understanding, intuitive demeanor which is clear and comes naturally to him. He is living his passion, his purpose and it shows in each session. I feel seen, really SEEN for the first time in my life. I have gained so much clarity, confidence and hope since working with him. I am so excited to see what the future has in store for me. Just months ago I was simply trying to survive day to day, hoping to make it to tomorrow. I often questioned my purpose and everything felt meaningless. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread and David has had the ability to shift my entire outlook on life. I am forever thankful for finding this gem. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!
David is a gifted counselor who is able to create a loving space to hold and accept all the parts of you that are in pain and need to experience healing. He is very accepting, compassionate and nurturing with the parts of you who need to be understood, loved and cared for. As you experience David's compassion you learn to offer compassion to yourself and others. David knows how to nurture relationships by developing awareness of the desire for connection that dwells inside each one of us.
Before coming to David, I felt trapped inside myself. Everyday was a battle in which I felt unable to persist through both mundane and difficult moments. I was hesitant about embarking on a journey with counseling as I had never done it before. Then, when I met with David, life and light was brought back into my life. He makes you feel comfortable and that you are actually being heard. His ability to guide me through slowing down and processing what is going on in my life and with my parts has opened a world of possibility. Through different forms of counseling sessions such as engaging with my parts and having profound conversations with my loved ones, I have been able to see how moments in my life have intertwined with my parts and with the Self. Sessions with my parents and me with David facilitating allowed us to come closer together and grown both as individuals and as a family which we are forever grateful for. David has helped guide me to see what matters in life and has provided me with a toolbox to face moments of anxiety or challenge with a new sense of strength.