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Jason Zontanos, MA, LMHC
I get it…you wouldn’t be here reading these words if you weren’t in some way struggling. Life opens that door for us all - it truly cannot be avoided. I also know how incredibly disorienting and overwhelming it can feel, and possibly even hopeless. But if you look deeply, you will find that pain and suffering are also profound gateways to transformation. As difficult as it might be to acknowledge, our lives require a certain amount of pain in order for us to grow. It’s times like this, however, where going it alone is not necessary - it is perhaps the most critical time in your life to have someone with you. Having a steady and compassionate person to meet you in the center of your struggles can make all the difference.
While it takes courage to enter therapy, to meet oneself in a more full way, it is a courage that is rewarded with a more insightful and meaningful life. People in therapy often become clearer, stronger, wiser and more capable than they ever thought they could be. Whether we are meant to work together or not, I’m just happy that you’re seeking support right now…
It’s no accident that ‘mindfulness’ has become a central focus in our culture today. In the end, we are as a species more chronically distracted and splintered in our awareness than at any other time in human history. We are often overstimulated and inundated with information to where people are increasingly losing connection with themselves, with the present moment, and one could say, with what really matters. The growing receptivity to mindfulness represents an expression of our innate sanity rising up to move us in the direction of balance, but also toward a greater human functioning where we experience more internal peace and significantly healthier relationships. If you long for such peace and “a life that works well” this is your own intelligence emerging to take you in that very direction - so trust that.
The crux of mindfulness is a relaxed and nonjudgmental attention to the present moment, in contrast to being in the haze of autopilot. In therapy, there will be times where we simply talk openly and informally about what is happening for you, but more often we will focus on your present moment experiences. The moment is always alive with useful information for you to learn and grow from. In particular, an awareness of the body’s intelligence, which is often overlooked in therapy, can be a tremendous resource for accessing information below the storyline of what is happening for you. In this regard, I may at times guide you to turn your attention inwards in order to make use of the richness that is your body’s wisdom. A deep sense of inner direction can naturally occur when we learn to lower the noise of thinking and attune to the body. It is new experiences that literally re-pattern the brain, and new experiences can only happen in the present moment, so that will be where we spend a lot of our time - adding power to therapy. People have often described working in this way as, “waking up to my actual life.”
My style as a therapist can be summarized as gentle, warm, experiential, caring and inquisitive.
MY BACKGROUND and qualifications
I spent my formative years in Phoenix, Arizona but after a life-changing trip to Bali at the age of 17 realized how incredibly vast the planet is and fell in love with traveling. I have lived in 8 states and have traveled extensively both domestically and abroad. I believe stepping outside of one’s native culture is the single greatest teacher you will ever find. I also love music of any and all types but hold a special appreciation for ‘undergound’ electronic music - dancing and entering the language of music remains one of my greatest joys. I have also spent a considerable amount of my life as a dedicated student of meditation, living in Zen centers in both New York and Detroit as well as a Tibetan Buddhist center in Boulder, Colorado.
Professionally, I would say that practicing psychotherapy is a calling more than a career choice, where one’s personal make-up and life history practically necessitate that they end up serving in the field. This has definitely been true for me, and while I formally found my way to the mental health field in the early 2000’s I can honestly say it has been a lifetime of recognizing that I am most at home in being helpful to other people. I hold a very deep respect and feeling of honor in being allowed into the hearts and minds of those I am entrusted to - as I see it, this work is nothing short of sacred.
I hold a BA in Psychology from Arizona State University and a Masters Degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University. Naropa is a unique educational institution and stands as the only accredited university in North America to provide a curriculum wholly based in Contemplative Education, integrating Eastern wisdom studies with traditional Western scholarship. Many consider Naropa to be the birthplace of the modern mindfulness movement.
I have worked within a wide spectrum of mental health environments; including public behavioral health centers, county jail and juvenile detention centers, crisis centers, hospice and cancer centers, a private college, as well as a non-profit serving both grieving youth and youth who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. I have also instructed several college level Psychology courses, including Introductory Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Personality Theories.
I am currently licensed to practice psychotherapy at the independent level in Washington, Oregon, and New York.