Dr. Tom Olschner

Tom Olschner, Ph.D., M.Div.

Tom Olschner, Ph.D., M.Div.
Licensed Psychologist
Tel: 303-427-2300
Email: Contact via email

I believe that relationships are the key to life.  My passion is to deeply understand my client’s journey and through our therapeutic relationship to help my client live into the fullness of his/her relationships, and therefore life.

I began in private practice when I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1987.  I joined a large group of psychologists in Pasadena, California and had the privilege of being supervised by Cliff Penner, a national expert in sexual therapy.  I began specializing in the treatment of sex addiction and did many trainings around the country with such experts as Patrick Carnes and Mark Schwartz.  I have led groups for men recovering from sex addiction since 1988. I have held the certification of Certified Sex Addiction Therapy since it was first developed and have supervised other therapists obtaining that certification for that same length of time.

In 1988 my five-year marriage hit difficult times and through a lot of therapy and support from family and friends we were able to rebuild our marriage.  As a result of my own journey I developed a passion for doing couples therapy.  I have studied and applied the couples therapy approaches of Harville Hendrix, John Gottman, Sue Johnson, and Stan Tatkin.  Currently, I am in my third year of training with Stan Tatkin on his Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy.

We moved to Denver in 1994 and it has been my privilege to work with my clients through my private practice here.  My training at Fuller gave me strong foundations in psychological models of family systems, behavioral approaches, and interpersonal approaches to psychotherapy.  I believe that the therapeutic relationship offers a safe haven to explore what runs deepest within us.  When we understand our patterns of our relationships, how we experience ourselves, how we reach out to or push away other people, and the pain that results in our lives, then we can see our way clear to create new experiences of relating.  Insight into our patterns is only the doorway into a new experience of living.  It is in risking a new relationship experience that we are transformed.  When we experience acceptance and love we are filled.  And we become willing to lay down our interpersonal defenses that have kept us safe from hurt but have kept us isolated and lonely.

I chose to go to Fuller Seminary to study clinical psychology because I wanted to integrate my psychological studies with my own faith as a Christian.  At Fuller we received the best of both worlds: top-flight education in clinical psychology combined with the challenge to relate psychological theories and approaches to the larger issues of life and faith.  I did my masters research on how families pass on health or dysfunction from generation to generation.  My doctoral research investigated the therapies of three master family therapists: Salvador Minuchin, Virginia Satir, and Harry Aponte.  I used an interpersonal model of interaction (the Structural Analysis of Social Behavior by Lorna Benjamin) to study how these master therapists helped clients to change.  I received my Ph.D. in clinical psychology and my Masters of Divinity degrees in 1987.

I find that I am able to help both Christians and clients of other faith experiences address these deeper issues of life as they work on the problems they are facing in their lives.  As a therapist I attempt to empower my clients to experience profound change.  The central process of this (using language which Carl Jung gave to us) is facing one’s shadow so that one’s gold might emerge.  I believe that when we are honest with ourselves and with others about our shortcomings, that God’s redemptive power helps us to change and leave those shortcomings behind us.  I view the therapeutic relationship as a “bridge relationship” into lasting community: relationships with partners, children, and friends.

At the center of my personal life is my family: Robin and our three sons. Robin is a professional musician and directs the spiritual formation ministry at our church.  Our oldest two sons, Alec and Kevin, are both in successful careers and happy marriages.  Our youngest son, Peter, is soon to head off to college.  My favorite pastimes are volleyball, playing strategy games, woodworking, learning Spanish, and travel.  I serve on my church’s Board of Elders and chair the Missions Committee.  I have led about 20 international short-term mission teams to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nepal (including trips with Habitat for Humanity International).