Hi, I’m Chris

I’m a psychotherapist, educator, and consultant who helps people and organizations find their way.

While my professional life has been anything but typical, it has brought me here interacting with you.

Let’s see where that leads!

My career in interpersonal relations didn’t begin in a psychology classroom. Oddly enough, it began in a music classroom. Entering college, I was singularly focused on becoming a successful conductor and music professor. I studied, practiced, and sacrificed, and eventually reached my goal.

Chris Neal Conducting

After “cutting my teeth” as a young high school band director, I went on to earn a doctoral degree in conducting. I became a tenured university faculty member, performing by invitation on national and international stages. I prepared my students for professional careers as conductors, teachers, symphony musicians, and even Grammy-winning recording artists.

I was at the top of my game, and my phone rang every year with offers for guest conducting gigs and more prestigious jobs. I had arrived!

But I was unhappy.

How was this possible when I was doing everything I’d ever dreamed of?

What followed was a circuitous path that led me to leave my tenured faculty position, make big personal and professional changes, and begin studying at the professional counseling program at Southern Nazarene University. I received amazing support and encouragement and received training in Psychodynamic and Relational psychotherapy from some remarkable experts in the field. I also learned excellent techniques in Cognitive Behavioral, Family Systems, and career counseling approaches as part of the comprehensive education every therapist needs.

And I got my own therapy.

In the therapy process, I learned what acceptance feels like. I learned how to know my own worth and maintain meaningful boundaries in my relationships. I also learned that while I was a successful musician, I had other gifts and aspirations that needed to be explored. While I had become a successful musician before, I was now finding my authentic voice.

As I began working in the counseling profession, I became drawn to the deep connections between mind, body, spirit, and the relationships in our lives. I began to understand how they are connected and how Mindfulness techniques can help us live in the here-and-now with acceptance and compassion. I discovered the incredible power of Mindfulness meditation, and learned to have compassion for myself and my own journey.

I learned that my struggles don’t need to be compared to others’ to be valid. Nobody’s do. We all have our own walk, and recognizing the struggles we’ve had doesn’t make us weak or self-indulgent. It makes us open, authentic, and strong.

This is the work I do with others.

  • We recognize that emotions live in the body as fully as they live in our hearts and minds, and sometimes this gives us the chance to do important work for ourselves.

  • We recognize the powerful impact of self-compassion, and that developing empathy and compassion (because those are skills we can develop) gives us power over our insecurities and anxieties.

  • We learn that EMPATHY is at the heart of all successful relationships. The better we become at empathy, the better we are in our relationships at home and work.
  • We learn how to say what we need from Others, and say it in ways people can hear and honor. Similarly, we learn to hear the needs of the Other so we can meet those needs with authenticity and compassion.
  • We come to understand that we all deserve a seat at the table. We don’t have to make ourselves smaller to accommodate others. We can be our FULL selves and appreciate that in others.

Whether I’m working in a psychotherapy context with an individual, helping a couple in crisis, or teaching an organization to live up to its potential, there are common threads.

What I’ve learned is that my true path is helping others learn build relationships, with themselves and each other. For a while, that happened from the conductor’s podium, but now it happens in a more directly interpersonal context. Whether I’m sitting face-to-face with someone or speaking to a room of hundreds (or more), the path now is to support, encourage, and teach on matters of self-fulfillment and interpersonal relations.

Does it seem like I may have something to offer you?

If so, I hope you’ll contact me to discuss ways I can serve you and your community.