THE MARRIAGE & FAMILY INSTITUTE


Christopher Hershman


Christopher began his professional career in 1976 as a counselor at a children's institution (The Lutheran Home, Topton, Pennsylvania) and later worked as an addictions counselor (Reading Hospital, Reading, Pennsylvania) and has been in independent practice since 1992.

Much of Christopher's marriage and family training was completed through the Catholic Social Agency, Allentown, Pennsylvania. He was also supervised and received training as a clinical supervisor training through clinical supervisors affiliated with the Penn Council for Relationships, Philadelphia, Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University (St. Davids, Pennsylvania), Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Louisville, Kentucky) and the Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pennsylvania (Allentown, Pennsylvania).

Christopher served in parish ministry on either a full-time or part-time basis from the time of his ordination in 1984 until 2010. In addition, he also worked part-time as a writer, newspaper columnist, photojournalist, editor and adjunct professor of psychology, teaching graduate courses in the areas of marriage and family therapy and techniques, adolescence, human developmentaddictions, the addictive family, and the spirituality of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, etc.

The responsible integration of Christian theology, psychology and family therapy have been of central focus throughout his career. While he has been trained in various theoretical perspectives, his foundation has always been a living faith in God based on the teachings of the Bible.

Although he has many and varied hobbies and interests, ranging from reading to art, classical music, jewelry making, leather work, target shooting, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, photography, Civil War Reenacting, etc., his two children, Alex, born 1992, and Nicole, born 1995, are the joy of his life.

 


APPROACH TO TREATMENT


Although his patients include individuals, couples and families from all religious faiths, Christopherr Hershman is often sought out because of his Christian identity. As a Christian psychologist, Christopher understands people as created good, broken by sin, and seeking divine love, forgiveness and healing. 

While Christopher's clinical identity has been shaped by his understanding of family systems, Christopher has also been influenced by many other theoretical perspectives.  In addition to the Bible, he has been most influenced by Martin Luther, Soren Kierkegaard, Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, Rudolf Bultmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Alfred Adler, Murray Bowen and Salvatore Minuchin and also utilizes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other therapeutic techniques as well. His key therapeutic principles include:

Therapy is most effective within a mutually trusting relationship between therapist and client within a climate of mutual respect, compassion, sensitivity and unconditional acceptance.

Therapist and patient must collaborate in setting goals and achieving objectives.

Individuals can be understood through the roles and structures of the relational systems in which they participate.

All people ultimately need unconditional love and acceptance.

Human behavior tends to be both repetitive and consistent.

Reciprocal relationships typically develop between: over- and under-functioning; avoidance and domination; assertiveness and self-respect.

Psychopathology is caused by many factors including biogenetic predisposition, family history and roles, interactional styles, personality attributes and relational dynamics.

Because therapy involves challenging false assumptions and unrealistic expectations it is necessarily directive and structured.

Change requires accepting problems, motivation and steps toward change.

Therapy involves building upon strengths and positive attributes, restructuring role relationships, personal empowerment, differentiation of self, setting limits and maintaining appropriate boundaries.

Individuals, couples and families benefit from learning new relationship skills such as conflict management, communication, assertiveness, anger management, parenting, relapse prevention, etc.


Specialties: Pastoral/Christian Counseling; Marriage and Family Therapy; Anxiety and Depression; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Bipolar Disorder; Post Tramatic Stress Disorder; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; Phobias; Somataphorm Disorders, such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder; Eating Disorders; Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and Dependency; Sexual Dysfunctions; Paraphilias and Sexual Addiction; Gender Identity Disorder, such as Ego-Dystonic Homosexuality; Impulse -Control Disorders, such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Kleptomania, Trichotillomania and Pathological Gambling; Adjustment Disorders; Personality Disorders; Abuse Survivors; Marital and Family Educations and training; Psychological Evaluation & Testing; Counseling & Psychotherapy; Clinical Supervision and Administration.  


The Rev. Christopher Hershman has Pennsylvania licenses in Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy and Professional Counseling. He is also an ordained Evangelical Lutheran minister, and has certifications as an Addictions Specialist, a Group Psychotherapist and a Family Life Educator. His professional affiliations include Clinical Membership and Approved Supervisor status with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy as well as Fellow status with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.

He attained a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology degree from Kutztown University, Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and a Doctor of Ministry in Marriage and Family degree from what is now the Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University.