photo of Keri Warren

Keri Warren, PhD, DMin, NCC, LPC, LMFT

Dr. Keri Warren has worked in the mental health field providing counseling services since 1999. Prior to that, she worked in engineering and technology for over 20 years. Dr. Warren was born and raised in Michigan, but moved to the West Coast to attend college at the University of California where she studied computer science, artificial intelligence, and math. While living in the Bay Area, she was hired to work as an engineer for a firm called Scientific Calculations (SCI), which later merged with the microelectronics division of Harris Corporation. This job opened doors for her to work in various European offices such as London, Paris, and Munich. After completing her work abroad, she returned to work for SCI's headquarters in New York.

A new job opportunity took her back to the West Coast, only this time in Oregon, where she worked as a computer consultant and programmer analyst. These technology roles led to director level positions in Information Technology (IT). Her years of providing technical support and services showed her how much she enjoyed helping people, problem solving, and developing business and system protocols to run like a "well-oiled machine." Dr. Warren's full-time role as Chief Technology Officer ended when she sensed God calling her to provide support and problem-solving techniques for people in a more personal and intimate setting. To fulfill this calling, she completed a master's degree in Counseling and an internship at The Anxiety Disorders Clinic [TADC] in Portland, Oregon. While treating anxiety and mood disorders, she discovered that certain life issues cause all people to feel extreme stress and anxiety from time to time. It seemed too, that these feelings of stress, anxiety, and confusion were exacerbated when it was hard to understand or find God in the midst of their problems. Feeling disoriented, shadows of doubt and questions similar to the ones written here often puzzled peoples' minds: Was God really there? Does God really care? Does he really love me? How do I hear his voice so that I know what my true purpose is in life? How do I overcome seemingly impossible obstacles that prevent me from reaching my goals? How do I forgive someone who has hurt me so deeply? How do I reconcile issues that have caused such deep pain and suffering if God is a God of love, mercy, and grace? For example, some of Dr. Warren's married patients have experienced deep betrayal as a result of marital infidelity; or some are devastated by the death of a child, spouse, or other person of significance. Some of her patients struggle with deep hurt related to past or current traumatic events that promote overwhelming PTSD symptoms. Some patients have goals they wish to achieve, but struggle with inner conflicts and obstacles that keep them from obtaining their goals. It is these types of hurts and conflicts, in conjunction with the difficulties in understanding or hearing from God that inspired Dr. Warren to enroll into seminary.

In seminary, Dr. Warren completed a doctorate in Spiritual Formation and Leadership. To further develop her spiritual formation skills, she also became certified as a Spiritual Director. The integration of spirituality and psychotherapy led to deep inner work with her patients as she addressed issues of the heart, soul, mind, and body. However, as she worked with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families, she realized that while individual change and healing was possible, permanent change was more probable when whole family systems changed, or at least extended support for the necessary change of an individual family member. Her understanding of first and second order change (the individual and the contextual environment of the individual) taught her that no one person exists in isolation. People seeking therapy enter her office with deep and powerful family of origin influences. This understanding led to her interests in family systems theory -- a connection to her initial education in the sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics) as well as technology and cybernetics -- which ultimately led to the completion of a master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

In addition to her counseling roles, Dr. Warren worked as a Dale Carnegie teaching assistant and currently teaches as an adjunct professor for the MBA program at Concordia University (Wisconsin and Ann Arbor) and also for the MBA and Counseling graduate programs at Spring Arbor University.

Other certifications allow Dr. Warren to administer assessment inventories such as the Prepare/Enrich, MIS-R, and 16PF-C. She received training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) from Dr. Albert Ellis at the Ellis Institute in New York City. She is also trained in psychodynamic and experiential clinical approaches, and more specifically in Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT), Emotion Focused Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy, and Filial Therapy.

Dr. Warren enjoys helping people of all ages and with varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds. She integrates treatment methods ranging from psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, experiential, spiritual, and family systems theories. However, as helpful as these models are, she discovered that the clinical setting is sometimes limiting. Thus, to make her work more versatile and available to the global community, Dr. Warren also pursued doctoral work in professional coaching and human development. This new profession has opened more doors for work in academic coaching, motivational coaching and leadership, confidence building, character and spiritual transformation coaching, and general life coaching. Dr. Warren's coaching roles allow her to work with individuals in and outside of the State of Michigan.

Excerpts from an Interview

Q. Dr. Warren, how do you find meaning in your work as a psychologist?

A. I have always enjoyed forming deep connections with people of all walks of life. In my work at the Family Counseling Center, I strive to understand what clients think, feel, and believe about the life experiences that have influenced who they've become. I care deeply about helping people to live a less conflicted life so that they can achieve their goals. As a natural problem solver and change agent, I enjoy teaming up with clients, brainstorming, and thinking outside the box. I believe that most clients already have the answers to their challenges within them, but are sometimes stuck when inhibited by painful or difficult circumstances. My heart's desire is to help people to become their true authentic selves and to feel comfortable in their own skin so that they gain the confidence necessary to pursue goals that are congruent with their values and interests and ultimately lead to living out their true calling and purpose in life.

Q. How do you find the strength to deal with other people's pain and suffering?

A. When we suffer in the presence of a caring person of support, we connect at a heart and soul level and we risk letting our defenses down. This creates space for deep healing and spiritual transformation. With it comes a profound "knowing" that God is in the midst, and no words can describe the great mystery and essence of what is about to unfold in the counseling room. In his book, Summoned to Lead, Dr. Sweet suggests that one of the most important myths is the Matter Myth, illustrated by the notion that "it is the trees that move the wind," when in reality "it is the wind that moves the trees." Wind, of course, is a metaphor for a variety of invisible forces that are more powerful than matter, such as the power of the Holy Spirit. Other metaphorical examples include the following: the "handwriting on the wall," the "climate of an organization," the "elephant in the room," such that relationships, meaning, as well as forces are now recognized by the "new sciences." Sweet proposes that the most important life forces are invisible, such as the power of love. This too is my belief. It is the clinician's essence that affects everything: her character, her spirit, soul, and humility. Thus, the authentic desire to give love, compassion, and acceptance can be more transformative and life-changing than any clinical intervention. The amalgamation of both the visible (i.e., technique) and the invisible (i.e., God, love, hope, mercy, compassion) requires that the initial interview question be reversed: How is it not possible to find strength in the daily suffering of our clients?

The invisible but ever presence of God is how I find strength. It is that moment of painstaking humility, when a client's suffering is revealed and the heart of the therapist (my heart) sits in silence, praying, seeking, and waiting, with great anticipation, for I know that the Lord will act. "It is the Lord I am working for and not man" [Colossians 3:23]. Therefore, I can boldly trust that the encounter is meant to be and that God will share his wisdom and insights as I humbly step aside and allow his love to imbue the hearts of my clients through me, "for he strengthens those who are weak and tired. Even those who are young grow weak; young people can fall exhausted. But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak" says the Lord [Isaiah 40:29-31]. In my mind, it is a paradoxical windfall of strength that transcends and transforms the lowliest, weak, and broken soul.

My other source of strength comes from my knowledge, training, background, and education. It is my responsibility to be knowledgeable and educated in evidence based clinical interventions, which inspires me to stay current in the latest research. I find strength in knowing that I have an excellent background of education and training, a solid internship experience from The Anxiety Disorders Clinic, training in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy with Albert Ellis in New York, training in Imago Relationship Therapy, Emotion Focused Therapy, Child-Centered Play Therapy, and other models including Bowen's Family Systems Theory model. When conducting clinical work with patients, I am deeply aware that God loves them and that his presence will go with them far beyond our session. Thus, with a humble heart and an appreciative spirit, I partner with God in his sacred space to embrace the unique essence of each and every patient. If it fits with my client's faith and desires, I also draw strength from intercessory prayer and readings from the Scriptures. Finally, I also draw strength from Dr. Hocott's covering at the clinic, the pillar of our group, and being surrounded by other committed Christian clinicians.

Q. How do you integrate the science of psychology with Christian values as a therapist at the Family Counseling Center?

Science represents a body of knowledge that describes order in nature and the causes for that order. Through collective efforts, research, and studies of the human race, science is also an activity that is dedicated to gathering knowledge and organizing it into testable theories and laws. The science of systems has everything to do with establishing order and functioning at optimal efficiency. As is true in math and physics, everything has an order. Systems theory, the science of cybernetics, information technology systems, people, and behavior - a concept known as sociotechnical systems - also applies to relationships in families, organizations, churches, community, and culture. Likewise, as individuals with values and norms, our intellectual, emotional, and physical selves are intertwined and function internally as a system.

Having worked 20+ years in the sciences and technology and 15 years in the science of psychology, I have found them to be directly related. It is the full integration of my studies in the sciences, psychology, and spirituality that make it possible for me to do my work well. My knowledge of a variety of science based models of human development and behavior, such as the critical role of early-life attachment and brain development, and the importance of Bowen's biological roots in self-differentiation, help me to understand the character structure of my clients so that I may help them to order their thinking, change their behavior, and select goals that match their interests and values. In discussing how change occurs, Margaret Wheatley suggests that all change results from a change in meaning, that people need to decide if new meaning is available and desirable, suggesting that, "They will change only if they believe that a new insight, a new idea, or a new form helps them become more of who they are."

Invisible forces such as faith, hope, compassion, love and forgiveness are central values of Christianity and are now supported by research in the social sciences. Evidenced based interventions to foster them are also now available. Moreover, research on self-compassion is burgeoning and is sorely needed by most clients who are overly self-critical. Finally, self-concordant goals (goals matching one's values and interests) promote the human needs of competence, relatedness, and autonomy. For Christian clients, these goals are likely to be ones through which they can live out their Christian values and purpose in life. This brings the science of psychology directly into the counseling room for the betterment of humans, as self-differentiated individuals, having realized their own value and worth, and thus able to encourage and promote value and worth in others.

Q. What do you say to clients who are not Christian who seek services from you?

A. All are welcome. Regardless of whether or not my clients are Christian, I believe that every person is a beloved child of God with great value and worth and placed on this earth for a unique plan and purpose. Although I do not preach or evangelize to my clients, I am a Certified Spiritual Director and am available should clients wish to explore their spiritual life journey for the purpose of growing deeper in their relationship with God. If clients do not wish to engage in conversations about God and spirituality, I am respectful of their wishes. Whether an individual is Christian, atheist, agnostic, or rooted in another faith tradition, I believe that clients who find themselves sitting with me in my office are sent to me for a reason. My ability to extend full acceptance, compassion, and unconditional positive regard is an innate part of my character, as I view all human beings as having intrinsic worth and value that is not based on achievements, worldly success, academics, and popularity. Regardless of the problem presented, whether an anxiety disorder, gender and sexual identity differences, painful losses due to death or divorce, relational problems, or other challenges causing deep conflict, I am confident that God will show me how best to work with my clients.

To email office manager:
Family Counseling Center
2301 Platt Rd. Suite 10
Ann Arbor, MI 48104