Counseling Services

Catholic Counseling & Psychotherapy

The Best of Evidence-Based Psychotherapy, Built on the Firm Foundation of a Thomistic, Catholic Anthropology

Peace and All Good Things!  My name is Jay Brunelle.  As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in the State of Connecticut, I provide Clinical Mental Health and Pastoral Counseling services, in accordance with the fundamental precepts of the Christian tradition of “Faith seeking understanding” (quotation attributed to St. Anselm).

Of the many and varied approaches taken up by counselors,  I am most closely allied to what some practitioners have called Pastoral Psychotherapy.  According to the Brandywine Pastoral Institute,  “Pastoral Psychotherapy is a form of therapy in which the therapist is conversant with and expert in both worlds, spirituality [in my case, a specifically Christian Theology and morality] and psychotherapy, and utilizes both disciplines in the practice of the art of healing.”

What is more, Pastoral Psychotherapy is unique in the following manner:

“In pastoral psychotherapy, the therapist views the client as a colleague on the therapeutic journey. While there are clear differences in roles and responsibilities, there are ways in which these two are fellow pilgrims, together on a journey of self-confrontation and healing. It can be a journey of mutual respect with a covenant that the client is in charge of one’s life and the therapist is in charge of the therapeutic process. They will work together only as long as and to the depth that the client wishes.

“The client in pastoral psychotherapy is a colleague because both therapist and client are wounded. Neither has escaped woundedness, but the therapist has already taken responsibility for his or her wounds by working in therapy on them and thus has become a wounded healer. Respect for the wounds of the client is essential, yet the pastoral therapist cannot give them too much power. Wounds can be healed and one’s life must go on without being defined by the past. Both are called to grow as the wounds of the client are uncovered, felt, and as the healing happens” (Brandywine Pastoral Institute,

Thus, it is in the above articulated spirit that I provide my services to individuals seeking relief from a host of psycho-spiritual maladies, including – but not limited to – Depressive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, Scrupulosity, Schizophrenia & Psychotic Spectrum Disorders, Substance Use & Abuse Disorders, and a host of additional psychological and spiritual maladies.

While I don’t consider myself a strict adherent of any specific “school” of psychotherapy, there are certain ideas to which I am drawn, as well as certain evidence-based therapeutic practices which I have found exceptionally effective in the treatment of specific disorders.  For instance, while I would never identify myself as “Freudian,” I do agree with the idea that there are at least three levels of consciousness (First, full, conscious awareness, which is where you are at this very moment, as you read the writing on this page. Next, we seem to possess a pre- or sub-conscious awareness, which lies just beneath the surface of full consciousness, and which can be subjected to manipulation via subtle suggestion. Finally, there is the personal, wholly unconscious mind, which lies exclusively and entirely beneath the surface – the contents of which can, to some greater or lesser extent, have an effect on various conscious and pre-conscious emotional states and associated behaviors.

I further agree that anxiety tends to be the default state of the psychological self (Ego), which must constantly mediate between the instinctual drives and innate desires of the biological self (Id), on the one hand, and the moral expectations of the socially acceptable self (Super-Ego), on the other.

Not infrequently, in an effort to compromise between the demands of the Id and Super-Ego, we attempt to circumvent reality by employing what Freud terms the “Ego-Defense Mechanisms.”  Living up to the expectations of the Super-Ego can leave us feeling defeated and depleted.  Oftentimes, in an effort to feel good about or just okay with ourselves – our thoughts, emotions or behaviors – the unconscious mind attempts to modify and contort the conscious content of our psyche.  We may use elaborate explanations to justify a certain behavior that we would otherwise condemn.  This would be a Rationalization.  We might join an organization known for it good deeds, acts of heroism or bravery.  In identifying ourselves as members of such groups, we automatically assume a certain degree of status.  This latter is an example of Identification.

In each of the above scenarios, persons are employing “Defense Mechanisms” to protect the Ego from being overwhelmed by realities that are simply too difficult, too painful, or too overwhelming to accept or deal with. This is not always a “bad” thing; in fact, we refer to these psychic mechanisms as “defenses” precisely because they assist us in coping with what might otherwise be considered a reality that is simply too emotionally painful to accept, given all the other things that may be occurring in a person’s life. Thus, the unconscious mind is setting up a “defense” against a reality that may simply be too painful for the individual to deal with at this particular moment in time.

Finally, I do ascribe to certain other evidence-based psychotherapeutic techniques, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, oftentimes abbreviated simply as CBT. CBT is the term that has been given to the work of a number of groundbreaking practitioners and theorists, including Albert Ellis, Aaron Beck and David Michenbaum, collectively. The underlying idea at the heart of CBT is that it is not the activating event that leads one to his or her emotional / behavioral response, as so many believe; rather, it is one’s belief about the activating event that leads one to feel and behave as he or she does. Thus, according to this faulty thinking framework, it becomes essential to identify the Cognitive Distortions that lead to depressing, anxiety-provoking, frightening and irrational thoughts, and the erratic behavior that often does accompany such thinking.  The remedy, then, is to embark upon a path of corrective, logical thinking.  Thus, the overly negative, pessimistic, self-defeating and seriously irrational cognitive distortions are corrected through a process called “Cognitive Restructuring.”

Along with Psychodynamic and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I also incorporate Logotherapy, as contained and explained in the writings of Dr. Viktor Frankl, who promoted the “will to meaning and purpose” as the ultimate teleological drive of the human person.  This is in opposition to the Freudian proposition of the “will to pleasure,” and the Adlerian proposition of the “will to power” as the competing primary motivating factors at the very heart of what drives and motivates the human person. Indeed, Frankl’s philosophy is well summed up in the following quotation of Friedrich Nietzsche, which Frankl often returns to in his masterwork, Man’s Search for Meaning: “He who has a ‘Why’ to live for can bear with almost any ‘How.’”

I would consider it an honor to walk with you on your life-journey, and to assist you in making the best possible decisions for yourself.  I may be reached via email, at, or by phone, at 860-207-0517.

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