Call Us Today: 406-259-6161


Dustin Lehman, MS, LCPC, LMFT

Dustin-HeadshotDustin Lehman, MS, LCPC is a licensed therapist who specializes in providing therapy for couples, individuals, children and groups. Over the past couple of years, Dustin has been accruing hours for licensure as a Clinical Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist under the supervision and guidance of Dr. Bob Bakko, LCPC of Northwest Counseling Center, LLC in Billings, Montana. Dr. Bakko has been in practice for 38 years and is a valued mentor.

Dustin has also done pro bono work at Faith Chapel, in the Pastoral Care department in Billings, providing a variety of services including psychological assessments, individual and family therapy and lay counselor training.

Dustin integrates his knowledge as a mental health practitioner and his experiences as a teacher and mentor to create a safe and supportive environment for therapy. Dustin has become a partner at Northwest Counseling Center, LLC, working alongside several, seasoned therapists. Dustin co-leads Women’s Anger Management – “Living Without Violence for Women” as well as, process and support groups for teens and adults. Dustin is currently developing workshop seminars for married couples, teens with sexual purity issues, and individuals with spiritual distress.

Services Dustin provides:

• Therapy for individuals, couples, children, and families.
• Psychoeducation courses for social and emotional development
• Spiritual direction
• Singleness and Sexuality
• Premarital counseling
• Anger Management
• Adolescent sex addiction (Non-criminal)
• Skill development in communication, coping, and establishing/maintaining boundaries.
• Support and Process groups

Lorinne Burke, MMFT, LCPC, PC

Lorinne-HeadshotFamily Therapy, Play Therapy, Individual Counseling for Adults, and Adolescents


Lorinne has been providing therapy to children, families and individuals since 1995. She specializes in working with families in crisis, adolescents, traumatized children, & cultural issues. Lorinne also works with women facing depression, family & work issues.

Gwen Felton, MA, LCPC, PC

Individual Counseling

For Children, Adolescents and Adults


Children & Adolescents

Gwen Felten specializes in working with children. She utilizes play therapy techniques to address issues with children. Play is the means for developing many essential aspects in our lives such as: coping strategies; expressing feelings; managing anger and frustration; bonding with others; interacting appropriately with others; and attending to activities. Gwen believes play provides a world of mental, physical, and emotional learning opportunities for children.


Areas of Specialty with Children & Adolescents:

•             Attachment Issues

•             ADD/ADHD

•             Depression and Anxiety

•             Child Abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual)

•             Anger Management

•             Adjustment Disorders including: Divorce, Foster Care Placement, Blended Families,



Gwen Felten also provides counseling services for Adults. She has experience working with Women’s Issues and Couples’ Work. In counseling she assists adults in identifying patterns in their thinking and behaving. She helps the client learn how to change these patterns in order to improve their overall quality of life. Gwen incorporates developing coping skills in her therapy to help clients with their life problems. Gwen utilizes “Faith Based” counseling to support the process of therapy.


Areas of Specialty with Adults:

•             Depression and Anxiety

•             Anger Management

•             Abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual)

•             Adjustment Disorders including: Divorce, Life Transitions, and Work Related Issues



•             Bachelor of Arts – (Psychology) MSU Billings

•             Masters of Arts – (Counseling/Human Services) University of Colorado


Professional Memberships:

•             Association for Play Therapy, Inc.

•             American Mental Health Counselors Association

Bob Bakko, D.Min, LCPC, PC

Counseling for Individuals Adults, Adolescents and Couples

Dr. Bob Bakko is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and has been practicing, in Billings, since 1975. Bob works primarily with problems common to adults, adolescents and couples. These problems may include: depression or mood, trauma, anxiety, grief, relationship issues, victim issues, work related issues, problems with anger or abusive behavior, conflict, sexual orientation or preference, communication, parenting, acting out behavior, a need for pastoral counseling or spiritual issues. He can also provide assessments and evaluations for specific problems. Bob’s orientation has always respected a person’s “faith tradition” in the healing process.


Specialized Treatment Programs:

•             Living Without Violence (anger management for men in the home and work place)

•             Treatment for Deviant Sexual Behavior


Professional Memberships:

•             Lifetime Member and Past President of the American Mental Health Counselors Association

•             Lifetime Member and Past President of the Montana Clinical Mental Health Counselors Association

•             Governing Council Member (past) American Counseling Association

•             National Association of Forensic Counselors

•             Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers

•             American Association of Christian Counselors

•             National Board of Certified Counselors

•             Montana Mental Health Association

•             Coalition for Christians in Private Practice



•             Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

•             Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor

•             Certified Domestic Violence Counselor IV


Referrals Accepted From:

•             Employee Assistance


•             Managed Care, HMO’s,


•             Insurance

•             Minirith Meyer

•             Rapha

Forgiveness is NOT a free pass

No one can force you to forgive.  You also can’t be forced into taking vitamins, staying away from abusers, and following your dreams.  Let’s get this straight right now.  Forgiveness is NOT for the other person.  It’s for YOU.

When you forgive, you no longer put the energy into the other person, into hoping for their pain, or wishing they would finally make yours right.  You put yourself in charge of the future and allow the past to stay where it will do you the least amount of harm.

Not everyone wants to be in charge of themselves.  It’s a harsh truth that being victimized  can leave some people in a bitter place of waiting for someone else to make it right.  That feeling can be somewhat addictive.  If you’re the victim, you’re always right, you’re always sure the other person is wrong, you never have to give up on what you’re owed.

It’s not actually a good life.  But it has a dark addictive pull.  Some people would rather be right than happy.  And if you only hurt yourself, that’s horrible.  But permanent victimization allows you to hurt everyone around you.  The most horrible behavior I’ve seen as a therapist has been justified by victim status.  Guys who wind up in an anger management group for knocking their wive across a room, all say the same thing. “She came after me!  I wouldn’t have had to do anything if she would have just shut up.”  Women who’ve abused their children or allowed one boyfriend after another to do it for them, same thing.  “He called me a b****, you would have hit him too.”  “I didn’t hurt my child, my boyfriend did and I’m being blamed!”  The worst behavior is always justified by how badly the abuser has been victimized.  And it’s crap.

No one ever had the right to abuse you no matter what happened to them.  You do not have the right to abuse anyone else no matter how crappy your day, your week, or your whole life has been.  Forgiveness is the verb that allows us to let go of how badly we were treated so we don’t recreate the cycle for someone else.  We make the effort to let go of what we’re owed, so that we can get what we truly want.  You need more than what you’re owed by the people who have hurt you.  You definitely ought to want more than that.

When you hang on to what you’re owed, you are more likely to take the payment from someone who wasn’t even there.  Let yourself become the victim and you will have a black hole sucking all the light out of your relationships with no end in sight.

Do you truly want what you think you’re owed so damn much that you will sacrifice everyone around you to that goal?  Will you sacrifice your own happiness because your need for vindication is so extreme?

Forgiveness hurts and it’s hard, and you will wish you didn’t have to do it.  And it’s the best hard thing you will ever do for yourself.  Imagine you had spend 5 years eating snickers and watching vapid TV with all your free time.  Now you really want to fit into a decent outfit and be attractive to the opposite sex.  You have 5 years of damage to undo and you will be sweating, screaming, throwing out foods that don’t help you, watching TV from an elliptical, and discussing how you let yourself go with friends and professional helpers.  In about a year or less, you will walk into a room and show off every painful moment it took to get you into fighting shape.  You will love every moment you hurt because it led you to feel this good right now.  It will be betterbecause it took the pain to achieve.

When you forgive, you take on the pain of your life without any hope of someone else rescuing you from it.  You take on the pain that the other person will never accept and you feel pain that was never a fair or just payment for your actions.  You agree that you will take on all the pain for both of you and bear the entire load.  Because that is the ONLY way you’re ever going to be in a position to dump the whole thing overboard.  You can sit on that couch and feel the pain of rejection but not take on the extra possibility of failure, or you can lever yourself up and make painful changes that lead to that moment of freedom you’ve dreamed of.

We’re going to spend the next 4 days on the specifics of how to forgive.  I hope you’ve been convinced to at least think about this, for your sake and the sake of the people you actually like.

Identify and Deal With Passive-Agressive People

Last week I answered a question from a woman talking about divorce.  You may have noticed that I didn’t deal directly with her questions about her husband’s behavior, but wrote about divorce, ultimatums, and asking yourself tough questions instead.  That’s prioritizing.  Deal with the hurting angry person in front of you before you move on to the hurting, angry behavior of the crazy person somewhere else.  Deal with your own pain before you attempt to deal with someone else’s.

But then you still have to deal with that other person at some point.  So let’s identify passive aggression and how it may exist in your life, then we can talk about how to effectively short circuit that behavior.

Ways to identify Passive Agression

1) The tone of voice is nasty but the words are fine.  Sometimes, the words are exactly what you’ve been wanting to hear.  Just never in that tone.

2) The person speaking looks either sainted, or martyred and on their way to sainthood.

3) Lots of victim statements.  “I never get what I want anyway.”  “You only say negatives to me.”  “I’m done.  I can’t live like this anymore.”

4) Extremes!  You can hear these coming from the words; always, never, & every.

5) You get cast as the bad guy, wet blanket, person who says no, etc.  This is done with lots of sighing and very few direct statements to you.

6) Sulking, pouting, and hiding out in bedrooms or bathrooms.  Let’s face it.  Nobody needs THAT much time in the bathroom.

7) Excuses, lots of excuses for job performance, chores that aren’t done, responsibilities they accepted and won’t complete, etc.

8) Their “help” usually slows the process down or stops it completely.  This is then your fault and you never let them help you anyway, so why should they try? (Say that last bit in a hurt tone to get the real effect here).

9) Ambiguous statements about their intentions so you can’t hold them accountable later.

10) Blaming whatever happens on someone else, or on the flip side of this, “It’s all my fault.  It’s always all my fault!”

11) When you try to confront on any of the above behaviors, the other person will act hurt, ask you to give them examples and deny everything.  They will also try and guilt trip you about how you never appreciate them and always have to bring up the negatives.

If you recognize these behaviors in people you have to deal with at home or work, God Bless you.  You’re dealing with a passive aggressive.  These behaviors may be part of a larger problem of self-centeredness, repressed anger, or lack of empathy.  They can also be a sign that the person you’re dealing with has gotten away with this brattiness for years and expects it to work on you too!  Let’s stop’em cold.

Think of cold water in your face.  It’s a shock.  It’s not what you expected. It’s uncomfortable.  Passive Aggression works because people respond in usual ways that the perpetrator of this behavior expects and plans for.  You need to do the verbal equivalent of cold water in their face.

Shock – Say something bizarre, off topic, or innapropriate to the time and setting.  Once you’ve thrown them off guard, go back to the original conversation and act like you never said anything.  The Passive Aggressive says, “You never say anything good about me.”  You say, “I think about farting in my bosses office every time I’m in there.”

Unexpected – What have you typically said back to this person?  Spend some time figuring that out so you don’t do it again.  They’ve said, “I’m done. I can’t live like this anymore.”  and you’ve typically told the  m to calm down, everyone wants you to stay.  Switch it up.  “Can you describe exactly what you’re done with and how long this will last?”  “There’s the door, I’d appreciate it if you locked that behind you.”  “I think you should be more mad.  Why don’t you go knock on the bosses door and tell this to him.”

Uncomfortable – Passive aggression is all about three things; getting reassurance without having to responsibly ask for it, getting your way without having to reciprocate, and being controlling while having all the benefits assigned to victims.  Stop giving this person any of the payoffs.

This will sound mean at first and it will be met with resistance.  “You don’t really love me!” expects the response, “Of course I do!”  Instead, “If you need reassurance there is a nicer way to approach me for that.”  “Somedays you are harder to love than others.”  “I’m sorry you feel that way.”  Do not give reassurance when it is asked in a negative or combatative manner.  Let the other person know you are willing to reassure, when you are asked appropriately.

Passive aggressive behavior is about wanting other people to help you without the responsiblity of helping them back.  You scratch my back, and I’ll whine about how you don’t scratch it like you used to and accuse you of being “tit for tat” when you want anything in return.  The expected response to “(deep heavy sigh) Oh, ok, I guess I’ll have to spend my only day off on cleaning up the back yard.” is something about how you don’t want them to loose their only free time.  Stop giving in, it only encourages all the bad behavior.  The new uncomfortable response is, “It’s your choice what you do with your day.  The back yard needs to be cleaned.  If you’re not willing to do that, I do not want to hear your opinion of how I did it.”  Or, “I’m glad that you’ve given up your day off to get that done, I’ll make sure everyone stays out of your way.”  They may not clean up, but they will never again skate out with permission from you to enjoy their day while they leave you holding the bag.

It’s aggression.  Passive or not, it’s still about wanting to control the situation and using bad behavior to get there.  This person is not a victim and they do not need any more excuses.  Statements that are all about poor-dear-me-my-life-is-so-bad, are designed to ellicit your helpful response.  Stop helping.  If your spouse looks at you and states, “I never get anything I want” in the defeated tone of voice designed to make you feel guilty, look right back at them and say, “Well I get a number of things I want.”  Smile and walk away.  If your co-worker says, “That’s ok, we can go to McDonalds.  I can’t eat anything there, but I need to loose weight anyway”  look right at her and happily say, “Thank you!”

You do not need to give in to people who won’t ask directly for what they want.  You don’t have to scream at them and you don’t need to fight with them either.  Imagine you’re throwing cold water and be prepared to shock, do the unexpected, and make the behavior uncomfortable.  It will take time, but you can teach people which behaviors you will actually put up with and which ones will get doused.

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1597 Avenue D, Billings, Montana
Phone: (406) 259-6161
Fax: (406) 259-5588