Introducing Dr. John “Doug” Burford

Dr. Burford is a minister, trauma therapist, certified spiritual director, writer, and authorized facilitator of two Gottman Institute workshops.


Doctor of Ministry, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, La Mirada, CA 2005

Master of Arts in Counseling, Mid-America Nazarene University, Olathe, KS 2014

Master of Divinity, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ 1989

Bachelor of Science in Social Work, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 1984


Kansas: Licensed Professional Counselor (#2682)

Individual Supervisor: Bryan Vignery, LCPC #787; Group Supervisor: Jan Frye, LCPC #042

Intensive Retreats for Marriage Counseling are offered in Overland Park, Kansas

Personally Speaking

Life experiences shape every counselor’s vantage point and hone the information and tools collected through academic training. My particular experiences include:

  • Growing up in a military family.
  • Losing my father at age 5, and gaining a step-father.
  • Juggling with my wife a two-career household and academic pursuits while raising three amazing children and adapting to special needs.
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    Caring for aging parents, including managing dementia.
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    Experiencing the joys and struggles of various stages of 30+ years of married life, and the blessing of emerging through them.
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    Welcoming In-laws and grandchildren into our family.

Like you, my experiences have come with stress. Families are under unprecedented stress today, which can be a major enemy of marriages. But stress doesn’t have to turn marital partners into enemies, nor need it be allowed to destroy a relationship. There are ways we can protect each other and, in the process, protect our marriages.

My wife and I have faced our own personal and professional stressors. Jointly we have jumped through the hoops of academia, changed cities four times, raised babies, guided teenagers, helped a child overcome a disability, changed careers, pinched pennies, aided parents in transitions, and re-fitted an empty nest. We've been helped by tools that served us well during these stressors, and you can be helped by them, too.

A prevalent cultural problem is isolation and loneliness. In fact, in 2018 Great Britain’s Prime Minister added a cabinet position called The Minister of Loneliness. It seems like most technological advancements are new ways to do things all by ourselves. This can create loneliness—even in marriage—as instead of drawing together to accomplish tasks, we isolate to “get things done” on one computer screen or another. We are not made for isolation and loneliness; we are made for relationship.

Couples need help in this century to challenge cultural isolation and reclaim friendship with others, and with each other. Companionship, and having a best friend with whom to walk through life is part of wellness.

Another prevalent cultural problem that affects marriages is the sexualization of our culture. Sex is everywhere, yet rarely depicted in a healthy way.

Often, it is depicted as exciting outside of marriage and boring or nonexistent within. Practices are commended in popular media that are damaging to relationships, and can leave wounds. But these wounds can be healed, and the truth behind the joys of married intimacy discovered or restored.

A healthy marriage is also about valuing instead of invalidating the ways we are different. We can have different ideas about our shared lives and still help each other be our best selves.

Dr. John Gray says, “Opposites attract, and then attack.” Don't try to change your partner into a carbon copy of yourself. Many marriages have wasted years trying to change each other, rather than finding strength in their differences as they adjust to each other. 

My wife and I are complete opposites according to any temperament scale or personality test. Some people might call that “incompatibility;” we’ve come to experience it as complimentary, discovering the value in different approaches to life.

Doug and Claudia Burford at the Kauffman Performing Arts Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

I'm not a big believer in "incompatibility." If you are both facing the same direction in life, and generally agree on what's important, and have the desire to restore your marriage, I will offer you the tools to heal and nurture your relationship.

I would love to help you gain tools and understandings that will enable you to experience a new, mutually satisfying marriage.

Clinical Experience

Dr. Doug Burford started his professional career in 1984 as a social worker in an inner-city environment. The relational dysfunctions that often worsen urban poverty exposed the limits of social work for creating life change.

This led Doug to seminary for training to address the spiritual roots of human problems. He has held pastoral positions in Presbyterian and in Alliance (C&MA) churches—all in quite different settings—adding breadth to his experience of American cultures. Pastoral ministry led Doug to an appreciation for therapeutic work as complimentary to spiritual growth, and an important aspect of one’s journey toward wholeness. He wanted to learn more about how to help people through counseling.

While the graduate counseling program was intense and equipping, Dr. Burford wanted to expand his expertise in helping couples through relationship challenges. Nearly everything he read mentioned the research of Dr. John Gottman. Dr. Gottman’s writings, and the resources offered by The Gottman Institute, recounted relationship situations all couples could relate to, and offered practical approaches to overcoming familiar problems.

After becoming trained as an Educator to lead the Gottman Institute’s “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” program, Doug completed three levels of training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, as well as specialized training in affairs and trauma. He has also completed a Certificate Course with Dr. Sue Johnson that integrates Attachment Theory and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. He is currently studying the research of Dr. Patrick Carnes on sexual addiction in a couples context.

Dr. Burford leads with his wife, Claudia, “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” workshop. She is a trained Facilitator for the Gottman Institute’s “Bringing Baby Home” program, which Doug co-leads with her.

Dr. Burford is also experienced with trauma recovery, using the therapeutic intervention of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). His experience with trauma recovery helps him to see where individual trauma in the history of either or both partners might be triggered in relationship interactions, resulting in marital struggles otherwise hard to understand.

"I don't believe in 'incompatibility.'  
If you are both facing the same direction in life...and have a desire to restore your marriage, I will offer you the tools to heal and nurture your relationship."

Additional Qualifications

Advanced training in the Gottman Method (Levels I, II, & III) (The Gottman Institute, Seattle, Washington)

Certificate Course in Emotionally Focused Therapy with Sue Johnson: Attachment-
based interventions for couples in crisis

Advanced Specialty Training in Treating Affairs and Trauma in Couples Therapy (The Gottman Institute, Seattle, Washington)
Leader - The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work (The Gottman Institute, Seattle, Washington) co-led with his wife, Claudia
EMDR Therapist (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing)
Facilitator and Facilitator Trainer/Director (Prepare/Enrich Relationship Assessment)
Facilitator, SYMBIS Premarital Assessment

Clinician Member, The Gottman Relationship Checkup

Clinical Pastoral Education (completed at Heartland Health Systems, St. Joseph, MO)

Certified in Dementia Care (Johnson County Community College)
Faculty, The Leadership Institute, Orange, CA (a certification program for spiritual directors)

Other Affiliations

Chaplain with Marketplace Chaplains USA, Dallas, TX

Certified in Spiritual Direction (The Leadership Institute, Orange, CA)

Ordained (Christian & Missionary Alliance, Colorado Springs, CO)

A picture of two leather chairs in front of a fireplace in Dr. Burford's Overland Park office

My Overland Park Couples Therapy office.

Office: Overland Park, Kansas

My office is in Overland Park, KS, a suburb of the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, which straddles the Kansas/Missouri state line.

Kansas City is a hidden gem in America—an historic center, boasting the nation’s WWI Museum, leading industries, fine arts, major league sports, respected hospitals and universities, growing suburbs in every direction, creative shopping, and a plethora of dining options.

"...A healthy marriage is also about valuing, instead of invalidating the ways we're different. We can have different ideas about our shared lives and still help each other be our best selves."

Dr. Burford is also a certified spiritual director and on the faculty of The Leadership Institute of Orange, CA—a certification program for spiritual directors.

In his down time, Doug pursues his decades-long avocations of writing, and of photography—being especially drawn to still and silent images encased in fog. With his wife, Doug enjoys ministry, shared leadership of seminars, exploring coffee shops and antique malls, rearranging the furniture, and traveling West to visit their children and grandchildren.

Contact us and ask for a consult with Dr. Burford.

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