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.
  • Caring for aging parents, including managing dementia.
  • Experiencing the joys and struggles of various stages of 30+ years of married life, and the blessing of emerging through them.
  • 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.

"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."

Clinical Experience

I started my 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 me to seminary for training. I wanted to address the spiritual roots of human problems. Since then, I've 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 me to an appreciation for therapeutic work as complimentary to spiritual growth, and an important aspect of one’s journey toward wholeness. I wanted to learn more about how to help people through counseling.

While the graduate counseling program was intense and equipping, I wanted to continue to expand my skills in helping couples through relationship challenges. Nearly everything I 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, I finished three levels of training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy, as well as specialized training in affairs and trauma. I've also completed a Certificate Course with Dr. Sue Johnson that integrates Attachment Theory and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and studied the research of Dr. Patrick Carnes on sexual addiction in a couples context.

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

With trauma recovery, I can use the therapeutic intervention of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Trauma recovery helps me to see where individual trauma in the history of either or both partners might be triggered in relationship interactions. The resulting in marital struggles might be otherwise hard to understand.

I'm also a certified spiritual director and on the faculty of The Leadership Institute of Orange, CA—a certification program for spiritual directors.

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

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

It was money well spent!

[Our relationship was] in danger of ending. [We needed] the ability to communicate clearly.

My wife found CTI on line and we liked the approach and that [our therapist] was faith based.

Doug Burford was able to facilitate the meetings without leading us. He encouraged us to work through existing issues in the sessions as we learned the new techniques.

I would highly recommend Doug. He is a caring and compassionate man that truly had an interest in helping us learn to better communicate and understand what things are influencing the way we communicate.

We are better able to communicate what we are feeling to each other. We better understand what is influencing how we communication. We have a better understanding of how each other processes what is being said.

What would you say to couples that are considering working with Couples Therapy Inc.?

Don't put off getting help form someone that has a true interest in helping you help yourself! It was money well spent!

Overland Park, Kansas Couples Retreat - Dr. Burford

We feel confident in our new tools and skills that Dr. Doug has taught us.

Our relationship was troubled. We had begun couples therapy weekly regimens prior to attending Couples Therapy Inc. It didn't feel that we did much or progressed much in our weekly sessions. Also, the therapist seemed to have to be reminded of our problems because she didn’t seem to remember anything about us each week.

Dr. Doug Burford, was very kind and easy to talk with. He was great at promoting spiritual involvement without feeling preached to. And he listened to what we have done and adjusted anything he needed to meet our needs.

He was absolutely great. We feel confident in our new tools and skills that Dr. Doug has taught us. He finds ways of conveying information and skills in a way that sticks and always you to reinforce and build on them. We have improved our conflict communication and resolutions. We can express our feelings in a productive manner without using bad phrases or words. And we feel stronger that we can face future challenges together as a team.

We feel we are now capable of continuing healing and communicating without hurting each other. We have new tools and don’t fear a potential conflict.

We had an amazing experience with Couples Therapy Inc. The whole process has helped us so much. My husband and I feel like we have a renewed relationship or new in general. We know each other on a deeper level that we never knew existed and now we can pursue getting stronger.

Overland Park, Kansas Couples Retreat - Dr. Burford

We will forever be grateful to Doug. He gave our marriage a second chance.

We were in a place after 20 years of marriage where we weren’t understanding one another and were considering divorce.

We had done therapy one other point in our marriage, and had a good experience but never with Couples Therapy Inc.

We chose Couples Therapy because of Doug’s years of experience and because he is Christian based. We were hesitant due to a fear of judgment and getting someone who didn’t get our issues.

Doug helped us to find ways to understand one another, and to know that we were both trying to accomplish the same things but with different approaches. We learned to be on the same team.

Doug was understanding, non-judgmental and related everything we did back to a biblical basis, which was so beneficial for us. The videoed fight was eye-opening and good to see. It made our issues easier to see.

I would recommend Doug and actually have already to a few close friends and family. I would trust him to get to the root of their issues and give solid tools to use to better their marriage

Now we have a different approach to arguments. More of a discussion to understanding rather than a fight. Work in progress and implementation of tools given. More understanding of one another than we have had in years.

We will forever be grateful to Doug. He gave our marriage a second chance

What would you say to couples that are considering working with Couples Therapy Inc.?

Don’t give up on your spouse. Put in the work. It’s worth it

Overland Park, Kansas Couples Retreat - Dr. Burford