Introducing James W. Ramsey, M.A., MFT

Jim Ramsey Christian Marriage Counselor

James W. Ramsey is a certified Gottman Therapist, thrice ordained minister, writer & educator.



M.A. Fuller Graduate School of Clinical Psychology (Clinical Psychology) 1971.

M.A.,  Fuller Seminary in Theology, (Master of Divinity) 1971.

 B.S. San Diego State University, (Psychology) 1967.


Montana: Marriage and Family Therapist (#147)

Montana: Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (#134)

California: Licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor #7233 (inactive)

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"Jim Ramsey was non-judgmental, accepting, wise, discerning, and strategic. Jim seemed to know exactly what had happened to us and why it happened... how we could crawl our way out of this painful place we were in. He’s a very deep and approachable man. I would definitely recommend him to others..."  - Recent Marriage Retreat Participant

Practice Values

I truly enjoy working with all of my clients. Couples who have been told that their situation is extremely difficult or even impossible to help will find support with me. You may not know know how to address “irreconcilable” differences. But you don’t have to become stuck in a relationship that grows more angry and difficult over time. You can learn how to understand and value differences, and to see how they can work in your relationship.

Do you have “irreconcilable differences?” Did you know that these don't have to result in painful arguments?  You can empathize and support each other, even when you don’t see eye to eye. You don't have to persuade our partner to think and act as you do. Nor do you have to prove that we are right and they are wrong. You can learn to see things from each other's perspectives and learn valuable lessons from each other.

The Gottman research has shown that a healthy, growing marriage is founded upon a strong friendship. The most important thing a couple can learn is how to be each other's best friend, and to truly know and support each other. 

We have far more power to make our partner happy than we think we have. This is particularly true for men who have concluded that they can't please their wives – no matter what they do! The secret to having a happy marriage is to show your partner every day, through your behavior, that no other person, thing or activity is more important to you than they are.A strong friendship and a solid connection can be impacted by a variety of pressures, especially during the early years of marriage. As the focus shifts away from their relationship and toward childcare, money and work demands, they may find that they have very little time or energy for their partner. Without realizing it, they lose their connection, becoming more like roommates and less like lovers.

Not investing enough time in their relationship, means they stop being curious, stop asking questions, and stop providing support. The relationship gradually becomes either emotionally volatile or disengaged. Over time, their relationship appears less positive and hopeful, and more negative, unhappy and discouraging.

The root issue is that they haven’t nurtured their friendship, so they’ve lost that deep connection. Perhaps they lose their sense of who their partner is and how they feel about them. If the couple allows me to help them restore their original friendship, rebuild their fondness and admiration system, and teach them how to become more relationally skillful, I know they can make amazing progress!

Personally Speaking

I have found that early hardships and challenges don’t need to negatively define the rest of our lives.  When I was three years old, my father was wounded while serving overseas as a Marine.  Within a year of returning home, he was killed in a motorcycle accident, leaving my mother to raise three children alone, including my brother, who was born the day after my father’s death.  Although my mother demonstrated remarkable strength and resilience, losing my dad at such an early age was a difficult loss for me.

When I was six she married a Navy officer, ten years her senior, who had a thirteen-year-old son.  He adopted the three of us kids and we became a successfully blended family.  As a Navy family, we moved once or twice a year, requiring me to make new friends, only to have to leave . 

But when my step-father Charles retired from military service we eventually settled in the San Diego area. I felt fortunate to finally have a happy, functional family, and permanent home to keep me grounded and secure. There I was able to finish my schooling and make lifelong friends.

As I studied psychology at San Diego State, I recognized in me a growing desire to help couples develop strong, secure marriages with happy families; regardless of the hardships and challenges they may have faced growing up. Reading case studies about the many painful relational issues faced by couples, motivated me to become a professional marriage therapist.  

In California, I earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Psychology, plus a Master’s Degree in Theology.  Throughout most of my career, I was bi-vocational; working simultaneously as a Professional Marriage Therapist and as a Pastor.  In both capacities I have encouraged people to nurture healthy relationships and communities by demonstrating love, grace and compassion to those around them. 

It has been my joy to help people untangle their relationships, improve communication skills, and build strong, successful families.  And while many therapists choose to be eclectic in their practices I have had the privilege of working nearly exclusively with couples throughout my entire career.  This depth of experience and training means I have learned a tremendous amount from each of the couples I have worked with in my over forty years of practice.

Personal Challenges

In 2000 I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer and treated with surgery and nine months of chemotherapy. During this time, I learned to focus on my true identity and mission, rather than identifying myself as a cancer patient and worrying about a diagnosis that might be terminal.

In 2013 I survived a devastating car accident, but lost my wife and her mother in that crash.  I was driving the car when it lost traction in a freak snowstorm and was hit by a truck. Debby and I had been married 46 years; she was the mother of our two sons and meant the world to me. Now she was suddenly gone. I found myself rattling around, all alone, in the big dream house we had built 35 years before, and looking out of the window at the motor home we had just purchased to enjoy our “golden years” together.  It taught me the grief of losing a spouse, of rebuilding my self-identity after losing my other half.

It would have been easy to blame God for this horrific loss but, with God’s help, I was able to endure these ordeals without getting angry. Instead of focusing on my pain, He taught me to focus on what He wanted me to do with my life, and to trust Him with my future.

Later that year, I attended a church, to hear a friend of mine give the morning message.  After the service, I met a woman who was a friend of our family and I hadn't seen for over 20 years. She had been my son’s high school German teacher and at 40 years old my son still regarded her as his favorite teacher.

Diane, herself had also unexpectedly lost her husband, three months before, after forty-two years of marriage.  And now, to my son, Diane is no longer just his favorite high school teacher but also a woman that he calls “mom.”

These experiences have blessed me with true empathy for anyone who has lost a loved one or faced life-threatening situations. They've also taught me that life goes on and true love and happiness are still possible.

My life lessons have led me to believe that I am here to serve others by helping them transform and strengthen their relationships, and get through the difficult times in their lives. Along with other ministries Diane and I also lead couples’ workshops together.

Jim Ramsey and his wife Diane

Clinical Office.

Before my wife and I decided to build my counseling office on our property, I worked out of an office in downtown Missoula for many years.  My current, on-property, office complex covers 1,000 square feet, comprised of a waiting room, a secretary’s office, a counseling office, a restroom, a workroom, a group room, and a paved parking area. The property includes an acre and a half of lawn, raised gardens and orchards, as well as mature trees, bushes and flowers, which are all surrounded by a 16-foot mature arborvitae hedge.  For the past 25+ years, I’ve been happy to be able to provide such a private, beautiful and peaceful setting for my clients, as they come to do our confidential work together.  

Jim's office is comfortable and inviting.

Missoula is a beautiful city located between two mountain wildernesses, with two blue-ribbon rivers running parallel through it and two other rivers nearby. The city has excellent restaurants, shops, theaters, and medical facilities, and offers the University of Montana, which provides quality sports and liberal arts activities.

We are very fortunate to live in Western Montana, with its grand mountains and pristine lakes, rivers and streams. The Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys are nicknamed the “Banana Belt,” because during winter the climate remains milder than in the rest of the state. It is a phenomenal place to live, surrounded by natural beauty.

I look forward to helping you rediscover your connection and transform your relationship.

Evidence-Based Treatment Models

Fully Certified by the Gottman Institute
July 28, 2007   #87  

Certifications and Associations

Clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Certified Presenter of the Gottman Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work

Certified Presenter for Smart Discipline Parenting Workshops

Charter Member of the American Association of Christian Counselors

The National Association of Professional Speakers

Board of Christian Professional & Pastoral Counselors

Certified Presenter of the Gottman Art and Science of Love Couples Workshop

California Community College Teaching Credential in psychology, philosophy and Religion

Montana Certified Domestic Mediator

Montana Certified Biofeedback Technician

Certified Mars and Venus Therapist & Workshop Presenter through John Gray's Mars and Venus Institute

Recent Lectures

  • American Association of Christian Counselors National Conference Presenter
  • American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference Presenter
  • National and International Armed Services Groups, including The War College, and weekend Couples and Parenting Workshops on Air Force bases
  • A Couples Weekend Workshop for officers in the San Diego Police Department
  • Dealing with gender differences in the workplace and at home workshops for auto and RV dealerships employees.
  • Featured speaker at Montana State University for "Grandparents Parenting Grandchildren" Conference
  • Featured speaker for Daycare Program Directors State Conference
  •  Speaking on marriage and family issues at churches as well as conducting couples retreats conferencesSpeaking at community service clubs about marriage and family issues

"Nothing in life is more important than relationships. Money, status, and power are insignificant in comparison to our need to love and to be loved well."  - Jim Ramsey

Hobbies involve time spent on the water.

For over 40 years, Jim Ramsey has been blending principled guidance using the highest level of training provided by the respected Gottman Institute.

Driving Times to Missoula

Under 2 hours:
Butte, MT;  Helena, MT

Under 3 hours:
Spokane, Washington

Under 9 hours:
Casper, Wyoming,  Salt Lake City, Utah

Hobbies and Interests

Any recreational activity taking place in or near oceans, lakes, rivers and streams is on our list! We both lived near/on the ocean for a time when we were younger, so we both have saltwater in our veins. Laughter and a lot of affectionate kidding around are typical when we are together.

Being real and transparent is important to us, especially with each other.

Even when our partner's behavior appears insensitive or negative, we try not to assume the worst. We have a lot of fun together, and now that we are in our seventies, we have even more time to give to each other. We consider ourselves to be "happily married newlyweds."

Having grown up in San Diego, I love to body surf, scuba dive, as well as fish. Just before starting college, I had the opportunity to work on an 80-ton commercial tuna boat for the entire summer. During that time, we were in port for a grand total of three days. We caught albacore with cane poles and flipped them over our shoulders onto the deck of the ship using barbless jigs and baited barbless hooks. As a kid, I had read about this kind of tuna fishing and dreamed of doing it someday. When I lived my dream, it was happy time for me!

My wife and I share many meaningful goals and enjoy investing our time in helping others. Laughter and a lot of affectionate kidding around are typical when we are together.

Outdoor activities- hiking, camping, fishing and hunting- are all great Montana hobbies. We enjoy travel and cruises- especially all kinds of adventure trips overseas. Any recreational activity taking place in or near oceans, lakes, rivers and streams is on our list! We both lived near/on the ocean for a time when we were younger, so we both have saltwater in our veins.

Work Summary

  • Family Consultation Service, San Diego, California (internship in marriage and family counseling)
  • Family Enrichment Service, Missoula, Montana
  • Aletheia Marriage Counseling (office) in Missoula, Montana

Christian Ministries

  • President, Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship San Diego State University
  • Youth for Christ Club Director, San Diego, California
  • Youth Pastor, First Assembly of God Church, San Diego, California
  • Youth Pastor, Bethany Church, Alhambra, California
  • Associate Pastor, Peninsula Christian Center, Redwood City, CA
  • Founder and Director of The Way In Coffee House Ministry Redwood City, California
  • Pastor, Bancroft Baptist Church, Spring Valley, California
  • Associate Pastor, Christian Life Center, Missoula, MT
  • Pastor, Calvary Chapel, Missoula, Montana

A Magnificent Obsession

Anyone who excels in a given area could be described as having a "magnificent obsession." Having devoted their lives to something that's truly meaningful, they don't allow themselves to be distracted by the trivialities of life.

For over 40 years I have been devoting my life to helping people to come alive, both relationally and spiritually. Nothing in life is more important than relationships. Money, status, and power are insignificant in comparison to our need to love and to be loved well.

It's amazing for me to realize that I have been a professional marriage and family therapist for over forty years. At the age of seventy-three, I’m an active marriage therapist, because I enjoy helping couples regain their spark and I am inspired by the work. I lead workshops and seminars, write books, and develop e-learning tools. I am a member of the National Speakers Association and speak on men, couples’ and parenting issues to various groups and associations such as churches, parent associations, military bases and Police Departments. I hope to continue to serve others for many years to come.

People Who Have Inspired Me

I am most inspired by those individuals who demonstrate stewardship by consistently giving, loving and sharing with others throughout their lives.

Of all those in the counseling profession who have dedicated themselves to helping people, two individuals stand out in my mind: John Gray and John Gottman.

John Gray has remarkable insight into the gender issues that impact marriages by causing many conflicts. His message is inspiring. One of my favorite John Gray quotes is, "I believe marriage can be a lifetime of ‘passionate monogamy’."

John Gottman is one of the finest research scientists of all time, having spent over forty years studying more than three thousand couples, to better understand the intervening variables that determine success or failure in marriage. He is married to renowned clinical psychologist, Julie Gottman, and together they have built an organization that trains couple therapists all over the world to apply methods based on their research. I am honored to have been an early member of the Gottman Institute's team of therapists and have been a fully certified Gottman-Method Couples Therapist and Workshop Presenter for many years.

In the area of Christian service, Chuck Smith, Mr. Jones, and my own Grandpa McGinnis have been role models for me.

Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel personally mentored me for many years. He helped me start Montana’s first Calvary Chapel, which I pastored for thirty-five years. He spent his whole life establishing and building a congregation of 25,000 in Costa Mesa, California, and created a legacy of more than one thousand congregations all over the world. During a time when most churches discriminated against members of the counterculture because of their lifestyle and comportment, he welcomed everyone into his church to be accepted and loved. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted by God's Word and His love displayed through Chuck Smith and the many young ministers he trained, including me. As a young minister, I was impressed by how, both at church and at the summer camps, Chuck was always prepared to do the dirty work. He insisted on being called by his first name rather than by his title. This was the kind of man he was—completely focused on humbly helping others and teaching the Bible verse by verse. He wanted people to see the world through God's eyes and understand His great patience and unfailing love for us.

On a smaller, and yet equally impactful, level the pastor of the church in which my wife was raised has had a major impact on my life. He pastored that church for sixty-five years, teaching the Bible from cover to cover and helping his flock to understand what it means to be a healthy, loving Christian person, who is willing to put others first.

Finally, the man who had the most impact on my life was my Grandpa McGinnis, my greatest source of inspiration. He traveled across the state of Montana establishing new churches, while managing to provide for his wife and their nine children. Grandpa was also a businessman, as well as a farmer, he tended a garden and orchard, raised pigs, chickens, a milk cow and a heifer. At the same time, he always found the time to go fishing or hunting with his children and even with me. His children all grew up to be remarkable ministers, missionaries, teachers, and businessmen. My grandfather has been a tremendous influence, both in my life and in the lives of my children.

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