Mark Olkowski was born and raised just outside the Bay Area in Northern California. Before moving to Texas, he spent seven years living in San Diego. Apparently, something was missing out there (surely not good weather), so he relocated to the Dallas area and is here to stay. He earned his Bachelors in Psychology at San Diego State University and his Masters in Marital and Family Therapy at Bethel Seminary San Diego. Throughout his time there, his love for therapy grew, but his passion for the helping profession was in the making long before.
Growing up in a family of six with extended family close by, Mark did not lack for a variety of relationship “highs” and “lows.” Marital discord, secrecy, divorce, emotional abuse, prolonged anger, childhood trauma—many of the challenging aspects of relationships were found throughout his family ties. And yet, his deepest focus remained on the “good” that can be found in relationships. Love, friendship, intimacy, passion, safety, acceptance—the sort of personal and interpersonal connections that, when experienced, add hope, security, and vibrancy to life. Altogether, Mark discovered the reality that relationships are powerful and is dedicated to making the most of them, whether in his personal life or when working with others.
When it comes to getting to know him, Mark is the kind of guy who goes with the flow. Give him a quiet place to read, or a loud get-together, and he’ll be just fine either way. He thoroughly enjoys laughter and lightheartedness, even goofiness, but he won’t miss a chance to get “deep” when the occasion calls for it. More than almost anything, he loves family (but just know that pizza and coffee are high up on his list, and God is at the top), and he would happily spend his life in the service of others.
Also, Mark wholeheartedly believes that authenticity and vulnerability are vital to building connections, and he is open with his greatest affections and his deepest struggles. In fact, he believes that it is often when we are knee-deep in the struggle that we grow the most (however painfully!). To name a few, he has questioned his worth, struggled with shame, felt empty and meaningless, and battled anger and depression. But, in the process, he has (with thanks) found hope, compassion, forgiveness, contentment, and peace. Most importantly, he has come to understand one of his most deeply held beliefs, that all people are inherently lovable and of immense worth.