CASC Lumen Magazine_Winter 2021

Common Good Profile

mechanism to avoid dealing with the real issues at hand. The addicted person turns to porn when he or she feels lonely, overwhelmed or inadequate. Voelker has found that many of his clients turn to porn because they lack genuine connections. Ironically, porn erodes the connections they do have and stands in the way of forming deep romantic bonds.

relax and be kinder to themselves. “I think our culture and often our own families don’t value human dignity. We don’t give each other enough love and compassion and empathy. We’re too busy.” He wanted to create that space for understanding that the culture lacked. In his practice, Jake gives people space to be themselves. He honors their experiences, their traumas, their fears and their dreams, believing that in doing so, he is honoring their dignity as persons. As a therapist, Voelker is most interested in the psychological effects of trauma. He describes how harmful experiences, whether demonstrably significant or seemingly insignificant, cause us to form negative beliefs about ourselves, which can lead to a whole slew of unproductive coping mechanisms. In order to defeat these beliefs and behaviors, we must process the experience that allowed them to be formed in the first place. Voelker uses a process in his practice known as EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), which simulates REM sleep to help patients process traumatic memories. When it comes to his other specialties, Voelker sees them through the lens of trauma, always searching for the roots of the behaviors he encounters. One of his areas of focus is pornography addiction – a direct attack on the dignity of both men and women. He notes that porn is highly addictive and that, once the addiction begins, it is often used as a coping

Jake Voelker ‘08 (center)

out of seminary, Voelker moved to Chicago, where he spent a year leading pilgrimages to holy sites across the globe. Upon returning to Minnesota, he became intrigued with the field of therapy and applied to Saint Mary’s University in Winona. Two years later, he graduated from its satellite campus in Minneapolis with a degree in marriage and family therapy. Even in high school, Voelker’s friends would often come to him for advice. He loved listening to people and hearing their stories, giving them space to express their emotions. “I imagine Jesus was a good listener,” he says – someone who truly stopped what he was doing to focus on the person in front of him, who listened without formulating a response. Voelker always strove to be that kind of listener. Working as a therapist was a natural transition. His counseling philosophy is simple: “People are too hard on themselves.” Voelker wants people to

Voelker, as a seminarian in 2007, with Pope Benedict during Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.

Voelker estimates that around 75% of his clients are Catholic. This means that he can address the whole person, including the spiritual side, in his therapy sessions, often praying with clients. To drive home his message of self-compassion, Voelker has a devotion to Divine Mercy and has passed out copies of St. Faustina’s diary as a component of his practice. Jake Voelker can be found at In addition to his private practice, Voelker works as an independent contractor for Parkdale Therapy Group (parkdaletherapy. org), Saint John Vianney College Seminary, and the Archdiocesan Tribunal.

“We don’t give each other enough love and compassion and empathy. We’re too busy.”

St. Thomas Lumen Fall/Winter 2021 Page 19

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