Psychologist and Therapist in Tacoma, Washington Joel Hencken, Psychologist

License: PhD

Provider Gender: Male

Ages Served: 18-21, 27-65+

Appointments: In-office and Telehealth

Manages Medications: No, provides therapy only

Psychologist and Therapist in Tacoma, Washington Joel Hencken, PhD

Joel Hencken, PhD

I feel very fortunate that in clinical psychology I have found a field where I have been glad to go to work since I saw my first client in 1974. My training has been ‘eclectic’. My undergrad work was in philosophy of science at University of Michigan. After a short stint in medical school, I went to San Diego State University, where my professors were Rogerians, cognitivists and behaviorists (that was before the latter two got hyphenated and finally acronym-ized into CBT), plus one crypto-Freudian who spoke little but offered the most amazing insights. I also had some years of personal psychoanalysis.
In 1975 I moved back to Ann Arbor, where I trained in psychodynamic therapy and community mental health. I then worked for almost four decades in Cambridge, MA, doing clinical work, teaching, and supervision. And in 2017, when my husband was offered a job here, we came to Tacoma. Along the way I have had training experiences in Gestalt, psychodrama, Transactional Analysis, family systems, hypnotherapy, 12- step and other approaches to alcohol and other addictions, CBT, DBT, Mindfulness, Meditation and Spirituality, and Internalized Family Systems (IFS). I have seen many “schools” of psychotherapy arise and gradually blend into the mainstream, contributing their perspectives, insights, and techniques.
So I am a generalist. My earliest “specialty,” being one of the first gay grad students in clinical psych at Michigan, was working with the LGBTQIA+ community (starting back when it was just L&G). During the early years of the HIV epidemic I was among the first to work in therapy with AIDS patients. But I have seen so many different kinds of individuals and couples over the years — artists, writers, actors, musicians, scientists, doctors, lawyers, other therapists; students and teachers; parents, pregnant women; people going through illnesses, deaths, divorces, job loss, retirement; administrators, clerks, business people; people from other countries, cultures, and languages; people with various medical conditions — that I really don’t have a specialty group.

In therapy I try to understand each person in their own terms, working together to see how various issues have emerged and played themselves out over time — from childhood through today, recognizing the importance of the various stages of life. I try to introduce additional ways of looking at our experience, and ways to experimentally make changes in what we do and say to ourselves and others. I have often thought that if I ever wrote a book about therapy, it would be called “Prisoners of Metaphor,” because the very images and phrases we use to describe our experience express and amplify our understanding and future behavior, but also unintentionally limit our lives.
Sometimes an issue will occur within the therapy itself, so we get to compare notes on how each of us experienced a moment, an interaction, a reaction. Sometimes we cry together; very often, we laugh. (I have learned as much from stand-up comedians as from any other single source.) And sometimes we talk about spiritual and religious matters, which traditionally have had little formal place in the practice of psychotherapy, but may have a huge importance in the quality of our lives.
I look forward to the opportunity to make a therapeutic journey with you, or, if you are a clinician, to help you explore additional ways to work with your clients, and to make more comfortable use of your authentic self in your clinical work.


Insurances Accepted

  • Aetna
  • ComPsych
  • Evernorth (Cigna)
  • First Choice
  • Humana
  • Kaiser Permanente Washington
  • Managed Health Network (MHN)
  • MediNcrease Health Plans (MHP)
  • MultiPlan (PHCS)
  • Optum (UnitedHealthcare)
  • Premera Blue Cross
  • Providence Health Plan
  • Regence BlueShield
  • Sana Benefits
  • Tricare West (HealthNet)


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Couples/Marital Counseling
  • Faith-Based Treatment
  • Mindfulness


  • LGBTQ+
  • Men


  • English



Please use our online form to schedule an appointment with Joel Hencken. You can also call 253-752-7320 to have someone assist you.

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