About Greg Dunford, ACMHC, Sons of Helaman Clinician

I am from the Salt Lake City area (East Millcreek).  My beautiful wife, Julie, and I have been married for 30 years.  We have six wonderful children (9 to 29 years old).  We have lived most of our married life in Arizona.  I was a full-time Seminary/Institute teacher for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 20 years, and I’ve been a counselor for 20 years—helping troubled children, teens, adults and marriages. I also worked as a program director of a girls facility and a program director for 2 young men’s ranches.

I have always loved working with people, and especially the youth.  I have found that my greatest joy in life is serving people, helping them find happiness!  I loved my 20 years of teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in seminary and institute.  I always imagined that I would teach till retirement.  My last year of teaching, my wife and I found ourselves feeling strongly that Heavenly Father had another adventure/mission for us.  We didn’t know specifically what it was, but we knew it had something to do with using gospel principles to heal lives.  We felt it had something to do with a ranch-type setting, maybe a rehab, or boys ranch of some sort.  We felt  inspired to “be patient and prepare”.  It was extremely difficult for me to leave Church Educational Services, and venture out into the unknown, but after 6 months of feeling these strong, daily promptings, we took a leap of faith, and our 401k, and packed up the family and took our RV cross-country, into Canada, down through the west coast, into Mexico and back up into the U.S., looking for where the Lord wanted us to be.  We had great adventures with our family and lived in our RV for a total of 9 months!  We learned to love the “faith phase”, challenging as it is.  There was a kind of “Christmas morning feel” to it–we didn’t know what Heavenly Father (the giver of good gifts) had in store, but we knew it would be good!

We felt directed back to Arizona, which was not our choice at the time, but we obediently went.  We were literally driving into the Phoenix valley “not knowing beforehand” where we should go.  We made some calls to family and friends to find a place to park our RV while we found someplace to live.  By events too perfectly orchestrated to be merely coincidental, we ended up parking/living in the driveway of some members of an old ward we’d been in years ago.  We didn’t even know them very well, but they freely offered us the space.  They became like family to us!

During our stay there, a brother in that ward, four houses down, came over one day and started talking about a mission-prep ranch that he had been working on opening, and was seeking a “Ma & Pa” to oversee it.  Of course, we jumped at the chance!  We spent five years in the beautiful White Mountains of Arizona working that program.  It was a great experience and we learned a lot!  The owner eventually closed it down due to lack of funding (he had personally funded most of it).  So we were at another crossroads.  We started working on opening another mission-prep ranch that would be a sort of spiritual rehab…

Meanwhile, we opened a bakery/deli in large part for our oldest son Tyler who had experienced a lot of challenges in his life, due to addictions.  He had been exposed to drugs and pornography at age 8!  Growing up, he was well taught, and very much loved.  We were always very close to him, and he was very open and honest with us along the way.  He is one of the most strong, pure spirits we have ever known, which of course, is why he was under almost constant attack by the adversary.  Tyler is a threat to Satan’s kingdom, and has been since the before his earthly life. We came to understand that the enemy had a vendetta out against our son.

Through Tyler, we were able to truly understand that those who struggle with addictions are often the most valiant souls.  The enemy attacks them because they are a threat.  If you were the captain of an army, who would you target?  He targets the leaders.  Not all of them are up to the fight.  They often lack sufficient knowledge to fight this diabolical enemy.  But we have been given this knowledge, and the power of the Lord and His army.  We may lose some battles, but we will win this war.

While living in the White Mountains, Tyler met his beautiful wife and her 3 children.  The pure love of her and her family helped him to have the happiest, longest stretch of sobriety in his life.  We knew his meeting her was another reason we had been led to the White Mountains.  Six months into their marriage, on Mother’s Day, 2013, he was killed instantly, riding a 4-wheeler to church.  My wife was able to be on the scene within minutes, trying to resuscitate him.  I came as soon as I got word…but he was gone.

This was a shocking, traumatic experience for all of us!  Yet, we were so blessed to be able to have peace and understanding throughout it.  We were carried by the Lord and so many loving souls on both sides of the veil!

People say that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  It is a very personal experience.  Yet, there are principles that govern healthy grieving.  We were able to experience this first hand.  We learned that the Lord is mighty to save.  His Tender Mercy is infinite.  His Love is the most powerful force in the universe!  Feeling His love for our son and ourselves carried us through this time that we felt could have otherwise destroyed us.

Two weeks after Tyler’s passing, I was out doing the milking (a great place to get inspiration!:), and I felt as if Tyler was there saying:  “Dad, you need to work with these boys that have addictions.  You work on that side, and I’ll work on this side–we’ll work together.”  I didn’t know exactly which boys he was talking about at that moment, or what it meant, but it was my desire to continue the work we had been doing at the ranch.  I told my wife, Julie, about the experience.  The next day, my good friend Ron (we taught together in seminary and institute) called me out of the blue.  He had been running a boys’ ranch in southern Arizona for a few years, and I hadn’t talked to him for over a year.  He said “Greg! What are you doing these days? I really need you down here!”

Of course, we said yes.

So, we were down in beautiful Arivaca, Arizona for two years!  We loved it, and again, learned so much!  During our second year there, we got to know the family of a bishop in Nogales.  His wife introduced us to the book “Like Dragons Did They Fight” and the Sons of Helaman Program.  She couldn’t stop talking about it and we were intrigued.  We got the book and read it.  I knew I needed to be involved with this work and I called the Founder and Director of the Sons of Helaman program.  I have felt like this work is the culmination of everything I have done over the years.  I have learned that I need to be able to freely use gospel principles.

Living gospel principles has carried us through the many challenges we have experienced over the years.  I am so grateful to have had these experiences, for the understanding and compassion we have gained and to be able to use them to help others.

My counseling has been largely based on the principles so masterfully taught in “Bonds That Make Us Free” by C. Terry Warner (founder of the Arbinger Institute)–the principles that govern a way of being that enable us to effectively govern ourselves—healing our relationships & bringing peace of mind. My wife & I also taught classes using “Bonds” as a text.

I speak fluent Spanish. I am an Eagle Scout and served a full-time mission in Chile. I have served in various callings in the LDS Church including: Primary Worker, Young Men’s advisor, Elder’s Quorum President, Branch Mission leader, and Home Teacher. Organized many service projects for Church, boy’s ranches and family. I have traveled extensively including: Europe, North, South and Central America, South Pacific, study abroad in Puebla, Mexico, the Middle East, & China where I was part of a group that had been invited by the Chinese government to teach therapists. When I was 17 My family lived in a kibbutz in Israel where my father was the director for the BYU study abroad there, which I attended. I am very active and healthy. I have excelled in all kinds of sports and have been a coach and P.E. teacher. I have experience working in construction and love to build things. I have been trained by the Arbinger Institute and have taught many classes on healthy relationships and behaviors to adults and to youth.

Read about  MY COUNSELING PHILOSOPHY