More Info About My Practice
*In-person sessions are now available at Matthew McLean Family Therapy, Inc in Westlake Village.*
(Telehealth video will always be an option for those who cannot or prefer not to meet in the office.)
I am fully vaccinated against COVID-19. When you are ready, I'm ready. In-person and telehealth sessions are available through my private practice, Matthew McLean Family Therapy, Inc. in Westlake Village for individuals, couples, and families (insurance is not used). Telehealth is available for clients throughout California. I do not take insurance for couple or family therapy. Individual UBH-Optum insurance clients are seen via telehealth through Change Within Reach, Inc., only. I am an LGBTQ ally, and a firm believer in and proponent of equality.
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
I provide confidential therapy services for individuals, couples, and families. There are many reasons people seek therapy, and a few of the most common issues I can help with are listed below. If what you need help with is not listed, I may still be able to help you. However, if I cannot, I will tell you right away so you can find the help you need.
* Individuals: I can help you learn to manage and improve relationships with your: partner, spouse, parents, children, siblings, friends, boss, coworkers, etc. I can also help with the following: depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders, relationshipdivorce recovery, identity development, self-esteem, self-advocating, major life changes, stage-of-life issues, ending a relationship, stress management, feeling "lost" ("What do I want to do with my life?"), loneliness, isolation, anger management, and finding a path that makes you truly happy. Helping people build the self-esteem needed to love themselves and take control of their lives are key aspects of my work.
* Families: I can help with relationships, parenting and co-parenting, divorce, blended families, relocating, changes in the family system (additions, losses, etc.; e.g. the in-laws are moving in, mental or physical illness), and owning a family business (I have an extensive business background).
* Entrepreneurs, founders and executives: before becoming a therapist, I worked in various capacities including: business and systems analysis, IT project management, and as a strategic planning, organizational management, and marketing consultant. I have also founded and run companies in several industries, including technology and retail services. I understand the world of business, founders, management, and executives. I get what it is like to deal with a terrible boss, relentless pressure, workplace bullies, not wanting to fire someone you like, moving up the ladder and finding yourself suddenly managing your peers, RIFs, inept management, and dealing with people of all types. I understand the stress of having direct reports and being responsible for a department, a major project, or an entire organization. I have been there. I also understand the unique stressors of entrepreneurs: you do everything--it is all on the line, every day, and nobody loves your company as much as you do. If your work stresses you out, follows you home and keeps you up at night, or has become so much of your identity that you can't remember who you were before, or how to have actual fun at work and at home--I get it. I can help you learn to manage the stress, and make life decisions you feel good about at work, and at home.
*Men: As a therapist who has been through a lot, I naturally gravitate towards helping other guys make sense of it all. Working with men who are struggling with self-esteem, life and career issues, or their relationships is one of the most rewarding parts of the work I do. More information on this specialty is available on my website.
* LGBTQ: I work with people of all orientations. I am a vocal ally, and a significant percentage of my clients consider themselves part of the LGBTQ population.
*Entertainment Industry professionals: I work with people from many areas of the industry: cast, crew, executives, production, management, actors, writers, filmmakers, editors, show runners, hair and make-up artists, musicians, etc., from PA to EP, from talent to directors. I understand the demands your profession places on you and on the people in your life. The 65-hr weeks, 4:30 a.m. call times, production cycles, being on location, touch choices and hard decisions, and lack of job security a career in the industry can bring to your life can be frustrating and draining. Contrary to what many people think, entertainment industry work is not glamorous--it is a tough, grueling life which takes a lot out of you. I can help you find healthy ways to manage the stress and anxiety of the industry lifestyle, learn to take care of yourself properly, and prioritize and make the most of what precious free time you do have so you can lead a happy, healthy life.
My Role as a Therapist
My role as a therapist is to be in your corner, helping you address the issues that brought you to therapy. I can help you figure out why you may be "stuck", and help you identify and utilize resources and strategies to get you unstuck. We will work together to help you make the changes necessary to create the life you really want. When challenges seem to block your path, I can help you regroup, take stock, heal, set goals, and take specific action to move forwards towards those goals. I can't do it for you (nobody can), but I will help you chart your path, and figure out what to do next.
About working with families: I can help you identify patterns in family relationships which impact the ability to function in a healthy manner, and help you learn to create and enjoy a fulfilling family relationship. Families are like complex machines which require all their parts to function properly so they can work effectively. If something is broken or missing, the machine may need adjusting or repair so it can work properly again. Navigating such challenges is one of my areas of specialty. I am specifically trained to help people with all aspects of the relationships in their lives: family, intimate, social, career, and most importantly, with themselves.
About working with adolescents: Helping adolescents learn to manage the emotions and the pressure they experience on a daily basis is an important part of my work. Learning to juggle the pressure of school, work, social life, relationships, peer pressure, life choices, and developing a solid identity can feel overwhelming. Adolescents have one job: to figure out who they are and successfully navigate the minefield of adolescence so they can grow into that person and emerge as a healthy, whole person. I consider this one of my most important roles as a therapist. This specialty is also a key area of interest for me: my graduate school thesis was: "Resilience In Adolescents Following Parental Divorce Or Separation". Working with adolescents is an extremely important aspect of my practice, and I approach it with an open mind, hope, enthusiasm, and patience. I work with stable, mature adolescents (18+) who are not abusing drugs or alcohol, want to better themselves, and who genuinely want to go to therapy.
Important Factors for Choosing a Therapist
There are many important factors to consider when choosing a therapist. Here are some I consider very important:
1) Therapeutic Alliance
Research indicates the most important factor contributing to success in therapy is the relationship you build with your therapist. To determine whether you may be a good fit, I suggest giving the therapist a call to get a feel for them. I offer a free short phone consultation for this reason. If you think you may be a good fit, we can schedule an initial intake session. We will be able to tell pretty quickly if we work well together. Getting to know each other over the first few sessions to is a normal part of the process of choosing a therapist, and you should not feel badly if it turns out a therapist is not the right fit for you. If either of us feels we are not a good fit, let's talk about it. Making sure you get the help you need, in a manner that works for you, is what matters most to both of us.
2) Specializations & Theoretical Orientations
Specializations are areas where a therapist has the most knowledge and experience. My areas of specialization are covered in this page, and more information is available on my website (link at the bottom). Additionally, a therapist will usually have a small number of primary theoretical orientations, and may be skilled in additional therapeutic techniques. I refer to myself as a Solution-Focused, Narrative, Family Systems therapist for good reason: I attended a Family Systems-oriented graduate school, and studied postmodern Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT) and Narrative Therapy techniques as my areas of concentration, as well as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and of course, Family Systems Therapy.
You may not know what any of that means, so here is a brief summary: Solution-Focused Therapy focuses on utilizing the person's internal and external resources, harnessing their existing skills and resilient traits to find solutions to problems, and focuses on moving forward. Narrative Therapy separates the person from the problem and encourages them to re-author their internal story or narrative by learning to draw upon on their own skills and positive experiences, with the goal of minimizing the effect of harmful past experiences on their everyday life. Family Systems Therapy is a mode of therapy in which a person's experiences in their family system are explored in terms of the meaning they create in their life and how they affect their relationships. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is mode of therapy in which the goal is to change patterns of thinking and behavior, resulting in a change in the way you act and feel. The idea is to change the way you think, which affects the way you behave, which in turn changes the way you feel. In contrast, I also believe it works in the opposite direction as well: changing the way you act can change the way you feel, which can change the way you think. An important part of my philosophy is: whether you think you can or you can't, you're right. My job is to help you believe you can, and then prove it to yourself.
I believe a quality education makes a difference. A psychology BA from California Lutheran University prepared me for graduate-level psychology coursework at Phillips Graduate Institute, and allowed me to explore the psychology field before selecting a specific graduate program. I chose PGI's Marriage and Family Therapy Master's program because it offered exactly what I wanted: a rigorous, practical, hands-on postgraduate curriculum which would equip me to help individuals, couples, and families with their struggles. The postmodern Solution-Focused and Narrative Therapy concentration program at PGI (see above) equipped me to help people create a better future for themselves in ways no other specialization possibly could.
I look forward to speaking with you, and to discovering how I can be of service to you. If you would like to discuss working together, give me a call or send me an email. Let's find out if we are a good fit.