My Approach to Helping
Are you, your family, or someone you love struggling? I can help you learn to recognize and modify beliefs and behaviors holding you back. Experience has taught me the best thing you can do to help yourself is to take action--my job is to help you figure out what you want or need to do. From there, I will help you identify and develop the tools, resources, and motivation to enable you to do it. The idea is that small changes really can and do lead to big results--I see this happen every day in my practice. Together we will develop strategies to help you cope and thrive.
You know you cannot keep doing what you are doing and expect things to just fix themselves. For things to change, you will have to change them. For things to be different, things have to actually BE different. This is why you are here, reading this right now--and by doing so, you are already doing something different, something good for yourself. Together, we can help you identify and develop the resources you need to cope with the problems that brought you here today. Please send me an email or give me a call, and let's figure out how I can help.
More Info About My Practice
I work with Change Within Reach, Inc. a professional psychotherapy practice, under the supervision of Anna Gershelis, Ph.D., LCSW. I am an LGBTQ ally, and a firm believer in equality for everyone, regardless of race, age, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Our offices in Encino offer free parking in a private lot.
Specific Issue(s) I'm Skilled at Helping With
I provide confidential therapy services for individuals (adults and teens), 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 below, 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.
* Couples: improving communication, connecting, growing apart, betrayal, resentment, anger, frustration, repairing, revitalizing, codependency, roles, crisis counseling, big changes (e.g. job loss, relocation, grief and loss, illness, empty nest, etc.), premarital counseling, parenting and co-parenting, ending a marriage or relationship gracefully and compassionately (minimizing collateral damage), and post-relationship counseling (including learning to co-parent with your ex).
* Families: relationships, crisis counseling, troubled teenagers (e.g. isolating, acting out, falling grades, anger, defiance, getting in trouble, etc.), parenting and co-parenting, divorce, blended families, grief and loss, 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).
* Individuals (adults and teens): managing and improving relationships with your: parents, children, partner, spouse, siblings, friends, boss, coworkers, teachers, etc., mood disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.), adjustment disorders, relationship or divorce recovery, identity development, self-esteem, self-advocating, coming out, major life changes, stage-of-life issues, ending a relationship, recovering from past abuse, stress management, gender identity, feeling "lost" ("What do I want to do with my life?"), loneliness, isolation, anger management, grief and loss, 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.
* LGBTQ: I work with people of all sexual and gender orientations. I am a vocal ally, and have extensive experience working with LGBTQ adults and teens. About half of my clients consider themselves part of the LGBTQ population.
* Executives and business owners: before becoming a therapist, I spent two decades in the business world as business and systems analyst, project manager, and entrepreneur (I still do the occasional bit of consulting). This means I understand the world of business, business owners, founders, and executives. I get what it is like to have a terrible boss, deal with workplace bullies, not wanting to fire someone you like, moving up the ladder and finding yourself suddenly managing your peers, RIFs, bad management, and dealing with people who need a lot of coaching. 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. If your job 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 how to have actual fun anymore--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.
*Entertainment Industry professionals: I work with people from many areas of the industry: cast, crew, executives, production, management, actors, filmmakers, editors, showrunners, hair and make-up artists, musicians, writers, etc., from PA to EP, from talent to directors. I understand the demands your profession places on you and your family. I understand the 70 hr weeks, 4:00 am calls, production cycles, hard decisions, and endless uncertainty a career in the industry can bring to your life. Most of the industry 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 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, heal, take stock, set goals, and take specific action to move forwards towards those goals.
A word about couples and families: I can help you identify patterns in relationships which impact the ability to function in a healthy manner, and help you learn to create and enjoy a fulfilling relationship. Couples often need guidance to reconnect, repair their relationship, or rediscover why they got together in the first place. Couples and 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 my primary 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 teens: I greatly enjoy helping teens learn to manage the emotions and pressure they experience on a daily basis. Learning to juggle school, homework, parents, relationships, the staggering pressure of (sometimes unwanted) life choices, peer pressure, social lives, gender identity, and developing a solid identity can become overwhelming. Teenagers 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 adult. I consider helping teens navigate their stressful, complicated lives one of my most important roles as a therapist. This is more than a specialty--it is an area of genuine interest. My graduate school thesis was: "Resilience In Adolescents Following Parental Divorce Or Separation". Working with teens is an extremely important aspect of my practice, and I approach it with an open mind, hope, enthusiasm, and of course, plenty of patience.
Important Factors for Choosing a Therapist
There are many important factors to consider when choosing a therapist. Here are some of the most important:
1) Therapeutic Alliance
Current research indicates the most important factor contributing to your 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. If you think you may be a good fit, schedule an initial session. You will be able to tell pretty quickly if you work well together. Using the first few sessions to try each other out 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 meshing well, let's talk about it. If needed, I can try to help you find someone who may be better for you. 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 the therapist has the most knowledge and experience. Mine are covered in this page, and more information is available on my website (link at the bottom). In most cases, a therapist will have two or three 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 psychology graduate school, and studied postmodern Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT or SFBT) and Narrative Therapy techniques as my areas of concentration, as well as Cognitive Behavioral 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. Narrative Therapy separates the person from the problem and encourages them to re-author their internal story by learning to draw upon on their own skills and positive experiences, with the goal of minimizing the effect of problems 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 changes the way you act, and that 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 prove it to yourself.
A high-quality education matters. I attained two psychology degrees from private schools here in California: California Lutheran University (BA, Psychology, honors), and Phillips Graduate Institute (MA, Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy). My BA in psychology from CLU thoroughly prepared me for graduate-level psychology coursework, and allowed me to explore the various areas of the psychotherapy field before selecting a specific graduate degree to pursue my areas of interest.
I look forward to hearing from you, and to finding out 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.