A Beautiful Setting for Your Experience
Walking or driving through West Hollywood to the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Harper Avenue to your therapy appointment is so convenient.
This is one of the reasons my clients like to visit our building—commonly referred to as “Therapy Central.”
We have lots of therapists at 8235 Santa Monica Boulevard! Dotted by vibrant restaurants, coffee shops, and retail stores, our colorful little village is characterized by acceptance, creativity, and inclusion.
It’s a good start to feeling safe and supported in your therapy experience!
When you come to my office on the 3rd floor, I usually leave a clipboard for you in the waiting room so you can fill out some basic paperwork right before your first appointment.
There is usually some music playing along with the obligatory white noise machine humming to insure your privacy. Nobody needs to know your business but us.
My mid-century inspired office is right out of a Mad Men episode. It is inviting and whimsical. It has a big west-facing picture-window overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard and huge ficus trees lining Harper Avenue. It has the best views of the Southern California sunsets!
On the first session, I like to listen to what brought you into therapy…
… and then I ask a lot of questions I ask everyone on their first visit. I will want to know all about your childhood, family history, relationship history, experiences with therapy, substance use, current symptoms, and self-care practices.
Knowing about you is my job.
My General Approach
So, therapy involves a good bit of talking about the past and thinking about how earlier experiences and relationships have shaped how you feel about yourself and about life.
Your habits have a lot to do with how well you are feeling and coping with the twists and turns of life.
My approach is to see what is working and what is not working in your life, and then focus therapy on helping you create a better life moving forward.
Interactive Therapy: Never “Just Sitting There”
Yes, I am a very interactive therapist… but what exactly does that mean?
Many clients complain about therapists who “just sit there and say nothing for 50 minutes.”
Sometimes there is value in “just sitting there,” because it gives you the time to think and explore and just experience your emotions.
That being said, please know that I am very involved in your experience whether I am talking or not. It is never “just sitting there.”
Solutions Where You Are
My goal is to meet you where you are.
I’ll listen and ask questions that get you thinking and feeling and coming up with your own solutions.
I am not at all invested in telling you how to live your life; but I am invested in your being healthy, meeting your own goals, and having fewer symptoms.
My job is to point out what I see that is hindering your progress and to acknowledge the efforts you are making in the service of your improved life journey.
Rolling Up Our Sleeves
We may work on creating a meditation practice or doing breathing exercises to get started.
We may talk about the benefits of journaling to improve your relationship with yourself.
We may even have you on the floor in “happy baby pose” if we need to change your emotional state quickly.
We may just sit there in mindful appreciation – taking a few deep breaths and watch the play of colors on the sky.
I am down to try whatever works!
Safely Exploring Your Emotions
Getting out of your head and into your body is one of the best ways to improve your mental health.
Being selective about how and when you think is a key to feeling better.
Sometimes there is nothing to be done other than just feel your feelings. Mindfulness and appreciation are cornerstones of my work, and they are both validated as evidence-based practices that improve mood.
Having a trusted therapist with whom you feel safe to explore your emotions is often the key to feeling better.
Ideally, therapy helps you practice feeling and understanding your emotions so that you can face your life with more confidence and a toolbox full of mental health skills.
You’re Not Alone
For over 20 years, I have sat in the therapist chair. I have heard what people from all walks of life think about themselves – and, believe me, no matter what you are going through, you are not alone.
Many people who come to therapy think they have the market cornered on being a failure or messing things up.
Well, I’m here to tell you: Join the club called the human race! We are all fumbling along and figuring it out as we go!
Company for Your Journey
One of the worst things you can do for your mental health is to withdraw, isolate, and NOT ask for the help you need.
You deserve to have some company on your journey, so I encourage you to reach out and get some support!
Take a look at everything in your life with an open mind, and let therapy address your goals and bring you the relief and clarity you seek.
Why did I become a therapist?
In my mid-twenties, I moved to Washington, DC, from a small town in southern Virginia (you might detect a faint accent still).
I landed a corporate job and a scholarship to graduate school. I was driving a BMW, and I was going to school in the evenings for my MBA. I was doing all the things I thought I was supposed to do to be happy and successful…
So, what was the problem?
I was miserable! It was dawning on me that I was really on the wrong path, but it did not feel like I could change my mind.
Wasn’t this life what everyone wanted?
And what about dating, sex, relationships and finances? So many adult decisions to make.
It was all very overwhelming, and I was pretty convinced I was going to mess it all up!
Any of this sounding familiar?
My Path to Therapy
I never knew anyone who went to therapy before, but I thought I would give it a try and see if it might help.
I looked around and ultimately followed my gut and chose a therapist with whom I felt comfortable.
Jack pot! She was terrific!
I could not believe how relieved I felt talking with her. She was patient, kind, nonjudgmental, funny and a little tough. She is my role model for how I do therapy to this day!
She normalized my experience and offered some new perspectives I had not thought about (or was afraid to think about).
She challenged me to make some changes in my thinking patterns, my habits, and my self-care. That work set me off on an entirely different course in my life.
I was conscious. The light came on!
I could create the life I wanted!
I learned to meditate and journal. I learned to trust myself and make choices that felt good to me. I got clear that I wanted to live on the West Coast, go to yoga, and help people feel as good as I was feeling.
My Path to Helping Others
I decided to go back to school. After a lot of research, I applied to school and got in.
Smith School for Social Work was perfect for me. It had the best reputation for clinical work, and I could be placed in internships anywhere in the country!
After I polished off my first internship at The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, in mental health and HIV and rare chronic diseases, I was California bound!
I got my second placement at The University of San Francisco as a therapist in outpatient psychiatry. I loved the work and the clients, and I really loved California. I was clearly on the right path now.
This “creating your own reality” stuff was fun!
I was offered a position at UCSF and returned to California after my graduation at Smith in 1997. I also did a private practice internship in San Francisco for another two years, because once you graduate you realize you are just beginning to learn how to be a good therapist.
I started working for Kaiser Permanente in 1998 as a liaison between inpatient and outpatient psychiatry as a case manager. I learned invaluable information about the full spectrum of mental health issues there.
(Footnote: I did finish the Master’s in Business from the University of Maryland in 1998.)
I tired of the fog in the Bay Area and decided to transfer with Kaiser to sunny Los Angeles where I have worked in outpatient psychiatry since 2000. I promptly created my private practice in West Hollywood, and the vision I created in therapy all those years ago had indeed become my reality.
I met my partner in 2001 and have been eternally grateful for the role that psychotherapy, spirituality, and self-care have played in my life.
I am totally inspired by helping others to create lives of their choosing and am passionate about mental health and personal growth, because I strive to live it myself every day!
If any of this speaks to you, then I encourage you to give me a call. Let’s see if we might be a good fit for your journey!
I am here to help! Call me today: (323) 363-9237