I provide caring individual and relationship counseling for those interested in mindful exploration of how to live their lives more fully.
Psychotherapy can help you:
* Create more fulfilling relationships
* Feel confident about who you are
* Enhance your sense of aliveness
* Learn how to be more effective
* Cultivate compassion
* Reduce your stress
I believe that clients inherently have in them what it takes to grow and learn throughout life. However, sometimes there are roadblocks that get in the way of this naturally evolving process. Due to trauma, inadequate attachment in childhood, or missing some important experience of being protected, loved or nurtured, we learn how to be in the world by protecting ourselves from harm. From these experiences we develop core beliefs about who we are in relationship to others as a way of getting our needs met.
While old core beliefs help us survive in an often times unfriendly or hostile environment, they also can inhibit our full capacity to live. For example, if you did not feel loved and welcomed into the world by the first relationships in your life you may have developed insecure attachments that could impact later relationships. From these experiences, if you believe that you are essentially ?unlovable? then you may allow others to disrespect you or not assert yourself in ways that would be helpful for your relationships. Or if you had a hyper-critical parent, you could have developed a strong internalized critic to protect yourself from their criticism/judgments. The unconscious belief can be, if I criticize myself first, change what I?m doing or how I?m being, then the ?other? won?t have an opportunity to criticize me. These self-protective mechanisms have usually taken years to develop and can feel absolutely true.
In therapy we explore and discover:
* How old core belief systems and ways of being were created
* How they have both assisted and inhibited your life in certain situations
* How to choose them when appropriate instead of using them habitually in all situations
* What new ways of being can be helpful to live life more fully
* When to use these new ways of being to be more effective and fulfilled in life.
Areas of Expertise
Body Image Confidence:
You can learn to feel confident and be kind to your body…enjoying life to the fullest. With the constant bombardment of images and contradictory opinions about what your body should look like and how to change, it can be challenging to do this. There are ways to develop your own realistic, achievable and healthy set of goals for yourself. This may look very different from one person to the next. Learning not only to accept but appreciate our ever-changing bodies is life enhancing. I can assist you in this process.
Therapy can be a safe place to explore your own relationship to sexuality. In a culture that is simultaneously obsessed about sex, yet sexually repressed, it’s no wonder that we get a little confused along the way. And while we are sexual beings from birth until death, there are very few models of how to be sexually healthy at different points in our lives. I can help you discover how to have a more enjoyable sexual life in a way that’s holistic, non-shaming and responsible.
LGBTQQ adolescents, adults, older adults:
I’ve worked with LGBTQQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) individuals and couples from ages 12 years old to 85 years old. Throughout life there are developmental challenges that are unique to LGBTQQ people. And as generalized as some experiences are within any cultural community, there is as much if not more diversity of experience. Working with someone who understands these elements from the inside out, can be very useful.
Other Areas of Interest
Religious homophobia often results in prejudice, negative stereotyping and discrimination against LGBTQQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) individuals. It is a form of oppression used by some religious people and institutions to motivate people to change their sexual orientation or sexual behavior. In its most extreme form, religious homophobia can contribute to increased suicide rates, depression, anxiety, difficulties with intimacy, self-hatred, polarization of families and communities, and motivation to try and change one’s sexual orientation. Therapy can help you to heal from these experiences and realign with the beauty of who you are at your core, whatever this happens to be.
Personal Growth/Healthier Intimacy:
Therapy is not just for dealing with serious problems but can also be a place to explore how to be in alignment with your truest self, which is naturally more enjoyable. It is a place of aliveness and vitality even when facing life’s hardships. Hopefully, we grow throughout our lives in various ways that create a more satisfying experience for ourselves and others.
When habits become full fledged addictions or compulsions, they can interfere with important areas of our lives, like relationships or work. From behavioral addictions (i.e. gambling, internet addiction, and sexual addiction) to substance addictions (i.e. alcohol, speed, cigarettes) each addiction/compulsion feels like it has varying degrees of psychological, emotional and/or physical control of our lives. If you decide to change addictions/compulsions, I believe the most valuable and long-lasting results come from a non-shaming and responsible approach that looks at the consequences of your choices and creative ways of approaching the life you’d prefer to lead.
I provide relationship counseling to those in all various forms of relationships from more traditional heterosexual marriages to polyamorous configurations. No matter what gender identity or sexual orientation a person is, relationship counseling can provide new opportunities to build trust, communication and intimacy. I work with those in relationships to better understand how to improve their relationships while maintaining their sense of self.
Whether you’re a professional athlete, fan or don’t like exercise/sports, there are principles from the field of Sports Psychology that can enhance your performance at work or improve your relationships in life.
We all experience depression at various times in our lives from more intense to less intense. For some, depression is a long lasting state of being and for others it comes and goes fairly quickly. There are many things to learn from depression and there are also ways to address it that can create a more lasting impact. Treating the symptoms of depression is valuable and sometimes necessary to get to the root causes without all the distractions. However, looking at the underlying causes of depression and negotiating changes that bring a more fulfilling life, is a more sustainable and life-affirming approach.
Like depression, anxiety tells us there is something going on internally that needs our attention. It is a wake up call to do our internal work in some area that is potentially being neglected. Everyone experiences some level of anxiety throughout the day and some amount can even be useful at times. The importance is keeping it to a manageable level that increases our productivity/performance when necessary and doesn’t limit our enjoyment in life. There are many stress reduction and relaxation techniques that are essential to finding this balance. And being able to address the underlying causes of frequent and/or intense unwanted anxiety, in a holistic and compassionate way is crucial. I can help you do this.
I’ve been working with people with HIV and/or AIDS for the past 10+ years at SF AIDS Foundation, UCSF AIDS Health Project, a residential program, other agency jobs and my private practice. There are commonalities and differences in the way people are impacted by this and it has changed significantly over time. Whether someone is wanting to live life more fully, deciding whether to take medication, negotiating a sero-convergent relationship, facing health problems, or looking at their own mortality, therapy can be a life enhancing avenue for this.
It use to be that therapists would have clients recollect an experience of trauma in their past to re-experience it, in order to get it out. With further research in this area of healing PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), therapists found out that this is not only unhelpful but can actually be re-traumatizing. For effectively healing past trauma, it’s important to have an assertive therapist guide the session to prevent such re-traumatization. I’ve received multiple trainings in this area and have much history in helping people not only find a place of “surviving” past trauma but also “thriving” in the present moment.
I’ve been providing counseling with transgender, gender queer, and gender non-conforming individuals for 10+ years. There are a variety of topics that are commonly explored from coping with societal “dis-ease” with gender diversity, choosing whether to take hormones or have surgical procedures, dealing with transphobia among friends and/or family members, and/or working on personal growth or healthier intimacy. Like other cultural communities, there is also much diversity within the transgender community.
I’ve worked in a variety of settings and with different age groups (12 to 85) where facing one’s own mortality or someone else’s death were common occurrences. It is in these moments of intense feeling, reflection and existential questioning that so much inner growth and vitality can happen. And it is important to have guidance and support through this process of grief and loss.