Psychotherapy

Dinner parties when you’re a psychologist can be a trip. I am invariably asked, “What do you do?” and when I reply, eyes grow wide, a follow-on question hanging in the air: “You aren’t going to psychoanalyze me, are you?” “Nope,” I say with a smile. “I’m off the clock.”

Here’s the thing about what I get to do—essentially sit behind closed doors and have courageous conversations with incredibly bright, talented people that they aren’t having with anyone else in their lives—I get to be a part of a process that creates better leaders and better lovers. I am entrusted with truths that most people are not. It’s an honor and a privilege. It’s an art and a science. The six years I spent in graduate school, and the ones that have followed helped me learn how to best be human with another person in a room. 

There are a lot of assumptions made about therapy. The phrases “psychological health” and “mental illness” conjure and stir up all kinds associations and images in peoples’ minds: Let me assure you, modern day mental health treatment looks nothing like anything you watched on “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Next.” My clients haven’t fainted on a Freudian chaise while I mine the depths of their dreams, scribbling notes while I nod in silence save for the occasional “mmmmm…. say more.” 

Here’s a secret from the shrink: the people who talk with me each week probably sound and look a lot more like you than you think.

I’m going to pull back the curtain and share what I am privy to as a psychologist. Here’s a real picture of what is happening behind my closed door while the white noise machine whirrs. 

PATIENTS WHO CROSS THE THRESHOLD OF MY OFFICE ARE OFTEN STUCK. SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, SLEEP DISTURBANCE, OR ERRATIC EATING PATTERNS MAY HAVE GOTTEN THEIR ATTENTION. THEY ARE RECOGNIZING SIGNALS HAVE REACHED A THRESHOLD INDICATING A SIGNIFICANT NEED FOR CHANGE.

Who sits on the couch?

Why are they in therapy?

They are physicians, attorneys, executives, and people you watch on the nightly news. They are electricians and engineers. They are professors, parents, and project managers. They are politicians (perhaps therapy should be a requirement for everyone holding public office). They are top military leaders, therapists, and teachers. 

They are me. They are you.

They struggle with boundaries and have difficulty saying no.

They have hit a ceiling they don’t understand.

They are stuck.

They are talking about the people in their lives who are not in therapy.

They are underemployed and financially pressed.

They aren’t sleeping.

They are drinking too much wine.

They have been swallowed by grief.

They are overwhelmed by becoming new parents.

They are having difficulties starting families.

Their relationships are breaking down.

They can’t remember the last time they had mind-blowing sex with their spouse.

They abhor their bodies.

They are diagnosed with autoimmune conditions.

They have cancer.

They don’t have a clear sense of who they are.

They are burned out.

They are trying to figure out how to date and find a non-creep in a swipe-left-or-right world.

They believe they are imposters and worry someone will find out what is behind the insecure façade.

They fear what is next.

They fear what may not be possible.

My clients prioritize and protect a fifty-minute hour in their schedule each week not because they are broken. They sit with me because they want to be better. They are highly motivated to bring the best versions of themselves to their work and their relationships so that they can reach a tier of success that seldom can be achieved without strong self-awareness. 

People are not their symptoms. They are humans wired for survival who developed ways of moving through the world that were at some point adaptive, but no longer work. 

I don’t treat “anxious” people. I come alongside of people who are frightened, exhausted, on edge and can’t turn the volume down on their fears about the future. I don’t treat anorexics. I meet with people who use food as emotional currency and spend it in a way that is leaving their bodies, minds, relationships, and souls bankrupt. I don’t treat depressed people. I strategize and share with people struggling with energy and motivation who have been temporarily disconnected from hope.

As a psychologist, I have had the experience of watching many different people turn the doorknob and cross a threshold to sit on my couch. My office is a place where someone pays them very close attention. A space where they are carefully listened to and more fully seen. Symptoms may be the same and stories may be similar but each person provides me with a powerful view of the unique way in which they are experienced by the world outside of my office. 

My work has made me laugh. It has made me cry. It has taught me. It has transformed me. I believe truth is truly stranger than fiction. I know the tremendous, breathtaking beauty that can come from ashes. I have bore witness to the resilience and strength of the human spirit. 

I could top any dinner party story, but instead I sip my sparking water and lime politely and smile. In my life, I’ve learned to speak less, observe more, and listen closely (especially for what is not being spoken out loud). All the while I know deep in my heart that somehow I have the crazy good fortune of spending my days sitting in a chair that gives me the grandest glimpse into mankind that anyone could dream. 

I work with bright individuals who know the "right answers" but repeatedly find themselves repeatedly pulled into familiar, problematic patterns that are holding them back from reaching their true potential.

work with me

I am a clinical psychologist and hold licenses and credentials in the states of California, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. I provide in-office services in Northern California and provide telemedicine sessions via phone or HIPPA-compliant video platform for patients in California, Virginia, and Washington.D.C.

I do not participate as an in-network provider with any insurance panels. Your confidentiality is of paramount importance to me, and I believe strongly that you - not your insurance company - should retain ultimate control and agency the course of your treatment and treatment plan. I am considered an out-of-network provider with many insurance plans and provide patients with an itemized "Superbill" with all treatment and diagnostic codes necessary if they elect to seek reimbursement for psychotherapy from their current carrier. I encourage potential patients to obtain confirmation and clarification from their insurance provider about the scope and nature of their current out-of-network benefit options and coverage.

Psychotherapy is a significant investment of your resources. Your time. Your money. Your energy. Research about the outcome of psychotherapy reveals again and again that the fit between patient and clinical is of paramount importance in the ultimate success of treatment. If you are considering engaging in psychotherapy, I strongly urge you to be a choosy consumer in regard to who you are ultimately entrusting your care and your story to over time. I am selective about my clientele, partnering with patients who are highly motivated and committed to what is seldom an easy or highly comfortable process. I believe that a secure space in which you can experience the optimal ratio of challenge and support is the true crucible for change, growth, and development. I encourage you to be highly selective about who you ultimately choose as your psychologist. Learning to raise your standards in your life (for your self, for others) will bode well for you, and you can start here.

 I explain to all potential patients that my goal is not to all things to all people or win a popularity contest. If it were, I would probably not be serving anyone really well. No one is everyone's cup of tea. (in life, the quicker we wrap our head around and become comfortable with this, the better off we will be) Delivering top-tier treatment is what matters the most to me. My priority is ensuring that you connect with who you ultimately need, not that you connect with me.

finding the right fit

Do I need a coach or a therapist?

I frequently have a waitlist for patients, but if you would like to explore the possibility of working together in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I'd welcome the opportunity to learn more about you, your story, and how you are hoping to start showing up in this wild world we occupy.  

meanwhile

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