What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
Serving as a Licensed Marriage and Family therapist is a second career. My earlier career was in business and included entrepreneurial successes (and losses) that taught me the importance of intention, perseverance, and resilience.
Through those early career years, personally, I started individual counseling in my 20s following the passing of my mother, regularly participated in men’s groups in my 30s/40s, and also heavily studied, practiced, and eventually taught Iyengar yoga. Then, in 2001, during the end of my first marriage, I enrolled in the Master’s program at the University of Santa Monica (USM) in Spiritual Psychology with an emphasis in Counseling Psychology and discovered my true calling, to help others as I have been helped, as a counselor.
Looking back at the arch of my life experience, I can also see how my interest in ‘systems’ evolved through my education studying International Affairs as an undergrad, learning business systems with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), and later certification as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) with a focus in organizational development and executive coaching. Then began my studies in counseling psychology at USM, looking at internal/external family systems and the inner workings of how our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors shape our experience and relationships.
Through it all, I became less interested in widgets and more interested in people—their histories, cultures, motivations, challenges, healing, and growth—eventually integrating all of my education, career, and life experiences into being a mental health professional for the past 20+ years.
Is there an example from your daily life where you practice what you preach?
As a husband and father, I have opportunities throughout each day to practice mindfulness, awareness, and compassion. These skills have been developed through years of practice, contemplation, and purposeful mindset. Still, the inherent imperfections and influences of my own human experience can leave me challenged with forms of reactivity and emotions that arise from within—sometimes by surprise, sometimes unconsciously, and sometimes with familiarity.
When these types of impulses wash through my experience, I have learned to ‘catch myself’ and inquire within, observing my inner experience and outer expression, in the interest of bringing my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors into congruence with my values, communication, and actions. These are processes we may all go through daily—whether we are aware of it our not, lightening quick in the cortical and subcortical regions of our brains and neurobiology—that influence how we show up ecologically in the present moment environments of our families, our work, and in our relationships.
Short Term (Solution-focused, etc.)
Ideal for those who are coming in with a specific problem they’d like to address and gain clarity on. Typically, short term therapies are present focused and do not dive deep into your past.
Structured therapies are goal and progress oriented. Therapists may incorporate psychoeducation and a specific “curriculum.” In order to stay on track, therapists may provide worksheets and homework.
Insight-oriented (Psychodynamic, Existential, etc.)
Exploring the past and making connections to present issues can help clients gain insight. Getting to the root of the issue and finding deeper self-awareness can help with long-term change.
Non-directive (Humanistic, Person-centered, etc.)
Going with the flow and seeing where it leads.
Behavioral (CBT, DBT, etc.)
Focuses on changing potentially unhealthy or self-destructive behaviors by addressing problematic thought patterns and specific providing coping skills.
Trauma Focused (EMDR, TF-CBT, etc.)
Recognizing the connection between trauma experiences and your emotional and behavioral responses, trauma focused therapy seeks to help you heal from traumas.