I am a licensed MFT, Marriage-Family Therapist and Relationship Coach, working with couples, families, and individuals. I have been a therapist since 1998 and my degrees are from Columbia University in New York and CIIS in San Francisco.
My approach with couples and families is attachment-based and research backed. I am a certified Emotionally-Focused Couple Therapist (EFT) and Relationship Coach. I was the Director of the Couple Therapy Training Program at the Community Institute for Psychotherapy (CIP), where I continue to teach, train, and supervise psychology interns. I am certified with the International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy as an Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist and Supervisor. I am also certified to supervise licensed psychotherapists working to become skilled in the EFT model. Link - Dr. Sue Johnson describes EFT (Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy)
With families, I use the attachment-based, Emotionally-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) model, and for individuals, my focus is on working with and processing past trauma as well as current relationship issues. For individuals, I use relational and somatic approaches to help process difficult events and negative beliefs.
I am a member of The International Center for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (ICEEFT), The Northern California Community for Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (NCCEFT), and The Community Institute for Psychotherapy.
-Sessions Over Zoom-
Here are a few Topics That Might Seem Familiar
My relationship is becoming harder, we don’t seem to know how to communicate effectively anymore and it makes everything more difficult between us.
Relationship struggles are normal and hard to avoid in any long term partnership. Bumps in the road are normal; the goal is to face whatever comes your way on the same team, not against each-other. The key to feeling more connected is getting a handle on your current communication style by first understanding where you get caught as a couple. We do this by sorting out negative communication cycles that can feel out of control and repetitive. That way, you can talk more effortlessly while regaining closeness and trust. Added benefits to re-shaping communication include emotional safety in the relationship (which happens to be connected with more intimacy), really feeling like your partner ‘gets’ you on a deep level, quicker resolution to common issues that used to become protracted disagreements, and unlocking a new potential for closeness that you may not know existed.
I just don’t feel right - my job is stressful, my relationship is stressful, and I sometimes it feels like there is a deep hole of emptiness inside
As humans, we are wired to survive first and foremost, so when life becomes stressful or difficult, our survival instinct tells us to cope by avoiding the issue, so that we can stay upright and go about our business. This strategy probably worked well as children when our families were dysfunctional. When we realize that the technique of duck and cover isn’t working as well as it used to, we can come out of hiding and unpack what is difficult in order to lean new ways to calm stress and handle things differently. It's ultimately a relief to face stressful emotions head-on because it opens you up to a depth and joy that you might have lost track of or not experienced before. The emptiness that is ironically caused by avoiding emotion can become a deep well of fulfillment once pain and stress is faced and digested.
I can’t stop the negative thinking about myself - I compare myself to other people and can be pretty hard on myself
I think that many more people than you would imagine have low self-esteem. That doesn’t mean that you can’t fix yours. Depending on what environment you grew up in - negative, self-critical voices can be quite daunting at times, and hold us back from getting what we truly deserve or want. I can help you to slow down and map out repetitive thoughts, to stop identifying with them (they are not you), and to start inserting more positive, self-validating thoughts that you deserve. Think about what children are like - when you rule them with an iron fist and constantly tell them they haven’t done it well enough, their performance declines and they become depressed, but when you shower them with encouragement and gentle feedback when need be, they are happy and enthusiastic about the many opportunities in life. Your current performance and happiness has a direct correlation to your inner 'self-talk'. These are voices that you have internalized from childhood (we all do it!) and you can learn to pick them out and re-shape them in a way that will give you the happiness and freedom that you deserve.
I'm scared a lot - I get what seems like they might be panic attacks. I need help getting this under control.
Panic and anxiety are issues that come up a lot; a surprising amount of people have experienced them at some period in their lives. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is very effective at getting a handle on anxiety and panic by mapping out scary thoughts, slowing them down, understanding how they get triggered, and learning how to turn them around. Exposure therapy is also very helpful because when you practice facing scary stuff relentlessly in a supportive environment, it inevitably loses its power over you. Ironically, the more you avoid what’s scaring you, the more power it seems to hold.
I’ve always been a people pleaser and I am now realizing it leaves me feeling like I never get my needs met. At the same time, I have trouble setting boundaries
This is great that you have recognized this about yourself and it is the first step toward people pleasing recovery! You can learn to set boundaries and get your needs met by beginning to pay attention to what your needs are and making more room around yourself and your emotions. Your emotions are often connected with needs but sometimes you might not have learned the tools to be in touch with those needs from an early age. Guilt about setting limits is an issue that many face, and putting aside guilt is a muscle that you can learn to build. Your own happiness, boundaries, and need fulfillment is not ultimately selfish, but will help you to be a more available and loving person to others in your life (and yourself!).
I am dealing with illness and I want help in figuring out how to work on the mind/body connection, and also any psychological issues around my illness so that I can cover all bases of my recovery.
Illness can be so difficult and scary when it comes on. There are always feelings that accompany an illness because it impacts your life and can bring up fears if you have to face your own mortality. The fallout of being sick can also be very challenging but is also a great time for reflection and changing any emotional or thought patterns that may be holding back your energy or recovery. This time in your life, though incredibly difficult, is also rife with a silver lining of self-discovery and potential fulfillment.
I had a dysfunctional childhood and I feel like there’s a lot of baggage I’m carrying around - I know it’s effecting my life now, but don’t understand exactly how.
In therapy, among other things, we explore your past and how childhood issues and coping skills (that worked well then) may be impacting you negatively now. Far from the old Freudian model, psychotherapy is a dialogue where you will feel safe to explore your past with an experienced therapist, and make the connections between past and present. That way, not only do you have the opportunity to grieve the past if need be, but to leave certain patterns in the past. This allows the space to create new ways of handling situations and relationships in the present.
I don’t want to end up hating my parents or blaming them for where I’m at now. I still want a relationship with them , is this possible?
Absolutely! The healthiest outcome is for you to be able to forgive your parents and/or siblings, so that you don’t have to let them continue to run the show or keep a distance. The more you work through childhood issues, the less your family of origin will annoy or trigger you, and the more you will be free to love them for who they are without constantly needing to change them or push them away. The added benefit is that your present close relationships will shift when you have understood, worked through, and forgiven hurts from the past. It frees you to be able to move forward into the life you want with you, not anybody else, at the helm.
Why is it so hard being a parent, others seem to have such an easy time at it, while I struggle at it daily - is there something that I’m missing?
Everyone has family struggles, because being human is not meant to be a pleasure cruise. Parenting is one of the hardest challenges that you will take on in your life. You probably don’t have an instruction manual on how to parent your own child, because of he/she is unique. Getting some parenting help with a therapist is often short-term and can help you to tweak a few things that may be causing bad habits in both yourself and your child. Doing some couples therapy to help you as parents get on a similar page not only boosts moral at home but rubs off well on your kids.