- Marriage and Family Therapy
I began my career in the Mental Health field in the mid 1980’s by completing my Bachelor of Arts degree from United States International University (USIU), San Diego in Human Behavior. It was also at this time that I began seeing my own therapist as part of the program’s requirements. If I was going to be a therapist, I needed to know what it was going to be like being on the other side of the couch.
This experience proved to be invaluable. Not only did I begin the journey into learning more about myself, but I started to see how the process of therapeutic change happens. I would ask my therapist certain questions and watched how she masterfully handled the situation. It was at that time that I also realized that as long as I was treating clients, I too would be in some form of psychotherapy. I learned that it was critical that I be able to keep my own personal life out of my client’s therapeutic environment. I was going to be of no help if my own “stuff” was not handled.
Immediately after completing my BA degree, I entered a Master’s degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy at USIU. At the time, there were only two Marriage and Family Therapy programs in San Diego and both had excellent reputations. At this time, I also began treating clients. I ran various therapy groups at different community based organizations and began to see individuals, couples and families face-to-face at my practicum site New Alternatives. My experience at New Alternatives was amazing. I received excellent training and supervision as well as learned how to work with a population of clientele that was mandated to come to therapy if they wanted to reunify their family. This experience taught me the invaluable lesson of conveying to someone not wanting to be in therapy the value of being in therapy.
Upon completing my Master’s degree, I took a position as an intern in an Employee Assistance Program. I gained the clinical hours necessary to test for the California State Marriage, Family, Child Counselor (MFCC) licensure and received it in 1996. The state has since changed the name of the license to Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).
I worked building my private practice clientele and honing my therapeutic skills until 1997 when I decided to go back to school and complete my Doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I attended Alliant International University which at the time was the only COAMFTE accredited Psy.D. Doctoral Marriage and Family Therapy program in the nation. It was through this experience that I truly began to understand the importance of working with emotion to create long-lasting, significant change in clients.
Understanding the research emerging on processing emotional experiences and recognizing the significance firsthand in the clinical environment was profound in changing the way I was conceptualizing and executing therapy. Working with emotions and the role of attaching to others fits extensively with virtually every therapeutic situation. Today, I continue to apply Attachment Theory and process emotional experiences with great success in the areas of Couple Therapy, Marriage Counseling, Family Therapy, Premarital Counseling and Divorce Therapy, Depression, Anxiety, Addictions and Sex Therapy. All of these areas are treated successfully by the work I perform with my clients.
After receiving my Doctorate in 2001, I began teaching at both San Diego State University and Alliant International University in their Masters and Doctoral COAMFTE Accredited Programs. This academic environment affords me access to the most up-to-date research on current practices with the most success. Evidence-based modalities are gaining in importance as the public becomes more educated on treatments that have empirical evidence showing their success rather than old, antiquated ways of doing psychotherapy that have never had any research supporting their effectiveness. Staying plugged in to the current research is critical to being the most effective therapist possible.