Here are some questions I frequently answer about myself and my work. Hopefully this will give you an idea of who I am and what I do.
If you are curious to learn more, by all means contact me! I’d be very happy to talk to you.
Why do I do this work? What got me to do this work?
This is a great question, and one that’s a challenge to answer succinctly. Honestly, my early life experiences compel me to do this work. I had a hard time being a kid and moving through adolescence into adulthood. I’m a first generation American, my parents were immigrants. Family life was full of conflict. My siblings and I survived a narcissistic and abusive parent, and we watched our other parent try to deal with it. It did not end well. In school, I struggled to socialize and make friends. I was coming to terms with being gay in a hostile environment. I was that weirdo who enjoyed “uncool” things like classical piano and orchestra in high school (I was overweight and had braces to boot.) I experienced more than my fair share of bullying. For a brief time, I used substances to escape the pain and trauma inside of me. But thankfully, that was not the end of my story.
I developed an intense curiosity about people and the human condition. Having insight into what makes people tick helped me survive the adversities and learn from my suffering. Then I began to thrive as I made my way through adulthood. I also found that when I shared my curiosity, others shared their pain with me. They trusted me, and both they and I enjoyed the shared support and connection. So, this is how I came to understand my calling in life.
Now, it’s my turn to give back. I help and support anyone who is a survivor, who has felt like the outsider or the “other”, especially now given the tumultuous cultural and political environment. Queer women of color, straight guys who don’t conform to society’s norms of manhood, adults in polyamorous relationships, immigrants and their families, anyone who for any reason feels anxious/depressed/alone in the world, I do this work passionately for you, for us.
Was I always a therapist? How did I learn to do what I do?
My career path was not linear, that’s for sure! In 2005, I left the field of financial services and completed a Master’s degree in Holistic Counseling. While in graduate school, I provided services at the San Mateo County Juvenile Hall, which was an amazing experience! I worked with the youths and their families through behavioral challenges and serious mental illness.
Concurrently, I worked as a counselor at a residential program for adults with serious mental illness and substance abuse. But, more importantly, I worked with clients who struggled with their sexual orientation, gender identity, and issues of shame and rejection, complicated by the stigma around serious mental illness. As a self-identified gay man, I became the unofficial “go to” clinician, working directly with clients and their families and with the staff to support these clients – a highlight of my clinical work at the agency. I earned several promotions, eventually becoming the Executive Director for the region.
Then the time came for me to change. I was no longer satisfied with the status quo. I wanted to refocus on providing therapy, and I wanted to do this differently than before -- on my own as a private practitioner. I felt this need down to my core, so I left the agency and started my practice. Best thing I ever did! I love working with my clients, and am committed to expanding my clinical knowledge and skillset for the benefit of my clients.
How do I do this work?
Clinically, my frame of reference has two parts: 1) No one can be “fixed” from the outside by someone else – healing comes from the inside out, and 2) Solutions and the strength to implement them already exist in each of us. We just need to find and use them.
It is not effective, nor is it my place, to impose what I think are solutions for you. My solutions aren’t your solutions, and most likely will not be of benefit to you. Rather, I believe that you already have at least some idea of the answers and solutions you are looking for, though you may not realize it when you’re in the midst of suffering. As your therapist, it’s my job to be completely focus on you and help you reconnect, explore and develop your own innate wisdom and power – this is the main thrust of my therapeutic approach.
I find this to be particularly helpful for those that have the experience of being different, or outside the cultural norm. When you do not feel accepted for who you truly are, it can be disempowering. It can feel like the very fabric of your being, your existence, is minimized or invalidated by the dominant culture. It can feel like death. Tapping into one’s own innate wisdom and power is tapping into life force itself, which can help to heal these deep wounds and give energy to address whatever opposition is presented.
What do I believe about this work?
I believe that we are, in part, the product of our history, and the lessons learned from that history influence our choices and actions. Sometimes, when we have a lot of pain in our history, we think, feel and do things that may hurt us and those around us. The awesome thing is that every day, we have a new opportunity to change our choices and actions so that we can make our lives better, healthier, and more satisfying. We often forget this wisdom; we forget that we have this power to change. We forget we deserve to be empowered and free!
We only get to live, love, and enjoy life for a finite time. It’s up to each of us to do what we can, and get the help we need when we struggle, to work toward our most authentic self, and strive for the cherished sense of empowered freedom we deserve.
What am I like?
I am an outgoing person! I love to listen and talk to people, gregarious and extroverted by nature, and I love to laugh and have fun. As a clinician, I like to be active in therapy. I make it a point to interact with you by way of reflective listening, strategic inquiry, encouragement, and, when appropriate, by challenging beliefs and actions that are compromising and undermining to you. I am not the kind of therapist who sits quietly in the corner. If you’re looking for a quiet and strictly contemplative therapist, I may not be the best choice for you.
My clients have said that they appreciate the fact that I “cut to the chase” and get to the core of an issue pretty quickly and tenderly, push them to explore new material when they need it, and confront thoughts and beliefs that undermine their well-being. I have also been told by clients and colleagues that I have a great sense of humor, I am intuitive, spontaneous, open to new experiences, forthright, and passionate.