I provide therapy to hetero and LGBTQ+ adults in individual therapy, couples counseling, and group therapy. I also provide clinical supervision for BBS hours to trainees and interns.
Therapy for Individuals & Couples
Here you are, reading my website and probably feeling all sorts of things….
You may feel like you’re stuck or can’t figure out how to move forward. Perhaps it seems like stress is sucking the life out of you. You could feel sad, really sad sometimes, even immobilized by sadness. It could also be that your relationship with your partner is in the dumps …. Sex and romance are not happening, or not happening enough. You’re fighting all the time, and even worse, it may feel like you’re having the same fight over… and over…. and over again. You were probably close at the beginning of the relationship, very connected and in love, but now all you see is a big, hostile void between you and your partner, and it pains your very soul.
Whatever it is, you know you don’t feel how you should about yourself or your partner, and you are so over it. You are ready for positive change. You are ready to start embracing empowered freedom.
You may be wondering, “What’s ‘empowered freedom?’ It sounds kind of…odd.”
I get it! It may not sound like anything you’ve heard before (except maybe elsewhere on my website), so let me define it for you.
Empowered freedom is a term that I use to describe a state of being where you embody and live your authentic self. You are able to identify and differentiate your truest wants, needs, and desires apart from what others have told you what you should want. You are able to fulfill yourself without buying into self-defeating thoughts about how you are not good enough, or you don’t deserve fulfillment, or you’re afraid that others will think badly of you – or any other type of negative story.
These stories oftentimes are at the root of issues like anxiety, depression, unhealthy anger, poor interpersonal boundaries, communication problems, feeling lost and empty, and so on. Once these symptoms crop up, you are then prone to things like poor or failed relationships, struggles in the workplace or in your career, substance abuse and other addictions, excessive impulsivity and other self-destructive behaviors, self-harming behaviors, and other negative outcomes.
In working through these issues, you become empowered to recognize and claim what you truly want, and you take action freely and with natural ease to fulfill your needs and desires. Hence the term empowered freedom. Pretty cool, right!?
“Well, that sounds all great and dandy for individuals, but what about relationships? I am really struggling with my partner!”
Great question! The principles of empowered freedom apply to relationships as well as individuals. Think about it: it’s likely that the struggles you are having in your relationship is at least in part tied to the fact that one or both partners are presenting a diminished, disempowered self. When we create scripts and stories about our painful life experiences, we tend to play them out in our relationships, and on each other. This is usually an attempt to protect the self from further injury.
But when partners are swimming in their “stuff”, it gets very difficult to discern what is and is not threatening. So, then both partners “defend” themselves in whatever way they learned, which usually inflames the wounds of the partner, and vice versa….which is why arguments can seem like they repeat and repeat with no resolution.
When I work with you and your partner, I detangle all these reactions and bring each of you back to your authentic self. From there, we can work to reestablish the true needs, wants and desires of each individual, then determine how your respective needs can be met within the context of the relationship.
“Therapy might work for “regular” people, but I feel like I am not like other people! I have special circumstances. People usually don’t ‘get’ me!”
I understand that feeling! It can feel really lonely to be different and not understood. Maybe you’re the guy who is into cosplay, or the lady who is is into bodybuilding. Perhaps you’re gender non-binary, asexual AND a first-generation American from an immigrant family. Whatever it is that makes you unique, my practice affirms and celebrates you!
Interested in learning more? Ready to start the therapeutic journey?
Awesome! Let’s take the next step! Contact me by phone or email, and I would be more than happy to talk to you further about what you’d like to work on in therapy, or if you’d like to learn more about me and my practice. I look forward to hearing from you!
Therapy for the LGBTQ+ Community & Their Families
You are my family, and you are welcome here. I want to serve you!
As a self-identified cisgender gay man, I am passionate about supporting and giving back to my community. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons I became a therapist! It can be difficult for LGBTQ people to find help that is queer and sex positive without having to worry about being labeled “sick”, a “weirdo”, or otherwise “unworthy”. It is aggravating to start work with a provider, and then find out that they lack even a basic understanding of LGBTQ+ life and the struggles therein. It is my mission to be part of the solution to this problem and be a safe, effective and accessible therapeutic resource for the community.
I believe that it is especially critical that all of us as members of this wonderful and dynamic community continue the work of finding our authentic selves and expressing that to the world without shame. Shame is toxic – it undermines our sense of well-being, our confidence and courage, and our ability to be and act powerfully in the world. Toxic shame can lead to anger, depression and anxiety, high risk behaviors and substance abuse. Toxic shame is a form of death. Empowered Freedom, our ability to love, embody and express our true selves shamelessly, is our birthright and our life force. Let us claim that birthright and live well!
Your own family may need therapy to better understand and support you. I can help with that too.
In the course of my professional work, as well as my own life, I know that family members can often go through a process of accepting and affirming their LGBTQ+ daughters and sons, sisters and brothers, parents and grandparents. Often, the beginning of that process can feel like a “death” in the family. As the authentic identity of the LGBTQ+ person emerges, the family member grieves the loss of the person they thought they knew. For the health and well-being of both the LGBTQ+ person and the family member, it is critical that the grieving process be facilitated and supported, so that the family member may be able be at peace with and celebrate the true identity. Therapy can be an excellent way to accomplish this.
Examples of issues we can work on together:
- Anxiety, stress and trauma, depression, grief and loss
- Substance abuse/high risk behaviors
- Coming out/internalized homophobia/transphobia
- Family Dynamics/cultural identity/intersecting and conflicting cultural expectation
- Sexuality, dating and intimacy
- Communication skills and relationship counseling
- Narcissistic abuse, codependency, maintaining healthy, appropriate boundaries
- Managing change in the family system/life transitions
Ways we can work together:
- Individual Therapy for adults and older teens (15-18 years old)
- Couples Therapy/Polyamorous relationship therapy
- Family Therapy for adults and older teens (15-18 years old)
Therapy for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse
What is a narcissist?
Narcissists (people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder) typically displays traits of grandiosity, extreme need for external validation and adoration, and a distinct lack for the well-being of others. Narcissists often come across as selfish, arrogant, superior and power hungry. Narcissists are not self-confident people – just the opposite. Their grandiosity covers up a fragile ego and a deep sense of worthlessness. They feel inordinately entitled to superior treatment, and cannot tolerate criticism. They are prone to inflicting abuse, manipulation, and constantly belittles others. They have little capacity for self-reflection. They do not believe they have a problem and are very unlikely to seek out therapy.
What does a relationship with a narcissist look like? What does narcissistic abuse look like?
Relationships with a narcissist can be soul-crushing and identity-robbing. Narcissistic abuse traumatizes people of all genders and orientations.
Oftentimes the relationship starts out “well” – they may be charming and engaging, and tell you convincingly that they care about you or love you. If you’re the child of a narcissistic parent, you want to believe your parent will love you unconditionally, which is particularly difficult for narcissists. If you’re an adult in a relationship with a narcissist, at first you will feel seduced by their intense interest in you. They’ll say all the “right” things to make you feel great and special…until they don’t.
Out of nowhere, you, who were once idealized and the apple of the narcissist’s eye, is now suddenly worthless, ugly, garbage. They become hypercritical of you. They undermine your self-esteem. They isolate you from others while disrespecting the rules of your relationship (e.g. extramarital affairs). They make you question your very sanity through denying, contradicting, and/or lying (this is known as ‘gaslighting’). They may hit you, or even worse.
The sudden change is bewildering to you. You look for support from family or friends who do not know the narcissist as well as you, but they may not take you seriously. “He is so nice and cool and charming! I’ve always had such great times with him! Are you sure you’re not the problem?” You feel alone. You feel like you are losing your mind. You desperately want what you had when things were good.
And here is the rub: In order to start to make things better, narcissists will lead you to believe that 1) the abuse was all your fault, 2) you are the one that will have to change, and 3) you have to give up your wants, needs and desires in order to serve them, no matter the cost to you.
What does a narcissist want?
Narcissists feel that they are “the best” and deserve everything, and simultaneously have extremely low self-esteem. This internal state is intolerable, so they look for someone who has the attributes they desire but doesn’t have – usually attractiveness, intelligence, and more importantly, love and empathy. The narcissist project their insecurities onto you to artificially beef up their own self-worth and obfuscate their own deficiencies. Narcissists feed off your love and empathy to soothe their own deep and primal psychological wounds. You are the narcissistic supply. If you have codependent traits, you are at particular risk of narcissistic abuse.
How do you deal with this? How do you stop the suffering?
You have spent a lot of time thinking, feeling, and behaving in ways that are totally focused trying to please/appease the narcissist. You have spent little to no time attending to your own wants, needs, desires. You’ve lost your own sense of who you are. You have been traumatized. The key to dealing with and healing from narcissistic abuse is to restore your connection to your own identity, and replenish your own internal strength and wisdom. Working with someone who is sensitive to the phenomenon of narcissistic abuse is critical to this healing path. This is something I can offer you. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together on healing from narcissistic abuse, take that first step and reach out to me now! I would love to talk to you, and if we are a fit, I would be honored to do this work with you.
Therapy for Men
“Real men are strong and silent” and other toxic misconceptions about men.
In some critical ways, it’s really tough to be a well-adjusted guy. On the one hand men are “supposed” to be brave, individualistic, successful leaders, good fathers, stoic and long-suffering, and so on. On the other hand, men are “supposed” to be in touch with and/or express emotions, be empathic and relationship oriented, admit they are in pain and reach out for help. The price of breaching these expectations can be steep, but often it looks like shame and rejection by friends, family and peers/colleagues. It’s a no-win situation. It’s a prison.
What does it look like when men need help and don’t get it?
Well, in a nutshell, it ain’t pretty. Societal norms generally allow for men to access only one emotion – anger. Certainly men, and everybody, experience anger, but what about depression, anxiety and other feelings? When anger is the only emotion allowed, the other struggles present don’t just go away. Quite the contrary, they get stuffed down, pressurize, then they start to “ooze out”. The “ooze” can look like:
- Feeling empty, unmotivated, or stuck, avoiding responsibilities
- Increased isolation
- Chronic stress
- Physical symptoms like ongoing digestive issues or elevated blood pressure
- Issues around body image
- Relationship difficulties with partner, family, friends, coworkers and bosses
- Angry or violent outbursts
- Impulsive and reckless behaviors
- Substance abuse and other addictive behaviors
- Increased risk of self-harm/suicide or harm to others
All this sounds like a lot to deal with! How can guys get help with this stuff?
Men need a safe space to uncover, explore, and heal the wounds that brought them suffering in the first place. Men also need to work with someone that they feel comfortable with, someone who “gets” it, and will not judge or shame them for wanting to get help and be better for themselves and for their loved ones. Personally and professionally, I have experienced this insidious attitude and its negative effects first-hand, which has inspired me to delve deeply into men’s therapeutic work. I find it satisfying when I get to support and bear witness to fellow men shedding the shackles of societal expectations, expressing their authentic self, and enjoying the riches of meaningful and loving relationships.
Doesn’t that sound pretty awesome? Do you want to learn more about working with me on these issues? Are your pretty done with suffering in silence? Then don’t wait any longer and reach out to me by phone or email now! I really look forward to talking to you about your situation and how I can help to you.
In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.
- Dalai Lama
First off, I’d like to share with you that I truly enjoy providing clinical supervision to trainees and interns! It’s so rewarding for me to watch and help new clinicians grow as they gain more and more experience and skill.
I started providing individual and group clinical supervision to MFT and MSW trainees and registered interns when I was a Director of Case Management at Caminar, an agency in San Mateo county serving adults with serious mental illness. Though there are some unique clinical challenges in working with this population, there are themes that emerge that are applicable to any clinician no matter the client population:
Clear and health boundaries
This is fundamental to successful clinical engagement, not only between supervisee and client, but also between supervisee and supervisor. I strive to provide my supervisees a secure environment that invites thoughtful examination and feedback of the learning and training process.
REview and application of theoretical models
I am guessing that you have probably heard many clinicians state that they are “eclectic” in their theoretical orientation (yes, my theoretical orientation is “eclectic” too…). But what does that mean, really? Well, the analogy I make is one of a classically trained musician – say, a pianist. This pianist has a lot of raw talent, lots of great musical ideas and wants to compose great music. However, when the pianist tries to manifest a potentially great concept, it does not sound good. Why? Because the pianist needs to learn the theory and principles, the tools, the mechanics – the rules – first. Once that is learned, then the pianist is free to draw from this knowledge and create something original and stunning.
I believe therapy and clinical supervision is similar. We all need to know the basics theories and therapies that are the pillars of our field – Psychodynamic, Object Relations, Cognitive Behavioral, Family Systems, Solution-Focused, Narrative, and so on, in order to do this work well and figure out what our individual clinical “voice” is. And then, there is the BBS examination – the proverbial “holy grail” of license-track clinicians. You are going to need to know these theories and modalities if you want to pass the test.
I work with my trainees and interns to review the different theories as they are applied to the cases that come into supervision, so that they develop a felt sense of the modalities, versus only memorizing facts. This will help with finding their clinical “voice”, help them pass the exam, and help them become a well-informed and effective clinician.
Working through discomfort
Training and working as a clinician can sometimes bring about uncomfortable or unsettling feelings and experiences. However, it’s oftentimes in those moments of discomfort where what I like to call “therapeutic gold” can be found. – that is to say, the discomfort is pointing to something critically salient to the process between the clinician and client or the clinician and clinical supervisor. I work to make that “therapeutic gold” an asset for my supervisees, so they can glean insight from it and use it for clinical benefit.
At times, though, this may be confusing for supervisees. Personal issues of the supervisee may arise during challenging moments, and it may seem like clinical supervision has become more like personal therapy. Though there may be some overlap between clinical supervision and therapy (and the degree to which is often debated…), clinical supervision is not personal therapy. If it’s apparent that the supervisee needs additional support around personal issues, I warmly encourage them to pursue their own personal therapeutic work. It is my objective to keep supervision focused on clinical training, and I ask that my supervisees align their objectives to this end as well.
If you have any question about my fees, insurance, or cancellation policy, feel free to contact me via phone at 408-351-5433 or via submission form on my Contact Page.