As a Los Angeles County Sheriff Detective, I witnessed first-hand the powerful effects of trauma on the behavior and well-being of both offenders and law enforcement. In 1996 I opted for an early retirement from the force to pursue my education in clinical psychology.
I began by counseling troubled young people at a medium security juvenile detention facility, and this made me deeply curious about prevention strategies. I studied this directly by working as a classroom teacher with immersion and special education students. I observed the effects of psychological injury, isolation, and loss on the growth and development of young people — and worked to understand ways that I could intervene.
During my doctoral training, I worked intensively with the mechanisms of psychological injury and recovery. I worked with battered women at an emergency domestic violence shelter, and with severe, chronic, and dually-diagnosed clients at an outpatient community mental health clinic.
Here's what I learned from working with the most severe cases: What we call mental illness is mostly just getting stuck. We get stuck in experiences we don't know how to handle, in states of mind that don't make sense to us, and in habits that don't help us move forward. Psychotherapy is about getting unstuck.
The human condition is challenging. After years of faithful service, our deepest convictions can turn against us — holding us back when it's time to grow and evolve. In therapy, I focus on helping people learn to let go of self-defeating patterns of thought and behavior. As you heal the hardened wounds of the past, your body and mind resume their growth. You begin to live more fully in the present, and feel hope and optimism for the future.
Be assured that no matter where you are in the process, it is never too late to begin anew. Over the past few decades, neuroscience has shown us that our experiences physically alter the brain. Emotional trauma causes physical injury to the brain, and psychotherapy stimulates repair and renewal.
Humans are complex and dynamic, equally capable of consciously creating the life we want to live, as well as the unconscious life we don’t want. Entering therapy is about becoming attuned to the unconscious material that may be ruling your life, bringing it into consciousness, and giving yourself permission to be the dynamic person you were always intended to be.