I started out in counseling many years ago as a VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America, something of a domestic version of the Peace Corps) volunteer, after graduating in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. I was assigned to work with an Ojibwa (Chippewa) group in northwestern Wisconsin. I fell in love with the work and quickly decided that would be my life’s journey.
My graduate education includes a master’s in school psychology, a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and most recently a postdoctoral master’s in clinical psychopharmacology. Much of my career has been devoted to working for state and county governments. I very much believe in making therapy accessible to everyday people, including those that are struggling with modern society. Along that path I have been a county mental health director and large county chief of adult services, a director of privately contracted programs to service adults in need, and most recently the Chief Psychologist at Pelican Bay State Prison. I enjoy public sector work in part because it allows me to positively influence the lives of thousands of people.
That being said, in spite of holding a number of administrative posts, I most enjoy direct clinical work. Therapy is about relationships; trust learning about yourself and where you have come from. It is both exciting and a true privilege to be part of that process with others. I also enjoy doing group therapy and believe that groups are the fastest and most powerful vehicles for change for many people.
I have been practicing my craft for many years. For the past few decades I have supervised many psychology, social work and counseling students and interns. I’m fond of telling my students that they should be able to have three to five different strategies available to them to address any particular clinical presentation. The approaches to therapy that I resonate most closely to are client centered, cognitive behavioral and interpersonal. Therapy is foremost about creating a relationship and environment that is trusting and fosters self exploration and growth. But it also must be more than just creating an environment for exploring feelings. It needs to also create a roadmap for how to get past the “stuck” places in your life.
Although I have a degree in psychopharmacology, I do not prescribe medications. Psychologists in California do not yet have that legal ability. I believe that medications can sometimes be helpful in managing symptoms and I am more than happy to work with your primary care doctor or psychiatrist in a combined strategy of medications and therapy, if so indicated. I believe that medications are often over used and should be considered after other less invasive strategies have been tried. For example, aerobic exercise is clinically proven to be a better antidepressant than the best antidepressant medications. If you can physically manage an exercise regimin why not try that first? The side effects for some medications can be debilitating , but the side effects for exercise are positive.
I have served as a Red Cross mental health volunteer with assignment to the Washington DC area after 9/11, and a couple of tours to Florida after Hurricane Katrina. For fun and for my own mental health, in addition to photography, I enjoy backpacking and sailing. I am in awe of the remarkable beauty and grandeur that we are so lucky to have nearby living here in the heart of California.