30 Years in Review: 1991-2021

A colleague once asked me when I first knew I wanted to be a therapist. I answered “in utero”—half joking but actually quite serious. You see—I grew up in a good family with a lot of problems. We tried to love one another but had no clue how to really love one another. From a very young age I assumed the role of mediator and surrogate parent, and without fully understanding it at the time, my calling as a psychotherapist was handed to me at birth.

Back in the 70s and 80s when I was growing up on the East Coast, I would visit my Aunt Ruth who was a practicing psychologist in Encino, and I discovered a maternal figure who offered me unconditional love and acceptance. Not only did I look up to her as the beloved sister of my father, but also as a confidant and eventually a trusted colleague. Then in 1988 I decided to make the cross-country trek from South Jersey to Southern California to follow in her footsteps, and I never looked back. I even stayed in her living room for several months before I found my own “bachelor” apartment near the Sunset Strip.

In 1989 I entered the MSW program at UCLA and was challenged and stimulated with a new cohort of like-minded people, some of whom I call my closest colleagues and friends thirty years later. In 1992 I was taken under the wings of two loving and talented clinical supervisors who mentored me in their group private practice, and my clinical journey began to take shape. In addition to private practice, I worked part-time as a hospice social worker for six years and then six more years for Kaiser’s outpatient psychiatry and chemical dependency programs. Finally in 2003 I was ready to spread my wings and took the leap of faith to enter full-time private practice, and fate brought me to share my first office with my aunt.

After all these years, what stands out the most for me is giving back what I’ve been given. Being mentored by those with such generosity of spirit instilled me with the capacity to train others. As a result, I was fortunate to supervise and mentor associates from 2005-2020. In order to stay on my growing edge, I’ve also immersed myself in the clinical communities of Brainspotting, Somatic Experiencing, Advanced Group Therapy studies as well as Coaching which have all enriched my professional life in ways unimaginable thirty years ago.

Today I thoroughly enjoy teaching as part of my writing and speaking opportunities. I’ve given numerous presentations and workshops both locally and nationally, and recently, I’ve chosen to focus more closely on trauma and addictions based on my personal and professional experiences. In June of 2019 my second book It’s Not About the Sex: Moving from Isolation to Intimacy was published by Central Recovery Press, which has been a passion project respectfully handled by my editor and publisher. It continues to allow me to offer a voice in de-stigmatizing compulsive sexual behavior—a topic very close to my heart.

Looking back on this three-decade exploration, I’m still in awe that I get to be a part of our vibrant healing community here in Los Angeles. As I enter my fourth decade of clinical work, I find myself more inspired than ever as I continue to learn and grow beside my brave clients and talented colleagues.

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