I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in multiple states as well as an advanced Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC-II), an Internationally Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor (ICDAC), and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor (LMFT-S). I began working in this field in 1995 and have worked in group homes, suicide prevention hotlines, hospitals, and professional monitoring programs. For the last 16 years, I've focused exclusively on my private psychotherapy practice, where I’ve seen over 1,000 clients. My goal from the beginning was to become skilled at talking to people in order to help them. In graduate school my focus was on this and only this, not on research, not on psychological testing, and not on how to run mental health programs.
So that’s what I’ve done. Talk to people. Thousands of people. Nearly 25 years later, I still like what I do.
Some therapists approach therapy as if they are the doctor, the healthy person, and you, the “patient”, are sick. With this approach, the therapist sees their job as being to tell you what to do so you aren’t sick anymore. This doesn’t generally work, and I don’t look at therapy this way. We are all, therapists included, healthy in some ways and flawed in others. So I see therapy as being about two imperfect people sitting down to talk, but to talk about you with the goal of helping you. I don’t consider my clients “patients.”
My style is direct and real. Some therapists still refuse to talk about themselves with clients, but I’m willing to insofar as it’s relevant and helpful to what you are working on. I’m willing to talk about being a man, being a father, being a husband, being a friend. I think this is part of the value a therapist can bring. The old model of therapy, which many therapists still adhere to, has the therapist never talking about themselves. This just doesn’t make sense to me, and I don’t think it’s helpful.
Clients often want to know why I became a therapist. It’s a strange way to make a living, so a reasonable question. I was always the guy that people would open up to – even as a kid. It wasn’t something I worked at; it’s just how I was. I naturally was a good listener and didn’t judge people. But being a therapist never crossed my mind. I studied journalism as an undergraduate and had a number of stories published in The New York Times. I then spent three years in Japan running an English language business. Then, after travelling in Southeast Asia for six months, I came back to the states and worked in high tech sales in San Francisco during the dot com boom.
During this time, I realized I wanted to do something that felt more meaningful to me so I started volunteering at the San Francisco Suicide Prevention Hotline, where I would sometimes take calls from very depressed people thinking about jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. I felt good about this work and went on to get a master’s degree in counseling psychology and immediately began an internship working with individuals and couples in a therapy clinic. I spent several years working with adolescents at local high schools, families at local clinics, and mental health and chemical dependency patients at a hospital. I was the senior case manager at a program run by the State Bar of California to help lawyers with mental health and substance abuse problems. I also started my own private therapy practice in Palo Alto, California, in 2003. In 2004 I became a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. I moved to Austin in 2006 and have been in private practice here ever since.