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Dandelion Parachute Seed


Because we seek the familiar, we're lucky if our past experiences were pleasant.  But if we experienced neglect or abuse as children, we got the message (usually unintended by our parents) that we weren't worth protecting. Often this results in low self-esteem and broken antennae that can't recognize dysfunction in others.

If you grew up in a dysfunctional environment, it would've been a bad idea to be aware of your feelings.  They were too painful and you were helpless to do anything about them anyway.  So maybe you wisely numbed out. Possibly you decided to live in your head, where it was safe and you could "figure things out" using logic and rationale. That coping skill, known as "intellectualization", got you through your childhood, but now it's undermining you in your adult relationships. Or maybe you struggle with a lack of boundaries and allow others' opinions of you to determine your self-worth.

Two Dried Leaves


People with the best chance at successful relationships are those who learn to manage anger effectively and resolve conflicts when they develop. Couples and family therapy helps us understand each others' old wounds and develop empathy for one another.  We learn to ask for our needs in such a way that our partner wants to meet them.  We begin to notice when we are regressing into the child version of ourselves, and strengthen the ability to stay in our adult state.  When our partner is struggling to maintain a mature stance, we develop the capacity to know this is happening and to have patience and be supportive. We learn how to balance our own needs with our partner's. Relationships that maintain themselves over time are the ones in which partners can make requests and negotiate. Couples therapy can result in a closer relationship bond, a stronger family connection, and happier parents, children, and siblings.



Anger is a highly complex emotion that many struggle to identify and manage. Although anger is a natural, necessary emotion meant to protect us, if we lack the skills to process it healthily, anger can mutate into aggression or even rage, serving to destroy instead of support.  If the process of simply acknowledging that anger exists is overwhelming, then developing the ability to express anger assertively can seem an impossible feat.

People with the best chance at successful relationships learn to manage anger effectively and resolve conflicts. Anger Management is designed to help participants develop empathy - the ability to relate to how another person is feeling - as well as strategies for expressing anger constructively. It helps you identify your anger triggers and then, through a series of interactive, cognitive behavioral exercises, learn ways to cope with them. You will discover what contributes to your anger through worksheets and assessments; explore connections between anger and substance abuse, mood disorders, and trauma; and take the power out of anger provoking situations.

I am a board member of the California Association of Anger Management Providers and a Certified Anger Management Specialist.  I facilitate weekly anger management groups and work one-on-one as an executive anger management coach.  For counselor and therapist colleagues, I am a trainer in providing anger management services. I have co-authored two anger management workbooks: Anger Management Essentials: An Aggression Management Workbook, and Anger Management Essentials: An Aggression Management Workbook: Teens Edition.

Foggy Pier


Many people think the word "trauma" is too dramatic to describe what happened in their childhoods.

"I'm alive, aren't I?" they say, "It couldn't have been that bad."

The fact is, you did survive. 

But if you grew up in a household where the people in charge were struggling to hold it together, your thoughts and feelings probably took a back seat.  To keep the pain at bay long enough to make it to adulthood, you had to do some pretty fancy footwork. Your more advanced moves might have included denial, rationalizing, or intellectualization ("I don't have to feel...I'll just figure this out in my head!")

Then out into the world you went, armed with your strategies, only to realize that the very tools that helped you to survive your early relationships cost you dearly in your adult ones. This is because defense mechanisms like denial and rationalization permanently distort our feelings, making it impossible to take in what is actually happening around us.

Types of trauma

Physical: abuse disguised as discipline, possibly with the use of objects such as kitchen utensils, hairbrushes, or belts

Sexual: (can be overt or covert) intercourse, oral sex, fondling, kissing, voyeurism, exhibitionism, sexual talk/innuendos, one parent's relationship with child is more important than the relationship with spouse

Emotional: verbal abuse, social isolation, neglect, abandonment

Intellectual: attacking the child's thinking

Spiritual: parent is child's "higher power"; use of the concept of God to frighten or threaten

These experiences can create symptoms ranging from codependency to post traumatic stress.


When a person is very upset, the brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. A disturbing moment becomes "frozen in time," and remembering it may feel as bad as going through it the first time. The images, sounds, smells, and feelings haven’t changed. Such memories have a lasting negative effect that interferes with the way a person sees the world and the way they relate to other people.

EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds, and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but it is less upsetting. Many types of therapy have similar goals. However, EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way. -EMDRIA

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