Q: “How long is this going to take?”
A: Of course this depends on the issues or problems at hand.  Since we’re dealing with the mental, e-motional, physical and “spiritual” aspects of humans, it can be very complicated.

It’s also dependent on how much work one is able to do as long as we meet.  Regardless of how much is done or how few issues someone is struggling with, sometimes we experience other losses while working, that extend the time needed.

To put it another way- my job is to put me out of a job.  Sometimes, too often, I hear of people being in therapy, consistently, for 3, 5, even 10 years or more.  Unless someone has issues such as ritual abuse or something similar, it shouldn’t take that long.

Q: “Is ________ ‘normal’?”
A: Yes.  I know that’s not the answer you expected.  How humans react to circumstances and biology is relatively predictable, so sure, most everything is “normal”.  The question I think here, is really twofold.  The thing in question may not be common.  More importantly, the thing in question may not be healthy (or some indication someone is somehow unhealthy), which I think is more often really the question being asked.

In this context, the thing in question is sometimes not common or healthy.  Looked at from that perspective though, it can be determined if this is something we need to work on, and help us identify specifically what about that thing might be changed.

Q: “Why do I always let ________ have power over me?”
A: It’s not always that simple.  People often can make us feel things, no matter how we try to avoid “letting them”.  There’s a saying- no one is truly stronger or weaker than anybody else.  Sometimes circumstances seem to have some “power” over us.  We can’t choose our feelings.  Were that the case, humans would most often be in a place of e-motional Utopia.  However, we can have boundaries, communicate differently, let go of painful/sad etc. feelings we have, deal with circumstances more gracefully. It may be too that we’re volunteering for people or circumstances that are not healthy for us- those kinds of things can be changed or certainly chosen, differently.

Q: “What’s the difference between a therapist and a counselor?”
A: In the strictest sense, training.  For instance, by both licensure and certification, I am both.  I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  One of my certifications is as a Master’s level Addictions Counselor.  Oversimplifying, a therapist is trained in specific methods to change a thing directly.  A counselor is more of a director in this context, advising a person to do something themselves.  My sense of this though, is that by both necessity and nature, counselors and therapists use both kinds of methods.

Q: “How does one know they have an addiction or alcoholism?”
A: Of common use/”community standard”, there are 3 general definitions.  The DSM (the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) is the “industry standard” for all things psychiatric.  Oversimplifying, there are 7 categories of symptoms, and to be diagnosed with “dependency”, one has to have 3 symptoms from these categories (not necessarily from each) to be diagnosed. That was the fourth iteration of the DSM’s requirements. The terms and requirements have changed since the DSM V (the current version), now putting these problems on a “spectrum”. Fleshing out how to make sense of this is better done in person. Lots of people are moving away from using the DSM since the newest version . . .

12-step programs (the most common form of long-term treatment) have no “official” definition, but usually note that if one is powerless over the substance (or behavior, or whatever) and that powerlessness has made one’s life “unmanageable”, that person is probably an “addict” (alcoholic, etc).

Have heard many physicians/psychiatrists use this, my favorite definition: “Addiction is a pathological relationship with any mood altering experience, that has life-damaging consequences.”

The specific details of these should certainly be discussed with a professional.

Q: “What is grief and loss work?”
A: A basic description of this might be that people come to therapy with “issues” prompting their anxiety, depression, low self worth (low self esteem), anger, and the like.  Working through these issues in therapy that have prompted these feelings is oft described as “grief and loss” work.  Abuse (physical abuse, sexual abuse, “emotional abuse”), death, other forms of abandonment (adoption, physical abandonment, addiction, mental illness), traumas (robbery, war, rape, accidents, ritual abuse, assaults…) and more are all examples of “issues” that prompt some of the problems above, and more.

Of course, working through these issues are deeply complicated and intense.  Working through these problems should definitely be done with a counselor or therapist.

Q: “Can a therapist help with personal growth?”
A: Absolutely.  Our jobs, friends, mates, children, our own personhood… all these things and more are types of relationships.  Success in these areas can always be improved with the education and experience of a therapist or counselor.

Q: “Are you close to Pasadena Los Angeles San Marino La Canada La Crescenta Alhambra South Pasadena Sierra Madre Glendale Arcadia Monrovia…?”
A: There’s been several times I’ve had clients come from San Diego, near Edwards AFB, the “west side”, and San Bernardino.  My office is accessible from essentially anywhere in Los Angeles county within 40 minutes, providing of course that traffic is moderate.

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