For as long as I can remember, I have been intensely curious about the human condition.
I constantly ask myself “What makes people do what we do, even if there is a negative impact?” and “What do people really want?” Over the years, I got to be pretty good at answering these questions to help myself and others. In my previous career in financial services, I’d often use this line of questioning with my customers to help them identify what their financial goals and obstacles were, and more importantly, the needs and desires they wanted to fulfill, and I enjoyed this process immensely. Over time, I realized that my best work with my customers was in a way therapeutic, and I just loved it! In fact, this unofficial “therapy” was the thing that I enjoyed most. I decided it was time for a career change…
I left financial services and completed a Master’s degree at John F. Kennedy University in Holistic Counseling. I chose this specific emphasis because I wanted to learn not only the “what” and “how “of therapy, but the “why” of therapy, with respect to all facets of a client’s life, such as religion and spirituality, intersections of different cultures within the same person or family system, signals from the body that could be pointing to problems and solutions for the client, etc.
During my time in graduate school, I started providing services in San Mateo County Juvenile Hall, which was an amazing experience! I worked with youth and their families who were experiencing behavioral challenges, dysfunctional family systems, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and emerging symptoms of serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and other psychotic and mood disorders.
Concurrently, I also started working as a counselor at a residential program for adults with serious mental illness. Here too, I worked with symptoms of psychotic and mood disorders, behavioral challenges and substance abuse. But, more importantly, I worked with many clients who were struggling with their sexual orientation, gender identity, issues of shame and rejection, complicated by the stigma around serious mental illness. As a self-identified gay man, I became the unofficial “go to” clinician, working directly with clients, with other staff supporting these clients, and with the family members to improve relational dynamics, increase empathy and understanding, and reduce rejection between the client and their family, which was for me a definite highlight of my clinical work at the agency. Since that time, I earned several promotions, eventually becoming a Program Director, a Director of Case Management, and lastly the Executive Director for the region.
Then, the time came for me to change again. I was no longer feeling satisfied with the status quo. I wanted to refocus on providing therapy, and I wanted to do this differently than before -- on my own as a private practitioner. I felt this need down to my very core, and I knew this was the answer to my own of question of “what do I want”. So, I left the agency and started my practice. Best thing I ever did! I love this work, and I am committed to my practice and expanding my clinical knowledge and skill set for the benefit of my clients and my own professional growth.