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About Therapy

Suffering has meaning: it often alerts us that there is a deeper problem to be solved. Therapy provides a space where you both find relief from symptoms as well as develop an understanding of their underlying causes.


You do not need to be sick or broken in order to benefit from psychotherapy. Therapy can have just as much benefit, if not more, when it is ongoing and preventative, rather than solely in reaction to a crisis. Just as you need regular tune-ups for your car and physicals for your health, psychotherapy is an opportunity to keep your psychological, emotional, spiritual and relational life in good shape.


Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about psychotherapy.


How does psychotherapy work?

Is Psychotherapy Effective?

Psychotherapy involves meeting regularly with a therapist to explore and resolve troubling feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and somatic symptoms (sensations in your body.)


These meetings usually occur once weekly and last for 50 minutes. Therapists are highly trained professionals who work collaboratively with you to bring about positive change for a wide array of presenting problems including (but not limited to) relationship problems, depression, anxiety, life transitions, grief, self-esteem issues, complex and acute trauma, sexual identity and gender exploration. Many therapists, myself included, strive to understand the origin of these problems in order to more effectively address them; however, the focus of therapy is mostly on helping you move forward.


In addition to your weekly meetings, you can expect me to engage in regular research and preparation time, continuing professional education, clinical consultation to improve treatment, professional certification, and collaboration (as appropriate) with other care providers. These services are covered in the cost of the session fee.

Therapy is an incredibly well-researched and empirically validated treatment option for cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems. In the past several decades many different kinds of psychotherapy have been developed, and these different modalities have been shown in outcome studies to have similar effectiveness. The most important factor in whether the therapy is successful is the quality of the relationship between the therapist and the client. That is why it is very important that you take time to find a therapist who you feel is a good match for you and who can help you with your specific needs. 

How long does therapy last?

There is no minimum or maximum amount of time required for therapy. I am trained in many different therapeutic modalities, some of which are short-term. Your individual needs determine the methods of treatment.


That said, there is no way to predict exactly how long it will take to resolve your core concerns. Effective therapy requires several weeks or months of regular meetings. Many people choose to stay in therapy for longer, even after their initial problems have been resolved.

Image of oak trees - Oakland Therapist, EMDR Therapist, About Therapy
Enticing Balcony outside Berkeley Therapit Jesse Whittle-Utter's Office

Why Weekly?

Psychotherapy is a collaborative project that involves developing trust, uncovering deep layers of emotions and vulnerability, and transforming long-entrenched habits of thought, feeling, behavior, and ways of relating to others. Most humans are unconsciously resistant to change (even positive change!) and we have many systems in place to preserve the status quo in our lives. In order for therapy to work, these systems need to be named, explored and challenged frequently enough that they begin to shift. Weekly meetings ensures this and, although it may feel intense or excessive to some, it is actually a much more efficient way of doing therapeutic work.

Why pay for therapy when I can just talk to my partner, friend, or spiritual guide?

Therapists do much more than just listen. They complete a rigorous and comprehensive training that gives them a thorough understanding of human development, emotions, thinking, behavior and relationship patterns. Because of their expertise and objectivity, they can help point out "blind spots" or things outside your awareness; they can highlight things you may not have considered before; and can non-judgmentally guide you down a path of personal growth you may not have thought possible.

What if I'm not exactly sure what my problem is?

That's ok! Many people come to therapy because of a particular symptom (depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, etc.) that they don't understand or can't resolve on their own; others simply feel that something is missing in their life and aren't sure what it is. Many others go to therapy to develop a richer inner life, help themselves meet goals and achieve excellence, or maintain a path of growth and self-care. If you're not sure whether therapy is right for you, I am happy to offer an initial phone consultation at no cost.

If I go to therapy, does that mean I am weak or there is something wrong with me?

On the contrary - coming to therapy means that you wish to take responsibility for yourself and your well-being, and is accordingly a sign of strength and courage. Coming to therapy demonstrates a willingness to face yourself, the energy to proactively address difficult problems, and the striving for growth and self-knowledge. I find that people who come to therapy are generally on (or interested in) a path of self-expansion.  Of course, some people's sense of self derives from their ability to work things out on their own - but there are nearly always limits to this, for all of us. There is only so much you can do on your own and, as you hit those rough patches in life, therapy can help get you back on track.

How Does Online Therapy Work?

Online therapy works the same way as traditional therapy does, except that it is conducted over secure video conferencing software. Studies show that both in-person and online therapy provide equivalent benefits.

"If you're going through hell,
keep going." 
-Winston Churchill
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