California Marriage and Family Therapist License # MFC41610
15503 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 390A
Encino, California 91436
Therapy can provide the tools needed to meet life's challenges with more awareness, ease, empowerment and meaning.
My offices reflect a calm, welcoming atmosphere. I feel it is important to create a safe and compassionate therapeutic environment which allows clients to discuss their feelings. Most clients tell me that I am easy to talk to.
After listening to the difficulties clients are having, we begin to explore how negative patterns that they weren't aware of may be causing them to be unhappy in their present relationships. I believe that successful therapy is team work in which both therapist and patient work together in a non-judgmental way with the goal of self-understanding. Psychotherapy can provide a compassionate mirror which enables the client to become aware of themselves in a way that we cannot do alone, or through reading self-help books.
With my experience in mindful meditation, I am able to help clients deal with anxiety, panic attacks and depression by giving them hands on coping tools. Therapy is a wonderful process that can bring the hope of living a more satisfactory, productive and fulfilling life. In my practice I also run therapy groups, where clients are able to work through their difficulties in a supportive environment. Groups are important because so many people are feeling isolated today, and isolation causes additional suffering. The group is like a wonderful lab where clients learn how their skills at relating can be worked on so that they can have more satisfying relationships in their life.
It takes a lot of courage to make the decision to come to therapy and talk about your difficulties and work them through so that you can be in a better place. I respect that courage and always keep that in mind when working with clients.
Go within every day and find the inner strength so that the world will not blow your candle out.
-- Katherine Dunham
Be Kind to Your Mind
Several years ago a patient noticed a fragrance coming from the pink jasmine blooming in front of my office. She said it made her feel sad that they would eventually fade, dry up and fall to the ground. Her thoughts about what they would look like in the future stopped her from being able to enjoy the fragrant beauty they were offering in the present moment. Has something like this ever happened to you? Where you find yourself thinking about what hasn’t even taken place yet? Or maybe you got lost thinking about something that happened in the past? A very wise person once said to me, “Bonnie, if you’ve got one foot in the past and one in the future, you’re pissin on the present.” How right he was, there is no way that we could enjoy what is happening right now in the present moment when our minds are somewhere else. We’ve all had that experience of arriving at a destination and not remembering how we got there. Or, rereading a paragraph over and over again because it didn’t sink in the first time. Jon Kabbat-Zinn likes to say, “Next time you’re in the shower check and make sure you’re in the shower.” This experience is not only detrimental to being able to feel and enjoy life, but it can cause you to miss being present to tae your moments in your work as actors. Good acting requires reacting, and you have to have all five senses available to breathe life into your character as you make those words on the paper come to life.
Part of the problem that you may be experiencing is not being able to stay focused on the present moment. Difficulty focusing on the present moment seems to be an epidemic. Our minds are inundated with continual information every minute of the day. Information spilling out of the television, radio, internet, telephone, billboards, all scream for our attention. It is difficult to get through a task, maybe even reading this article, without checking emails, text messages or missed calls. Now add to that mix the fact that we think approximately 10,000 thoughts a day and you’ve got some serious stimulus overload going on. All of these intrusions make it difficult to focus on what is before us in the present moment. This environment not only robs you of enjoying your life but it also creates stress. It costs us big time and the price we’re paying to these time thieves is our peace of mind. Let’s take a look at the mental health temperature of Americans. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety affects approximately 40 million American adults ages 18 and older, or about 18.1 percent of people in this age group in a given year. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44. 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population suffer from depression. Can all of this constant intrusion be a factor in the high rate of anxiety and depression in America? But hold on before you check that email, text message or voice mail because I’m coming to the jewel in this over stimulus package.
There is a quiet revolution occurring in the mental health field right now which can promote balance and well being. You don’t need a membership, special equipment or a prescription for it. It’s called mindfulness. Being mindful or having mindful awareness means paying attention to what you’re experiencing from moment to moment – without drifting into thoughts of the past or concerns about the future, or getting caught up in opinions about what is going on. It is the practice of sitting still and focusing on your breathing. It goes like this, you find a quiet spot to sit down, you close your eyes, or not, focus on the in -breath and the out –breath, notice where you feel the air coming into your body and how it leaves your body, and when your mind wanders and starts thinking about the laundry list of things you need to do, you gently, without judgment refocus it on the breath again. This is the way you begin to train your mind to stay in the present moment.
By focusing your attention in this way, you are also promoting brain health. Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center reveals that mindfulness training helped reduce subjective states of suffering and improve immune function, accelerate rates of healing and nurture interpersonal relationships and an overall sense of well-being. Mindfulness also improves various mental disorders with reduction in symptoms and prevention of relapse. Studies on depression (Mayberg, 2005) reveal that mindfulness techniques can alleviate symptoms of depression and lead to improvements in brain functioning. The general idea of the clinical benefit of mindfulness is that the acceptance of one’s situation can alleviate the internal battle that may emerge when expectations of how “life should be” do not match how “life is.” Check out Time magazine’s fun diagram of what the brain looks like while meditating. Studies have found that people who have completed mindfulness training and incorporate the practice of mindfulness also benefit from: