COUNSELING for Individuals, Couples, Kids & Family, and Mid-Life.
Find HOPE & HEALING - If you learn new ways of seeing a situation and understand the different possibilities - You can then make different choices and get better results - You don't have to depend on circumstance or other people for things to improve.
People can and do change, and you can too. It is like most things, if you ignore it, nothing changes (or it gets worse). But if you focus on it and work for a positive change, it does happen.
- Individuals (relationships, career, anxious, depressed, want something else)
- Couples (relationships shouldn't hurt, you can find hope and healing)
- Kids & Family (better relationships between parents and their children)
- Mid-Life (bored, in crisis, wondering what's next)
- Being able to talk without shame, judgment or being told what you should do.
- Gaining a better understanding the dynamics of what you have come in to address.
- Understanding how you got to this place.
- Understanding your feelings around the situation and what to do with them.
- Understanding how others might perceive the situation (which may be different from yours).
- Expanding your perspective on the situation.
- Exploring your options and actions you might take.
- Addressing obstacles that keep you from doing what you want or need to do.
- Giving you tools that will help you live better.
- Establishing new behaviors and a more helpful thought process.
For additional info, see How Counseling Helps and FAQ's below.
Give me a call and let's have a conversation to see how counseling can help. At the very least it will give you a few ideas.
I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 213-228-3511
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
(License # 52487)
How Counseling Helps
Focus on the Solution
You know the problem very intimately, you have worked to solve it, and I definitely want to understand it. But what you want and what you do to get it, is much more important.
Talking about “the problem” and about the past has its place in counseling, but spending too much time there gets in the way of moving forward.
Be Heard & Understood
Do you feel that no one has ever heard you out, has never taken the time to understand what your struggle is and what you want?
This is the first thing that I want to accomplish, to hear your perspective, motivations, intent, actions and needs. In couples and family sessions I take time to hear each persons perspective, which also gives others the opportunity to hear it, uninterrupted.
If you don’t feel heard and understood, it is very difficult to move forward.
Do you want to feel good for a moment, or want the problem solved?
Well, both would be nice, but solving the problem will help you feel better in the long run.
So even though it might be a bit difficult in the moment, we focus on what brought you in, take a look at it, explore how it might be solved and work to obtain a positive result.
Something I find particularly helpful is to explore the options available for a given situation, because we can get stuck in how we see things and what actions we take. Looking at the possibilities, considering their pro’s and con’s and exploring what we want and what gets in the way of getting it (feelings, fears and reactions) can be very useful.
When we have more choices and possible responses it helps us to become unstuck and opens up new possibilities.
In relationships, it is always helpful to improve communication. What is even more helpful is to improve understanding.
Sometimes there isn’t anymore that can be said that has not already been said. Where progress can be made is in understanding what is behind what the other is saying, their intent, emotions, fears and hopes. Only then can you move forward.
Stop the Negative
One of the first things I like to do is to interrupt the negative interactions and thoughts processes that I notice. They can be based on old patterns, false beliefs, fears, defenses, or for many other reasons. But they are not helpful and can block what you are trying to accomplish, what you want.
Then I like to explore more constructive, positive ways of expressing and thinking.
Having a clear set of goals for counseling keeps the sessions focused on what you have come in for. They can be revised, but having them is essential. Otherwise it is too easy to explore interesting, but unrelated and unproductive material. We can always come back to these tangents if desired.
During the first half of the first session, I will mostly be listening. Then I will be much more engaged. I find it beneficial to be interactive and not just take a passive position by occasionally asking the old question, “how do you feel about that.”
An example of what I do is to ask questions, explore different options, and offer different perspectives. Also, having someone to bounce thoughts off and get a thoughtful response can be a form or external processing, which can bring new insight and understanding.
We Are Always Changing
Things rarely stay the same for long. They are either getting better or worse. Sometimes big changes happen, but usually it’s a series of smaller changes that result in a big change. Counseling is about building on a series of small positive changes that leads to a big change.
It took you awhile to get where you are, and it will take a bit to get you where you want to be.
Tools & Skill Building
Tools and skills are things that will help you do something different the next time you are faced with a difficult situation. An example might be when someone close to you criticizes you, which would typically start an argument in which nothing is accomplished. I would teach you how to slow things down, consider your feelings, what you are tempted to say, what would be more constructive to say (we really work on this part), and then say it. It doesn’t take but 30 seconds to cool down and become less reactive and more constructive. It can break a long established pattern that is painful, destructive and never leads to a positive resolution.
Call for free Phone Consultation
Give me a call and let’s have a conversation to see how counseling can help. It will give you a few ideas and only cost a little of your time.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is the purpose for the initial phone consultation?
The main goals are to get to know each other a bit, understand what you are looking for in counseling, determine if I would be a good fit to help you accomplish it, set the fee and to answer any questions you might have. Once you decide that you would like to pursue counseling with me, we would set a time for our initial session.
2. How often would we meet?
My preference initially is once a week. This provides the best environment to address and resolve what you came in for. But it is something we can discuss and it would be your choice.
3. How long are counseling sessions?
Typically individual counseling sessions lasts 50 minutes. Family counseling lasts 90 minutes.
4. How long does counseling take?
It is difficult to determine at the start and depends on what you are trying to accomplish, how long it has been an issue, and a number of other factors. Some clients will engage in counseling for a period of time and then take a break knowing they can return at any point in time for "booster" sessions or if difficulties arise.
5. What forms of payment do you accept?
I take cash, check, credit and debit cards.
6. Do you take insurance?
I can provide you with a superbill receipt that you would submit to your insurance company. You would need to check your insurance benefits to see if and how much they would reimburse you for an "Out of Network Provider." You would pay me at the time of our sessions and the insurance company would send the reimbursement to you.
I am not currently on any insurance panels as an "In Network Provider."
7. Why would I want to see a counselor?
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra help when you need it.
"I can usually handle my problems, isn't counseling just a matter of common sense?" Counseling is something that would be helpful if the problem just isn't getting resolved, if it persists or get worse despite your best efforts.
Counseling can give you tools to avoid difficult past behaviors and situations, work through new ones, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
You might want to consider counseling when you are:
- Feeling unsatisfied, stuck, trapped, or lost and would like to address it
- Wrestling with life's meaning and would like help sorting it out
- In a significant transition in life
- Experiencing difficulties in relationships with your spouse, significant other, parent, child, friend, or co-worker
- Behaving in a way that is hurting yourself or others
- Dealing with a past experience that isn't getting resolved
- Want more out of life
8. Am I crazy if I see a counselor?
No. It just means that you want to solve a problem. It really isn't any different than taking your car to a mechanic when there's definitely something wrong. You could hope it goes away, but if it doesn't, then it's time to do something. We all need a little help at times.
9. How do we change... for the better?
This is a question that has many answers, opinions and perspectives. Here are a few of my brief thoughts on how I believe change happens.
- By talking. This might seem strange, but something does happen when we talk. We are using a different part of the brain and the subject is processed differently. Also, having someone listening and (hopefully) providing useful feedback helps. But even if they just listened and nodded their head, you might be surprised at what it does. Women know this much better than us men. This might be called external processing, vs. internal processing (just being in our head).
- Doing more of what works by finding exceptions when the problem is not a problem. Nobody is a complete failure (even if we might feel like it at times). So the focus is on what is working, what you are doing right, and doing more of it. It is also about building on your strengths, your resources, and formulating solutions.
- By changing our behavior. This is an outside in approach with the goal of establishing new ways of doing things. If the new behavior works, a new habit is established, which will be positively reinforced in your feelings and thoughts. This helps to reinforce and continue the new behavior.
- Through awareness of what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how it is impacting others and ourselves. Sometimes our intentions (what we meant to do) and how others receive and perceive it can be very different. You are trying to do what seems to be a right and reasonable thing, but you just get grief for it, from other or possibly yourself.
- By thinking differently, by having a different perspective. If we view ourselves to be the problem, it usually is more difficult to change than if you view the problem as the problem. When we consider the problem external to ourselves and work on it from that perspective, it bypasses a lot of self judgement and shame that can get in the way of positive change.
With time, even if we don't "do" anything to bring about change, things around us change and we change. The problem is that it could go either way, things can get better or get worse. You are just along for the ride.
10. I'm concerned that I will be in counseling for a long time.
You are in charge of the counseling and you will make the decisions regarding what we work on and for how long. I will make recommendations, but you will participate in developing your treatment plan. Initially, we set goals, revisit them every few months to evaluate your progress and adjust the goals, and determine if you want to continue in therapy or whether you feel you're ready to stop counseling. Stopping does not have to be permanent, you can return at any point in time for "booster" sessions or if difficulties arise.
11. What if I need to cancel a session?
I have a 24 hour cancellation policy. If you miss a scheduled session you will be responsible for the full session fee. An exception would be to find another time to meet that week, which is sometimes possible. Let's talk about this if you have a concern. This is not just about money, there are clinical reasons for this policy that benefit you.
12. How can counseling help?
A counselor can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem, help you enhance your problem-solving skills and find alternative solutions. In the end though, the benefits you obtain from counseling depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. And the counselor is there to help with this also.
The benefits include:
- Resolution of the issues or concerns that led you to counseling
- Developing skills for improved relationships
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your values and goals
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Your emotions, an improved understanding, appreciation and expression of them
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your relationships (marriage, family, friends, work)
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
13. Is counseling confidential?
In general the answer is yes. The law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and counselor (Marriage & Family Therapist). No information would be disclosed without prior written permission from you the client.
However, there are some exceptions required by law, which include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse. The counselor is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The counselor is required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself. The counselor will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual does not cooperate, additional measures may need to be taken.
Let's talk if you have any questions or concerns about this. It is important that you feel confident that your privacy is protected to the fullest extent that is permitted.
14. What if I have other questions?
I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 213-228-3511
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
License # 52487
Mark Tinley ReachesLos Angeles CA