“Dr. Goodwin are you a Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Psychiatrist, or something different still?”

I am a psychologist. The picture above is of my office. I am licensed by the Board of Psychology for the state of California. Do you know the difference between a Psychologist, a Psychiatrist, a Social Worker, a Marriage and Family Therapist/Counselor, a Ph.D., a Psy.D., and so on? If you are not familiar with the meanings of these titles, you’re not alone! Even some therapists are unclear about some of the distinctions (which can vary, state-to-state).


The Psychotherapy I Provide

Some people don’t realize that all psychologists do not provide the same type of help. The type of psychotherapy a psychologist provides is defined by their “theoretical orientation.” My theoretical orientation is “Integrative.” This means my clinical approach involves elements drawn from several schools of psychotherapy including Cognitive-Behavioral, Psychodynamic, and Person-Centered. “Integrative” also refers to the idea that my approach is influenced to a great degree by ideas and values that were articulated by individuals living in very different times and cultures than the one in which I currently live.  This is discussed in more detail, below (see Buddhism, Ancient Philosophers, and Psychotherapy, under the heading Integrative Psychotherapy Method, after following the link to An in-depth discussion of my theoretical orientation.

My approach has certainly also been influenced by the diverse and intensive clinical training I received.  I have also benefitted from having worked a number of really talented professional colleagues over the years. Finally, I know that my past experience as an attorney continues to influence the way that I think and, therefore, work. 

Perhaps more than any other factor, a therapist’s own personality influences the type of help the therapist provides. I would describe my work as compassionate yet goal-oriented

You can also learn a lot about my work style by reading over my Consent for Treatment Form. If we work together, I will ask you to sign this prior to our beginning our work together. Consent for Treatment Form (pdf) In addition, please fill out this intake form.

What does a typical session look like?

Some people have never worked with a psychotherapist, and those people may want to know exactly how I work with clients. Others have been in therapy and so they know how their past therapist worked with them but they may wonder how my work would be similar or different. For these reasons it may be helpful for me to describe my work.
Learn more about a typical psychotherapy session.


The Treatment I Provide

How Much Psychotherapy Will You Need?

The question is a common one but it is flawed because most individuals do not “need” psychotherapy at all. Most individuals benefit from effective psychotherapy, but this is not to say that they NEED it. For this reason, the question is better phrased as follows: when has an individual had enough psychotherapy?

The question becomes a very personal one. The individual and the treating psychologist have a duty to address this issue. One can always learn more about oneself via effective psychotherapy. But few people are interested in engaging in psychotherapy for years and years. Certainly, the length of the term of the work will impact on the nature and content of goals that are reached. Longer-term therapy can provide an opportunity for a much deeper and broader type of growth. But a person can leave therapy long before that point and lead a happy and a healthy life. If the client decides to continue on in longer-term therapy, the therapist and the client must be prepared to alter the work to facilitate that.

Psychotherapists sometimes suffer from the same weakness most people suffer from: that of over-estimating clients’ interest in their own work. For instance, when I buy a cell phone, I’m aware the cell phone salesperson knows infinitely more about the functions of the phone than I will ever know. And frankly, I prefer that to remain the case. So, in the same way I really don’t want to learn how to use all of my phone’s functions, I know that it’s very important for me to know what my clients want to improve on and what they choose to leave as it is. Sometimes, clients simply want to feel, think and behave better. Clients have the right and power to limit their psychotherapy in whatever ways they deem appropriate. So, I will help my clients to identify their goals, to develop ways to achieve them, and then I’ll help them determine whether they have achieved them. As a result, I discuss this issue frequently and openly with clients. I stress that studies suggest that change comes as a function of time rather than as a function of sessions. As a result, we often reach a point in therapy when it makes sense to meet less regularly.

The number of sessions necessary to initiate noticeable change in clients varies depending upon the individual and upon the goals of the work. Because of this, one client might decide to scale back session frequency to once every 2 or 3 weeks after 5 sessions, whereas another client may meet weekly for years. I do not charge a different fee depending upon the frequency of the sessions. The feedback I have received from some clients indicates that my style tends to bring about results quite rapidly.

Whether the individual will ultimately choose to engage in long-term work or short-term work, the initial phase of my work—typically lasting 6 months(10-25 sessions) to a year (20-50 sessions)—usually does involve quite a high level of activity by both myself and by the client. If an individual chooses to continue into longer-term work, it is important to discuss that in order that both my client and myself are clear about the goals.

Prospective Clients:

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My client and I work as a team to arrive at a clearer understanding of the challenges they are confronting and of the methods they can use to overcome difficulties.
Learn more about becoming a prospective client

Other Psychotherapy Services

Psychotherapy for Attorneys or Law Students

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As a licensed attorney, I had the opportunity to personally experience the stress associated with the work of a litigator. Much of the psychological research I have conducted has focused on the ways in which the practice of law can impact negatively on lawyers’ emotional well-being. My work with attorneys is something in which I feel a personal investment.
Learn more about psychotherapy for attorneys or law students

Learn about Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)

Psychotherapy for Anxiety and Depression

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Psychotherapy for Anxiety and Depression is very common. The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) estimates that 40 million Americans suffer from Anxiety Disorders. Clinical depression is also one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 19 million Americans each year.
Learn more about psychotherapy for anxiety and depression