Therapy is a living, creative process that enables clients to develop as people and learn to be present with themselves in compassionate and courageous ways. As a therapist, I find it truly meaningful and engaging work to hold a safe space for those going through that process, facilitating inner work, interpersonal skill, healing and growth.
I love working with individuals or couples (same or opposite sex), as well as teens and their parents.
I am a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT) practicing in Santa Rosa. I earned a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara in 1997, and a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in Los Angeles in 2007. I have trained in outpatient clinics, residential settings, and with private practice clinicians, serving diverse populations that presented with a wide range of issues.
My goal is to accept you and support you, but also to challenge you, with an open mind to your unique strengths and struggles. How I approach you and our work together is guided by my training in cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, somatic psychology, spiritual psychology and Gottman Method Couples Therapy. With some clients, my training and experience with yoga and mindfulness might be utilized. Give me a call and let's see if I am a good fit.
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It takes tremendous courage to admit when a relationship needs help, and even more courage to seek it. Early warning signs, if ignored, snowball into critical issues, and relationships become more difficult to repair when those issues become more entrenched over time. Couples counseling can help assess and treat the early red flags as well as the later, more complex chronic relationship problems.
I work with couples of every age, stage, and orientation to help them develop practical, usable skills for disarming conflict, increasing closeness, unblocking feelings of stagnation, and generating empathy. I mainly utilize training in the Gottman method, a heavily researched and scientifically sound approach, and 13 years of experience working with couples. To help navigate conflicts positively and productively, clients are taught ways to not only overcome resolvable problems, but also learn how to dialogue about deadlocked, recurring issues. We will also work together to recognize and appreciate the strengths of your relationship, and develop the skill to gently weather its vulnerabilities. There may be situations that call for individual counseling for one or both partners; in some cases it may be more appropriate to refer to another therapist for individual work.
Call me at 707.536.1614 to tell me about your relationship problem, and to see if we'd be a good fit.
As part of my work with couples and officiating weddings, I also offer pre-marital counseling sessions. The process of planning a wedding is exciting, but it can also be stressful. I am here to help with any fears or concerns that may come up, any work you may want to do to strengthen and grow the positive aspects of your relationship, address any areas you feel may need strengthening prior to getting married, and to discuss strategies that will assist you in creating a lasting, healthy, happy marriage. I am thrilled and honored to be a part of this journey with you, to any degree you might be interested.
Call me to have a chat about your relationship and learn more about premarital counseling sessions.
Jen + Jim Gold 5/4/2019 photo courtesy of Tia Claire Studio
"When we got engaged, we knew we wanted to create a ceremony that was authentic to our promise to each other. Having Clay officiate was a huge part of making that happen. He met with us beforehand to talk about the ceremony, help us revise our vows, and ensure that he kept true to our wishes for the day. He is friendly and thoughtful, can recommend poetry if you are having trouble finding your own words, and respects all faiths. He is even qualified to help you navigate family dynamics and anticipate married life because of his MFT credential. It's also helpful that his voice is gorgeous!"
~ Joe and Lacey Alessandra, Los Angeles CA
I am inspired and deeply moved by the beautiful process of helping two hearts honor their love and commitment to each other through ceremony -- talking to the couple about their relationship, facilitating the writing of the ceremony, discussing an altar or symbols they'd want to include, offering assistance in choreographing how the ceremony unfolds and is staged, and truly and fully being there for them on their special day!
I bring my full, heartfelt, accepting, and attentive presence to working with you both, whether you are secular, faith-based, interfaith, intercultural, opposite or same-sex, traditional or unconventional, grand or informal, ritually-infused or casually minimal. I am available to help collaborate as much or as little is needed depending on how far along your vision is when you contact me. I am simply here to help make it as easy as possible for you.
I draw on my education (BA in Cultural Anthropology, MA in Clinical Psychology), my experience as a marriage and family therapist, my joy of working with couples, and my love of poetry, symbols, and ritual.
Please call me for a free consultation, I look forward to hearing about your special relationship and how to honor it with a ceremony you both will love!
Joe and Lacey Alessandra 6/1/2013 photo by Want Photography
I was born and raised in southern California, played sports, music and loved to write. I played bass in a punk band in high school, and did my undergrad at UC Santa Barbara where I joined another band. We moved to LA seeking a record deal, but underneath I felt directionless, and like I had been neglecting myself physically and emotionally. After years of tinkering with the idea, I dove into yoga to take care of myself. Within a year I started teaching yoga, which I did for the next 12 years all over LA while leading yoga and meditation retreats.
All along the way, I devoured books about consciousness, psychology, and transformative practices. While I did feel generally happier, I knew there was work to be done on my thinking and emotions that yoga and armchair self-psyching was not addressing. I found a great therapist who I worked with long term. Asking for help and surrendering my need to be in sole control of my development felt more empowering than I had imagined.
For my professional development, I continued to develop skills to work more multi-dimensionally with people. In 2004, to develop my knowledge of how physical or emotional trauma can respond to body-based interventions, I studied bodywork at the Institute for Psycho-Structural Balancing in Culver City. In 2007 I received an MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University.
I left my yoga classes and Los Angeles students in 2014 when my family and I moved to the North Bay, and then in 2015 my yoga teaching and practice were sidelined for 2 years in 2015 due to illness and injury. It was a difficult period of grief and gratitude. Essentially retiring from yoga teaching was an unexpected and powerful education, and opened new doors for growth in other aspects of my life.
"Sometimes we are not immediately aware of having
received a gift of grace until we see its effects on
our lives. As always, in gratitude for what Clay
~ Michele Ogilvie, Los Angeles
"I've been to countless yoga classes but find myself working my schedule to take Clay's classes. Each class is an adventure, flavored by his artfulness, low key intensity, athleticism, soulfulness, and sense of play. He is able to sensitively direct a whole group while attending to each person's needs, integrity, and individuality. "
~ Donna Pall, Los Angeles
"From that very first class with Clay, I knew I'd stumbled onto someone special. The soothing voice, the impeccable playlists, the beautiful poetry, and the perfect flow. His classes helped me through a difficult time in life. His retreats nourished my soul. Whether you're a yogi or you've never stepped foot on a mat, go to his class at least once."
~ Phoebe Parker, Los Angeles
"The first time I took Clay's yoga class, I noticed a difference In the way I moved and felt -- smoother, more fluid, with a sense of calm focus that allowed me to find ease and grace where I'd normally have found effort and challenges. Clay's teaching style is very creative and fun, and he has a special ability to guide his students through a physical practice toward a deeper connection with ourselves."
~ Daniel Heller, Los Angeles
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