Christopher Michael, Ph.D.

When you come to this page, you may be most interested in how I work, rather than my credentials. For credentials and some commentary, see farther down.

My Perspective on Psychotherapy

If you had to take a cat to the vet (non-emergency), how would you do it? Chase her down and force her into the cat carrier? Or open the carrier, put a fuzzy blanket in ahead of time, and be watchful but patient? The cat finds a cozy den, unlearns some fear, and does not scratch you. The cat still gets to the vet and gets treated.

Compared to a cat, we humans get big life bonuses. We can imagine, predict, remember, and develop a self-image, as well as think ‘about’ our needs and wants with self-awareness. This brings additional pain (‘problems’) when we cannot have or keep the exact control we wanted. My treatment perspective is that listening to problems, before adjusting them, reveals unexpected paths for clarifying and meeting your needs.

What Happens in Therapy Sessions

I focus on durable but flexible boundaries and listening with attuned ears. That is, I listen for emotions and multiple meanings. While listening, I am taking your life situation into account. I also take the situation between us into account. After hearing well, I inquire further, make observations, or suggest experiments for you. To me, depth and connection is much more important than flashiness. Changes can happen quickly, but it is always important we find the best way for them to occur and stay in place.

When you take in new perspectives, new assistance with choices, and new compassion, you increase your ability to do those things for yourself. Even when disappointed, you find a resilient freedom and less feeling of being forced and trapped. We cannot always be free from life’s problems. However, we can find a state of resilient flexibility and relative peace while working for things we want.

In Therapy I Take Your Position and Role Into Account

Most importantly, I understand it is hard to discuss personal difficulties. You may feel anxious and hopeful, but we aim for you to then feel relieved, refreshed, and reoriented. This is not a one-size-fits-all, diagnostic-and-procedural algorithm. A car or computer has no emotional responses or self-awareness, but people do–a fact that we often miss today.

My Credentials

I earned a bachelor’s of music degree in musical theater in 1996. My Ph.D. in clinical psychology is from The University of Tulsa (APA-accredited; 2006). My internship (APA-accredited) and post-doctoral fellowship were at Patton State Hospital. I was licensed in California in 2008 and have been practicing since. In 2013, I finished a certificate in psychoanalytic psychotherapy from Newport Psychoanalytic Institute. From repeated experiences and continuing education, I weave in brief therapy, cognitive-behavioral, and existential approaches. I have worked in challenging settings; my private setting is more optimal, so we can more easily do more for you.

Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about my work. Let’s find new paths to keep becoming a better ‘you’.

For help with relationship losses, problem relationship patterns, life transitions, anxiety, burnout, job stressors, and more, please go here.

–Dr. Michael