Sessions Counseling Group

A Marriage and Family Therapy Professional Corporation

Gary D. Pearle PhD, Clinical Supervisor MFT 30246

As a therapist, I’ve been trained to match my temperament with my client’s. I have also held my infant daughter tightly and soothed, synching her heartbeat to mine. Clients feel safe having emotional outbursts in front of me that they’d never dream of showing other people in their lives. My daughter is a toddler now and saves her biggest tantrums for her dad and me – knowing that we can contain her big feelings and will never shame or punish her for a meltdown.


When my clients search for the right word to describe difficult feelings, they commonly use the words “weird” and “interesting.” That’s when I’ll take a guess at a more accurate way to describe the feeling and often I’m right. When my daughter was first learning to speak, it sounded like babble to everyone else, but I understood her. Even her dad needed me to serve as her translator, interpreting her earliest words.


Many of my clients struggle with low self-esteem, berating themselves for not being successful enough in life and love. As I see progress toward treatment goals, and I can imagine their life with more satisfaction and serenity, they began to see it too. I’ve always trusted my daughter more than other adults nearby were comfortable with. When she began to crawl, nearby adults would ask nervously, “You’re letting her go over there?” My daughter is growing into a confident girl who trusts herself and it’s largely because I trust her.


I can write a treatment plan for a client, outlining goals for our work together and how best to meet those goals, but I can’t control how the process unfolds. As clients begin to change, we’re both often surprised by how that looks. I can provide my daughter with a foundation of a safe, secure, loving home base, but most of my energy as a parent has been watching her blossom into the person she’s supposed to be, never forcing her to be an imaginary child of my dreams.


My task in both endeavors is to let go. I will know I’ve succeeded as a mom when my child is mature, independent, and secure enough to leave home. In a way, everything I’ve done as a parent has been in service of her separating from her dad and me and starting a life on her own. Similarly, I feel successful as a therapist when a client says they no longer need to come to sessions because the issue that brought them to therapy has been resolved.


Joanna Lovinger 

Associate Marriage and Family Therapist 88963
Contact me at 323.374.3875 ​or