Well the first month of the year is already long gone, and with the passing of January 2013 we want to welcome February with our interview with Andrea Gordon, MFT! Get excited as we had the opportunity to step inside the life of a marriage and family therapist. We hope you enjoy!
Q: What is your name and what do you do?
A: Andrea Briget Gordon, MFT, but most people call me Ande. I am a marriage and family therapist, and I help individuals, couples, and families who are experiencing emotional ups and downs in their home life or marriage or love relationships or health or work/career, to feel better and to get back to their old selves. A marriage and family therapist (MFT) is also known as a psychotherapist.
Q: When you were a kid, that’s what you wanted to be, huh?
A: When I was a little kid I wanted to be a Medical Doctor and Surgeon, just like my father and grandfather. I wanted to help people like they did. As I got older I came to understand that my grandfather and father loved being doctors, and being of service to people. Sad to say, being a doctor wasn’t in the cards for me, as I felt queasy when I’d see blood.
My father and grandfather modeled for me that you can love and look forward to going to work every day. I feel so blessed to have found a calling that I truly can say I love doing.
Q: What is the name of your practice and how long have you been practicing as an MFT?
A: My private practices name is Feeling Good Again! My background is that I went to UCLA, then went on to Graduate School, got an internship (to build hours for my MFT License) in Watts for four years….working as an Emergency Social Worker for the Department of Children Services. I then got my license in the early 90’s and I worked for 4 years in two different hospitals as a therapist helping people with drug and alcohol addiction. In 1998 I started my full-time private practice.
I actually got laid off from the hospital on a Friday in 1998, and started my practice the following Monday. I’ve never turned back.
Q: What does a MFT do, exactly?
A: Marriage and family therapists help and support individuals, couples, and families who are emotionally feeling upset or uncomfortable in any area of their life that involves other people. My job is not to judge anyone who comes to see me. It is important for me to assess what is going on in their life or lives and assist them to emotionally feel good again.
Over the years people have come in experiencing many different types of feelings such as sadness, loss, grief, anxiety, panic attacks, fear, PTSD, trauma, anger, rage, worthlessness, failure, self hatred, self judgement, hurt, depression, despair, hopelessness, helplessness, hatred, envy, overwhelm, shame, apathy, numbness, disassociation…and many others. Some people just need a place to talk and to be genuinely listened to about every day stressors.
We are complex human beings and we experience an enormous array of feelings in response to many events during the course of our lives There is no good or bad feeling. Stinky-thinky about the triggering event can exacerbate the pain out of proportion. Together, in a collaboration, the client and I process what is truly underlying and causing the discomfort for them, so that they leave breathing easier, relaxed and enjoying their life once again.
Q: What are some of the common things you see in couples counseling?
A: I see individual and family clients every day of the week and I love working with them, yet I also enjoy the intensity of working with couples. Most of the time, couples will tell me that they feel love towards each other, but sometimes they want to send each other to the moon! They don’t know how to get through the uncomfortable/upsetting/angry times with one another. They feel stuck in a rut, going in circles during arguments, fearful of speaking and rupturing the relationship if they say what they are really feeling. Or some people are constantly telling their partner how they are not living up to their expectations. Sometimes people feel criticized, not enough, a failure in the relationship and don’t know what to do, as they believe they have tried everything.
What I know is that every relationship goes through difficult times. There are 3 stages in a committed relationship:
The 1st stage is “Oh baby, oh baby!” You meet, are attracted and connect. You’re sure this phase will never end.
2nd stage is “Uh oh!” She/He has changed, or reality-checks start happening more often and a lot of judgement starts happening. What is really happening is that a person has picked the perfect partner to replicate the dynamics of their childhood caretakers (best and worst qualities) so that by reliving dynamics that a person might not even be aware of from back then, they are healing the hurts and becoming more conscious. He/she is a very, very important mirror to the other of what has been disowned, denied, avoided, numbed.
What I also know is that there are easily learnable skills to be able to get through those times and get more intimate and closer. That is the point of the pain that comes up sometimes in relationships. When you can learn how to communicate to your partner in a certain way, the arguments become less and less and less…and both of you feel safer and safer with each other, no matter what issue is up for discussion. Each partner is the penicillin for the other.
3rd stage is “Feeling Love Unconditionally.” Work through and become conscious of the unresolved hurt of childhood by working with your partner…and the outcome, along with learning how to communicate in a new way, is unconditional love. It is the reward for you becoming genuinely conscious within your relationship.
So, essentially, I help couples feel connected, intimate, trusting, playful, safe, and loving with each other again!
Q: Paint me a picture of what a day in your shoes typically goes like…
A: A typical day would be that I work from home in the morning taking care of paperwork and phone calls. In the afternoon I come to my office and see individuals, couples, and families about everyday issues, major transitions, losses, ruptures, deaths, and anything else that is on clients’ minds.
Q: What do you love about your industry/niche?
A: My niche is couples, even though I see lots of individual clients. I love helping couples go from feeling upset, or discouraged, angry, panicked, anxious, hurt, confused, lost, overwhelmed, sad, depressed, hopeless, to Feeling Good Again!
Q: Any rewards, certifications, etc that you would like to mention?
A: I’m certified in EMDR
Q: What is EMDR?
A: The letters stand for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing. It is also called Bi-Lateral stimulation. It has been observed that bi-lateral work can reduce the intensity of disturbing thoughts.
No one knows how any form of psychotherapy works neuro-biologically or in the brain. However, we do know that when a person is very upset, their brain cannot process information as it does ordinarily. Remembering a trauma or upset may feel as bad as going through it the first time. The images, sounds, smells and feelings haven’t changed.
EMDR seems to have a direct effect on the way the brain processes information. Normal information processing is resumed, so following a successful EMDR session, a person no longer relives the images, sounds and feelings when the event is brought to mind. You still remember what happened, but most people report a great reduction in the level of disturbance.
EMDR appears to be similar to what occurs naturally during dreaming or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Therefore, EMDR can be thought of as a physiologically-based therapy that helps a person see disturbing material in a new and less distressing way.
Q: Have you always been located in Long Beach?
A: Just since 1990.
Q: If you could give someone relatively new to your industry/niche any advice or tips, what would that be?
A: I tell interns all the time that the real skill to becoming a good therapist is to work on their own issues in therapy every week and become very conscious about them, especially the areas they avoid and the ineffective coping strategies they use to not feel certain feelings.
This concludes the interview with Andrea Gordon, MFT! If you would like to get in contact with Ande, her contact information is below. Lest we forget, below her contact information is the marriage and family therapist meme! We hope you enjoyed the February Client Spotlight!
Feeling Good Again
Andrea Gordon – MFT