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2231 Camino del Rio South Ste. 308, San Diego, CA 92108 619-318-1901

Counseling San Diego

Areas of Focus

Presenting problems are often alike, but no two people are, nor are the ways people approach their difficulties.  With that said, I have experience with a theme of problems, but I approach solutions with the individual in mind.  I don’t tackle someone’s problem with a one-size-fits-all approach, but get to know my clients as unique people.  I attempt to obtain a complete picture including strengths, limitations, background, fears, insecurities and experiences that will help me tailor a solution to the problem. Using these methods has helped me provide better therapy in San Diego for all of my clients. Below are a list of problems I’m comfortable and experienced working with.

My philosophy and therapy techniques do not draw from an illness model, but a strength based model.  I believe we all have the inherent tools and abilities to thrive and be happy.  Life is sometimes hard, but we don’t have to be taken down by what life brings.  Learning to effectively process the painful feelings is just as important as being able to fully experience the “good” feelings.  By exploring and accepting our complete range of emotions, we stop resisting who we are.  Shame and fear begin to subside while confidence and relief begin to emerge. The benefits of individual therapy helps with well being and couples counseling gives great insight to what causes issues.  No person is broken or needs to be fixed, but only rediscovered.

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How Long Should I Go to Counseling?

This is a question I’m often asked which is almost impossible to answer because there are so many variables involved. The answer depends upon the nature and depth of issues being explored, the goals of my clients, the strengths and limitations of my clients and how much work my clients do outside of session. For example, if a client is wanting to address long standing patterns dating years back and their goals are a to undergo significant personal change and they have a lot of fear and insecurity and don’t put much energy into change, then counseling could feasibly take a very long time. If, on the other hand, someone has the same situation but works very hard towards change, they would be in therapy for a much shorter time. Different yet, if a person is addressing a specific relational issue (say an interpersonal issue with a co-worker) that doesn’t involve ingrained and patterned ways of responding and thinking and they put a lot of effort into resolving the issue, they could feasibly be in counseling for a very, very short period of time!

There is often a difference in duration between individual counseling and couples counseling. The course of counseling is usually shorter for couples as compared to individuals. This is because the goals of couples are usually very specific, whereas the goals of many individuals are often broader. Whether seeking individual counseling or couples counseling, my clients are usually the best judge and know when to keep going and when to stop. It’s most always apparent to both of us! I encourage my clients to trust their intuition… they know when they have made significant inroads towards desired change. And, I will see that change echoed throughout session in various ways.

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Aubree Papaj, MA, IMF

aubree portrait
Aubree Papaj, IMF is a registered Marriage & Family Therapist intern and has completed her master’s degree and is accruing additional hours of experience to become licensed by the state of California. She has over 1500 hours of experience and is under my direct supervision. The benefit of working with a registered intern is that clients receive quality counseling from a master’s level therapist with a minimum of 1500 hours of experience at a lower cost Aubree has daytime and evening appointments and affordable rates.

-Sylvia Flanagan, MFT

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Couples Counseling San Diego

Couples counseling is a tool for healing and maintenance and can be effective at any stage in a relationship. Many couples come into counseling when they have exhausted all other options, but it’s a great resource to use when you are just beginning to see problems.  If a couple can gather tools to navigate disagreement when conflict is low, larger problems are often prevented because they have the needed skills to use in the face of future challenges.  Disagreement is inevitable, but conflict is optional. Call me to get in touch with a San Diego therapist at (619) 318-1901.

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Who Goes to Therapy?

The short and easy answer is, “All sorts of people!”  I have worked as a San Diego therapist with individuals and couples since 2001 for a multitude of reasons. Years ago, therapy had a stigma attached to it.  It was believed you had to be either very disturbed or “weak” to seek it out.  Fortunately, times have changed and now people from all walks of life and all different backgrounds go to counseling for a variety of reasons and it’s considered a normal and healthy resource.  Just as you would seek out a personal trainer if you wanted to see better workout results, many people choose a therapist to see better results in areas relating to emotions, relationships, career and their overall well-being. A wide range of people seek counseling for a variety of issues.  Some of the reasons include a desire for personal growth, managing stress, codependency, tackling substance abuse issues, improving relationships and communication skills, navigating temporary bouts or long periods of depression or anxiety more effectively and better understanding one’s past and how it impacts life, mood and relationships in the present day.   Whatever your reason for considering counseling, I’m sure it’s a good one.  If you are in doubt or have any questions about coming in, please contact me with your concerns. Feel free to call (619) 318-1901 and I’d be happy to spend some time answering your questions.

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Individual Counseling San Diego

As a San Diego therapist I believe that individual counseling gives people the opportunity to reflect on their inner world and how they react to others based upon beliefs, fears, insecurities and patterns influenced by the past and present.  I believe counseling should be a collaborative process.  We don’t live in a vacuum but in counseling it’s nice to have the opportunity to reflect alone accompanied by a therapist mirroring back what you might be missing.  Usually, people come to individual counseling because they are struggling with personal issues that effect happiness, motivation, relationships, activities, and/or work.  To begin individual therapy, I want to understand your present circumstances, attain a basic understanding of your past (or more detailed depending upon your needs and desires) and together create goals that are important to you. In individual therapy, we explore patterns in life that block freedom, energy, growth and connection with self and others.

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Premarital Counseling San Diego

Build a strong foundation for the years to come! Premarital Counseling highlights relationship strengths, exposes incompatibilities and provides tools to build and maintain a better relationship. Premarital counseling offers a head start by addressing differences and enhancing strengths.  Most of us wouldn’t hesitate investing in what was meaningful to us, but a large percentage of couples still don’t invest in their relationship by participating in some form of premarital counseling. Studies indicate that overall, married couples who participate in premarital counseling have greater marital satisfaction, better communication skills and a lower divorce rate than married couples who don’t go through premarital counseling.

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How Often to Attend Therapy Sessions

While I definitely have suggestions regarding how often I think someone should have counseling sessions, the decision is ultimately up to each client.

Ideally, I suggest an individual or couple come in weekly when they first begin therapy. If it is less than weekly, it’s common for people to feel they aren’t benefiting a great deal. This is because old habits die hard and too much time elapses in between sessions allowing for fresh insights to fade and old patterns of behavior to overtake efforts towards change.   There are some people who make good headway coming in every other week when they first begin therapy, but these clients are very motivated and make daily attempts to keep their thinking and behavior aligned with new insights. They also do other “homework” such as reading, journaling, connecting socially to a good support system, and a number of other things depending upon what issues they are addressing. For most clients, I suggest weekly counseling at the onset and then suggest decreasing the frequency of sessions as they make steps toward their goals.

Ultimately, my clients are in charge of how often they want to come in. I have many clients attending weekly, some bi-weekly and also some coming sporadically on an “as needed basis”. I give my suggestions, but don’t dictate the terms and trust that each person knows what is best for him or herself. But, I will definitely speak up and voice my suggestions for my client to consider if I see a strong need.

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