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» Provider Directory » Find a Therapist » California » Los Angeles Therapists » Therapist Profile

Jeffrey Chernin, Ph.D., MFT

What to Expect When You Enter Therapy

You may not realize it, but what’s "wrong with you” may actually be what’s right with you. In other words, unwanted behaviors, thoughts, and feelings often start early on as protective strategies, and they typically arise as a response to prior experiences.

Whether from mean or emotionally absent parents, cruel classmates, or unfaithful partners, when faced with experiences earlier in our lives that were hurtful or traumatic, we find ways to adapt. This adaptation is out of our awareness, and unfortunately over time they become resistant to change. The possibilities are endless, but things like over-eating, being a perfectionist, controlling or snooping on partners, and excessive worrying began as ways to protect us. As we mature, the original threat may have gone away, but the protective strategies remain. We perceive situations and other people in the same threatening or alienating manner as we did before – and act accordingly.

I call these original responses Creative, Adaptive, Useful, Smart, and Effective (CAUSE). Even though their usefulness dissipates, we end up using them, in which "familiar” situations CAUSE us to run for cover using our familiar coping strategies. In fact, because we expect people to treat us in certain ways, we often re-create these patterns by the very people we let into our lives or the qualities we bring out in them. And anything that doesn’t fit our pre-conceived notions gets minimized, explained away, or denied from awareness altogether.

One goal of therapy is bring all of this to your awareness and to swap harmful coping strategies with more healthful, beneficial, and relationship-enhancing ones. I can help you understand how early conditioning and expectations affect what your current experiences, replace maladaptive coping strategies , and make long-lasting change.

I tend to work with clients longer (two to three years) for the following reason: It has taken you 5, 10, or 20 years to find yourself in your current position, so it’s going to take us a while to make the changes you desire. As a consumer, it’s important for you to know that "quick fixes” may help some people in some situations, but there’s no replacement for longer-term, productive therapy.

Jeffrey Chernin, Ph.D., MFT, Los Angeles

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Los Angeles, CA 90048

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What to Expect when Entering Therapy
What to Expect When You Enter Therapy

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Last Modified: 11/14/2020  

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