To get some insight into Robert, the creator of Lunch Break Therapy, and how his own personal challenges impacted his learning and ultimately, the creation of this course, here are some personal stories:
I remember when I was just getting started in psychology and therapy. I hadn't yet gone to grad school, and I was still finding my way, both as a young man and in terms of my career. I knew what I was doing wasn't feeling like it mattered much, so I felt myself searching for something more meaningful, and something that made a positive impact on others.
I ended up getting my Masters in Clinical Psychology, and going down the looonggggg road of becoming a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. Now I was at least beginning to feel like I was on the right career path. However, as an ordinary individual, a regular human-being, and a typical young man, I struggled with some very real issues (and still do) that really impacted how I see myself and how I relate to others.
Some of these issues were:
Loneliness. I remember for a good part of my young adulthood, I felt that if I wasn't in a relationship, it meant something was wrong, which I began to internalize as 'something's wrong with me.' It wasn't until I began learning powerful new ways of relating to myself, and to being alone, that at some point something clicked. Suddenly I no longer felt the urgent necessity to be with someone, and I no longer felt like
loneliness means 'something is wrong.' I can't even tell you how life-changing this was for me and how much freedom I still continue to feel, after having learned new ways of relating to any situation or feeling.
Impostor Syndrome: Although now educated and trained in psychotherapy, I still often felt (and still sometimes feel), like an impostor. I mean, who the hell am I to provide feedback, suggestions, and guidance to someone about the most intimate and personal parts of their life? Impostor Syndrome is real, and I know that first-hand.
Impostor Syndrome is: feelings of lack, or not being good enough, or even being a fraud that will eventually be discovered by clients, customers, colleagues and friends. This is not a good way to wake up each day.
I remember the first seeds of impostor syndrome, back when I was a freshman in high-school, when I got cut from the Varsity soccer team on the last day of tryouts (due to my small physical size at that time), despite being an excellent soccer player, and noticeably better than many who made the team. I remember how I internalized this event so personally as a sign that I was lacking in some way. Looking back on it, I think I can honestly say that it was quite a traumatic event. We know now that trauma is not always an event like war, surviving or witnessing something horrific, etc.
Life's traumas, big or small, impact our conditioning (the beliefs and stories we think are true) about ourselves and others. These stories and beliefs become solidified in the mind, to the point where we can almost constantly be in fight/flight mode (a hyper-vigilant checking out our surroundings and others for confirmation that everything is ok, and that I'm ok).
When I was able to learn how to notice these faulty beliefs I had about myself, and learn to engage with these thoughts and beliefs in new and different ways, I was able to let go of the impostor, and begin to recognize and grow self-worth, which includes all that I have to offer others who are going through something similar.
Relationships: Part of my self-growth journey, which evolved into a bit of a spiritual journey as well, was discovering how to manage anxiety. I learned to respond to anger, impatience, and frustration in skillful ways, instead of reacting in my old harmful ways. I didn't always get it right, but I figured out how to practice compassion for myself and others in these moments. All of these things were once very much not a part of my tool-belt. Now that I am comfortable with using these tools, and many others, I noticed more intimate relationships, better connections with others, and see my vulnerability as courageous. This does wonders for relationships.
I also recently trained in the Gottman Couples Therapy, which has given me a whole new perspective on healthy (and unhealthy) relationships.
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Licensing and Education:
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, California and Colorado, USA.
M.F.A. Clinical Psychology, Antioch University, Los Angeles, 2003
B.S. Psychology, Colorado State University, 1996
Trained in the Mindful Schools Curriculum.
This is a school program catered to teaching children and teenagers how mindfulness meditation can improve self awareness, focus, and empathy for others.
Trained in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
This is an eight week program geared towards learning how mindfulness can alleviate stress and help with physical pain. A key element is learning the difference between pain and suffering. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
Trained in Gottman Couples Counseling, Level 1
The Gottman method for couples counseling is a well-known method which helps to cultivate a culture of understanding, respect, and compassion in relationships. It is also known for helping couples manage conflict more effectively and improve the overall health of the relationships.
I worked with Robert for almost ten years at a school for students who have social and emotional challenges. Robert was instrumental in helping the students in both individual and group therapy.
Robert was amazing with our students. He helped cultivate a school community built on empathy, understanding, and authentic connections among both staff and students.
-Annette Semedo Jordan
Dean of Students
"I worked with Rob at a high school in Los Angeles and was able to see the support he gave and the impact he made with the troubled teens he was working with. He'd pick them up, dust them off, and put them back on track to wherever they were heading." - Brett Carstens, Los Angeles
"A lot of people, therapists or otherwise, through my life have tried to help me. Rob is the first who helped me realize how to help myself." -J (client)
"I was an administrator at the school in which Rob worked for several years. There were half a dozen counselors available but whenever Rob was assigned to a student, I knew that teen would be in the absolute best hands that we had to offer. He never faltered in his devotion to the growth of the student, combining nurturing support with an emphasis on developing increased self-efficacy and personal responsibility. I cannot recommend Rob highly enough if you are looking for a therapist for either an adult or an adolescent." -Crystal Hope Reed, Los Angeles
I had the pleasure of working with Rob where he was a counselor for adolescents, many with social and emotional challenges. Rob approached each student with compassion and a respect for them as individuals. He was attuned to each student’s needs, building trusting relationships while guiding them to develop self-awareness and coping skills.
Rob brought empathy, as well as rare insight and wisdom, which contributed to him being a very effective counselor.
Bonnie J. Aharoni, M.A.
"Rob was my counselor at Westview which is a private middle and high school. He was able to encourage me with all the problems I had in and outside of school. Sometimes we would go for walks and talk about them and he also suggested that I could take walks at home when I feel stressed. I couldn’t ask for a better therapist than him."-M (anonymous student).