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Meet Katie Brooks of Good Therapy San Diego in Encinitas and Sorrento Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Brooks.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Katie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My dream of becoming a therapist started at a very young age. When I was 16 years old, we had a mental health crisis in my family. At that time, I felt helpless. I couldn’t believe what was happening, I was caught completely off guard, and I knew nothing about mental health. In addition, I was just too young to understand the implications of what I was experiencing.

Due to the stigmatization of mental illness, I never would have imagined being affected by it in my own family. No one ever talked about mental illness as being a threat. No one ever told me that it can happen to anyone. No one ever told me that I or my family was at risk. I now understand that mental illness can affect anyone’s family at any time.

Although human beings are amazing organisms, we are not perfect. Our bodies and our brains can be quite fragile. Physical and mental illness can be a reality for all of us. We all can get sick if we are traumatized or injured badly enough. In addition, you don’t need a serious diagnosis to know what it means to suffer emotionally. In my experience, addiction has more to do with over- consuming an addictive substance, like alcohol, than it is about there being something wrong with the person themselves. Likewise, depression and anxiety episodes are on the rise in the United States, mostly to do with outside stressors and political, economic, and environmental turmoil. I believe It would be short-sided to blame the main cause of mental illness on faulty genetics. These are things I wish I would have been taught early. However, when I was young, emotional wellness was not taught in school and mental illness was something that was not discussed in a public forum.

We often cope with fear by disconnecting and separating ourselves from the feared thing by making it an “other” problem. This makes it extremely difficult for all of us to reach out for therapy when we don’t feel emotionally well ourselves. For this reason, inevitably, many people go without treatment who really need it. Fearing that they will be judged if they asked for help.

I am committed to getting the message out there that we all need care from time to time. For this cause, I have dedicated my life to listening, learning, and helping others navigate life’s challenges. I consider it my job to help people realize that we are one. Bad things happen to everyone and we all get sick from time to time. However, we are strong, compassionate, and resilient as a species. We can do tough things, we can recover from illness and, oftentimes, we are stronger for it in the end.

After many years of education and practice, Good Therapy San Diego was created in 2012. At first GTSD was my solo private practice, but today it is a group practice directed by both my husband, Adam Brooks, and me. I take pride in knowing that our family is dedicated to the emotional health and well-being of the San Diego Community. This is my dream and I love sharing it with my family, our beloved therapists and staff, and the community at large.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, I would say definitely the road has not been smooth. Starting out as a social worker, along with education, experience is a necessity. In the years leading up to licensure, we call the early days of training to be a therapist, “working in the trenches”. I have worked in many settings that gave me the experience I needed for the confidence I have as a clinician today. From psychiatric units, to child protective services in LA county, treating the severely mentally ill and collaboratively working with the LAPD gave me the skills that were necessary to run my own practice. However, it was darn right scary at times.

I’ve been out on the streets of Los Angeles late into the evening trying to stabilize hectic environments knowing that I was in danger. While working with Child Protective Services, I had dirt clods thrown at my car by angry intoxicated clients who did not want my help and did not think I should be in their neighborhood. While working on the psychiatric unit, I was stalked by a severely mentally ill patient who thought I was his wife and stuck in an elevator with an actively suicidal patient who was high on methamphetamines. While stressful in the moment, being exposed to danger as a component of my job was actually a huge catalyst for growth, both personally and professionally.

I’ve been thrown into many high-risk situations where I had to think on my feet and make tough decisions to maintain my own safety, as well as that of my patients. I learned through a vast array of experiences in the field as a social worker and I treated a rainbow of diagnoses while directing a partial hospitalization program. I still appreciate the growth of these early days because I know that they gave me the courage and the unique skills that I need to be the clinician and director that I am today.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Good Therapy San Diego – what should we know?
Good Therapy San Diego is a group of passionate Board Certified Therapists located in San Diego, CA. We have two GTSD locations in San Diego, Encinitas and Sorrento Valley. We are dedicated to building the bridge between mental and physical well being. During treatment clients uncover old patterns that aren’t working for them anymore and learn new ways of being that release them from the cycle of pain and deliver hope.

We have skillful approaches that blend evidence-based western psychotherapeutic techniques with eastern methods of healing that encourage people to engage both the mind and the body. Our treatment is client led, so in this spirit, we have a variety of treatment methods for our clients to choose from. Our organic whole person method of healing guides our clients towards relating to themselves and others with acceptance, patience, flexibility, and joy.

As a part of client led therapy, we believe that our clients have all the answers that they need in order to gain emotional freedom. Our job is to help them access these answers in a safe and compassionate way. Currently, we are offering both in-person and Video therapy for individuals, couples, and families during the public health crisis. In addition, we started a Go Fund Me fundraiser for those that have been affected by COVID-19, so that we may provide free treatment to front line workers and the unemployed who are in need of services.

We are different from other practices in that we focus, not only on excellent evidence-based treatment, we really emphasize compassionate care outside of treatment. Our therapists and Patient Care Coordinators are trained to spend the time to compassionately care for every single person that calls in, regardless of whether they are calling to schedule, have questions about mental health treatment, or need referrals to the community. I am moved when I overhear an intake phone call that is extended to help a person who is distressed come up with a plan that brings relief and hope. I am inspired daily by our team. I am so darn proud to be a part of such a talented group of people that really cares about our community.

Any plans for the future or any big changes?
Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) is the most effective tool I have ever used therapeutically and I want to spread its use. I believe that in the coming years EMDR trauma therapy will be very much needed and a way to help the community as we face these challenging times of uncertainty and strife. We created an EMDR consultation group within GTSD in which therapists are being trained in the most progressive form of trauma treatment. We are hoping that this will help fulfill the treatment needs of the community as we are called to do so. We are already leading the way in what is a growing mental health crisis with a much-needed therapeutic modality. We aspire to expand on our treatment skills and grow as a practice by helping as many people as possible in the years to come.

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