Psychotherapist

Tina B. Tessina, PhD LMFT

Long Beach, CA

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Licensed in CA – Validate
Marriage and Family Therapist – MFT13629

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About Tina B. Tessina, PhD LMFT

I'm a licensed psychotherapist in S. California with 30 years of experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 16 languages including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media), The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley), and The Commuter Marriage: Keep Your Relationship Close While You're Far Apart (Adams Media). I work with clients by phone, internet and at my Long Beach office. Best way to contact me is through email.

Dr. Romance can help your relationship.

Location

Long Beach, CA 90804

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Question and answer

Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

A. Dr. Romance: Ten things you don't know about therapy.

As a psychotherapist in private practice, I encounter a lot of people who waited far too long to come in for counseling because they didn’t understand what it was or how it could help them. These ten things will clear up confusion and help you understand when counseling would be a good idea for you..


1. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Therapy is for helping you learn to handle your feelings and thoughts in a more effective way.

2. It's not about blaming your parents or other people. While understanding events in your life that may trigger feelings is helpful, a good therapist will not encourage you to blame anyone, even yourself. The point is to make changes in how you think and feel.

3. It really can vastly improve your life, and make you more successful and happier.

4. You can learn skills you didn't know you needed, that will get you what you want.

5. It's not scary, it's enlightening. You won't be harmed or belittled -- instead, you'll be delighted at what you find out.

6. It doesn't cost a lot. The earlier you go in, the quicker you can get the problem solved, and the less it will cost.

7. No topic is off limits. Whatever you haven't been able to talk about, the therapist will create a safe place for you to hear and be heard.

8. Communication is not only something you need to learn to do well with others, it is also important to see how you’re relating to yourself. Therapy will help you learn the skills you need to improve both external and internal communication.

9. Even if you are on medication, you can benefit from counseling. Research shows overwhelmingly that medication alone won’t fix anxiety or depression. Learning to express your feelings and become comfortable with yourself, as well as changing your self-talk, is what makes the difference.

10 It’s about being happy, sunshine. Therapy can help you understand your underlying motive and desires and teach you how to be your best, most fulfilled, and happiest self.

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 16 languages, including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) and The Commuter Marriage (Adams Media). She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance” Blog http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/. She has written and been interviewed for many national publications, including Cosmopolitan, Maxim, and TimeOnline.com. Online, she's known as "Doctor Romance" and is a Redbook Love Network expert as well as columnist for Divorce360, Yahoo! Personals and ThirdAge.com


Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?

A. Normally, you will call the counselor first for an appointment. If know in advance what you'd like to find out about the counselor, you can take charge of the phone conversation, and make sure you find out as much about him or her as he or she does about you.
There are several things you will want to know in advance:
• Expertise – Is the counselor licensed? What is his or her area of expertise? Does he or she work with depression, anxiety, recovery, or whatever issue you want to focus on?
• Price -- How long is a session? What is her rate, is there a sliding scale?
• Payment -- Will he take a check, does he take your insurance, are there charges for filling out insurance papers, do you pay in advance and have insurance reimburse you, or does he get paid by them directly? Some counselors today even take credit cards.
• Hours -- does she recommend how often you come in, or can you set the frequency of visits according to your needs, finances and work schedule? Does she see clients nights or weekends?
• Duration -- does this counselor do long-term or short-term therapy? Not very long ago, most therapy was very intensive and took years to complete, but today's therapy techniques can handle your immediate problems in just a few sessions, especially if you have done the exercises in this book, and already have an understanding of what you might need to work on.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 16 languages, including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) and The Commuter Marriage (Adams Media). She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance” Blog http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/. She has written and been interviewed for many national publications, including Cosmopolitan, Maxim, and TimeOnline.com. Online, she's known as "Doctor Romance" and is a Redbook Love Network expert as well as columnist for Divorce360, Yahoo! Personals and ThirdAge.com

Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?

A. Ten Things People Don't Know about Therapy


I recently had a first session with a client who said, about halfway into the hour “Wow. I like you. I’m surprised.” I laughed, but I knew what the client meant. As a psychotherapist in private practice, I encounter a lot of people who waited far too long to come in for counseling because they didn’t understand what it was or how it could help them. When they do finally come in, I hear all the reasons why they haven’t come in sooner. There’s a lot of bad information out there. These ten things will clear up confusion and help you understand when counseling would be a good idea for you, or for a friend, colleague or family member.

1. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy. Therapy is for helping you learn to handle your feelings and thoughts in a more effective way.

2. It's not about blaming your parents or other people. While understanding events in your life that may trigger feelings is helpful, a good therapist will not encourage you to blame anyone, even yourself. The point is to make changes in how you think and feel.

3. It really can vastly improve your life, and make you more successful and happier.

4. You can learn skills you didn't know you needed, that will get you what you want.

5. It's not scary, it's enlightening. You won't be harmed or belittled -- instead, you'll be delighted at what you find out.

6. It doesn't cost a lot. The earlier you go in, the quicker you can get the problem solved, and the less it will cost.

7. No topic is off limits. Whatever you haven't been able to talk about, the therapist will create a safe place for you to hear and be heard.

8. Communication is not only something you need to learn to do well with others, it is also important to see how you’re relating to yourself. Therapy will help you learn the skills you need to improve both external and internal communication.

9. Even if you are on medication, you can benefit from counseling. Research shows overwhelmingly that medication alone won’t fix anxiety or depression. Learning to express your feelings and become comfortable with yourself, as well as changing your self-talk, is what makes the difference.

10 It’s about being happy, sunshine. Therapy can help you understand your underlying motive and desires and teach you how to be your best, most fulfilled, and happiest self.

If you know someone you want to recommend counseling to, the best way to do it without hurting their feelings or upsetting them is to tell about your own experience and how it helped you. “Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely” which is free on the “Happiness Tips” section of my website at http://tinatessina.com/monthly_column.html, will show you or someone you care about when and how to find a good therapist.

© 2011 Tina B. Tessina
adapted from: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Squabbling About the Three Things That Can Destroy Your Marriage (Adams Media) ISBN# 978-1-59869-325-6


Author Bio:
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. ADr. Romance@ http://www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page.) Her newest books, from Adams Press in 2008: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage and Commuter Marriage. She publishes AHappiness Tips from Tina@, an e-mail newsletter, and the ADr. Romance Blog@ http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/ . Online, she is ADr. Romance@ with columns at Divorce360.com, Wellsphere.com, and Yahoo Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as AOprah@, ALarry King Live@ and ABC news. She tweets @tinatessina. Facebook at www.facebook.com/tinatessina

Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

A. I have over 35 years experience counseling individuals and couples on relationship issues, depression, anxiety, and how to create the life and relationship you want. I'm the most-recommended therapist in Long Beach, CA, and my business works mostly on referrals from satisfied clients. People I work with change, and their lives change, too
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 16 languages, including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) and The Commuter Marriage (Adams Media). She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance” Blog http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/. She has written and been interviewed for many national publications, including Cosmopolitan, Maxim, and TimeOnline.com. Online, she's known as "Doctor Romance" and is a Redbook Love Network expert as well as columnist for Divorce360, Yahoo! Personals and ThirdAge.com

Q. What do you like most about your job?

A. I love helping people live happier and more satisfying lives. I love helping them heal, learn to work together, or sort through problems that are perplexing and find a solution.

I believe I was put on the planet to help people, and that I'm doing my partn to heal the planet, one person at a time.

Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

A. Dr. Romance on How to have a happy relationship:

Know the signs of a happy relationship: Cooperation and partnership, mutuality, laughter and affection.

Don't nurture resentment: If you're feeling resentful of anything -- that's a definite warning. Resentment is like rust that can eat away at the foundations of the relationship. You need to talk about it, get it resolved. Notice little hurts and resentments, and don't let them pile up. Talk about it with your partner without being accusing. You can own that something hurt your feelings or upset you without blaming; and your partner is much more likely to own up if he or she does not feel accused. Most of the time your partner doesn't realize how you feel until you say it out loud. Take the time to know what you want to fix the problem before you bring it up. Understand why you're hurt, and whether it's something that actually comes from somewhere else -- like a previous relationship or your childhood -- or it's something particular to your partner. Then, figure out what you'll need to fix it.

Don't ignore arguments that won't go away and keep repeating.

Companionable silence is good, resentful silence or hopeless silence (It's no use -- he/she won't listen anyway) are problems.

Problems with sex often indicate problems with other kinds of communication.

Understand what you need to be happy. Don't dwell on the negative -- if something's wrong, just focus on it long enough to understand it, then change focus to finding a solution. Don't expect your partner to make you happy -- that's your job. You can help each other, but you can't do it for each other; so figure out what you need, then talk to your partner about how to get it. Count your blessings -- no matter how annoying your partner may be at this moment, there are many good things happening, also. Don't let the negative soak up all your attention.

The best way to open up the conversation is to listen, listen, listen. The three most important words in a relationship are 'tell me more.' To consider your partner's needs, you need to understand them first. Listening does that. If you both know your partner will always be available to hear what you want to say, you'll be much happier. Knowing what your partner wants doesn't mean you have to "give in" -- instead, work together to find a solution that works for both of you.

Don't make the most common mistakes of not taking responsibility for your bad moods, fears, and other feelings and letting your partner feel responsible. It separates you. Not making sure you have time for your partner also separates you. Don't let TV, Internet, work or other people soak up all the time so you don't have any left for each other. Seek a balance.


If you feel like you and your husband are in a rut -- This is where counting your blessings, and sharing what you're grateful for can enhance the joy in your relationship. If you're bored, you've been lazy -- get out there and do something together. A walk, a special meal (at home or out, depending on budget) perusing the photo album, a flower, a note -- can all create pleasure and joy. Clear the calendar and spend a day just enjoying each other -- including great sex. Have a date, like you used to. The zing will come right back.

Women don't understand how much guys like it when they have pretty underwear or are dressed up. He won't see your extra weight or your little wrinkles -- he'll just see that you dressed up -- for him. He'll like it. And guys, she likes it when you clean up, too. For that date night, dress as carefully as you did when you were really dating.

What's the best way to talk over difficult subjects—money, parenting differences—so that they don't escalate into fights?

To talk about money, use your business skills. It's just math -- take the emotion out of it, and talk as you would in a business meeting.

To talk about parenting, understand that there are a lot more ways to do it successfully than you think. Maybe you liked what your own parents did, and your spouse liked what his or her parents did -- but you are two entirely different people, and so are your kids. It's great to find a book or parenting class to give you both neutral ground to talk about it. And you do need to talk about it. Each time there's a problem, solve it on the spot, but then talk about it afterward (without the kids around) to work out how to avoid that problem in the future. Update your skills as your kids reach different phases (toddler, pre-schooler, grammar school, pre-teen, teenager, young adult) so you won't be always scrambling after the fact. Plan ahead together for the next phase. Take the time to enjoy your kids. Make sure they feel like part of the family by doing chores and helping out. Don't give them a free ride -- it's not good for their character.

Dr. Romance’s 3 things happy couples know:
1. Weekly State of the Union discussion.
This is not an argument or complaint session, it’s an opportunity to update each other on how things are going between you. I recommend it because ACD’s often tend to avoid talking about what’s going on until a problem is created. If you keep each other informed of both the good things and the problems on a regular basis, nothing will get out of hand or become too dramatic to solve easily. This works every time with every couple in counseling with me who are willing to do it.
2. Express Love, Kindness and Sweetness.
The relationships depicted in the media (and probably your own parents’ relationship) do not model kind, loving and considerate behavior very well. Although the press may be bored by politeness, kindness and happiness, those traits will make your partner and your relationship flourish and blossom. Consider kindness to be the lubricant of your communication; and expressing love to be the fertilizer that makes the relationship bloom.
3. Caring for yourself and your partner.
Guard against sacrificing too much by making sure you care about yourself, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Guard against narcissism and selfishness by caring about your partner in the same four areas. Achieving balance in these areas is the best way to ensure that your relationship will thrive, and no one will carry too much resentment, which is the only emotion that can destroy love.

Guidelines for Being Irresistible to Your Mate

1. Don’t resist, listen.
We often have a knee-jerk negative response to what a mate tells us, or wants to do. Instead of replying negatively “That won’t work...” “We can’t do that...” Try listening and thinking for a few seconds more. You may find out your initial response changes, and at any rate, listening and understanding is not the same as agreeing.

2. Look your mate in the eyes and smile.
Unless your partner is talking about something really sad (job loss, death, etc.) where a smile would be inappropriate, look him or her in the eyes and smile while you’re listening. Your companion will automatically feel more understood and cared about, which will change the feeling level of the discussion.

3. Touch each other.
Sit near your significant other, and gently place your hand on his or her shoulder, leg, or arm. If you’re in the car, lightly touch his or her shoulder or arm. You’ll find your conversation becomes warmer and more caring.

4. Try laughter.
If something frustrating is happening, try easing the tension with a bit of humor. After a difficult interaction in a store, on the way out, you could say “That went well.” with a touch of irony. Or, when someone drops something and makes a mess, you could say “the gremlins are here again.” Or use comedienne Gilda Radner’s line “It’s always something” Or Judy Tenuta’s “It could happen” to change stress to silliness. Don’t poke fun at your mate, but use shared humor as a way to say “I know this is tough, but we’ll get through it.” Your mate will think of you as someone soothing and helpful to have around when problems happen.

5. Use pleasant surprises.
Try a love note in your spouse’s briefcase, a post-it with a smiley face on the underside of the toilet seat, a flower, plant, card or balloon for no reason, or an unexpected gentle pat on the rear, a hug or a kiss to say “I’m thinking good thoughts about you, and I love you.”

6. Ramp up the sweetness.
Married life has its unavoidable stresses and strains. To keep things in balance, we need to put a bit of energy into increasing the sweetness between us. Thoughtfulness, “thank you’s” and gestures of politeness and affection are the WD-40 of your marriage. Keep things running smoothly by remembering to add a spritz of sweetness frequently.

7. Devote time to your marriage.
No matter how crazed you are with work, kids and bills, it’s essential to put aside regular time each week for the marriage. Have a “date night” which includes a “state of the union” discussion (include the positive things going on) or take a pleasant walk or drive. Keeping connected means things don’t build up to fighting status, and you’ll remember how good you are together. Don’t forget to celebrate and appreciate each other. Motivation comes from celebration and appreciation.

8. Focus on Partnership.
Remember that first and foremost, before anything else, you’re partners. Keep that in mind and check frequently to make sure you’re acting like partners, and not competitors or avoiders. You’re in this thing together, and partnership is what it’s all about.

9. Reminisce about Good Times.
“Remember when....” is a great start to a loving conversation. It creates so much good feeling to remember how you were when you were dating, when you got married, when you first bought your house, when you had your first child, when you got that promotion. Reminding yourselves of your solid history together is a way to increase your bond.

10. Brag to friends in your mate’s hearing.
Of course, tell your mate to his or her face how much you care, but also be sure to tell your friends, while your mate is around, what a great guy or gal you married. “Harold is so thoughtful. Today he helped me around the house.” Or “Sue is such a great mom. She really gives the kids a sense that they’re loved and she still keeps them toeing the mark.” Or, “Did you hear? Fred got a big promotion. I’m so proud of him.” Or, “I don’t know what I’d do without Judy. She’s so great with money.” Or “Doesn’t my sweetie look great today? I’m so lucky.” Don’t worry if your partner looks embarrassed. He or she will also be pleased, and remember your brag for a long time.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 16 languages, including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) and The Commuter Marriage (Adams Media). She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance” Blog http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/. She has written and been interviewed for many national publications, including Cosmopolitan, Maxim, and TimeOnline.com. Online, she's known as "Doctor Romance" and is a Redbook Love Network expert as well as columnist for Divorce360, Yahoo! Personals and ThirdAge.com

Q. Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?

A. I am required to get 36 Continuing education credits per year to keep my license in force. In addition to this, I read a lot and have ongoing discussions with colleagues to keep up to date. I am a member of the California Association of Marriage, Family Counselors, which also educates its members.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 16 languages, including Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media) and The Commuter Marriage (Adams Media). She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina e-mail newsletter, and the “Dr. Romance” Blog http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/. She has written and been interviewed for many national publications, including Cosmopolitan, Maxim, and TimeOnline.com. Online, she's known as "Doctor Romance" and is a Redbook Love Network expert as well as columnist for Divorce360, Yahoo! Personals and ThirdAge.com

Q. What is your greatest strength?

A. Empathy, compassion and resourcefulness. I can understand what my clients are feeling, and I care about them. I have spent more than 35 years helping people solve their problems, and I have a lot of wisdom, tools, resources, guidelines and support to help them figure out their lives and learn to be happy.

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