Live your best life.

Welcome! I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, specializing in Grief & Loss, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic Psychology, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Emotion Focused Therapy (EFT). I provide psychological services that are tailored for your needs. The purpose of my therapeutic practice is to help you become free from anxiety, shame, depression, addiction and hurtful relationships and choices. I believe in working together to empower you to live your best life. I am available for an introductory phone consultation, at no charge, to respond to any specific questions you may have about therapy in general, and the methods I use to help you reach your goals.

I also offer specialized services for people who are coping after a loss. Grief is frequently associated with the death of a loved one, but it can also occur after a divorce or break up, changing family dynamics, the loss of a job, having to move, or more. Grief is often thought of as an emotional experience, but it can also affect you physically, spiritually and behaviorally. In addition to feeling sad, grief may also cause you to have feelings of anger, guilt, loneliness and confusion, and your feelings may cycle wildly. Many people report feeling “out of control.” Everybody grieves in their own way, and there is no timetable for the grief process. As a grief counselor, I provide a safe and comforting space for you to express your feelings in a healthy way. I provide grief education so that you may gain greater understanding of your own experiences, as well as the reactions of others. I can provide techniques for helping you cope as you heal. Often people will tell a grieving person to “get over it.” I am here to help you get through it, and to assist you in reaching a more positive place without diminishing the impact this event has had on you.



Everyone's needs are unique.


I believe everyone can benefit some extra support sometimes. Whether you are seeking therapy to address a specific issue or because life feels overwhelming in general, I am here to help you identify your strengths, figure out how to cope with challenges, and guide you to increase your self-esteem. Everyone's needs are unique, and I use a variety of evidence-based modalities that meet your individual needs and help you work towards your goals. I provide a safe space for people to explore their deepest vulnerabilities with me. I am an empathetic listener, sensitive, compassionate, and I value the power of humor.

I earned my Bachelors Degree at Brandeis University and my Masters of Social Work at University of Southern California. I worked in the entertainment industry until deciding to return to school later in life, and completely changing my career path. Since then, I have provided group and individual therapy at a bereavement center, a hospital, a school, and now in private practice. I am very passionate about what I do, and look forward to helping every person who walks through my door!



How can therapy help me?


A number of benefits are available from participating in therapy. Therapists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks. Many people also find that counselors can be a tremendous asset to managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point you in the direction of a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:

  • Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
  • Developing skills for improving your relationships
  • Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
  • Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
  • Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
  • Improving communications and listening skills
  • Changing old behavior patterns and developing new ones
  • Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
  • Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need therapy?  I can usually handle my problems.

Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you've faced, there's nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand, and that is something to be admired. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you're at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.

Why do people go to therapy and how do I know if it is right for me?

People have many different motivations for coming to psychotherapy. Some may be going through a major life transition (unemployment, divorce, new job, etc.), or are not handling stressful circumstances well.  Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide some much needed encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes in their lives.

What is therapy like?

Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist (usually weekly).

It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your process - such as reading a pertinent book, journaling on specific topics, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals. People seeking psychotherapy are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.

What about medication vs. psychotherapy?

It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what's best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.

Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?

Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist's office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team (you’re your Physician, Naturopath, Attorney), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.

However, state law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:

  • Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.

  • If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.



Passionate about helping you.


Please contact me for an introductory phone consultation to discuss therapy options –there’s never a charge until we agree on how to proceed. I look forward to talking with you soon!


Joanna Gillis, LCSW
2080 Century Park East
Suite 1406
Century City, CA 90067