* Now Forming - A New Dialectical Behavior Therapy (D.B.T., Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.) Group for men and women diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.  (See Flyer)


Hi, I'm James Wood, Ph.D., a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

I offer psychological counseling and psychotherapy for adults, adolescents and children at my office in Los Angeles, California. I have worked in the Mental Health field for twenty years.  In addition to my work with individuals, families, and couples, I have lectured and facilitated groups and workshops throughout Southern California. I am a clinical member of (AAMFT and CAMFT) and a Doctoral Addiction Counselor (DAC).  I am one of the premiere therapists regarding psychotherapy, mental health, and substance abuse problems. 

Seeking professional help is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. It is a decision that can benefit anyone dealing with normal adjustments to life and living. The sooner an effective treatment program is begun, the sooner a person can get back to the business of living. Our ability to tolerate and deal effectively with life changes is often strained. We feel, all too often that there is no place to turn for the answers we seek. I can help with a variety of problems including addiction, depression, anxiety and relationship issues.  We can work together to find solutions and ways to cope.

If you would like more information, or to make an appointment:



3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550

Santa Monica, CA  90403

CALL (310) 838-2863

(f) 310-453-9532


Day & Evening/Weekend Appointments  


































click for  Site Map


                       Services Provided   

*Individual Psychotherapy, Psychoanalysis, Grief, Fear, Panic Attacks

*Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, Chemical Dependency, Family Therapy, Mediation

*Borderline Personality Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (D.B.T.)

*Evaluation, Assessment,  Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Meditation, Mindfulness

*Sex Therapy, Sexual Abuse, Couples Therapy, Mental Health Problems, Self Esteem

*Impotence, Sex Addiction, Incest, Rape, 12-Step Programs, Healthcare, Psychology

*Goal Setting, Men's Issues, Social Work, Women's Issues, Obsessions, Compulsions

*Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, Agoraphobia, Pain, Mind-body, Group Therapy

*Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Anger Management, Jealousy,  Stress Management

*Marriage, Divorce, Relationships, Adoption, Anger Management, Domestic Violence



Click below for information 


Why People Seek Therapy


Therapy Information


Feelings, Emotions




For Couples


Borderline Personality Disorder




Inspiration - Spirituality - Meditation


My Curriculum Vitae


Upcoming Events




Psychotherapy or counseling with a therapist, is an intentional interpersonal relationship used by trained therapists to aid a client or patient in problems of living.  It aims to increase the individual's sense of their own well-being. Therapy is based on experiential relationship building, dialogue, communication and behavior change and it is designed to improve the mental health of a client or patient, or to improve group relationships (such as in group therapy or family therapy). 

Therapy may also be performed by practitioners with a number of different qualifications, including psychiatry, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, mental health counseling, clinical social work, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling, music therapy, occupational therapy, psychiatric nursing, psychoanalysis and others.


Indeed, therapy can increasingly be considered as a profession in its own right, and worldwide, this view and has set professional training standards for a therapist. However, some European countries have passed laws about therapy that restrict its practice to the professions of psychology and psychiatry, and social work.


Most forms of psychotherapy use spoken communication. Some also use various other forms of communication such as the written word, artwork, drama, narrative story or music. Psychotherapy with children and their parents often involves play, dramatization (i.e. role-play).  Psychotherapy occurs within a structured encounter between a trained therapist and client. Purposeful theoretically based psychotherapy began in the 19th century with psychoanalysis; since then, scores of other approaches have been developed and continue to be created, including anger management and cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy.


Therapy is generally used in response to a variety of specific or non-specific manifestations of mental illness or mental health problems. Treatment of everyday problems is more often referred to as counseling (a distinction originally adopted by Carl Rogers). However, the term counseling is sometimes used interchangeably with psychotherapy.


While some psychotherapeutic interventions are designed to treat the patient using the medical model, many psychotherapeutic approaches do not adhere to the symptom-based model of "illness/cure". Some practitioners, such as humanistic therapists, see themselves more in a facilitative/helper role. As sensitive and deeply personal topics are often discussed during psychotherapy, therapists are expected, and usually legally bound, to respect client or patient confidentiality. The critical importance of confidentiality is enshrined in the regulatory psychotherapeutic organizations' codes of ethical practice.


Therapy or treatment, is the attempted remediation of a mental health problem, usually following a diagnosis. In the medical field, it is synonymous with the word treatment. In psychology or psychiatry, the term, therapy, may refer specifically to psychotherapy or cognitive psychotherapy, family therapy, counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy.


Each year, millions of people seek therapy or receive counseling for a vast number of mental health or social work issues. Therapy can address a wide range of concerns such as depression, anxiety, stress, addiction, use of alcohol, or problems with a marriage. You can also look to therapy for life-enhancing help in fulfilling aspirations for personal growth or self-improvement.

Through the course of their training and practice, mental health professionals often develop expertise in specific areas and establish preferred modes of therapy.  There are many types of therapy or “orientations.” It may be that the nature of your particular problem will clearly define the type of therapy that would be the best for you and can then help you determine which therapist to consider. For example, if you are experiencing difficulties in your relationships with family members, a therapist who specializes in family therapy or marital therapy would be a good choice.

Most therapists work with their clients to determine the most effective treatment plan even when it does not include their preferred orientation or just one specific technique. This can sometimes involve elements of several different types of therapy, for example, a combination of behavioral therapeutic techniques and psychodynamic therapeutic techniques, becoming what is referred to as an “eclectic approach” to therapy.


psychiatry - Those who practice psychiatry are different than most other mental health professionals and physicians in that they must be familiar with both the social and psychological.  The discipline is interested in the operations of different organs and body systems as classified by the patient's subjective experiences and the objective of the patient.  Psychiatry exists to treat mental disorders and mental illness which are conventionally divided into three very general categories: mental illness, severe learning disability, and personality disorder.  While the focus of psychiatry has changed little throughout time, the diagnostic and treatment processes have evolved dramatically and continue to do so. Since the late 20th century, the field of psychiatry has continued to become more biological and less conceptually isolated from the field of medicine.


personality –  Personality is defined as the enduring personal characteristics of individuals.  Although  a psychologist may frown on the premise, a commonly used explanation for personality development is the psychodynamic approach. The term psychodynamic describes any theory that emphasizes the constant change and development of the individual. Perhaps the best known of the theories in psychology is psychoanalysis, developed by Freud.


An individual's personality is an aggregate of experiences we've had throughout our lives.  There are inherent natural, genetic, and environmental factors that contribute to the development of our personality. According to a process of socialization, personality also colors our values, beliefs, and expectations ... Hereditary factors that contribute to personality development do so as a result of interactions with the particular social environment in which people live.  There are several personality types as Myers and Briggs illustrated in several personality tests.  Other theories on personality development are: Jean Piaget  - stages of development, and personality development,  and according to Freud – personality is formed through the interaction of id, ego, and super-ego.


The term disorder is often considered more value-neutral and less stigmatizing than the terms disease or illness, and therefore is preferred terminology in most circumstances. In mental health, the term mental disorder is used as a way of acknowledging the complex interaction of biological, social, and psychological factors in psychiatric conditions. However, the term disorder is also used in many other areas of medicine, primarily to identify physical disorders that are not caused by infectious organisms, such as organic brain syndrome.


depression - Depression is a serious illness that affects a person's family and personal relationships, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health.  Its impact on functioning and well-being has been equated to that of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes.


A person having depression usually exhibits a very low mood, which pervades all aspects of life, and an inability to experience pleasure in activities that formerly were enjoyed. Depressed people may be preoccupied with, or ruminate over, thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, helplessness, hopelessness, and self-hatred. In severe cases, depressed people may have symptoms of psychosis. These symptoms include delusions or, less commonly, hallucinations, usually of an unpleasant nature. Other symptoms of depression include poor concentration and memory (especially in those with melancholic or psychotic features), withdrawal from social situations and activities, reduced sex drive, and thoughts of death or suicide.


Insomnia is common in depression and anxiety. In the typical pattern, a person wakes very early and is unable to get back to sleep.  Hypersomnia, or oversleeping, can also happen.  Appetite often decreases, with resulting weight loss, although increased appetite and weight gain occasionally occur.  The person may report multiple physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, or digestive problems; physical complaints are the most common presenting problem in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization's criteria for depression. 


Depressed children often display an irritable rather than a depressed mood, and show varying symptoms depending on age and situation.  Most exhibit a loss of interest in school and a decline in academic performance. They may be described as clingy, demanding, dependent, or insecure.  Diagnosis may be delayed or missed when symptoms are interpreted as normal moodiness.  Depression may also coincide with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), complicating the diagnosis and treatment of both.


Older depressed persons may have cognitive symptoms of recent onset, such as forgetfulness, and a more noticeable slowing of movements.  Depression often coexists with physical disorders common among the elderly, such as stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson's disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


alcohol -  Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a disabling addiction characterized by the compulsive and uncontrolled abuse of alcohol, despite adverse effects upon the drinker's health and negative social consequences upon his or her life. Similar to other drug addictions, or substance abuse, alcoholism is medically defined as a treatable disease. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, alcohol dependence was called dipsomania, before the term alcoholism replaced it.


The biological mechanisms underpinning alcoholism are uncertain, however, risk factors include social environment, stress, mental health, genetic predisposition, age, ethnic group, and sex.  Long-term alcohol abuse produces physiological changes in the brain, such as tolerance and physical dependence, which result in alcohol withdrawal syndrome upon discontinuation of alcohol. Such brain chemistry changes maintain the alcoholic’s compulsive inability to stop drinking.  Alcohol damages almost every organ in the body, including the brain; because of the cumulative toxic effects of chronic alcohol abuse, the alcoholic risks suffering a range of medical and psychiatric disorders. Alcoholism has profound social consequences for alcoholics and the people in their lives.


Alcohol abuse is the cyclic presence of tolerance, withdrawal, and excessive alcohol use; the drinker’s inability to control such compulsive drinking, despite awareness of its harm to his or her health, indicate that the person might be an alcoholic. Questionnaire-based screening is a method of detecting harmful drinking patterns, including alcoholism.  Detox is conducted to withdraw the alcoholic person from drinking alcohol, usually with cross-tolerance drugs, e.g. benzodiazepines to manage withdrawal symptoms.  Post-medical care, such as group therapy, or self-help groups, usually is required to maintain alcoholic abstention. Often, alcoholics also are addicted to other drugs, most often heroin, cocaine, or marijuana, which might require additional medical treatment.  Substance abuse is widespread and people can manage to abuse almost any drug.  Following detox a person will enter rehab usually in a treatment center or drug rehab.



American Association of Marriage & Family Therapists AAMFT       

        WebPsych Member                                            Mental Health Net                                               HealthLinks


I hope you enjoy the information available on this site and find it useful.  I will be adding new links, literature and other features often, so be sure and check back frequently.  


Email me with any questions, comments or suggestions you may have.  Please note that answers to email questions are not intended to be psychotherapy.  I can, however, help you to find the information that you need.


This page was updated on  7-25-11                                             

                                    Member of Who's Who in Mental Health on The Web