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Therapist San Diego – Counselor and Psychologist San Diego

Hello & Welcome to Freedom Within Center

Our mission is to provide quality care using a genuine, down to earth approach that incorporates compassion, humor, and authenticity. We strive to partner with our clients to help release their pain and restore their sense of freedom within.

You may have been struggling with challenges on your own for some time now and, despite your efforts to move forward, have been unable to achieve the direction you would like. This is where we come in as a compassionate, objective, observer to help guide you in the direction you are wanting to go.

Although we understand that getting stuck or off the path may not be any fault of your own, we team up with you to get you back to where you want to be; all the while creating a sense of freedom within and peace for your soul. We are trained in a number of evidence-based practices that are proven to be effective in helping you work towards your goals.


Therapist San Diego

Our team

Alexandra Mers, LPCC

Alexandra Mers, LPCC

Site Supervisor + Therapist

Alyssa Theis, LMFT

Alyssa Theis, LMFT

Clinical Director + Therapist

Kendra Penski, LCSW

Kendra Penski, LCSW

Director + Therapist

Leah Mitchell, LCSW

Leah Mitchell, LCSW

Clinical Supervisor + Therapist

We strive to partner with our clients to help
release their pain and restore their sense of freedom within.

Psychologist San Diego

Issues we treat

We use psychotherapy, also referred to as counseling, as a foundation for helping individuals, couples and families achieve their best self. This can also be supplemented with alternative services in nutritional care, holistic health and mindfulness practice. The mind does not exist in a vacuum and we understand that in order to treat any part of an individual we need to look at the bigger picture; taking into account the mind, body and spirit as well as the influencing environment.
Common Questions About Starting Therapy

How do I know when I need to see a therapist?

There are many reasons to see a therapist in San Diego. If you aren’t happy with the direction your life is taking, talking with a therapist can help you find direction. If you have been trying to change patterns in your life and haven’t had success, a psychologist in San Diego can help you find the tools to move forward. Talking with a therapist can give you the freedom to express yourself in a safe space and can give you the tools to find balance in your life.

Experiencing grief and trauma are two reasons for seeking out a therapist. Psychotherapy in San Diego helps you to process the aftermath of traumatic events like the death of a loved one. There are many ways to cope with the impact of trauma and grief. Psychotherapy in San Diego provides a space for you to understand your experience and move forward at the pace that is right for you.

Psychotherapy in San Diego can also help when you are experiencing conflict at work or in relationships. It’s common for there to be occasional disagreements at work and with your partner or friends. When those disagreements become frequent or start impacting your job performance, counseling in San Diego, CA can help. Talking with a psychologist in San Diego helps you identify ways to resolve and avoid conflict. Through therapy, you can also develop the tools you need to maintain healthy relationships.

How to know if you need counseling in San Diego 

  • Feeling overly stressed or overwhelmed
  • Feeling overstimulated or anxious
  • Loss of interest in things you love
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Conflict at work or in relationships
  • Trouble reaching your goals

When life becomes too overwhelming, therapy can offer an objective viewpoint and a partner in creating a path forward. When symptoms of anxiety or depression become more frequent or intense, seeking therapy can help. A therapist in San Diego can make a clinical diagnosis and provide access to medication alongside providing therapeutic processes to restore balance in your life. Seeking counseling in San Diego CA uses the tools and therapies you need to create healing in your life.

How is therapy different from talking to a friend?

Talking with a therapist in San Diego can offer a non-judgemental, objective perspective on the struggles you are experiencing. Most of us maintain an image as we go through life, even with our closest friends. It’s natural and instinctual to self-regulate your actions throughout the day. It’s also natural that you will continue to self-regulate when you’re having an open conversation with a friend.

During a session with a psychologist in San Diego you create a space where you don’t have to maintain your image. By offering a non-judgemental and objective perspective in conversation, your counselor in San Diego works with you to make real progress in your life.

Talking with a therapist in San Diego is also a chance to get feedback from a trained mental health professional who will work with you toward your goals. Friends can offer advice and provide a comfortable space to vent about problems. However, it is unlikely that your friends are trained to address mental health issues. A psychologist in San Diego has undergone years of training in specific areas of mental health and has thoroughly studied mental health therapies.

A professional counselor in San Diego guarantees confidentiality in your sessions. While friends may promise to keep your discussions a secret, they don’t have a professional standard to uphold. There are laws that guarantee confidentiality when seeking psychotherapy in San Diego. Confidentiality gives you the freedom to genuinely express yourself. Talking with a therapist in San Diego allows you the opportunity to create real change in the patterns of your life.

You can get a diagnosis and access to life changing treatments when you work with a professional counselor in San Diego. Every mental health condition has a different treatment method, sometimes including medications. A diagnosis from a psychologist in San Diego determines your unique treatment plan. Through a mental health diagnosis, you can partner with your therapist to personalize your path forward.

Psychotherapy in San Diego helps you routinely set aside space and time apart from the rest of your life to care for your mental health. During a session with your psychologist in San Diego, you’ll be able to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life and focus on yourself. You and your therapist will work together to identify the patterns in your life you’d like to change. A session with your counselor in San Diego also gives you time to identify solutions and tools to help you build the life you want.

If I seek therapy, does that mean something is wrong with me?

Seeking therapy is a step toward finding balance and freedom in your life. A session with a therapist in San Diego gives you the space to explore your emotions and discover the things that are blocking you from your goals. A professional therapist can then help you discover tools to create more peace in your life and strategies to reach your goals.

Talking with a therapist in San Diego doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Instead, it means you acknowledge something in your life isn’t going the way you’d like. Difficulties are part of life, but when you feel stuck or overwhelmed a counselor in San Diego can help you find freedom.

Reasons to seek therapy from a psychologist in San Diego: 

  • Increase your quality of life 
  • Help coping with trauma 
  • Mood disorders like anxiety and depression
  • Feeling stuck or overwhelmed 
  • Ongoing problems with relationships

Seeking therapy from a counselor in San Diego is a sign of bravery and self value. Deciding to work with a mental health professional means you care about yourself enough to want something better. It means you know you’re worth the work it takes to create a positive path forward. Talking with a therapist in San Diego is a decision to create a better balance and sense of peace in your life.

How do I choose a therapist or psychologist?

Meeting with a therapist in San Diego is the best way to decide if the therapist is a right match for you. During your first session, you and your therapist will get to know each other. The first session is a chance for you and your therapist to ask each other questions and learn how you can work together with a counselor in San Diego toward creating a more balanced life.

Prepare ahead of your first appointment with a therapist in San Diego by having a clear list of goals in mind. Approach your first session with an understanding of what you’d like to get out of your relationship with your therapist. It is easier to discover the right therapist for you when you can clearly describe symptoms and desired goals during your session. If you have your priorities clear when seeking counseling in San Diego CA, you and your therapist will be able to better decide if you are a good match.

When considering a psychologist in San Diego, you should also think about things like gender, religion and other important relationship factors. Select a therapist that represents values important to you and you will increase your success in finding the right therapist for you.

What can I expect at my first therapy appointment?

You can expect the first appointment with a therapist in San Diego to be a time of introduction between you and your therapist. It’s a great time to ask your therapist questions and decide if you are comfortable with your therapist. If you don’t feel like you are a good match with your therapist, you can use the time to discuss another counselor in San Diego that could be a better match for you. It could be a good idea to schedule some free time before and after your first session to give yourself time to process your time with your therapist.

During your first session with a psychologist in San Diego, you’ll answer questions that will allow your therapist to learn your history. It’s important for therapists to learn about your past so together you can make progress toward your future. Through discussions about your history, your therapist could be able to identify patterns or triggers that are impacting your life today. Counseling in San Diego CA also helps develop tools to lessen the impact negative patterns and triggers have on your life.

Receiving help through psychotherapy in San Diego takes time and the work won’t be complete after the first session. In fact, the first meeting with a therapist in San Diego is the first step in a journey toward healing and balance. Together, you and your therapist will work to set goals and develop tools for you to reach those goals.

Will my therapist or psychologist judge me?

Talking with a counselor in San Diego provides an unbiased and non-judgemental safe space to talk about your life. It’s natural to feel insecure and vulnerable during psychotherapy in San Diego, when you’re addressing the things in your life that aren’t going the way you’d like. Talking with a therapist in San Diego provides a place to talk about uncomfortable things. Through your sessions, you’ll work with your therapist to make progress on your goals and find more freedom and peace in your life.

During counseling in San Diego CA, therapists strive to create a safe, warm and welcoming environment where you can freely express your emotions and thoughts. Your therapist may challenge you at times, but conversations should always be respectful and gentle. Working with a psychologist in San Diego should provide you a chance to openly examine insecurities and things that aren’t going well in your life so you can create a path forward.

Signs a counselor in San Diego is good for you: 

  • Helpful, non-judgemental listening 
  • You feel comfortable expressing yourself
  • Strong communicator 
  • They check in with you 
  • Your therapist is your ally

You should always feel comfortable during psychotherapy in San Diego and you should always be able to freely express discomfort during your sessions. You should also always feel free to change your therapist to a different therapist in San Diego if you feel like you aren’t making progress.

Can I go to therapy if nothing is wrong?

You don’t have to be in the middle of a mental health crisis to seek help from a therapist in San Diego. Therapists help people in a wide variety of ways that include providing counseling for mental health issues. Talking with a psychologist in San Diego also provides an opportunity for you to navigate big changes in your life and to stay focused on self-care.

Talking with a counselor in San Diego can be helpful at any point in life, even when it seems like everything is going exactly the way you’d like. When everything is flowing easily, psychotherapy in San Diego helps identify the things you are doing right. A therapist in San Diego can provide an objective perspective on how to continue feeling free, peaceful and moving forward.

Reasons to see a psychologist in San Diego:

  • Seeking help after a traumatic event
  • Help with mood disorders
  • Stress and feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling stuck 
  • Your strategies aren’t working the way you’d like

Psychotherapy in San Diego sessions also help you find motivation, purpose and focus when you’re feeling stuck. Through talking with a counselor in San Diego you can discover the reasons why you aren’t achieving your goals the way you want. Together you and your therapist can create a path toward building the life you envision through counseling in San Diego CA.

How do I know if what I say in therapy is confidential?

You can be sure what you say in therapy is confidential because there are laws that ensure patient confidentiality when talking with a therapist in San Diego. Therapists who break confidentiality are subject to punishment by the State Licensing Board and are vulnerable to lawsuits from their clients. It’s in the best interest of both you and your therapist to maintain confidentiality through your sessions.

Therapists also swear an oath of confidentiality when they finish training and begin working with clients. So, when you are talking with a psychologist in San Diego what you discuss is confidential, unless there is mention of something dangerous to yourself or others. Talking with a therapist in San Diego is a safe space where you can unpack your challenges and find a positive path forward.

Does therapy really work?

When you begin a relationship with a therapist in San Diego, you’re starting on a journey toward a life full of more freedom and peace. Finding more balance in your life takes time, however.Psychotherapy in San Diego will allow you to establish the tools you need to create the life you want. A therapist can also gently help you stay motivated in addressing the changes you are ready to make.

Multiple scientific studies show that therapeutic interventions do improve mental health conditions. There are multiple different therapeutic tools, or modalities, that help address things like trauma, anxiety, depression and PTSD. A psychologist in San Diego will customize treatment plans for each client, choosing the right combination of therapeutic modalities for treatment.

Working with a psychologist in San Diego is a collaboration between you and your therapist. Progress will depend on your commitment to accomplishing your goals and finding balance and freedom in your life.

Should I bring my partner to therapy?

Therapists allow partners or loved ones in your individual therapy sessions if it is helpful for establishing history. A psychologist in San Diego will also bring in another person to help resolve a specific issue that is blocking you from achieving your goals. It is also helpful to bring a guest into your individual therapy session if that person has been involved in past patterns or has known you for a long time.

An old friend or current partner can help provide perspective when talking with your therapist.

In general, sessions with a therapist in San Diego are individual, unless you’re seeking couples counseling. Talking with a therapist alone allows you to build a relationship based on trust, mutually working toward the goal of creating a path forward in your life. Individual counseling also guarantees complete confidentiality, which allows you to speak more openly.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

– Brené Brown

We look forward to working with you…