I work eclectically with a variety of treatment modalities based on the client's personality, history, age and presenting problem. Generally, in order to be most helpful, I recommend that clients attend sessions once a week, at least in the beginning stage of therapy. Some find the every other week sessions more palatable. Pace and length of therapy is always the client's decision and will be respected.

When working with children and adolescents, I utilize play therapy (play therapy works best with children 10 yrs.old and younger), art therapy, family therapy, cognitive behavior therapy and narrative therapy, which have proven to be successful in most cases.

When working with individuals, couples and groups, my psychotherapy focus is differentiation theory, grounded in Murray Bowen's and Minuchin's family systems therapy. Bowen's theories lie in the balance/imbalance of two forces, togetherness and individuality. Fusion results from togetherness being the stronger force. Unresolved emotional attachment to one's family/partner prevents differentiation.

I work with clients to improve differentiation of self, which is the ability to separate feeling and thinking, while managing anxiety. Undifferentiated people cannot separate feeling and thinking. Their intellects are flooded with feelings so they can't think rationally, and then have trouble separating their own feelings and thoughts from others. This often creates reactivity (anxiety) during conflict and escalates fights and poor communication. I encourage clients to differentiate, supporting them so they can begin to free themselves from their family/partner. In addition, I help them realize their own involvement in problematic relationship systems (as opposed to blaming others), but encourage them to be emotionally related (intimate) with members.

When you are differentiated you have:

  1. Ability to self-soothe (manage anxiety)
  2. Ability to stay emotionally non-reactive when someone else is getting reactive
  3. Willingness to tolerate discomfort for growth
  4. Ability to define what you think, feel and want when you are in close proximity to your family or partner. (Concepts by Murray Bowen & David Schnarch, Ph.D.)
This theory and these techniques can be applied to sexual, relational, and work problems.


Santa Clara graduate, Tina DeMattia, MA, is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (Lic. # 45161) with an active private practice since September 2004. She is also a member of The California Association of Marriage Family Therapists and ASSECT.

To enrich her practice, Tina frequently volunteers her time at workshops and is currently participating in consultation groups and receiving ongoing training in sex therapy.