I believe that all people have the right to feel heard, discover the cause of their pain and find the support and tools they need to feel better. Although friends and family members can offer advice and compassion, sometimes we face challenges that run deep, and we need the objective guidance of a skilled, nonjudgmental expert to help us uncover the root cause of our pain and find effective solutions. From my personal, professional and academic experience, I know how valuable and powerful the therapy experience can be. I love watching my clients become happier, stronger and fuller in their lives. I feel privileged and honored to help people live more rewarding lives, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
So much of my passion for providing counseling services comes from transformative experiences I had as a young adult. Therapy helped me work through challenges in my youth, planting the seed that now inspires me to help others transform their own lives and thrive as their fullest, most confident selves. I specialize in helping people recover from trauma, substance abuse and eating disorders. And, I also work with individuals and couples struggling with building or maintaining connected relationships. I offer a safe, compassionate space for my clients to work through feelings of anxiety and shame, build healthy self-esteem and clear the barriers that are blocking access to living a self-directed, fulfilling life.
I began working as an addiction counselor in 1998, right after college, at a methadone clinic in San Francisco. This eye-opening experience taught me so much about addiction, including things that could not be learned from a book. If you are struggling with addiction, I know that you are not a “bad person” or intrinsically broken or hopeless. Over the years, I have gained insight into why people develop addictions and what individuals need to find healing and lasting relief.
Since that first job at the methadone clinic, I’ve worked in a variety of positions, from a psychotherapist at the San Francisco County Jail, to the director of the largest homeless shelter in Northern California, to developing and directing the behavioral health program for My Doctor Medical Group in San Francisco. Most recently I served as the program director of the Center for Discovery, a residential eating disorder facility in Sacramento. Addiction, eating disorders and many other mental health issues often follow unresolved trauma, and throughout my career, I have explored how our earliest childhood experiences and primary relationships (e.g. those with our parents or caretakers) impact both how we interact with others and how we navigate the world.
To add to my training in Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), I am currently a doctoral candidate at the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis (ICP) so that I can continue to help clients find resolution, relief and empowerment on a deep, core level. And, in addition to providing therapy to individuals facing addiction, eating disorders or other mental health issues, I also work with their family members and loved ones. Sometimes, family counseling or group counseling can foster long-term healing for everyone affected by addiction or eating disorders.
I believe in taking a collaborative approach to therapy, and I am compassionate, direct and honest. My clients have told me that I don’t seem like a therapist. Rather, I’m told that I am an engaged, funny and real person who meets clients where they are. I am intuitive and insightful, and I am able to help you make connections and discover things about yourself you may not be able to see just yet. Essentially, I can help you get to the root of the issues causing you pain so that you can emerge from the therapy process with new awareness about your needs and goals and the insight needed to meet them. As we work together, I hope that you will feel that I am an easy person to talk to, and I strive to create a sense of safety, acceptance and active support.
As a therapist, I have worked in so many different places in our society, and I know that no matter what—no matter where you come from, what you’re struggling with or how hopeless you feel—you are human. In my office, you don’t need to hide any part of who you are. There is no judgment—only support and the tools you need to become the version of yourself you long to be.
You don’t have to struggle alone. Whether you are looking for an eating disorder therapist, an addiction counselor, a relationship therapist or support as a loved one of someone who is struggling, I invite you to call me at (916) 822-2042 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about my counseling services and my practice.
Paula Kenney, LMFT, has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a focus in Social Justice. She is currently earning a Doctoral degree in Contemporary Psychoanalysis, where she is researching ways in which early attachment in a person’s life affects learning, relationships, and self-esteem in adulthood. She utilizes EMDR, CBT, Talk Therapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and Sand Tray Therapy (typically when working with children). In addition to therapy for eating disorders and substance abuse, Paula offers psychoanalysis, family therapy, couples counseling and group therapy.