Dr. Dana McNeil
Founder of the Relationship Place - PsyD, LMFT
Certified Gottman Therapist
My Counseling Style
I am a warm, non-judgmental and genuine therapist. My goal is for you to feel like you’re talking with a trusted confidant.
I want you to feel comfortable, supported, and safe so we can work to make your relationship better. Regardless of what you tell me, it won’t surprise or scare me or cause me to judge you.
My style of therapy is very much like my personality: down to earth, humble, funny sometimes with slight sarcasm, direct, and blunt in a loving way.
I do not place blame on either partner in the relationship. I don’t choose sides, but I will challenge you both to change your behaviors, so you can have the best relationship possible.
I am incredibly enthusiastic and tend to be an overachiever especially with clients who are motivated and open to change and grow.
I have a sense of humor about myself, and I encourage my clients to adopt the same attitude. My goal is for you to feel that I’m completely invested in your success.
Becoming a Relationship Therapist
Two experiences compelled me to enter the therapy profession. The first was my former job as a property insurance adjuster helping people after natural disasters. The second was the amazingly helpful pre-marital relationship work I did with my husband before our marriage.
Witnessing My Clients’ Trauma as a Property Insurance Adjuster
My early career consisted of working for a large insurance company as a property damage claims adjuster. Part of my job was to travel to affected areas of the country in the wake of catastrophes such as hurricanes, floods, and tornados to provide on the ground assistance to clients whose homes had experienced damage.
As you can imagine, these clients were traumatized by their experiences. They were often in shock and some experienced guilt about having survived when so many in their community hadn’t.
Many of them also didn’t have access to mental health care.
I soon realized that before I could settle their insurance claims, I would need to provide my clients with support and empathy so they could process their shock and be able to participate in meaningful conversations with me about their property claims.
I found a great sense of purpose in listening to and validating my client’s experiences as they shared how they had survived their trauma. I saw how helpful it was to them to debrief their feelings.
The Gottman Approach and the Relationship with My Husband
Before we were married, my husband and I had a long-distance relationship. Because of the challenges of being so far apart, we sought pre-marital counseling.
I knew that regardless of how much I loved my husband-to-be, we were going to face communication challenges, differing expectations, and conflict. I wanted to ensure our marriage got off to a strong start.
I researched the best evidence-based couples therapy methods and fell in love with the Gottman Method.
It’s an easy to understand and structured method that teaches effective and simple communication skills that build upon one another.
I was also pleased that I could enhance my relationships with everyone in my life by using these skills.
I couldn’t find a local Gottman Method therapist who was taking clients, so we bought Gottman’s The Seven Principles book and skyped with each other every Sunday as we worked through the couples exercises together.
We learned invaluable communication tools that helped us be better partners and we still use them in our relationship today.
I believe firmly in the Gottman relationship method and have found it to be highly valuable not only for myself but also for the clients I work with in my relationship and couples counseling practice.
Professional Therapist Credentials and Training
I’ve completed the highest level of training because I’m passionate about helping your relationship to be a success.
Core Relationship and Couples Counseling Training
Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist
Gottman Bringing Home Baby Program Educator
In addition to the main Gottman training, I’ve done specific training in the Gottman Method in the following areas:
- Couples and Addiction Recovery
- Working with Complex Couples Affected by Addiction or Co-Occurring Mental Illness
- Working with the Aftermath of an Extramarital Affair
- International Association of Trauma Professionals (IATP) Certified Trauma Therapist
- California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)
Training and Experience in Other Areas of Mental Health
In addition to my training in relationship and couples therapy, I have extensive training in a number of areas of mental health. These include:
- Depression and Anxiety
- Addiction and Recovery
- Grief and Trauma Issues
- Domestic Violence
- Sexual Addiction
- Sexual Abuse