Therapy with Carole Goguen, PsyD

Carole Goguen is a Licensed Psychologist in California specializing in anxiety, trauma, work stress, OCD, and depression. She has extensive experience working with clients of all backgrounds, including folks in the tech world, military veterans, homemakers, healthcare professionals, and entertainment industry workers. The founder of Night Owl Psychotherapy, Dr. Goguen is particularly committed to ensuring the availability of therapy to all and thus offers therapy sessions late into the evenings.

We asked Dr. Goguen more about her work with clients and her guiding philosophies on therapy.

Dr. Goguen’s background and personal life

How did you decide to become a therapist?

Looking back, I traveled quite the winding road to becoming a therapist. As an young adult, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do for my professional life. I explored various avenues including working in the entertainment industry, a technological communications company, and in real estate. It was only after volunteering at a crisis center and getting into my own therapy that I finally discovered my passion. For the first time, I felt at home in my career.

What was your previous work before going into private practice?

Prior to founding Night Owl Psychotherapy, I’ve worked in several settings including a rape treatment center, community mental health clinics, a forensic hospital treating people with severe mental illness resulting in serious legal issues, and, most recently, with military veterans struggling with a variety of challenges including military and civilian related traumas, PTSD, anxiety, and depression I'm so grateful to have had such a range of experiences to bring to my private practice.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with friends and family going out to eat, seeing movies, and attending plays. It’s relaxing for me to go for strolls in botanical gardens with friends. I also like to watch documentaries, read mystery books, and watch true crime TV shows.

Dr. Goguen’s specialties and therapy philosophies

What guiding principles inform your work?

First and foremost, I believe that most of us need to feel heard and validated. I create a safe place for my clients to share and explore their life both past and present. I also believe that as heavy as life can be sometimes, there's also room for lightness so I occasionally use a bit of humor in therapy, if appropriate. I respect the uniqueness of each individual’s perspective and work with them to develop more helpful ways to view themselves and to thrive in their lives.

What clientele do you work with most frequently?

I enjoy working with clients who are successful by most people’s standards but are hiding their struggles with self-doubt and inner criticism. Highly successful people often are admired and envied by others. It's easy to assume that everything came easily to them or they have some innate positive drive for achievement. Those on the outside assume their lives are near perfect. They don't see that often their drive is fueled by never feeling good enough, feeling worthless, and toxic perfectionism. No achievement is ever enough.

I help my clients to recognize and acknowledge their innate worth, value themselves, and accept that their authentic selves are all they ever need to be. Often I work with professional women struggling to balance the demands of work with the demands (sometimes unfair demands) of home life.

I also work a great deal with clients suffering from the effects of various forms of traumatic experiences, and clients trying to move past fear, anger and resentments to live a life of ease and balance.

Can you tell us more about your specialty in anxiety?

Living in today's world, it's hard not to develop destructive anxiety. I mention destructive anxiety because most people aren't aware that anxiety can be constructive. It can act as a healthy motivator to help us get things done. It's when anxiety is so intense that it can become destructive, paralyzing us and severely limiting our lives. I help people understand their anxiety and how it may have developed. They learn that they can face it and turn destructive into constructive anxiety.

Can you tell us more about your work with clients who have experienced trauma?

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for us to experience a highly distressing or disturbing event or series of events that can overwhelm our ability leaving a lasting impact on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. They can be a single event, ongoing exposure to traumatic situations, or exposure to multiple traumatic events.

Even indirect exposure to intense traumatic events such as experienced by first responders and healthcare workers can result in severe traumatic reactions. I work with my clients to regain a sense of control, resilience, and a renewed appreciation for life

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

I get so excited when my clients start living the lives they hoped for without having to actively work at it or even think much about it. I find a lot of satisfaction with being able to provide my clients with sessions at times that work best for their schedule. Witnessing my clients working through their issues and their growth really touches my heart.

Therapy sessions with Dr. Goguen

What will our first session together be like? What happens in ongoing sessions?

Even before our first session, I’ll have a free phone consultation with prospective clients so that I can learn a bit about what's bringing them into therapy at this time. I'll explain my style of therapy and answer any questions so that together we can decide if we would be a good therapeutic fit. If it is, our first session starts the initial assessment that can extend over several sessions.

I'll ask clients to tell me the story of their life, explore more about the issues bringing them into therapy at this time, discuss your goals for therapy and explain my initial treatment approach. Our work together is an ongoing process often with evolving treatment goals and therapeutic approaches.

How long do clients typically see you for?

Often my clients achieve their goals in 4 to 6 months while some benefit from 6 months to a year or more. It's all based on their individual needs which can change over time.

Are there any books you often recommend to clients?

I often recommend The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron. It helps clients understand that they aren’t “over sensitive,” and that their sensory processing wiring is just different.

Do you assign “homework” between sessions?

It all depends on their unique needs. I generally like to give them something to take away with them after our sessions. It might be an informational handout or forms to help them to identify their thought and emotional processes. I may ask them to practice something they learned in therapy at home. Or, based on what we are working on, there may not be any formal "homework." Therapy is an evolving process, I base it on what works best for my clients.

How do you help ensure I'm making progress in therapy?

I assess my client’s progress in the very best way possible. I ask them. After several months of working together, I'll ask questions such as:

How do I know that it’s time to start seeking therapy?

Often if the thought "maybe I need therapy" crosses their mind, it might be a good time to start exploring therapy options. You could schedule a free consultation with a therapist to see if therapy would be helpful and if that particular therapist would be a good fit. There was a reason that the thought that you might need therapy crossed your mind.

How can I prepare for our first session?

Hopefully, they will get a bit of a feel for me during our phone consult. The most important thing they can do is to be prepared to be as open as they can be comfortable with. We may be discussing things that are distressing or disturbing. They don’t need to go into any detail to begin with and I don't expect them to necessarily completely trust me in the first several sessions. Our work together will evolve.

How will I know it’s time to end my time in therapy with you or reduce session frequency?

First, my clients and I discuss the progress they have been making in therapy. We decide together if it might be appropriate to meet less frequently to allow them to feel more comfortable with their progress before ending therapy or we may go on an as needed basis.

Why should I seek therapy, rather than turning to my partner, friends, or other loved ones?

While the support of partners, friends, or other loved ones is very important, therapists have the graduate level education, training, and experience to help with your specific issue. We have tools to give you and we are able to see you and your problems in a more objective, non-judgmental light.

What advice would you share with therapy seekers?

Don't give up. Give therapy a chance. If after a few sessions, you feel uncomfortable or that that particular therapist is not a good fit, let the therapist know, they may be able to help you feel more comfortable. If it's not a good fit, look for another therapist who is a good fit. Don't give up.

Visit Dr. Goguen’s profile to watch her introductory video, read more about her, and book an initial call!