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Meet Courtney Westin of SoCo DBT

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Westin.

Courtney, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After graduating from the University of Miami with my master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, I returned to Southern Maryland, where I grew up. I had really enjoyed working on a research study during graduate school, and I was lucky enough to continue in that field, beginning my professional career as a research coordinator at a treatment center in Baltimore. I helped to bring teenagers with anorexia nervosa (along with their families) into a research study evaluating and comparing the effectiveness of two different family therapy treatments.

The study involved six separate centers across the country, and the data was collected and compiled at Stanford University. It was important work with a lot of the brightest minds in our field. But while I was enjoying the research side, I knew I also wanted to work with individuals and families providing psychotherapy. I jumped on the opportunity to begin seeing clients on the inpatient unit, but this involved treating clients a few weeks or a month. I wanted to work more with patients on an outpatient basis, where I felt I could spend more time with them.

That led me to open my first practice in Bethesda, Maryland. I named it C.DiLallo for Therapy, LLC after my father. I worked with individuals, couples, and families who wanted to figure out solutions to their problems and feel that they were heard. I learned about myself as a therapist and really developed a passion for working with clients fighting eating disorders.

Two years later, I moved with my husband to Southern California. While I love the area and am thrilled by the attention given to mental health, the state’s unique licensing requirements meant I had to apply for licensure as a marriage and family therapist all over again. The silver lining, while undertaking the whole rigmorale for my hours and licensure, was learning a new treatment approach, Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT), that I believe has offered exciting new possibilities to create breakthroughs for clients.

After five years of working in with a group in Newport Beach, I have now opened my own practice – SoCo DBT – where I help my clients apply the skills-based approach of DBT to their daily lives. Together, we’ve had success in the areas of eating disorders, depression, and self-harm, generating hope and self-discovery for individuals and helping them discover a worthwhile life.

Has it been a smooth road?
My first challenge when beginning to practice in California was the licensing procedures. For Maryland and every other state except for California, marriage and family therapists must pass a national exam and a law and ethics exam. California, on the other hand, requires more clinical hours including face-to-face client contact hours and other hours and passing two very different exams as well as a law and ethics exam.

Fortunately, I had the necessary hours from my previous practice in Maryland, and I was able to get past the exams. But entire process took about a year, during which I was technically a registered intern. Not exactly the hit-the-ground-running strategy I had first coming to California, but worthwhile nonetheless.

Nowadays, I find one of the toughest parts of my job to be defining what is DBT and how it is different from (and, in my view, often more effective than) other types of psychotherapy. While many therapies focus on acceptance or change, DBT combines the ideas of acceptance and change. DBT resonates with me because throughout my work as a therapist, I have always stressed creating balance and understanding.

One common misconception about DBT that I’ve seen in the therapy world is that it only teaches coping skills. In fact, there are so many more rich and complicated layers to DBT. I’ve been able to see the impact and results this approach affords to many of my clients.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We care about clients and want to provide quality care in a supportive environment. Our treatment is based on evidence-based therapies, which means the greatest minds in the field put their heads together and have dedicated many years to figure out how to treat and help you get better and live a life that is full. We want to help people looking for psychotherapy find the right fit for them. Sometimes that is with us, and other times we’ve been able to point people seeking therapy in the right direction for them.

I am always looking for ways to improve my skill set by attending conferences focused on eating disorders or DBT, doing self-guided learning, and consulting with experts in my field at least once a month. Consultation with experts helps me hone my skills and be a better therapist to my clients. I have become a certified eating disorder specialist and approved supervisor. I am also working on becoming certified as a DBT clinician. I channel this experience and knowledge into my practice every day.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I think Orange County and California values mental health. There is less stigma in our area about seeing a therapist or psychiatrist which means people are more likely to seek out help and talk about it.

Pricing:

  • Individual and Family Psychotherapy (50 minutes) $185
  • DBT Skills Group (75-90 minutes) $75
  • Online Psychotherapy (50 minutes) $125
  • Consultation/Supervision for Clinicians (60 minutes) $125

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. C. DiLallo. MD

    May 22, 2018 at 19:51

    This is a very beautifully done piece that accurately and graphically describes this talented and knowledgeable upcoming member of the medical family and the Southern California Community.

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