Online Therapist in California


Being human is hard. There is no roadmap. Most of us have little idea how to find lasting happiness, how to become emotionally and psychologically mature adults, or how to have healthy, nourishing and sustainable intimate relationships. So we wing it, going through life pretending we are OK, that we know what we’re doing, that we have our lives together. 


But internally, we are pretty freaked out a lot of the time and uncertain about some of the most important parts of our life. Our well-meaning attempts to feel better work temporarily, but don’t provide lasting relief and sometimes make things worse. What we do know is that we are in pain and nothing seems to help. While it may feel like we are somehow doing life wrong, what it really means is that we are human.


My winding path to becoming a therapist has been intimately tied up with sincere attempts to try to find a solution to the pain and uncertainty I’ve felt in my own life, career, and relationships. In my experiences—first as a client, and later as a therapist— therapy is one of the  best places to work with what is most true, authentic, vulnerable, messy, and important about being human. Through therapy, I have come to see that our suffering is not a problem to get rid of, but an opportunity to awaken to deeper truths and to reconnect with ourselves in the present. 


A good therapist provides attuned and non-judgemental presence where we can talk freely and openly about the things that worry us and where we can engage with the parts of ourselves that had previously been exiled from our awareness. When our pain is held with compassion, acceptance and understanding, we can allow ourselves to see what is true in a way that can be transformative and liberating. 


We start to see that the recurring patterns we experience in the present often are not caused by, or even necessarily about, our current life circumstances. Rather, our suffering is bound up in strategies and behavioral patterns that we developed earlier in life in order to take the best care of ourselves we could, but which are now out of date.


One of my guiding principles is that how we engage with our present moment experience has a more powerful impact on our state of mind than what we are experiencing. Although the mind will likely tell us otherwise, as we train ourselves to do the counter-instinctual work of turning towards our pain, bringing compassionate curiosity, we increase our capacity to consciously participate in our life in meaningful and satisfying ways. We come to find less evidence that our life is a problem. When this happens, everything becomes workable. 


I commend you for the courage I know it takes to consider reaching out for help.


Matt Russell, MA, PhD, AMFT is a registered associate marriage and family therapist at Whole Wellness Therapy

  • B.A. Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz (2001)

  • M.A. Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz (2004)

  • Ph.D. Spanish, University of California, Davis (2013)

  • M.A. Counseling Psychology, Meridian University (2020)


  • Certified in Compassionate Inquiry

  • EMDR (Basic Training)

  • Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (Externship and Core Skills parts 1 & 2)

  • Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher training, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Center for Mindfulness

Matt provides online therapy to individuals, couples and families.

Supervised by Isaac Smith, MAT, LCSW, NTP #LCSW 75372