Interview With Inge Dean, LMFT

Why did you become a therapist?

I was drawn to becoming a therapist even before I knew exactly what one did. As I child, I watched “The Miracle Worker” about Helen Keller and declared that when I grew up I wanted to help people like Anne Sullivan. Part of what intrigued me was my curiosity about what other people were thinking, feelings .and experiencing. And I wanted to understand and help them. Also I was very connected to my own emotions and inner world as a child and wished that I had someone to talk to. When I went to college I majored in psychology and knew that is what I wanted to study. When we did class exercises where we took turns sharing and listening to each other it felt so natural to me. I went on to complete my masters in counseling psychology and became a licensed marriage and family therapist. I now work with children, adults, couples and families in my practice as they work through their life challenges so they can live life more fully.

What are the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist?

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a therapist is inviting people into my office exactly where they are with no judgements and taking the time to deeply hear and listen to them about their hurts, challenges, hopes and dreams. Walking alongside people, supporting and facilitating them, as they find their way through the difficulties that brought them to see me and discover the ability to love, value and respect themselves is rewarding. It is deeply satisfying to witness my clients learn to hear and trust their own inner wisdom and live fully into their lives and relationships.

What’s unique or special in your background or approach to interpersonal relationships?

My short answer is that what is special and unique about me is that I am me, Inge Dean, with all the particularities around my experiences of life. That I have met and work through and will continue to work through the hurt and challenges of my life. And that I have a particular package of gifts and abilities that I get to live and share in the world. I also hold this same perspective on every other person I meet. As a therapist, I see that my work is to help my clients have the freedom to live in their own special unique way.
To borrow from the words of the poet Mary Oliver:

“Tell me what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

From this perspective I hold and work from an integrated holistic approach. I listen and give attention to your body, soul, mind and spirit.
• Heal from dissociation and trauma through sensory awareness, breath, movement
• Reclaim instinct, natural impulses, playful child, passion
• Experience belonging in your body and upon this earth
• Work through painful relationship patterns and family legacies
• Release authentic self from patterns of self-doubt, depression and mistrust
• Find the gifts hidden in the wound through dreams, archetypal images, living myths
• Strengthen capacity for meaningful relationships and work
• Cultivate clarity of awareness and choice
• Offer your gifts in ways that serve you and others
• Free mental blocks to inner guidance
• Integrate meditation, imagination, and ceremony into your life
• See your inner nature mirrored in outer nature

What are your favorite or most interesting interpersonal relationship tips?

Never make yourself over in ways that are not true to who you are just to get someone to love you. Likewise, never try to make some else over in the image of what you desire. Instead practice cultivating self-love so you worth comes from within which also allow you to meet another person where they are.

Take the time you and get the help you need to be able to think clearly and know what you really think and want before you respond. So that your Yes will really mean Yes and your No will be a solid No.
Also it is alright to change your mind.

Be aware when you are creating a scenario based on what has happened in the past or what you fear will happen in the future. We are all great movie producers. And are mind and emotions respond to these movies as if they are actually happening. Instead catch yourself when this happens and bring yourself back to be present to what is actually happening now. The only place we can live, act and make changes.

When you and your partner are both calm talk about how to deal with that ooh so familiar argument; where no one can hear the other person that goes nowhere and takes a long time to recover from. Agree that one or both of you will call a time out before you get totally sucked in. And that you will both respect that timeout. Also agree that when you are both ready that you will connect to talk about things from a calm place where things can get worked out. If things get hot again take another timeout and do that as much as needed to break that ooh so familiar pattern of relating. If you can’t do this alone call a couples counselor to help you.

Don’t forget to make time for laughter, play.

What are some things about therapy that you want to increase public awareness about?

Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not a weakness or failure to admit your struggles and vulnerabilities. But actually it takes strength and courage to ask for help.

Therapy is sometimes seen as a luxury that people cannot afford. When actually if the difficulties in your life or relationships cause sleepless nights and interfere with your work, family and ability to enjoy life it is something you cannot not afford to do.

What are some of the biggest mistakes a therapist or patient can make?

The number one biggest mistake a therapist can make is to see a client as only a list of symptoms and a diagnosis. Narrowing their perspective to only relieving symptom can be a disservice. Certainly relief from suffering is a part of therapy but if that is where it stops a client loses the opportunity to explore their life story and create new ways of living and relating that give them the freedom to change and grow.

Sometimes clients make the mistake of staying in therapy which is not a good fit because a therapist is prescribing more session. Therapist are all different and finding one that fits for you is so important. On the other hand a client can leave therapy prematurely if uncomfortable memories and feeling are arising. It is important to find a therapist that you can trust. Who can walk with you and support you as you find your way to the other side.


I am a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 25 years of experience working with children, teens, individual adult, couples and families. I see clients in my Berkeley, California office as well as California residents on a secure on line practice. I also am a trained dream teacher and consultant and run dream groups. I am available to consult with people around the world on dreams that trouble them or they want to understand more thoroughly. You can find more about me at

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