Joseph Contorer LMFT provides virtual/telehealth therapy sessions. This may include use of programs like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or telephonic appointments.

For more information and appointment scheduling please contact the office at any time at:

310-486-0087 or you may also email directly:

Self-Esteem, The Have / Have-Not Disparity and
the importance of Internal approval


There are numerous factors present when considering the development or management of  healthy self-esteem. Unfortunately, for some, there are profound feelings of inadequacy.

Mindfulness and Holistic Health

Mindfulness plays an important role in therapy and recovery because it encourages a self-empowering focus on the present. Sometimes the focus is very specifically on the immediate presence, such as being in a state of uber-cognizance of one’s feelings, thoughts and reactions to various scenarios and triggers. The opposite of being mindful or immediately cognizant brings us in to states of denial, repression and disconnecting from self, others and general collective connection. A decreased level of mindfulness can hinder progress by limiting a sense of personal power and rational thinking and disconnect from the theory of relative “levels of awareness.” Maintaining a more accurate state of relative awareness allows for progress moving forward vs. being stagnated or trapped in the past. For example, there is a state of forgiveness when thinking or feeling in terms of relative levels of awareness personally or externally.

“I may have thought or acted or reacted a certain way in the past; now there is a different level of awareness in the here and now that I am mindful about. Therefore I can react and respond differently, with more constructive reactions and greater sense of control and self-care."

"Open-RELATIONSHIPS," Divorce, Codependency, Abuse AND Violence

Similar to many aspects of individual therapy and positive constructive progress, when thinking about couples, relationships and interpersonal situations and therapy, the concept of validation is equally critical. By creating a sense of collective/mutual validation we are able to understand and feel understood by others/our partner/significant other, etc., mirroring and empathizing.

Therapy can help create and fostering a sense of mutual validation and empathy; this facilitates a sense of mutual understanding between the couple/family members in treatment. Many positive aftereffects arise, such as improved communication, better listening skills and improved abilities to minimize or manage conflict and confrontation.

The “Couples Dialogue” is a three-step technique that focuses on
1. “Mirroring” which is basically a type of ultra-detailed, mimicking, reflective listening skill
“Yes.. I hear you..”
2. “Validating,” which offers a sense of being and feeling mutually understood. “Yes, I get you..”
3. “Empathy,” which promotes a deeper emotional sense of being and feeling understood “Yes, I know how you feel and can imagine how you feel.”

Relationships can be complicated entities. Research has shown that the more successful relationships tend to start off with a combination of similar values and commonalities in cultural/religious and family backgrounds.


Communication, trust, mutual respect, sharing realities with each other that builds deeper romantic, physical and emotional intimate connection.

Healthy ingredients for a solid relationship/marriage: Some have referred to "The Three Legs of A Healthy relationship." These are reportedly selflessness (humility/being a "Mensch.") Forgiveness, (being flexible and realistic.) The last leg of the stool is communication.

Critical Choices and Timing: “Forks in The Road”

Forks in the road: We have points throughout our lives where there are critical decisions that must be made. Whether there is a sense of urgency or any critical thought or awareness, particularly at the time of these life choice/requirements is another story.

Common Sense- Accepting life for what it is


  • Everyone acted "appropriately," but they probably won't.
  • Everyone got along just fine, but they won't and they don't.
  • Everyone did what they were “supposed to do,” but they probably won't.
  • Everyone knew about and followed appropriate boundaries with themselves and others, but they probably won't.
  • Everyone felt satisfied with their lives in most every way, but they probably won't.
  • Everyone had their problems properly managed, but they probably won't.

In the reality of life and human nature: The more accurate and likely reality check is this: Everyone won’t do and think like someone or everyone else wants them to; everyone will not automatically “get along” or do what they are “supposed to do.” Most people will have their own rendition of what they are “supposed to do” (or maybe little or no rendition at all) and for what or how a boundary is defined, if they have them at all. Many people likely don’t feel that satisfied with their lives and possess minimal insight in to themselves or others, let alone, have an adequate proficiency of managing their problems.

Because that is the way it is folks. This is how life is. From a therapy, common sense standpoint, we must remember that not having a perfectly fair ideal reality is not the end of the world. Acceptance of this realism and developing realistic expectations of humanity might be a better approach and lead to less disappointment, conflict and distress.

Defense Mechanisms

Sigmund Freud, The brilliant, iconic Father Of Psychology, identified several prominent psychological “defense mechanisms.”

Dr. Freud concluded that these defenses were part of unconscious drives that protected the psyche from some type of emotional distress or harm (challenge/unpleasant emotions/fears/anxiety/depression etc.)

Past Influences Present: Stages of Development

0-1Trust vs. Mistrust
1-3Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt
4-5Initiative vs. Guilt
6-11Industry vs. Inferiority
Adolescence 12-18Identity vs. Role Confusion
Early Adulthood 18-35Intimacy vs. Isolation
Middle Adulthood 35-60Generativity vs. Stagnation
Late Adulthood 60 and beyondIntegrity vs. Despair

Notice the mini continuum diagrams at each identified critical stage of development:

This theory suggests that there are variable in the consequences of the potential disparity at each stage of development. If there is generally nurturing, caring, validating support and appropriate environmental factors.

These are important comparisons to be aware of; if something is “off," or underdeveloped or unresolved or traumatized at any particular stage of development there is likely a dysfunctional result, such as the child developing some sense of mis-trust vs. being trusting of others. Furthermore, if one stage is it may cause a systemic deficiency as the child proceeds through the later stages on in to adulthood and later adulthood. If there are traumatic or pivotal events that occurred at any particular time, those should be considered and noted as well (such as when abuse escalated or when a divorce or death, major life change, stressor or when some other trauma occurred.)

Grief and Loss: Recovery and Treatment

(Such as the death of loved one, coming to terms with your own personal diagnosis of illness or terminal illness, loss of physical capabilities/paralysis, eyesight/hearing, career change/job ending, divorce/relationship ending/changing, new job, moving someone leaving, child or friend coming out of closet etc.)