Tina B. Tessina, PhD, LMFT

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Name: Tina B. Tessina | Professional Title: PhD LMFT license # 13629

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I’m a licensed psychotherapist/ marriage counselor in private practice since 1978 in Long Beach, CA. I’m Dr. Romance, AKA Tina B. Tessina, PhD a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with 40 years’ experience in counseling individuals and couples. I’ve been happily married for 36 years. I’m also the author of 15 books in 17 languages, including Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today; How to be Happy Partners: Working it out Together; and How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free. I also write the Dr. Romance Blog and the Happiness Tips Newsletter.

After 15 years as an accountant in industry, I wanted a career change. I decided on psychotherapy and marriage counseling because it was where my gift lay. I have always had an ability to help people see each other’s point of view, even before I was a psychotherapist. Marriage counseling involves a lot of that. I have been counseling couples and individuals about love and life for over 40 years. I love helping people find love and happiness, correct what’s not working in their relationships and their families, and help them create the love they want. My clients get excellent results, their lives and relationships improve, and that makes me happy.
My counseling practice is about half singles, half couples, and half gay couples and individuals and half straight couples and individuals. I practice Integral Psychology, using training in Gestalt, Cognitive-Behavioral, Rational-Emotive, Jungian, Depth Psychology, Rogerian and other therapies according to the needs and perspective of the client. I don’t have a set number of sessions. Clients have gotten their needs met in one session, or taken several years, depending on the nature of the problem. Addiction recovery and PTST usually take the longest. Clients usually come in every week or every other week for the first couple months, then taper off sessions as needed. The client is in control of how often they come in. Former clients frequently come back when something happens, like the death of a loved one, a new relationship or some other big life change.
I do individual and couple counseling. Working with people requires handling all the issues that can create problems, including addiction, emotional immaturity, family dysfunction, money issues, sex problems, parenting problems and life issues like grief and illness. In recent times, issues like Internet addiction, online porn, and internet dating have come up. In all the years I have been in business, I have had to learn how to help individuals and couples deal with many new issues, and solve whatever problems they are facing. I have helped parents learn to manage chronically or fatally ill, or mentally unstable children, and find government and NGO services for them. Many marriages fall apart because of the stresses of difficult issues like this, so it comes under my purview. I also know when to refer a person or a couple to other experts or medical professionals.
First, I listen. It’s important to know what the client views as the problem, and not to make a judgment only from the therapist’s point of view. Then, I do a combination of teaching, coaching, depth psychotherapy and homework and reading assignments, according to what the client needs. When I work with couples, I regard the relationship as my client, and not either partner. My job is to find out what the relationship needs to be healthy. I observe the couple interacting, then teach them how their interaction is helping or harming the relationship. I often ask clients to read several of the over 100 articles that are available for free at http://tinatessina.com/monthly_column.html
I have a large bag of tools, from which I draw whatever my client or clients need at the time. My therapy is very client-centered, in that I focus on what the client wants to achieve and how the client perceives the issues. If I believe the perception is inaccurate in a harmful way, I guide the client through Socratic-type questions, and Eriksonian techniques to a different understanding. If I think a client is harming or endangering himself or others (even emotionally) I can be very direct, and I’m not afraid to tell them what to do or not to do.
I never dreamed of being a writer. I’m afraid it just happened to me. There may be some standard process other writers follow to get published, but for me it was accidental. Publishing was a very different business in 1980, when my first book was published. Small publishers thrived, and an unknown had a chance.
Boy, was I unknown: In 1975, divorced, bereft, and despairing, I took the psychotherapy training that became the basis for restructuring my life, and met Riley K. Smith, who became a lifelong friend, colleague and co-author. We both joined in a cooperative living situation with seven others. We wanted consensus, not majority vote, so Riley and I developed a way to solve problems cooperatively and reach consensus. This led to teaching a class at Los Angeles Community College, called “How to be a Couple and Still be Free.” Hundreds of people showed up for those classes. We had to get bigger rooms. We needed a workbook, but every relationship book on the market in 1975 recommended sacrifice (compromise), and not cooperation. So, we cobbled together a primitive, typed manual.
Then Riley ran into Al Saunders, whose bookstore he had frequented. “I own Newcastle publishing company,” said Al. I publish New Age and self-help books.” Riley replied “I’m writing a sort of self-help book,” and our first book was born. Today, I’m the author of 13 self-help books in 17 languages.
I write a book when I find my self repeating the same thing over and over to a number of clients, who all need the same information and transformative exercises. Each of my books draws on the knowledge gained in my years of clinical work with individuals and couples. As I discovered a body of information needed by my clients, a book forms. My books are the concrete result of experiences in helping people overcome resistance, fears and emotional wounds. On my blog, http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/ I answer real questions people ask me via email (identifying information changed.) My email newsletter is short articles based on issues arising in counseling.

Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology

Counseling individuals and couples in private practice
Writing books
Writing articles

California Association of Marriage, Family Counselors

American Society of Journalists and Authors


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  • See Minorities
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  • See Adolescents
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  • Multilingual
  • Accept Insurance
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  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Free Wi-Fi
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