Pain is the portal, growth is the pay-off.

Outdoor, In-Office, and Online Therapy in Long Beach, CA

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

Stuck in a cycle that just won’t end.

You want things to change, but you don’t know where to start.

Avoiding, delaying, and trying to find your way around the situation, so you don’t have to deal with it right now.

But none of those tactics work.

It’s a new day, and you’re still struggling with the stresses, worries, and unhappiness of years ago, months ago, and days ago.

“I just want to live MY life.”

Against all odds, Manny* completed his degree and has a good entry-level job. He is ready to build his career, find a partner, and have a family of his own someday. He has dreams and goals.

But the phone rings. Through tears, his mom begs him to help her with yet another crisis. It feels like the same story every time. When he tries to move forward with his life, his family’s needs seem to suck up all his time and energy. But it’s his family. Of course, he needs to jump in and help.

“What would it be like to walk away from it all?” he fantasizes sometimes. To tell his family “no” once and for all? Wait, how could he even be thinking this way? His little siblings depend on him, and he can’t leave them on their own to deal with the never-ending crises.

“I can’t see any way out!”

“I want to believe we can change the world. But can we?”

Jill* has a job with a social justice non-profit. She got the solar panels and an electric car. She grows some organic food in her backyard. She and her wife are doing everything they can to make the world a more sustainable, equitable place for their small children.

But there are days when she wonders if she should have even brought children into this world.

Her efforts never feel like enough. All her work barely seems to balance out her neighbor who drives that giant, gas-guzzling SUV and uses gallons of toxic chemicals to keep his lawn green.

And don’t get her started on the climate-change deniers. Every angry, resentful, bitter impulse seems to come through when she goes there. But she’s not an angry person.

Sometimes, it feels that no matter what she does, she’s facing a dystopian nightmare.

“I am beyond burnt out!”

“If I ignore it, it will go away.”

Eric* hasn’t had an easy life, but he’s managed. He’s put all the ugly memories in little boxes and shoved them onto the back shelf of his brain. It works. Right?

But when did his life get so small? When did he get too scared to date? When did he stop going out with friends?

He used to escape into video games to tune out from all the chaos in his head. Now he feels perpetually tuned out from life, but the head traffic is still there. And he can’t even slow his mind down enough to sleep at night.

“Everyone says I should talk to someone. Maybe they are right.”

“Who am I to think I can be a writer?”

Mia* has the secure job she wanted, but she didn’t think it would be this unfulfilling. She planned to have a job that paid the bills and follow her passion for writing on the side.

The bills are getting paid, but the rest has fallen by the wayside.

She thinks of her joy in college when her creative writing professor praised her talent. She thought of late nights happily creating characters, scenes, and dialog. How did she go from being so creative and prolific to never getting around to putting one word on a page?

Where did that voice come from that tells her she’ll fail before she lets herself begin?

“How do I get this inner critic to shut up?”

* Names and details are changed to protect clients’ privacy.

You can start on a new path now.

Discomfort and pain are the beginning, not the end.

We try to avoid the pain. We adapt and conform to get along in the world. But that only takes us further away from who we really are.

We disown parts of ourselves and start to live robotically rather than authentically.

We start to live apart from the natural world around us rather than knowing
we are a part of the natural world around us.

By reclaiming stuck, lost, or unknown parts of ourselves, we can grow toward greater wholeness and satisfaction within our lives.

We can get connected again. We can tune in to the supportive web of life.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

Hi, I’m Carol.

Carol Bartels, LMFT

know more About me

I want to be your guide on a journey that might be scary, might be humbling, but is full of potential. By building a strong therapeutic relationship, I’ll show you that you don’t have to do it alone. With me, you will feel heard, understood, and important. You may find new directions to take that you didn’t even know were waiting for you.

Whether in my office, on a walk, or sitting under a tree, I will be fully present with you. I know how to create a sense of calm even during chaotic storms. I will point you toward creating connections… connections with me, with your surroundings, with the people in your life, and most importantly, with yourself.

I have years of experience, both as a client and as a therapist, with many different ways of working. I have intensive training in some of the most structured protocol-driven therapies to the most expansive “let’s just see what happens” kinds of therapy. Through this experience, I have developed an enormous toolkit to draw from and a keen sense of what really wants to happen in each individual.

There are multiple ways through the pain and barriers holding you back. Let’s find the one that works best for you. I look forward to getting to know all about you.

“I don’t have to rescue everyone!”

In therapy, Manny recognized that his role in his family taught him that his family’s needs come first. And he shouldn’t have any needs. But we ALL have needs.

He learned how to understand the part inside himself that feels duty-bound to “rescue” his family. And the part that resents the heck out of his family for needing rescuing.

He realized that “helping” his family members may actually prevent them from growing themselves.

Manny learned that it is okay to want things for himself and go after his dreams while still loving his family.

“I don’t have to do it alone.”

Jill wanted to take her therapy outdoors where nature could support her journey.

She learned to deepen her connection to the natural world, her community, and ultimately to herself. In this connection, she found a source of comfort, energy, and resourcefulness.

She learned that nature has its seasons and storms, just like she has her moods and outbursts. When she’s in tune with that, life is less of a struggle.

Yes, living with integrity and purpose can still feel like a lot of work at times. And she has learned that the journey is as rewarding as the destination.

“Maybe I’m not broken!”

Eric learned that all the bad crap he endured in life isn’t his fault. He was able to see his behaviors as desperate attempts to keep himself safe. And he learned better tools for feeling safe.

He explored that chaos in his head and learned not to react to it.

He learned about parts of himself that were trapped in trauma that was many years old. He learned to love and heal those parts.

Most of all, Eric learned that fear did not have to control his life.

“The critic is not in control.”

Mia learned to stop running from the inner critic and know why it’s there instead. What does that critic think it’s doing for her? How can it serve a better role?

She learned to trust that what is inside her is important enough to write about.

She grappled with the question: Is her dream of being a writer really about writing or about an image she wanted to create for herself.

Mia found the blocks and created a path through the blocks to find her creativity again.

Deep connection is possible.

Sometimes, the first step is the hardest. Make the call to see if we are a good fit and start by connecting with me.

Schedule a free 20-minute consultation today:

(562) 548-8999

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Lao Tzu