• Ryan Howes, Ph.D., ABPP

    Psychologist & Writer

Ryan Howes, Ph.D., ABPP



I'm a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in the Playhouse District of Pasadena, California where I provide psychotherapy for adult individuals and couples. I'm Board Certified in clinical psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), a distinction held by fewer than 5% of psychologists. 


I aim to create a comfortable, safe environment where we'll work together to achieve your goals. Therapy can be among the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life, and I consider it a privilege to join my clients on their journey.


My specialty is helping people gain independence and power in their life. Many of my clients focus on relationships, sex, anxiety, depression, personal growth, workplace issues, fitness and sports performance, spirituality or creativity. I have a great deal of experience working with men and Christians. 

I offer my expertise as a clinician in private practice for 20+ years, a past clinical professor at Fuller's Graduate School of Psychology, Pepperdine University's Graduate School and Glendale College, and author of The Mental Health Journal for Men: Creative Prompts, Practices & Exercises to Bolster Wellness (Rockridge Press, 2020). I write a blog for Psychology Today helping clients get the most out of their therapy, and an interview column for Psychotherapy Networker magazine, along with occasional articles on the BuzzFeed, Self, and PsychCentral websites. I founded the first ever National Psychotherapy Day on September 25, 2012, as well as a therapist storytelling event called Moments of Meaning. I consult for startups seeking to add psychological content to their products, give wellness talks to physicians, and will soon launch a podcast.


If you're looking for therapy, have a question about how therapy works, would like to suggest a writing topic, have a media request, or just want to say hi, please give me a call (626-429-0321) or drop me a note. Thanks for stopping by!


Why therapy? What does it look like?

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Who am I and why am I a therapist?

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My PT blog to help people get the most from therapy.

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National Psychotherapy Day

Therapy has an image problem. I'd like to do something about that.

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I earn a living sitting in a comfortable chair talking with people about the most important topics in their life. It's a pretty cool job and I'm honored to do it.

In my childhood I suffered a family tragedy that resulted in a year of therapy. It changed my life. So much so that I started a peer counseling program when I was in high school. In college I was a youth worker and decided to take some psychology courses so I could better help the kids with their breakups, their parent's divorces, and their teenage angst. This resulted in a major and several years of graduate school. My education at Fuller included masters degrees in theology and psychology en route to a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, a perfect meld of my interests.

I was trained at the LA County/USC Medical Center, the Wright Institute Los Angeles, and Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute, and was fortunate to teach courses at Glendale College and Pepperdine University’s graduate school. I was a Clinical Professor for Fuller’s Graduate School of Psychology from 2002-2017, teaching a few classes and supervising graduate students training to become therapists. I’ve been a psychotherapist since 1994 and mess around with music and writing on the side. In 2020 I wrote The Mental Health Journal for Men: Creative Prompts, Practices & Exercises to Bolster Wellnessin 2008 I started a blog for Psychology Today called In Therapy, and I began a column for the Psychotherapy Networker Magazine in 2010. 

In 2011, I was Board Certified in Clinical Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). In 2012, I started National Psychotherapy Day, a day to promote psychotherapy and fight therapy stigma. In 2015, I formed a therapist storytelling event called Moments of Meaning. I'm occasionally asked to talk about therapy-related topics in articles on BuzzFeed, PsychCentralHuffPost, Self, The New York Times, Oprah, Refinery29, and other health websites (you can find most on my Facebook page). I've hosted a couple of podcasts in the past, and even been a guest on one. My colleagues in the San Gabriel Valley Psychological Association voted me their "Distinguished Member of the Year" in 2019, and I'm deeply honored. 

I've been busy, but these efforts support a common theme: I believe in the healing power of the therapeutic relationship, and I want everyone to have access to it.



Professional Biography


B.S. Psychology/Religion - Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, 1993

M.A. Psychology - Fuller School of Psychology, Pasadena, California, 1996

M.A. Theology - Fuller Theological Seminary, 1997          

Ph.D. Clinical Psychology - Fuller School of Psychology, 1999

Certification & Licensure:                

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute, 1999

Licensed Psychologist, California Board of Psychology, PSY #17983, 2002

Specialist, Board Certified in Clinical Psychology, American Board of Professional Psychology, 2011


Work Experience:

Extern, LA County/USC Medical Center, 1996-1997

Intern, Wright Institute Los Angeles, 1998-1999

Adjunct Instructor, Glendale College, 1998-2007

Adjunct Instructor, Pepperdine University, 2000-2002

Clinical Professor, Fuller School of Psychology, 2001-present

Blogger, Psychology Today, 2008-present

Associate Editor/Columnist, Psychotherapy Networker Magazine, 2010-present

Director of Content, TidePool, 2011-2012

Founder, National Psychotherapy Day, 2012

Psychology Consultant, Payoff, 2015-present


What is therapy?

At a little over 100 years old, the profession of psychotherapy is relatively new. But the underlying principles of therapy - relationship, communication, collaboration, encouragement, problem solving - have been around from the moment humans could speak. The profession came along when people started applying scientific and philosophical standards to these discussions and determined that talking with a trained professional really can help. So that's what I do. For 50 minutes, once or twice per week, for a number of weeks, months, or years, I talk with people, form relationships with them, try to understand what blocks them from their ideal life, and we work together to help them reach their goals. Simple as that. No judgment, no hocus pocus, just two people working really hard to give you the best life possible. I could bore you by bragging about all my training and experience, but I'd rather say that I work my tail off for each client who sits on the couch because I love my work and believe in the process. Bragging available upon request.

For many more thoughts on therapy please visit my blog or Tips for Clients below. I write a lot about this topic. 

The kind of work I do takes many forms:

- Psychodynamic therapy
- Supportive therapy
- Couples counseling
- Pre-engagement counseling
Pre-marital counseling
Grief counseling
Creativity exploration
Counseling for personal growth
Peak performance for athletes
Therapy for existential/spiritual issues
Therapy for therapists
Case consultation

Some topics we might discuss:

Relationship/intimacy issues
Body Image
Writer's Block
Adult Children of Alcoholics
Empty nest
Spiritual issues
Acute Financial Stress
- Meaning and purpose
Work issues
Physical Health

Payment, Billing & Insurance:

My fee ranges from $175 to $300, depending on your income. Clients pay by check or credit card at the beginning of the session. I will occasionally accept a lower fee in circumstances of financial difficulty. 
Many of my clients use insurance to help pay for therapy, sometimes as much at 100% (depending on the plan). I can provide an itemized monthly or quarterly receipt (called a "superbill") for you to submit to your insurance for out-of-network reimbursement (reimbursement rate depends on your plan, check with your insurance company). 

Even with the help of insurance and my lower-fee options, not everyone can afford my services. Please contact me anyway, as I will be able to connect you with lower fee services in the area. 


National Psychotherapy Day, September 25

Psychotherapy needs an awareness day. One day to remove stigma, educate the public, share personal stories, and support overworked and under-appreciated community mental health clinics. So I formed one. It's September 25th every year. We wear turquoise, talk about therapy, and encourage others to give therapy a try. Just one day a year, you can do that. Take a look at our website and Facebook page for more information.




Moments of Meaning


In 2014, National Psychotherapy Day created an event called Moments of Meaning (YouTubeFacebook). In order to demystify psychotherapy, twelve therapists have told powerful, compelling, and confidential stories about transformative moments from their own therapy practice. We recorded the talks and present them to the world on YouTube. 




Psychotherapy Networker

Often referred to as "The New Yorker of psychology," I'm honored to call myself a contributing editor for The Psychotherapy Networker since 2010. I write an interview column called Point of View, where I speak with some of the most intriguing, innovative people in this profession, including Irvin Yalom, Carol Dweck, Susan Cain, Gretchen Rubin, Phillip Zimbardo, and many others. 


I write a blog for Psychology Today and since 2008 it's received over 5 million reads. I call it In Therapy: A Client's Guide to Therapy because I demystify the many strange elements of this work, from finding a therapist to figuring out what to say, to using Kleenex, to how to end therapy. If you've wondered about some element of therapy, I've probably written about it. If not, contact me and I may use your idea for a future post. 


Mental Health Boot Camp


In only 25 days, and costing less than a single therapy session, this online program guides you through the fundamental elements of mental health, including a dozen mindfulness exercises, daily readings and activities, and space for you to confidentially reflect on your own thoughts and behaviors. Developed by me and several colleagues from Canada, this is a great way to begin or enhance a journey of wellness and self-care. Come take a look for yourself at www.mentalhealthbootcamp.com. 






Four therapists from two countries discuss important mental health topics, and have fun doing it. We cover topics like self-care, forgiveness, acceptance, relationships, personality, pro-social behavior, and Canada-America relations. Subscribe through your podcast app or Apple Podcasts









This journal includes prompts, creative exercises, and guided relaxation to help men understand and control their feelings and behaviors in a humorous, non-judgmental way. Write about your earliest memory, your playlist when you were 15, your mission statement, your kryptonite, your best and worst day, and much more. Available on Amazon.












21 Tips for Clients in Therapy

Image result for 21 tips for clients in therapy

Therapists have a big advantage in the therapy office. We've read a stack of books and spent thousands of hours learning what to do in session. Clients have to learn as they go, costing them valuable time and money. Here are a few pointers to help clients level the playing field.


Take the Whole Hour: We call it a therapy hour but it's only 50 minutes. Get your money's worth by arriving 10 minutes early to catch your breath, collect your thoughts and prepare for your session.


Forget the Clock: Show up early, but let the therapist be in charge of ending the session on time. You've got enough to think about during the session, the therapist can be responsible for wrapping up. (more here)


Make it Part of Your Life: Therapy works best when you take what you've learned and apply it to the rest of your week. Between sessions, notice areas in your life you'd like to explore. Maybe you'd find it helpful to engage in...


Journalysis: Use a journal to reflect on your sessions and jot down things you notice about yourself during the week. It doesn't have to be the "Dear Diary" of your youth, just a place to record a few thoughts or feelings. It may help to bring it to session with you. (more here)


Business First: Take care of payment, scheduling and insurance questions at the start of the session. Nothing's more awkward than ending a session with a big revelation or emotional breakthrough followed by three minutes of check writing and calendar navigation. Get all those logistical issues out of the way at the beginning.


Relationship Next: Following those business items, issues regarding the relationship with your therapist (if there are any) come next. This could be anything - you're thinking about termination, you felt angry after the last session, you're worried what she thinks of you, you had a dream about him, etc. These relationship issues take top priority because they will impact all other areas of your therapy.


What do I Want? How do I Feel? These two questions are home base for clients who feel stuck. If you find yourself lost and don't know what to talk about, revisit these questions and you're bound to find material to discuss. (more here)


Ask Anything: Clients sometimes censor their questions because they believe asking is against the rules. You're allowed to ask whatever you want, let the therapist explain their boundaries. Want to know a personal detail, professional opinion or an explanation for something she said or did? Go ahead and ask. You might not get a straight answer, but you should get a reason why not, and you might learn something about yourself in the process. (more here)


State of the Union: Check on your status any time during your therapy. How are the two of you working together? How well do you understand each other? Is therapy helping or hurting at this point? This is ideally a two-way discussion, with both of you sharing your thoughts.


Try New Things: Therapy is a great place for thinkers to try feeling, listeners to practice talking, passive people to be assertive, etc. Want to rehearse confrontation? Practice asking someone out? Let yourself cry in front of someone? Therapy is a great place for this.


Learn to Fish: A lot of people want advice from their therapist. Therapy is more about helping you come to your own conclusions than having the therapist make decisions for you. This benefits you in the long run but may seem disappointing at the time. (more here)


Ask Why: Let your inner 3-year old out and ask why you behave/think/feel as you do. Why do I hate my boss so much? Why am I so anxious before sessions? Why does the therapist's shirt bother me?


Challenge Jargon: Some therapists have been doing this work so long they assume everyone knows what they're talking about. If the therapist says some gibberish you don't understand ("this boundary violation exacerbates your abandonment issues and fixated Oedipal complex"), ask him what he means. (more here)


Say the Odd Thought: Therapy is one place where strange thoughts are acceptable. In fact, the odder the better. Have a sudden impulse? Say it. Flash to a certain memory? Talk about it. The phrase some things are better left unsaid doesn't apply here so speak freely and you might learn something interesting. (more here


Be Aware of Your Therapist: Not just who she is, but who you imagine her to be. And how you imagine she feels about you. Talk about your relationship in detail to see how your projections influence this and other relationships.


Go Deeper: If you find yourself running through mundane details of your week or hitting awkward silences, maybe there's a deeper issue you're avoiding. Ask what it is you're not talking about and talk about it. Discuss what you're discovering about yourself. Take the time to explore who you are, what you feel and why you do what you do. Push beyond it is what it is or whatever and tackle some deeper questions. Try: "I wonder why I ___" or: "Deep down, I really feel ___". (more here and here


Don't Fear the End: From the beginning, talk about when you'll know you're ready to leave therapy. Rather than cut and run, let therapy be one experience of a truly good ending. (more here)


Dream On: Bring in dreams, daydreams and fantasies, especially those about therapy. People often have more of this material when they're in therapy. This can be incredibly rich to explore.


Keep the Energy in the Room: Thoughts, feelings and questions about the therapy are best discussed first with the therapist. When you run everything by your friends first, it diffuses the energy of the encounter and sidesteps an opportunity for the therapist to understand you better. (more here)


Allow Change: Some people ask for change but feel uncomfortable when it actually happens. Accept that if you're seeking change, things will probably change, and it might require more change than you thought. An eating disorder, a sexual problem, interpersonal conflicts, an addiction - these may require a major life overhaul, not just a little tweak.


Engage and Enjoy: Therapy is like enrolling in a course where you are the subject matter. If you're curious, teachable and motivated to do some work, it can be one of the most challenging and rewarding courses you ever take.