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Meet Barbara

Barbara Witney Marriage & Family Therapy, Individual Psychotherapist

Barbara Witney, MFT

For the past 42 years, I have had the opportunity to contribute to the lives of individuals, couples and families. I bring a blend of humanistic, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, existential, emotionally focused, attachment, and integral theories to my work. I am committed to helping my clients access their inner resources, eliminated pain inducing beliefs, change limiting behavioral and emotional patterns, develop habits of self care, create close, intimate relationships and live their best lives.
As my client, you can expect our time together to be supportive, nourishing, encouraging, and challenging. I am here to empower you, partner with you and learn from you.
In addition to my private practice, I am available for speaking, consulting, and professional training.
Areas of Expertise:
  • Successful women who feel sad & lonely
  • Relationship Issues and Blocks to Intimacy
  • High Functioning Couples who are UnHappy
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Adults who were Abused as children
  • Men & Women in Transition
  • Parenting Skills
  • PTSD
  • Complex and Developmental Trauma
  • Individuals
  • Couples
  • Families

Office Details


It takes courage, awareness, motivation, and some degree of frustration or pain to seek help and start the process of healing or change.
If you are are couple seeking a way out of your circular arguments or your silent distance, I can help you develop a new way to re-connect, feel close & secure again, and negotiate those seeming intractable differences that exist.
As an individual, if you are functioning well in many areas of your life but on the inside, your are struggling with pain, conflict or loneliness, I can help you identify and remove the blocks to moving forward in your lie. You can gain greater self understanding, make new decisions, feel centered and tap into the wellspring within you.
If you have the sense that your life lacks purpose or meaning, I will guide you to explore and discover what new dimensions of your SELF need to emerge. There is something more for you to grow into.
Please contact me for your FREE 30 minute phone assessment. We can discuss what you want and find out if we are a good fit.


Contact Barbara

  • (408) 356-0677

  • 15810 Los Gatos Boulevard, Los Gatos, California 95032


Barbara Witney Blog

  • What is a therapist
    There are different types of people who can provide you with therapy. Counselors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. They should have some kind of degree representing the type of education they have received. The therapist may or may not be licensed, but should have a degree in the theories of psychology, psychotherapy, social work or counseling. Whether a license is important or not comes down to your own decision. There are many good counselors and social workers who are not licensed medical doctors, but who can still provide you with good therapy, as long as they have a degree. The only technical difference is that they cannot prescribe or administer medications. What is most important is that you are in a comfortable and safe environment, conducive to recovery, and with someone who can treat you effectively.
    Psychiatrists (MD) tend to focus on admissions, diagnosis, evaluations and medication administration. There are psychiatrists who do and do not provide psychotherapy. Not all psychiatrists are trained in practical psychotherapy unless they have sought some kind of post-graduate education.
    Psychologists (Ph.D.) are trained to apply a wide range of methods to assess the clients' needs for treatment and to develop programs of therapy. Psychologists tailor the treatment to the needs of the clients. Psychologists have been in the forefront in developing new and better treatment procedures and have an ethical responsibility to continue their education and maintain their competence.
    Marriage, Family and Child Counselor (MFCC), Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) are not very different from psychologists depending on the state you live in (licensing issues vary from state to state). Most can provide the same level of counseling as a psychologist.
    Marriage, Family and Child Interns (MFCI) or Marriage and Family Therapist Interns (MFTI) is exactly that, an intern. They are working in clinical practice to fulfill requirements they need to be licensed. They can see clients and all work are usually supervised by someone already in a licensed position.
    Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) has a degree in social work with a strong clinical focus. They can make very good therapists because of the strong focus on psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theories in their education.
    A Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in some states, is equivalent to a MFCC or LMFT, and is trained in counseling.
    Types of Counseling Your Therapist Can Provide 
    (Theories of Psychotherapy)

    Individual Counseling -

    The ultimate goal of your therapy should be to recover! To learn to be more confident in yourself, to make your voice heard through communication, to validate your own emotions, to learn to love yourself, and to learn better ways of coping with anger, sadness and stress (and not rely on your Eating Disorder). You will spend many hours talking to your therapist about your childhood, your experiences, and your day-to-day life, and all of this is important to your recovery. There are many ways a therapist can work with you individually, and different therapists have different methods. The name of the approach is not as important as the methods used, so it will be important for you to discuss with your therapist your goals in working towards recovery.
    Psychoanalytic: This is a clinical approach through interpretation, dream analysis, free association, analysis of resistance and transference. This all assists the client in gaining access to their subconscious; to the internal conflicts they may not be aware of, and in gaining new insights. There is a strong focus on repressed conflicts and less focus on social, cultural and interpersonal factors.
    Nonpsychoanalytic (Jungian) Therapy: Self realization and learning to accept yourself as an individual, and to BE an individual is part of what this type of therapy is all about. It incorporates the idea of spirituality as an important role in discovering who you are. Generally, this approach is about making connections with your feelings and motivations and learning who you are. There is more a focus on the "big picture" and less of a focus on each day-to-day problem.
    Cognitive-Behavior Therapy: This type of therapy works on the premise that thinking, questioning and doing (with practice) leads to the changes needed for recovery. Learning to change the way you think about yourself will result in changing the way you treat yourself. There is an eclectic combination of cognitive, behavioral and emotional techniques: changing negative thoughts to positive and pessimistic words to optimistic words. Using humor, role playing, and homework and word-work in attacking shameful feelings and feelings of guilt are combined with the effort to make changes in thinking and behaviors. The focus with cognitive-behavior therapy is that it is a "move-forward" approach and often lacks exploration of the deeper emotional issues that led to negative behaviors and thoughts in the first place. There can also be Behavior Modification Therapy on its own where as the client focuses on changing behaviors through practice.
    Eclectic Approach - Combining All Theories: This is my personal favorite because it combines many aspects of all the above theories. A therapist that uses this approach will be able to attack many different issues over your course of recovery, including self-esteem work, past and present emotional issues, and day-to-day coping strategies. This is also the most commonly used approach in practice today by therapists.
    Marriage and/or Family Counseling may also play a role in your recovery depending on how important it is overall to involve your loved-ones. Some level of counseling can help you all learn to communicate with one another so that you will feel heard, and to be able to express your emotions to each other in a safe environment. Once you have started your own therapy you may wish to discuss these options with your therapist and whether or not you both feel it will be important.
  • Choosing a Therapist

    Some questions you may want to consider are:

    What is your educational and training background?
    Do you have experience treating the kind of problem I have?
    Not all therapists can treat all problems. Sometimes a therapist specializes in certain areas. If the therapist's area of expertise is not the one you are looking for, ask for a referral to a therapist who can best help you. You will need to briefly indicate the problems you are experiencing (eg. marital difficulties, stress, anxiety at work etc).
    How much do you charge and what is your method of payment? 
    Would you be covered under my employment insurance policy or any other plan?
    Some employers, typically the larger ones, have extended health benefits that cover some counseling. Read the fine print carefully. Sometimes MFTs are covered, sometimes they are not. A number of larger companies have employee assistance plans (EAP's) that do cover MFTs. Again, check a carefully with your employer's human resources or personnel department. Although the therapist may not know the answer off hand (as there are many policies and they keep changing) he/she should be able to guide you to find out the information you seek. As well, some employers or insurance companies will add a particular therapist or professional therapy designation to their list of those who are covered if employees make the request.
    Where are the sessions held and what is the length of time of a session?
    After you have had a brief conversation based on the above questions you should have a "feel" for this therapist. If you feel fairly positive, proceed with booking an appointment. If you don't feel comfortable for any reason, interview some one else.

    Therapies are generally divided into the following approaches:

    Behavioral Therapy
    This type of therapy looks to replace harmful behaviors with useful ones, and is often used in coordination with cognitive therapy, which is aimed at helping people recognize and alter distorted ways of thinking.
    Humanistic and Experiential Therapies
    These therapies are based on the theory that people are growing and self-actualizing. Experiential therapists use emotionally-charged, experience-based techniques to effect change, while humanistic therapists concentrate on creating a safe place for the patient.
    Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Therapies
    These therapies explore unconscious conflicts and defense mechanisms that hinder adult behavior.
    Family Therapy or Family Systems Therapy
    This type of therapy is concerned with looking at the dynamics of relationships within the family unit.
    There are also different categories of mental health professionals:
    Psychiatrists--physicians who have completed a residency in psychiatry and are the only mental health professionals licensed to prescribe medications.
    Psychoanalysts--therapists with a professional degree in psychiatry, psychology or social work, plus extensive supervised training.
    Psychologists (PhD, DPsy, DEd)--licensed professionals who have typically completed a clinical internship.
    Certified or licensed social workers--therapists who have a master's degree and two years of supervised, postgraduate experience. Marriage and family therapists may have a master's or doctorate degree as well as supervised experience in the field. Note that while psychoanalysts are usually only trained in psychoanalysis, psychologists and social workers usually have training in several of the therapies discussed above.


  • Therapy Tips
    Therapy works best when you attend all of your scheduled appointments. The effectiveness of therapy depends on your active participation. It requires time, effort and regularity. 
    As you begin therapy, establish some goals with your therapist. Then spend time periodically reviewing your progress with your therapist. If you don't like your therapist's approach or if you don't think the therapist is helping you, talk to him or her about it and seek a second opinion if both you and your therapist agree, but don't discontinue therapy abruptly.

    Tips To Help You Get Started

    • Identify sources of stress: Try keeping a journal and note stressful as well as positive events. 
    • Restructure priorities: Emphasize positive, effective behavior. 
    • Make time for recreational and pleasurable activities. 
    • Communicate: Explain and assert your needs to someone you trust; write in a journal to express your feelings. 
    Try to focus on positive outcomes and finding methods for reducing and managing stress. Remember, therapy involves evaluating your thoughts and behaviors, identifying stresses that contribute to your condition, and working to modify both. People who actively participate in therapy recover more quickly and have fewer relapses.
    Also, keep in mind, therapy is treatment that addresses specific causes of mental illness; it is not a "quick fix." It takes longer to begin to work than medication, but there is evidence to suggest that its effects last longer. Medication may be needed immediately in cases of severe mental illness, but the combination of therapy and medicine is very effective.