Laurel O'Connor, LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Laurel O'Connor, LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Santa Barbara, California.

My Practice

1625 State Street, Santa Barbara

1625 State Street, Santa Barbara

I am a humanist at heart, which means I have a strong interest in human welfare and dignity. My practice is person centered and relational. I draw on a variety of modalities to best serve each individual including psychodynamic and attachment theories, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), somatic based therapies, positive psychology and mindfulness.

For people seeking support for the first time it can be uncomfortable to make the first phone call and to cross the threshold for the initial session. My wish for clients new to therapy is to know that our time together belongs to them, that I am here as a guide and support and that there is no right or wrong way.

My intention is to create a safe space, build a trusting therapeutic relationship and respect each client’s individual process in therapy. My approach is based on who you are and what is relevant for you. I work in a collaborative way, offering support during times of struggle while encouraging a path towards self discovery.

Confidentiality & Privacy 

The law protects the relationship between a client and a psychotherapist, and information cannot be disclosed without written permission.

Exceptions include:

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse, for which I am required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.

  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s, I must notify the police and inform the intended victim.

  • If a client intends to harm himself or herself, I will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in ensuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, I will take further measures without their permission that are provided to me by law in order to ensure their safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I choose a therapist?

I believe the relationship between therapist and client is of fundamental importance to a successful outcome. A good fit is built upon mutual respect, a level of comfort that encourages openness and honesty, and confidence that I have both the wisdom and ability to help you. A first session or two is a good way to determine our fit together. Under no circumstances are you obligated to continue and if you wish, I am happy to provide referrals to other qualified professionals.

How much do sessions cost?

My fee is $150 for a 50 minute session. Sessions longer than 50 minutes are prorated accordingly. I offer a limited number of sliding scale spaces; feel free to inquire about availability. I accept cash, checks and Venmo. Payment is due at the time of our meeting. You may explore lower cost options at Community Counseling and Education Center, Open Counseling, and New Beginnings Counseling Center.

Do you take insurance?

I do not accept insurance at this time. However, I am happy to provide a monthly statement (superbill) for you to submit directly to your insurance company for reimbursement. You will still be responsible for full payment during your session.

What is your cancellation policy?

Our session together is a time I have reserved especially for you. For this reason, I require 24 hours notice of cancellation or I will need to charge the full fee for the session.

What happens if I see you in public?

If I see you outside of the office, I will be discreet and maintain your confidentiality. Should you choose to acknowledge our encounter I will follow your lead.

What is EMDR?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that result from disturbing life experiences. When a trauma occurs it seems to get locked in our nervous system causing us to continue to relive past experiences in the present. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. Evidence shows the bilateral stimulation (BLS) we use in EMDR unlocks the nervous system and allows the mind and body to process the experience in a way that once took years in psychotherapy. EMDR has shown that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.

How is EMDR used in session?

I use EMDR with talk therapy to accelerate clients' processing of traumatic memories. I typically do not do EMDR in the first session because establishing trust and rapport are paramount in its efficacy. The EMDR process draws on the imagination center of the brain and uses guided visualization to access positive feeling states in the body called resources. Many clients enjoy this experience and find it helpful in and of itself. Once the client is resourced we bring up the disturbing memory and activate the memory network while holding ’tappers’ that deliver bilateral stimulation (BLS). This is a gentle buzzing sensation and can be adjusted according to individual preferences. The client’s job is to allow whatever comes up to surface without judging or censoring.  We continue with the BLS with periodic check ins until the memory is no longer disturbing. It’s important for clients to know that they are the one in control, it is their brain doing the healing and I am a present guide and witness throughout the process. Initial EMDR sessions are often 90 minutes. 


©2019 Laurel O’Connor Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #105148
(805) 699-5028
1625 State Street (Private Practice) - 1209 De La Vina Street (AHA!)
Santa Barbara, CA 93101