Dr. Mary Spease


During a session last week, a client and I began exploring her previous relationship with a HigherPower/God and how she lost that connection. As we talked about how she drifted from this source of support, she shared all the ways in which life had increasingly become more difficult to navigate, emotions seemed insurmountable, unhealthy dynamics in her marriage intensified, and she felt so alone.  However, we started to talk about the benefit of this type of relationship and the love and support that is waiting for her. She discussed her beliefs and desire to reconnect and ways to recultivate this relationship that was once a larger part of her life.

The very next session I asked her how her past week had been and she said, “I’ve been thanking you almost everyday” as she was so grateful I had initiated the conversation about her spiritual beliefs. What happened next was so incredible and heart warming to witness…her face lit up as she shared that she has been more intentional about staying in communication with her Higher Power and started to experience peace, clarity, and a greater ability to acknowledge and work through core triggers.

This is just a small reminder of the power of believing in something bigger than ourselves and the beauty of knowing we are not alone…EVER. There is something greater working for us and through us if we can get out of our own way.

There is no need to try and will your way through difficulties, there is always support available if you look up, reach out to a friend or family member, listen to your own intuition, are working with professionals, etc. Your Higher Power is ready and willing to give you what you need when you need it, if you can believe you are worth receiving it.

Hope & Recovery

Anyone who knows me well has most likely heard me share that my heart desires to bring light and love to those in my life…

For this reason, I feel so blessed to be in a profession that allows me to be of service to others. My hope is that all the pain and challenges I have experienced as well as the recovery gained, will serve as a light to those I work with…that I might be able to guide them on their journey and provide hope and healing.

Yesterday, I received a handwritten letter from a client sharing how excited she is for this journey and her growth. It made me smile and was a beautiful reminder that I am right where I should be, as is she!

If you are in need of support and thinking about therapy, please know that you are WORTH taking care of, investing in, and loving. And if I can provide a safe space for you and support you in this process, I’d be happy to connect!


Recovery: Casa Palmera & Dr. Mary Spease

Had a wonderful lunch last week with Ernie Georggin from Casa Palmera. So thankful to know someone dedicated to connecting those in need with recovery. Our conversation was another reminder of how impactful and healing the support of a recovery community can be.

If you are ready to take that leap of faith and ask for help, you can view Casa Palmera’s website here: www.CasaPalmera.com

If you are the loved one of an addict/alcoholic, your heart most likely needs healing too. You are not alone and healing is possible. Feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to discuss how to best support you in this journey: www.DrMarySpease.com



So many things have been happening this past year that I haven’t been able to post as much as I would like and share all the exciting things that have been happening!

For now, I wanted to share that I moved office locations this past week!!! Initially, I was hesitant to move away from UTC as I was in such a convenient location, in a beautiful building, and it was my first office home here in San Diego after relocating from LA. However, the gentleman I rent from (Dr. Charlie Nelson) found a wonderful location in Sorrento Mesa and built a brand new space just for us in an incredibly warm and peaceful building! It is beyond beautiful and professional!!! For those who’d like to know where I am now located so you know where to visit or to send referrals, here is the address:

5405 Morehouse Drive, Suite 330
San Diego, CA 92121


CURRENT GROUP: Healing Co-Dependent & Destructive Relationship Patterns

I’m currently facilitating a women’s group through Julieann Myers’ Center for Healthy Change in Del Mar. This group provides support for women struggling with codependent and destructive relationships patterns who want to learn how to better take care of themselves and foster healthy connections with others.  The women I’ve had the honor of working with are wonderful and it is incredible to witness their ability to challenge themselves and support one another through the process.  This particular group runs for 12 weeks and is limited to 6 women to help create a greater sense of safety and intimacy.  Below is a more in depth description for the group and subsequent details:

     Do you find yourself in relationships where your primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, confidante, or enabler of someone else’s dysfunction? Do you place a lower priority on your needs while being preoccupied with the needs of others? Are your most important relationships more about meeting other’s needs before meeting your own? Join Dr. Mary Spease, relationship therapist, to learn how to change co-dependent/enmeshed relationship patterns into interdependent/healthy relationships where you can get your needs met too!

     Learn how to take care of your own needs and develop a healthier relationship with yourself and other important people in your life. This small group format allows women to share and learn in a supportive, safe environment. Space is limited to six women. The group will be held on Thursday evenings from 6:45 to 8:00 p.m. in Del Mar.  

     Cost per group is 75.00 for individuals committing to a three month participation period up-front. For those electing to attend on a month to month basis, cost is $90.00 per session.  If you’re interested in joining, please feel free to contact me at Mary@CenterForHealthyChange.com or call 760-634-1704.

Dr. Mary Spease Women’s Group: Healing Co-Dependent & Destructive Relationship Patterns

Full Interview for PsychCentral Article on Couples and Stonewalling

Last year, I was interviewed by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., an Associate Editor at PsychCentral in order to help provide information for her article on couples and stonewalling.  In my previous post, I shared the link to the published article in which you can see quotes from our interview.  However, I thought I’d share the full interview for those that might be interested in a deeper look at my thoughts about stonewalling, how it impacts relationships, and what to do when it occurs.


1) How do you define stonewalling?
Stonewalling is when an individual emotionally and/or physically withdrawals from an interaction with their partner due to feeling psychologically or physiologically overwhelmed (i.e. hurt, angry, frustrated, self-protective, etc.).

2) What are examples of stonewalling?
Rather than staying connected with their partner and addressing any personal or couple issues that are present, someone who is stonewalling may remain unresponsive to any attempts made by their partner or therapist to reengage. They emotionally shut down and resist         discussing triggering emotions or topics as they struggle to tolerate discomfort. In addition, they may physically turn away, cease eye contact, cross their arms, or even leave the room. Typically, stonewalling can be described as an uncomfortable and hurtful silence.

​3) ​Why is stonewalling so damaging to relationships?
​The person who chooses to stonewall is no longer participating in self-reflection and subsequently personal growth. By doing so, they are no longer contributing to the health and well-being of their relationship as they have become a hindrance to moving forward. In addition, the partner that wishes to remain engaged and continue working on their dynamic may often become angry, frustrated, and resentful as their efforts are ignored. The partner may begin to feel disrespected, undervalued, and even begin to question if this is the type of behavior they are willing to tolerate in a loved one.

4) ​How can people stop stonewalling (in themselves)?
​Self-soothe. It is extremely valuable for anyone to continually practice self-soothing as we are the only ones that have control over our emotional state and behaviors. Often times, couples will look to one another to fix or soothe their emotions and make the situation better. However, it is our responsibility to do our own emotional work and behave with integrity in all our affairs. Therefore, if someone wants to have a deeper, more intimate relationship, they need to behave in ways that honor that desire. This means soothing your heart long enough to be honest and clear with yourself (as well as your partner) about what is coming up for you. You need to settle yourself so you can be be responsive, not reactive.

​5) ​How might readers prevent their partners from stonewalling (for instance, they might communicate more ​ ​compassionately or not yell or lose their temper, etc)?
​It is not your responsibility to prevent your partner from stonewalling nor do you have that ability. Although speaking to your loved one more compassionately may be the kind thing to do and make you feel good about your behavior, your partner has the choice to respond in any way he/she chooses. To believe that you have the power to make your partner behave in particular manner if you simply express something the ‘right way’ is dangerous. It can result in taking on more responsibility than is yours for the well-being of your relationship and can often leave you feeling angry or not good enough when they choose to shut down despite your loving approach. What you can do is take care of yourself. When you recognize that your partner is stonewalling, you can choose to loving detach and not enable or perpetuate an unhealthy dynamic. When you persist in getting your partner to engage when they are clearly don’t want to, you are teaching them that it is okay to behave in such a manner as you will tolerate it and try enough for the both of you.​ There is no motivation for them to change or do their emotional work when you are doing it for them. However, ​when a partner is in a healthy emotional state, they typically do not tolerate the intolerable ​. Therefore, detaching and setting a clear boundary sends the message that although they have a right to behave as they please, they cannot do so while in connection with you. By removing yourself from the situation, your partner is left with no-one to focus on (or blame) but themselves.

​6) ​Anything else you’d like readers to know about stonewalling? ​
Learning to self-sooth, detach, or set healthy boundaries can be challenging. Therefore, individual ​therapy ​in conjunction with couples ​work can be helpful in providing ​ the necessary​ ​awareness, insight, ​ ​and ​tools to help foster more adaptive ways of both expressing self and responding to your partner.

PsychCentral Article: “Stonewalling in Couples: When You or Your Partner Shuts Down”

Back in August of 2014, I along with my dear friend and colleague Dr. Heather Gaedt, were invited by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. to contribute to an article she was writing on stonewalling in couples.  She asked us a variety of questions including how we define stonewalling, what it looks like in our couples work, how it can impact relationships, and healthy ways to cope when it occurs.

After much anticipation, the article was published towards the end of last year and I was deeply honored to see my name  throughout the piece.

It is such an honor to be a part of an experience like this and I hope that this article provides some insight and helpful to tools to those who read it!

Stonewalling in Couples: When You or Your Partner Shuts Down


San Diego Student Recovery Invites You to Dinner & an AA Meeting

San Diego Student Recovery cordially invites you to attend their dinner and AA meeting this Saturday, March 21st at the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex. Dinner will be served at 5:30pm on the second floor of the main lobby followed by an AA meeting that will be held from 7-8:15pm in the theater on the third floor.

This is an open invitation and all are welcome to come join! If you have any questions, feel free to check out SDSR’s website and contact the founder, Concetta Mantinan.

San Diego Student Recovery


UCSD Mental Health Professional Panel

Recently, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel of mental health professionals gathered by Dr. Sarah Linke for her Intro to Clinical Psychology class at UCSD. Her vision was to host a group of professionals representing various degrees and careers in the mental health field as a way to expose her students to the numerous paths available to them.  We had the opportunity to share what we do for living, how we chose our career, and what makes our particular degree unique and beneficial in our field.  It was such a wonderful opportunity to connect with the students, learn a bit about their interests and aspirations, and answer their questions.  Getting a chance to engage with those so early in their pursuits served as an incredible reminder of how far I’ve come in my own journey.  Sometimes, I forget just how much work it took to get to where I am today. However, I did not get here alone.  I was blessed with incredible support throughout the years from professors, supervisors, colleagues, family, friends, etc. To all those who continually guided and encouraged me, it is because of you that I am blessed to be able to have my own practice, live my passion, and be of service to those courageously pursuing a more fulfilling life. I am forever grateful.

To all the students diligently working towards their own dreams, you have the ability to live your life fully and in a way that works for you…just remember to honor yourself in all that you do.

To Dr. Linke, thank you for this wonderful opportunity! Being able to share my experience with the students was a beautiful way to honor my gratitude for the support I’ve received and pay it forward to the next generation.

San Diego Student Recovery: AA Storytime

San Diego Student Recovery provides supportive living as well as individual and group therapy for students attending USD and UCSD who are newly in recovery. They are located in beautiful La Jolla at the La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex.

Concetta Mantinan, the founder of SDSR, has created a fantastic new tradition called “A.A. Storytime”. Every Saturday evening she hosts a dinner prepared by her talented chef/husband followed by a speaker meeting comprised of two 30 minute speakers. Last weekend marked the beginning of this incredible event and it was supported by so many including The Grounds Recovery.

If you’d like to attend, please see the flier for more details including the address!


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