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My History as a Therapist

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450 E. 22nd St., 3rd Floor Wellness Center - Office 10
Lombard IL   60148
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Larry Westenberg's History as a Professional Therapist

May - 2016: News Flash!
The NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming - the type of therapy in which I specialize) Research and Recognition Project has released preliminary research that indicates that NLP is 90% effective in treating PTSD! In celebration of this finding, Mr. Westenberg is currently offering "90-minute sessions for $90.00" for a limited time.

"I have been a professional counselor for over 30 years. I started out on a 'back ward' of a state mental hospital, counseling extremely mentally ill people, and helping them to organize their resources, use their strengths and improve their lives. It was a tremendous challenge.  At that time, I had my B.A. in Psychology.  I had NO other training.  The State system allowed people to do counseling who had no training in counseling whatsoever. In fact, many of them had never been to college. The ones who had been to college had degrees in History, Mathematics, Business - I was one of the only people who actually had a degree in Psychology."

"Those 'uneducated counselors' were some of the best counselors/therapists I have ever met in my entire life! They were not 'full of themselves' and their degrees. Instead, they used what they had, did what they could, and learned to be good therapists by figuring out what worked as they went along. They expected the same from the people on their caseloads - that they would use the resources they had, do their best, and get better at improving their lives. Meanwhile, the majority of the 'professional therapists' with extensive degrees were lost in long explanations and mythologies that tried to explain the patient's behavior, and crazy theories about what would make the patients get better. "

Larry Westenberg,

You know it is time to call me if/when:

1.) You feel you are not "moving forward" with your life, and are not sure why.
2.) You are considering medication, but it is not quite that bad.  (Lack of enjoyment, mild
     depression, vague emptiness...)
     (I am not adverse to medication, in fact, in some cases, I might lean a little in favor of it.  I am telling you up front so that if
       medication is going to be a topic, you know what my leaning/prejudice is. I know some outstanding psychiatrists I can refer you to
       IF I think this is needed. I also can teach you ways to help you manage your symptoms more effectively, whether or not medication is involved.)
3.) You are not having fun in your life anymore, and you don't know what to do to "have" fun again.
4.) You want support to specify and implement some kind of big change you are considering in your life.
5.) You are curious about what "brain programming" is and how it can help you do something better or more effectively.
6.) You feel like your life has lost "meaning" - whatever that means for you.
7.) You know yourself well enough to know that you honestly do not DESERVE low self-esteem,
      but you inherited it anyway.

(To jump to applying for a session, click here!)

As a result of my experience working in hospitals, I discovered that everything I had been taught in college applied only to rats running mazes.  It did NOT help me in dealing with people very much at all. I learned that counseling and helping other people was something that is learned from EXPERIENCE, not from books. I did counseling with severely to moderately mentally ill people for almost 10 years before I decided to go on and get a degree in Social Work. But, more about that later... I worked with patients in both inpatient (hospitalized) settings and outpatient settings including partial-hospitalization programs, and private practice with various therapy groups.

In 1990 I was introduced to something called Neuro-Linguistic Programming.  I felt as if I had found something I had been searching for my entire life.  It was a way to REALLY help people to deal with their problems and issues and move on with enjoying their lives.  I spent the next ten years and over $100,000.00 (one hundred-thousand dollars!) attending every NLP training I could find.  One of the basic ideas behind NLP is that experience has a structure. If you change the structure, the experience changes as well. I discovered that NLP treated the mind like a computer running various software programs.  The job of the therapist was to find the "gliches" in the program, and get the mind to function in a way that didn't cause the individual suffering and problems.  It also helped athletes attain peak performance, helped medical problems and illnesses to heal faster, and could be used in situations of influence and negotiation.  In short, I found it to be utterly amazing!

After I studied NLP, I wanted to work with people in private practice, doing this amazing type of therapy/counseling.  However, I did not (at that time) have the proper degree to do counseling or therapy with the general public.  So, to change this, I went to school to get my Master's degree and license in Clinical Social Work.  Let me give you a word of advice: NEVER go get a degree in something when you have been working in that field for 10 years. I had more experience than most of my professors, and they made it quite obvious that they didn't like that idea. They were furious that I had been "doing counseling" when I did not have the "proper degree." I tried to explain that this was not "my idea," but was part of working for the State system.

Social Work school taught me a lot of useless garbage.  In fact, I graduated from a very good/recognized and respected school, and got my degree in order to become legal as a "therapist" (MSW, then LCSW). In all, my graduate degree education included exactly ONE class on doing individual counseling, and ONE class on doing group therapy - and for two of my classes the instructor was as crazy as any psychiatric patient I have ever worked with in any inpatient setting! I had classes on child development, lots of research and statistics classes, how to organize communities to produce change in a community, how to be a social work administrator - really useful stuff like that... (This was the State mandated curriculum - it was not the school's choices!) But the experiences I gained while I was practicing doing 'small NLP interventions' with friends and complete strangers were incredible.

I can, but usually don't do, "traditional" counseling.  Designing and aligning your brain and your being to help you achieve your goals and enjoy your life more - THAT is what I do!  My current mix could be described as a combination of standard therapy techniques, with a large smattering of Neuro-linguistic programming, the psychology of happiness as well as behavioral techniques. One of the main differences in the counseling that I do is that I am very goal oriented. YOU, the client, determine the goals and changes you want to make - not my ideas and theories. Instead, I focus on specific techniques to help you make the changes that will improve the quality of your life experience.

The fee for an initial individual session is currently only $90.00 U.S. dollars. I always like to have a follow-up session to verify that the changes have worked out well, and also because people often don't know how truly profound the changes are that they can make with this technology! Very often about a week or two after an initial session, the person's brain gets the idea of the kinds of things I can do, and the person comes back and goes, "Can you help me change THIS? How about THIS?!" Additional sessions are only $90.00 as well - at this time. By the time we get to doing additional sessions, I know your patterns fairly well, and you would have a very clear idea of what I can do for you.

I accept credit cards, debit cards, cash and checks.  I will NOT accept insurance for several major and important reasons you can read about by clicking on the link at the beginning of this sentence that takes you to a lower portion of this same Web page.

A session can last as little as 45 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.  I not only treat the "usual problems," I also treat people who just want to be happier with their life.  See the items below for clarification.

Frequently Asked Questions/Comments:

"You can't get 'REAL' change in one or only a few treatment sessions!"
MOST therapists can't get change in only one or a few sessions, that is true.  A typical therapist generally recommends five to ten sessions to "start."  That is called, "Brief Therapy."  I am not kidding you. Most clients who sign up for conventional therapy only come to two or three sessions before they quit - and they usually quit because they do not see results/experience change. I use a completely different technology when I work with your problems, and am able to focus my efforts to help you make changes much more quickly and easily than conventional therapy techniques.

If you have been seeing a therapist and psychiatrist for depression for five years, then obviously it is NOT very likely that I am going to wave some magic wand and make it all go away in one session. Let's be realistic. In this situation, I will be happy to show you WHAT I can do, HOW I can help - and teach you some new perspectives and new ways of dealing with depression (or whatever issue you would be working with). NLP is my passion, and I absolutely love sharing it with people. I don't care to be taking money UNLESS I can help and can show you the value of what I do. People who do what I do half as well as I can do it often charge several thousand dollars for a session. I enjoy doing it, and I want to do it full-time for a living. I enjoy helping people - MORE than I like money. 

Most often I CAN help you make tremendous and dramatic changes in your life beyond what you thought counseling or coaching could do - hence the name of my company. I utilize a very different model and methodology in my treatment/counseling.  While many forms of treatment are based on vague theories and ideologies, NLP involves a VERY specific, very precise set of tools.  While some people will insist that NLP does not work, many of those people either have no training in NLP, or they have had SOME training and do not know the models well enough to actually get them to work.  They then become frustrated and claim the whole FIELD of NLP doesn't work. Peek at my resume to see how much NLP training I have - and I have taken those trainings from some of the best NLP folks around! 

The best explanation I can offer of the fee and treatment process I do is the story of The Old Steamboat Captain...

It seems there was an old steamboat that had been running just fine for many years, and then suddenly stopped.  A multitude of people attempted to repair the steamboat with no success.  Finally, they had to call in The Old Steamboat Captain.  While he was retired, nobody knew steamboats better than he did.  They only called him in on a job when all else had failed.   He had never failed to fix a steamboat, no matter what condition. 

He arrived at the steamboat armed only with a hammer.  He walked the length of the entire boat, tapping everywhere with his hammer.  Finally, he smiled, walked up to an obscure piece of pipe, and "WHAM!"  - he hit it with his hammer.  The engine exploded back to life, suddenly sounding better than it had in years, and rumbling with new vitality.  The owner of the steamboat was absolutely delighted!  He thanked the old captain, shook his hand excitedly, and asked him what the fee would be.  The old captain replied, "One thousand dollars."  The steamboat owner was furious.  "What?!  A thousand dollars for hitting a pipe??!!  I want an itemized bill!!" 

A few days later, the steamboat owner received his itemized bill.  It read: 
 1.) Hitting pipe with hammer - $1.00 
 2.) Knowing where to hit   -  $999.00

When I work with you, I listen to what you say, I watch how you move your eyes (the most well-known aspect of NLP that has been horribly overemphasized!), I notice your gestures, changes in your voice tone, posture and breathing. I study how you structure beliefs and ideas in your thinking, I listen to how you organize information and input - THEN, when I know precisely where to tap, I tap.  BOOM!  Change.  For the better.  And then I usually start over, targeting a new but equally specific "tap..." I promise I will not use a hammer, and it will not cost a thousand dollars!

In successful "regular counseling," there is always a session where you have an "A-ha!" experience, and a shift occurs.  NLP is a set of precision tools that allow a skilled practitioner to know exactly where to tap to produce the right change in the right way, without all those "non-useful sessions."  When I work with you, I will also probably tell you jokes and funny stories.  I require a sense of humor.  And while it may seem very casual, I take your session and change requests VERY seriously.

If you expect to come to a session and tell ME the topic of the session and how it will go and what I should do, please stay home.  I'm not a control freak, but I have had sessions where people feel they MUST tell me their entire history of treatment, what their "real problem is" (usually something another therapist told them like, "You have abandonment issues," or, "You have low-self esteem caused by your father's rejection of you when you were a child, or,"You were obviously toilet-trained at gunpoint, and now have issues with authority...") If you expect ME to tell YOU the topic of the session and how it will go, well, I probably will - but not always.  I mean, we all need a rabbit and a hat, right?  Sometimes I will tell you I am working on "Problem A" but I'm really shifting B, C, D and E while we chat. That's my job! Honestly, if a person knew exactly what their "problem" was, they wouldn't need a therapist. I also sometimes take your "problem" and turn it into a resource that uses the exact same structure. I will have you write down your problem(s), because in a successful session, I will make your problems shift to the point where you may forget you even had them! Seriously.

I love helping people make changes.  I will work with you to help you achieve your goals, and/or clarify what you want in life.  THAT alone can help produce more changes.  Sometimes, as I am working, I have to do three things at once, and may not always explain exactly what I am doing and why.  But all of the time, my goal is to make your problems disappear, your life become more enjoyable, and your sense of "Who you are" something that fits more comfortably!  And the best part is, you will tell me exactly how to do all of that in about the first ten minutes of us chatting!  While it is not as simple as watching your eyes move as some folks seem to think, it is a friendly and respectful way for me to notice who you are, and help you uncover and get to whatever "The Next Level" is for you. ALWAYS - YOU will tell me the goal, and we will work together to make sure it is something that "fits" well for you and your life. 

Sharing NLP with people is my passion.  Not necessarily "teaching it" to people, but helping people overcome obstacles and problems and really "get on with their life" - It tickles me that I can share that with people, and it can be enjoyable for all parties involved! 

I have been doing counseling for over 35 years.  I usually know where to tap.  If I do not know where to tap, I will not waste your time or money.  But as you teach me where to tap while we are talking and chatting, I can help you make tremendous life changes - quickly. 

I use NLP, cognitive therapy, focusing, hypnosis, gestalt therapy, behavioral counseling and a variety of influence techniques that I have combined into a self-improvement system called, "Human Animal Behavior Training(sm) or HABT(sm).  But my real credential is: I am happy with MY life, and feel quite happy most of the time.  And I want to teach you how to live that way too.

For more information specifically about NLP, click on this link:  What is NLP? 

"Why don't you accept insurance?"

There are two reasons for this:
1.) In order for any therapist to actually charge an insurance company for your "treatment," you MUST be diagnosed as having some kind of mental illness.  This is a REQUIREMENT in order for the insurance company to pay for your treatment.  While you are not usually informed of your diagnosis, going for insurance-approved treatment requires that you be given a diagnosis of a mental illness that is serious enough to warrant your insurance company actually paying for your treatment.  So you will carry this "label" of having a mental illness for the rest of your life.  While your medical records are private, I do not wish to label you with a stigma or "disease" because I do not believe that most people's "problems" are based on having a mental illness.  

2.) In the field of therapy it is a rule of thumb that the therapist will have to spend three to four hours doing paperwork, filling out treatment plan forms and fighting with pre-certification reviewers for every one hour they spend with you as a patient.  I don't want to waste time dealing with insurance companies.  I would rather go to the dentist!  I enjoy doing treatment and helping people.  I do not enjoy arguing and fighting about bureaucratic nonsense!  No, I don't accept insurance.  I am authorized as an LCSW to bill insurance companies, but I refuse - for your sake and mine!

"NLP is a 'Pseudoscience' and has never been proven scientifically!"

This is no longer true. After ten long years, the NLP Research and Recognition Project has produced preliminary research that shows that NLP is 90% effective in treating PTSD in veterans. Furthermore, if you think that the field of psychology is "scientific," I would like to introduce you to my Bachelor's Degree specialty in the design and critique of experimental processes and procedures. Most research on ANY portion of the field of psychology is so poorly constructed that it never really did "prove" the original hypothesis in any significant way. NLP never WAS and was never intended to BE a science. It is the ART of maneuvering and manipulating the internal representations or cognitive sequences in a person's head until their problem lessens, or their experience of being alive improves. They are trying to force the hand of people when they "test" NLP to do the same thing with every person, to prove a technique "works." While this is good scientific rigor, it also means you cannot customize and alter the steps of the technique in ANY way. Sorry, you cannot get the results you need to make shifts in another person by following a prescribed formula. Instead, NLP training teaches you to shift things in your OWN experience first, because then you will be able to detect and produce those same changes in another person. You will learn a whole new set of non-verbal cues that puts any previous training in the ridiculous old school of "body language" out to pasture. But if you try to force every person "doing" NLP to follow the same steps to achieve a certain shift in a person's head - it will simply never work.

"Most therapists charge $100.00 - $150.00.  Why do you charge $225.00?" (My usual rate)

May - 2016: News Flash!
The NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming - the type of therapy in which I specialize) Research and Recognition Project has released preliminary research that indicates that NLP is 90% effective in treating PTSD!

In celebration of this finding, Mr. Westenberg is offering a single NLP session of up to 90-minutes, for only $90.00

My usual rate includes the fee for a follow-up session within 45-days. I often do 1 to 3-session therapy, and I always like follow-up sessions to make sure you are satisfied with the results. I also like to "tweak" my work to help you accomplish additional changes. Once you experience for yourself what can be accomplished in a session, you often get ideas as to additional changes I can help you make. The initial session allows me to map out multiple aspects of your thinking structure.

Most counselors suggest 5-10 sessions as a minimum.  Even with insurance, you would often end up paying about $500.00 out of pocket.  If you have a problem you have been working with via a therapist, I challenge you to add up how much money you have already spent. 

I think you should leave a session with a lot of "homework/home-play" assignments to help you learn new ways of thinking and feeling things.  I love to teach people NEW ways to have good feelings, and ways to feel things more intensely.

You have surely spent $90.00 on things that did NOT make a difference in your life. Try investing some money in structuring your thinking in such a way that your brain makes you successful and happy. I can assure you it will be a much more useful and memorable investment!

Click this "Resume" link to see Mr. Westenberg's list of specific credentials and history of training. 

You can apply for a session via the internet (our online application form is here)
You can email with questions, feedback or to request a session at larry@waybeyondcounseling.com

Or call:

(630) 663-8914


Send mail to larry@waybeyondcounseling.com with questions or comments about this Web site.
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