Ever since Dr. Dana McNeil became a relationship therapist, she has taken her unique qualities of empathetic directness, warmth, and intuition, to help people. Dr. Dana is driven by a desire to give people space to realize that we all have struggles, worries, fears, and a longing to feel understood.

Everyone has their own story.
Below is Dr. Dana’s journey in her own words.

Hello

I'm Dana,
and I am glad you found me.

You’re here because you want a deeper connection with your partner.  You may have found yourself in a painful place in your relationship, and you might worry that things can’t get better.  You might have recently gotten engaged and you’re here to make sure you get your marriage off to the best start possible.  You may already have done tons of work on your own and feel like you keep coming up against the same issues over and over again.

Are you nervous about the process of couples therapy?  Have you heard that couples therapy is hard or painful?  Maybe it makes you uncomfortable to let a stranger into your world because you fear you will be judged or branded as the person who has caused all of the problems in the relationship.

Let me assure you that I am a genuine person, and I want our time together to feel like you are having a conversation with a trusted confidant.  My job is to make you feel comfortable, supported, and safe so we can figure out together how to make your relationship better.  I have no agenda or desire to find blame between partners. Blame doesn't create good outcomes, so we won't even go there.

My style of therapy is very much like my personality: down-to-earth, humble, funny, slightly sarcastic, direct, and blunt in a loving way.  I have a sense of humor about myself, and I encourage my clients to adopt the same attitude.  I hope you come away with the feeling  that I am really invested in you.  Telling me your thoughts and feelings won’t scare me, surprise me, or make me judge you.

My office is a place to find support, empathy, and outside-of-the-box ways of thinking about problems.  I have extensive experience with couples who are working through addiction recovery, want pre-marital counseling, and/or are LGBTQIA identified.  I also love working with couples and individuals who struggle with being people pleasers and find it difficult to ask for their needs in relationships.

I am incredibly enthusiastic and tend to be an overachiever working with clients who are motivated and open to change.  I've invested in the highest level of training because I truly want your relationship to be a success.  I have some great tools I can share with you to get your conversations moving in a new direction.

What I Do

My Counseling Style

I am a warm, non-judgmental and genuine therapist. My goal is for you to feel like you’re talking with a trusted confidant.

I want you to feel comfortable, supported, and safe so we can work to make your relationship better. Regardless of what you tell me, it won’t surprise or scare me or cause me to judge you.

My style of therapy is very much like my personality: down to earth, humble, funny sometimes with slight sarcasm, direct, and blunt in a loving way.

I do not place blame on either partner in the relationship. I don’t choose sides, but I will challenge you both to change your behaviors, so you can have the best relationship possible.

I am incredibly enthusiastic and tend to be an overachiever especially with clients who are motivated and open to change and grow.

I have a sense of humor about myself, and I encourage my clients to adopt the same attitude. My goal is for you to feel that I’m completely invested in your success.

Becoming a Relationship Therapist

Two experiences compelled me to enter the therapy profession. The first was my former job as a property insurance adjuster helping people after natural disasters. The second was the amazingly helpful pre-marital relationship work I did with my husband before our marriage.

Witnessing My Clients' Trauma as a Property Insurance Adjuster

My early career consisted of working for a large insurance company as a property damage claims adjuster. Part of my job was to travel to affected areas of the country in the wake of catastrophes such as hurricanes, floods, and tornados to provide on the ground assistance to clients whose homes had experienced damage.

As you can imagine, these clients were traumatized by their experiences. They were often in shock and some experienced guilt about having survived when so many in their community hadn’t.

Many of them also didn’t have access to mental health care.

I soon realized that before I could settle their insurance claims, I would need to provide my clients with support and empathy so they could process their shock and be able to participate in meaningful conversations with me about their property claims.

I found a great sense of purpose in listening to and validating my client’s experiences as they shared how they had survived their trauma. I saw how helpful it was to them to debrief their feelings.

The Gottman Approach and the Relationship with My Husband

Before we were married, my husband and I had a long-distance relationship. Because of the challenges of being so far apart, we sought pre-marital counseling.

I knew that regardless of how much I loved my husband-to-be, we were going to face communication challenges, differing expectations, and conflict. I wanted to ensure our marriage got off to a strong start.

I researched the best evidence-based couples therapy methods and fell in love with the Gottman Method.

It’s an easy to understand and structured method that teaches effective and simple communication skills that build upon one another.

I was also pleased that I could enhance my relationships with everyone in my life by using these skills.

I couldn’t find a local Gottman Method therapist who was taking clients, so we bought Gottman’s The Seven Principles book and skyped with each other every Sunday as we worked through the couples exercises together.

We learned invaluable communication tools that helped us be better partners and we still use them in our relationship today.

I believe firmly in the Gottman relationship method and have found it to be highly valuable not only for myself but also for the clients I work with in my relationship and couples counseling practice.

Founding a Group Practice

I started my group practice The Relationship Place as a safe haven for couples to come to experience working on tools to better their relationship without judgment or expectations about the outcome of their therapy experience.

Too often clients feel guilt and shame about the fact they need to go to therapy. They often also feel misunderstood and unsupported by the typical forms of couples therapy that tell clients there is only one way to “get relationships right”.

The goal of our group practice is to give clients the support, tools, compassion, and an outside-of-the-box approach to doing couples therapy that caters to the needs of our clients versus an agenda or preconceived outcome.

Dr. Dana McNeil's Professional Therapist Credentials and Training

Even as a leader in relationship therapy, Dr. Dana McNeil continues to be diligent about on-going learning.

She is passionate about learning more about relationship science, gathering meaningful case studies, and exchanging insights with other therapists.

Core Relationship and Couples Counseling Training

Certified Gottman Method Couples Therapist
Gottman Bringing Home Baby Program Educator

In addition to the main Gottman training, I’ve done specific training in the Gottman Method in the following areas:

  • Couples and Addiction Recovery
  • Working with Complex Couples Affected by Addiction or Co-Occurring Mental Illness
  • Working with the Aftermath of an Extramarital Affair
  • International Association of Trauma Professionals (IATP) Certified Trauma Therapist
  • California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)

Training and Experience in Other Areas of Mental Health

In addition to my training in relationship and couples therapy, I have extensive training in a number of areas of mental health. These include:

  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Addiction and Recovery
  • Grief and Trauma Issues
  • Domestic Violence
  • LGBTQIA
  • Sexual Addiction
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Polyamory and Consensual Non-Monogamy

"The reason we're in conflict is not that we don't love each other, it's because we have a different set of expectations, goals, or views on life. Being curious allows me to hear your perspective."