Max has been practicing for over 25 years as a clinical social worker, sex, drug, and alcohol counselor, and couples therapist.
California Clinical Social Work (#17140)
M.S.W. Columbia University School of Social Work, N.Y., N.Y., (Social Work) 1990.
B.A. University of California, Berkeley, CA (Psychology) 1986. Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude
I want to talk candidly about what changed my life.
I do it, because I want you to know that even bad situations turn out well. People recover. Marriages recover from addictions. Yours can, too.
"My name is Max and I am a recovering alcoholic.”
That’s how I introduce myself at AA meetings 3x a week. I share with you my alcoholism because it’s what defines me. Not being a Couple’s Therapist, or a partner, or a father, or even a tennis fanatic.
For me, being an alcoholic (at first a nightmare) has become a blessing. The journey of recovery has changed me in a profoundly positive way and I have become a much more engaged and generous person. Still I have to maintain my spiritual program of sobriety every day or I could easily fall back to my old ways.
The results of sobriety have been amazing.
I have had more success in relationships (romantic, platonic and familial), and my therapy practice has thrived.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Twenty-four years ago, when I married my wife, I gradually began to change from a caring husband to a bitter, lousy partner. Rather than taking responsibility for my actions, I focused single-mindedly on my wife’s selfishness as the reason our marriage was failing.
I was, of course, deluding myself. I critically damaged our marriage by using alcohol and drugs to avoid connecting with her.
Sure, having kids was stressful but after they went to sleep I couldn’t wait to sneak off to my man cave to isolate, smoke marijuana, avoid my partner and disappear.
I was afraid to connect with my ex-wife. Alcohol, weed, and later Xanax made me irritable, impatient, angry, bitter and resentful.
Not a pretty picture.
My wife and I went to marriage counseling (a lot). I sometimes joke that we must have spent a half a million dollars in therapy. It didn’t help. I couldn’t look inside myself and see my part. I was focused on her behavior, what she did wrong or what she was withholding from me (admiration, affection, and sex).
I was defensive about my role and insisted that alcohol and drugs were not a part of the problem. But they were, and our marriage of 15 years failed. The main reason was not that we were mismatched, but that I used alcohol and drugs to avoid intimacy.
Today I am a profoundly different man and have deep connections with my kids and dear friends. I live a low drama and peaceful existence often channeling my inner James Taylor. I walk a lot and talk to everyone; on the street, at supermarkets, even in line at the movies. I love connecting and doting on people.
My MO is “constant thought of others,” including strangers. I've learned that the more I reach out and focus on other people’s happiness the more love comes back to me in waves. I’ve learned to face my fears; I love the acronym False Evidence Appearing Real.
I'm in real love, perhaps for the first time in my life.
I believe we are pretty good partners to each other. Nevertheless, we still have to work on our communication; nothing comes easy.
As a couple’s therapist, a few characteristics of mine stand out.
First, you’ll find me accepting and non-judgmental. I listen carefully and patiently, so I understand each party’s feelings and realities. It is one thing to give couples hope, but that's not enough. I provide them with clear tools on how to hear to each other even when they’re feeling annoyed or aggravated. I teach couples how to solve conflicts, de-escalate tensions and most importantly, develop an intimate and fun friendship.
Everyone wants to be heard, admired and feel they are smart and attractive. In my opinion, this is why marriages fall apart - partners stop respecting and cherishing one another. When people no longer feel admired they look ELSEWHERE to get that unique and irreplaceable attention, and resentments and affairs (both emotional and physical) ensue.
I believe it’s critical for couples to share affection continually and go on dates. Kissing, cuddling, holding hands and saying, “I love you” are essential fuel. Every loving and positive interaction between a couple are foreplay. If you want to have good sex then be considerate and attentive in your day-to- day interactions. It works!
If you choose to come to California for an intensive couples therapy weekend, this is what you’ll get: a very personal and connected therapeutic experience. And the expertise of an Addiction Specialist. I am thoroughly trained (both personally and clinically) to assess alcoholism and addiction.
...just because I’m an alcoholic doesn’t mean I assume other’s are. Many couples who meet with me want a substance abuse assessment, and I’m happy to provide it. But many couples aren't impacted by addictions. I'm encouraging and supportive, offering clear, direct and honest feedback for your marriage, regardless of whether you are impacted by addiction issues.
I look forward to meeting you.
Today, I am a profoundly different man and have deep connections with my kids and dear friends. I live a low drama and peaceful existence often channeling my inner James Taylor... I walk a lot...
I'm on a mission: to help my clients live more honestly and completely, without shame. Your intimate relationships are an important part of healing. Growth and happiness are attainable, no matter who you are, or where you've been.
Regardless how painful life may be for the two of you right now, change is possible. All feelings, even unwanted feelings, tell us important information about ourselves and our lives. Freeing clients from compulsions and addictions opens up their innate potential to become balanced, satisfied and happy people, living balanced, satisfying, and happy lives. This an important first step, but not a stopping point. The second step is to be truly happy in an intimate, loving relationship.
You’ll find me accepting and non-judgmental. I listen carefully and patiently, so I understand each party’s feelings and realities. It is one thing to give couples hope, but that's not enough. I provide couples with effective tools to help them hear each other even when they’re feeling annoyed or aggravated. I teach couples how to solve conflicts, de-escalate tensions and most importantly, develop an intimate and fun friendship.
I work with all couples, but I have a particular expertise working with couples impacted by alcohol, drug, and sex addiction, and adult children of alcoholics. I’m in the unfortunate group (1 out every 6 people) that consists of either alcoholics or addicts.
Couples Therapist/Addiction Specialist - Private practice - Provide family and couples therapy. Incorporate the “disease model” of addiction and “codependency” into those therapies. Deeply versed in the use of Detoxification Centers, Rehabilitations, Outward Bound and all 12-step programs (including AA, NA, Al-Anon, Marijuana and Sex/Love Addiction Anonymous). (2/95 - present).
Couples Therapist/Addiction Specialist -Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, Sonoma, CA Provided couples and family therapy for adults and adolescents. Specialized in addiction management, parenting and child/adolescent therapy. Educated clients on the disease model of addiction and immersed them in the 12-step programs. (1/13 – 11/14).
Psychotherapist - Kaiser Permanente; Child Psychiatry, Union City, CA. Led the Outpatient Adolescent Program. Provided individual, family and group therapy for teenagers. Acted as a psychiatric consultant to the Emergency Room, Teen Clinic and Pediatrics Clinic on an on-call basis. Taught classes for parents dealing with divorce, separation and step-family issues. Provide psychiatric, educational and community referrals. (2/95 – 11/00).
Psychotherapist - St. Vincent’s School for Boys, San Rafael, CA Provide individual, family and group therapy to adolescent and latency age boys living in a residential treatment and managed a10 bed sub-acute treatment unit. Co-created, wrote and implemented a pilot adolescent program based on a peer pressure model. Provide individual and family therapy. (5/93 – 1/95).
Psychotherapist – Manhattan Counseling Services, New York, NY. Provide individual and family therapy to latency age children and their families. Created and implemented a pilot program for adolescent boys on probation, which included the adolescents receiving both family and group therapy as well as participating on a probation basketball team. Taught a “social problem solving” course at an elementary school. Acted as task supervisor for social work intern. Served as a chairman of a clinical training committee for staff of three separate counseling agencies. (9/90 – 4/93)
Intern - Bronx Psychiatric Hospital, Bronx, NY – 9/88 – 5/89 -Provided supportive counseling for outpatient schizophrenics and their families. Led counseling groups for inpatient schizophrenics.
Board Member/Henry Ohlhoff Recovery Programs, San Francisco, CA- 10/15 – present
Volunteer- Serve as board members overseeing the Henry Ohlhoff recovery programs.
Orange Ball Open, Inc., Larkspur, CA- 9/15 – present
President/CEO/Volunteer- Designed and ran a tennis tournament/fundraiser for children. All proceeds were given to SummerAid; assisting Special Needs Children to attend summer camps.
San Quentin State Prison, Larkspur, CA- 3/15 – 8/15
Psychotherapist/Addiction Specialist- Worked as a Forensic Consultant, on a team of psychotherapists, treating condemned inmates at a psychiatric hospital setting. Provide individual therapy and initial screening interviews for inmates arriving in the Reception Program. Lead and created a pilot program offering Psycho-educational Drug and Alcohol groups for CCC-MS Reception inmates.
“Understanding Teens and Money” Marin Academy, San Rafael, CA - 1/08
“How to Get YourTeenager to Take More Responsibility.” Parent University, Redwood High, Larkspur, CA - 2/99, 2/00, 2/02, 2/03, 2/05, 3/07
“Understanding Teen Depression, Suicidal Gestures and Substance Abuse” Mount Tamalpais PTA, Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley, CA – 10/04
"Our marriage was rocky.
We wanted to improve communication and intimacy, but I was hesitant about the cost/benefit balance. I was worried we wouldn't get our money's worth.
I was very wrong!
It was amazing to see how this one weekend was more beneficial than 10 weeks of previous couples therapy.
We developed a new appreciation for each other. A more complete understanding of our backgrounds and how that got us to where we are today. Huge communication progress. Better communication, mutual respect, and self reflection.
Max Yusim was our couples therapist. I liked most how blunt/honest Max was. He was very open about talking about sex.
Would you recommend your couples therapist and Couples Therapy Inc?
Absolutely. I simply couldn't believe the transformation we had. It's up to us to maintain what we learned there but breaking through our road blocks was incredible."
~ Recent Intensive Client
"I liked Max's humor and intensity, his open and honest feedback.
I think it was a great weekend of intensive therapy to get tools to take home and continue the work.
The Mill Valley area is awesome and it certainly doesn't hurt to do something that intense in a setting as beautiful as Mill Valley...
~ Recent Intensive Client
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