Get to know Jacob Munhoz

amft estes therapy male therapist

Jacob Munhoz, AMFT

Want to know more about therapist Jacob? I sat down with him and he answered a few questions that will help you get to know him better.

Why did you decide to go into Marriage and Family Therapy?

I decided to go into psychotherapy perhaps primarily because of my own experience of recovery from trauma during my previous career.   Like many who have experienced trauma, after I came through the experience I felt impelled by what James Finley would call “the imperative of love,” the deep desire, the impulse to go back to help others find their way through what they have experienced.

Do you have advice for someone who is considering becoming an MFT?

I think of psychotherapy as a calling, not a job.  As with any calling, the desire must be authentic and has to arise out of the true self.  It is a calling that requires sacrifice, both economic and psychospiritual. In taking on this work we are, in some real sense, agreeing to take on and to help carry the burdens of others.  If we are not willing to make those sacrifices, we risk being mediocre and engaging in this work halfheartedly which isn’t just to our patients or to ourselves. If you’re considering this work and feel a call to be with people in their suffering welling up from some profound part of your true self, if you are willing to pay the price, if you will engage in this work wholeheartedly and live it wholeheartedly, and if in the depths of your being you can’t authentically imagine doing anything else–take the leap and follow your heart.  

What would you say to someone who is nervous about setting up their first counseling session with you?

There are many reasons that we may seek out psychotherapy.  Each of us have our own complex set of experiences, contexts, and characteristics.  What is common to all human experience at a primordial level is our desire to be profoundly seen and profoundly accepted precisely because of who we are, not in spite of who we are.  Although this is our deepest desire, the very proposition of being seen for who we are by another can make us anxious and raise questions oftentimes about judgment, worthiness, and the possibility of rejection.  The lens through which I see as a psychotherapist is one that causes me to stand in awe of people for how we bear our experiences instead of in judgment. My role as a psychotherapist is stand alongside you as you look in the mirror and tell you how amazing and precious you are so  you start to see it for yourself.

Do you have a special area you focus on within the therapy field?

Much of my academic and clinical work during graduate school was focused on interpersonal trauma: sexual, physical, or emotional violence – for both men and women.  Whether we witnessed this violence or were whom it was perpetrated upon, shakes us to our very core. Because interpersonal trauma is relational, it affects how we relate to others and can change how we view ourselves.  Especially if the violence we experienced was done by someone whom we trusted. Working through this trauma is the key to unlocking our true potential to engage in our relationships wholeheartedly and be our true selves.

Another area of my focus is what is commonly referred to as “men’s issues.”  Regardless of sexual orientation, men face a complex and unique set of challenges as we struggle to meet societal expectations. Expectations imposed upon us, oftentimes unwittingly, by our partners, families, and our toughest critics by far:  ourselves. I find it deeply meaningful to dialogue with men and their partners regarding issues of masculinity and it’s authentic and healthy expression. These conversations often lead to the deep exploration of issues like self-esteem, body image, sex, sexual compulsion, competence, worthiness, expression of emotions, power and dominance.

A personal area of interest is mindfulness and contemplative spirituality.  Mindfulness has been shown in study after study to be deeply beneficial in supporting and promoting both psychological and physical health.  The ability to take half a step back from our thoughts and emotions, to identify them and at the same time to disidentify with them is a mindful practice that I employ in my sessions.  While mindfulness can be a purely secular practice, for some it has a spiritual or religious dimension. I have a deep interest in the way contemplative spirituality is a resource in the healing from trauma.  

How do you pass your time when you are not working with clients?

 I am an introvert who likes to spend long hours reading mostly non-fiction books with some poetry thrown in for balance.  My interest in mindfulness and contemplative spirituality compels me to attend prayer and meditation groups as well as lectures and retreats on those and related subjects.  When I’ve recharged by doing all that, I like to spend time working out, riding my motorcycle, and paddle boarding on the bay with my spouse and our two rescue dogs.

If you were not a therapist, what would you be doing?

The inability to authentically imagine one’s self doing anything else is one of the signs of a true calling.  That any other realistic or authentic option or plan would somehow simply be another expression of that calling is another mark of a true vocation.  That is to say that a teacher will always teach whether she is a teacher in front of five year olds in a kindergarten, a CEO in a company boardroom, or a drill instructor of an academy class of firefighters or soldiers.  I feel called to be a psychotherapist (psyche [ψυχή]: soul and therapeia [θεραπεία]: healing) having come to know this about myself any viable career alternative would of absolute necessity be an expression of this.