David Christy Psychotherapy


I’m a psychotherapist serving clients virtually in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.  You’ll find a bit here about who I am, the services I offer and my approach to therapy. I wrote this based on what I wanted to know when I was looking for a therapist and what, as a therapist, I want you to know about how we might work together. If you have questions or comments about the content, I encourage you to raise them with me.

My door is open to all who want to work to learn more about themselves and to heal and grow as they do. Check out the site. If you think we’d be a good fit, send me an email and we’ll schedule a session.

How we would work together…

My goal is for each of my clients not merely to survive or get by, but to prosper.  I use a relationship-driven approach incorporating empathy, humor and directness to help clients process grief, anxiety, depression and trauma.  I work with clients on deep character issues, to increase their understanding and acceptance of who they are, and to change when they feel it is necessary.  I help clients strengthen relationships, set boundaries and increase general life satisfaction.  

I work with adult individuals, couples and families.  I also provide group therapy.  Sessions are weekly; I meet more often with clients who are in crisis or who want to work more intensely.


Confidentiality and honesty are the ethical foundations of my practice as a therapist, just as they were in my previous career as a lawyer. I am accustomed to working with persons who are vulnerable to publicity. I provide a clinical environment where clients can share their personal concerns with complete confidence that I will safeguard them. In addition, I am direct and am comfortable confronting clients, including high-profile clients, with thoughts and feelings they might prefer to avoid. Indeed, this is a foundational aspect of how I work with all of my clients.

Individual Therapy

I help clients live genuinely happier, more meaningful and fulfilling lives, drawing mainly on psychodynamic, humanistic and existential approaches.  In therapy, the primary engine of growth is the relationship that develops between the client and the therapist.  I bring my genuine self to each client and try to create a space in which they can do the same.  

Introspection and insight, though important, are often insufficient for lasting change.  The key ingredient is how we respond to the heat – the energy, sometimes friction – created as we interact with the world and those around us.  I guide clients to use the heat to better know and accept themselves and their origins, and to build lives that are a genuine expression of who they are:  their values, desires, needs, gifts and quirks.  I help each client live a life that is truer to their authentic self.  Core aspects of this are further developing self-knowledge and self-acceptance, which leads to having more compassion for ourselves.  This frees us to develop and demonstrate empathy for others.  It also prepares us to identify and confront unresolved character issues, coming to terms with parts of ourselves we may have rejected because we are ashamed or afraid of them.  

Our growth allows us to live more powerfully.  We can be more present with those we love and set clearer boundaries with family and friends, which paradoxically allows us to share more of ourselves with them.  It energizes us as we pursue our goals in relationships, education, career, hobbies and dreams.  By better balancing our goals, we can live happier, healthier, less stressful lives.

Because my approach is relational, my practice is infused by my personality and life experience:  curiosity and humor; liking people and celebrating our tremendous diversity; many years working with other cultures; and struggling to be a better son, brother, husband and father. 

Change is constant; we are always travelling.  Should you decide to work with me, I look forward to walking with you on this part of your journey.

Couples Therapy

Relationships are hard work.  Communication can turn negative or grind to a halt, leading to distance and anger.  Once off track, couples often struggle to find their way back to the place of love and respect they once shared.  Couples often can find a path forward by focusing on the honesty and clarity of their communication, which can engender acceptance and intimacy.The hallmark of a healthy relationship is not lack of conflict, but rather the ability of the partners to confront themselves and each other when necessary, and to lovingly and respectfully resolve differences that inevitably arise.  I help each person confront themselves, taking responsibility for their part in the relationship.  This creates a more productive space in which to manage conflict and create new paths for reconnection.  I work with couples at all stages:  new couples seeking pre-marital counseling, established or older couples that want more intimacy and couples that are breaking up or are negotiating their roles as co-parents.  I help them find new, healthier ways of relating that allow each member to feel more alive and clearer in themselves and in the couple.  If the resulting clarity leads to increased hope and desire, and a decision to stay together, I help the couple find a stable path forward.  If the couple decides to separate, I help them do so in a way that minimizes conflict.  

Couples come with a variety of issues.  One couple is doing well but wants a check-up.  Another has drifted apart without really meaning to.  A couple may be wrestling with finances, sex, families of origin, negotiating an open relationship, having or raising children, power dynamics or disparate life goals.  Or perhaps they are struggling in the wake of an affair.  I treat each couple as unique, incorporating aspects of my training in the Gottman Method and Imago Relationship Therapy, as well as the ideas of Esther Perel, David Schnarch and others.  I offer Discernment Counseling for couples in which one partner is considering divorce.

When appropriate, I refer clients to individual therapy as an adjunct to couples work.

Group Therapy

I offer group therapy to clients wishing to speed healing and growth.  By group therapy, I do not mean a support group, but rather a relational experience focused on the interpersonal issues that naturally arise within any group.  Groups generally include 6-8 clients, with weekly, 75-minute sessions.  Group work can yield profound personal growth, helping clients:

  • Experience and express emotional intimacy.
  • Find their voice in relationships across various settings.
  • Become more comfortable being seen by others.
  • Develop empathy for others and themselves.

The group serves as a place not merely to discuss relationships, but to experience them.  As we interact in the group, the ways that we struggle in relationships become manifest.  Over time, we learn more about dysfunctional patterns of relating and how to change them.  The group then provides a space in which to practice new ways of relating.  Group members get feedback from other members.  During the process, I work directly with clients to help them identify issues and develop more effective ways of relating to others. 

Starting Therapy

If you decide to make an appointment, our first task is to get to know one another – to connect and develop basic trust on which we can build.  These early sessions will help us get a sense of whether we are a good fit – mainly, do we both believe that I can help you achieve your goals?  If we decide to work together, we’ll schedule weekly sessions.  If not, I’ll provide referrals to other therapists who may be a better match for you. 

Thoughts on Working Online

Virtual therapy provides many benefits, most particularly increased access, and flexibility of time and place. A 45-minute session need not consume 2-3 hours in terms of preparing for and traveling to and from.

But there are costs to doing virtual therapy. Indeed, some therapists and clients refuse to engage in it. They believe that something is lost when we do not meet in the same room. I agree. When we meet online, we lose aspects of face-to-face connection. We interact differently online; the energy of our connection is different. Also, it can be more challenging to settle in to do meaningful work. And when working online, distractions may abound, for example, from screen notifications or other people near our space.

I believe online therapy can be effective but, given these challenges, it behooves us to do all that we can to foster and protect our connection to maximize the impact of our limited time together. We each need to exercise our intention to slow down and connect with our self before we begin each session. We must carve out and protect a specific time and place for our work. We need to create a comfortable, distraction-free space to be able to connect and do deep work together.

Here are a few ground rules to help us connect as deeply as possible with ourselves and each other:

1. General privacy. Please find a spot that is private and where you feel comfortable. Consider using a fan or noise maker to ensure privacy if others are near your space.
2. Technology. Please ensure that you have solid WiFi (or connectivity) where you will be and that the computer or tablet you are using has a working camera and mic system. Whenever possible, please use a computer or tablet instead of a phone. If we have trouble connecting via computer/tablet, we may use our phones as the backup.
3. Interruptions. Please close other windows on your computer and turn off notifications or switch your device to “do not disturb”. Please mute your phone and do not take non-emergency calls during our session.
4. Distractions. Please turn off any TV, radio or other source of distraction in the room.
5. Self view. Please disable self view. To do this in Zoom, go to the upper right of your picture, and find the three dots; click on the dots and then scroll to “hide self view.”
6. Cars. If you are doing our session from a car, please make sure you are alone and that you are parked. I won’t conduct a session while a client is driving.
7. Sign in early. Whenever possible, sign in at least five minutes before our session begins. Use the time to connect with yourself, relax and contemplate our work before we start.
8. Special requests. These next two will help me be more present in our work on my end. First, please make sure that your device is resting on a steady surface. When the screen is jiggling, or moving (e.g., being carried), I tend to get a headache. Second, please use the natural background — the fuzzy and other background options cause one to go in and out of focus; this may be apropos of the human condition, but I find it distracting. 

Privacy and Confidentiality

Confidentiality and honesty are the ethical foundations of my practice as a therapist, just as they were in my previous career as a lawyer. I am accustomed to working with persons who are vulnerable to publicity. I provide a clinical environment where clients can share their personal concerns with complete confidence that I will safeguard them. In addition, I am direct and am comfortable confronting clients, including high-profile clients, with thoughts and feelings they might prefer to avoid. Indeed, this is a foundational aspect of how I work with all of my clients. 

To the full extent allowed by law, I maintain the confidentiality of all client records, disclosures and information presented in session.  The legal exceptions are: 

  • Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse, which I am required by law to report immediately to the appropriate authorities.
  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person, I am required to notify the police and the intended victim.
  • If a client indicates in session a plan, intent and the means to harm themselves, I will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in ensuring their safety.  If they do not cooperate, to ensure their safety I will take measures that are allowed by law without their permission.
  • If a court orders me to produce client records, I am required to comply, but will do so narrowly to protect client confidentiality as much as possible.

Fees, Insurance and Cancellations

Fees My fees are as follows: 

  • Individual Therapy:  $285 per 45-minute session
  • Couples and Family Therapy:  $360 per 45-minute session 
  • Group Therapy:  $200 per 75-minute session

Fees for Discernment Counseling are pro-rated, based on my hourly rate.  Fees for reviewing written material, or for communicating at length with other professionals or persons involved with treatment are pro-rated, based on my hourly rate.  I generally increase fees annually on January 1, and give clients advance notice via email and/or in session.  

Insurance As a licensed social worker, my psychotherapy services are eligible for some reimbursement from almost all insurance companies.  But I am not a “participating provider” with any insurance company.  I don’t accept Medicare or Medicaid; I don’t participate in managed care or any health insurance plan.  I will give you a monthly superbill that you can submit to your insurance company to apply for reimbursement.

Cancellations If for any reason, you are unable to meet for your appointment, you are responsible for notifying me at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled time.  For individual, couples and family sessions, you will be charged if you either don’t show up for a scheduled session (no show) or cancel with less than 48 hours’ notice.  As group therapy sessions cannot be rescheduled, fees apply whether or not you attend. For telehealth sessions, e.g., sessions on Zoom, I will wait in our session for 15 minutes, after which the session will be treated as a no show.

When and Why I Refer Clients To Other Therapists

I don’t work with clients whom I believe I cannot help. If I conclude that I am ineffective or not making reasonable progress with a client and that additional services are required, I will end treatment. Also, I don’t work with clients who reject treatment recommendations. Depending upon the circumstances, I may be ethically prohibited from working with clients in these situations. In each case, I will refer the client to a program or professional I think can better meet the client’s needs.

No Surprises Law

Section 2799B-6 of the Public Health Service Act requires health care providers to provide clients a “Good Faith Estimate” of expected charges. Providers – including therapists like me – must give a fee estimate to clients who lack or are not using insurance. Also, clients may dispute any bill that exceeds a good faith estimate by $400 or more. At the start of our work together and then at the beginning of each subsequent year, I issue each client a “good faith estimate” of the cost of services for the year, based on the rate charged for the type of service.

The cost of my services is a function of my fee, frequency of service and duration of treatment. Accurately determining the length of treatment for mental health care prior to meeting is impossible. Moreover, each client has the right to determine their goals for treatment and how long they want to remain in therapy (unless treatment is mandated). I generally work with clients weekly, sometimes on an every-other-week basis. The per-session fee set forth above, combined with the weekly or every other week schedule, allows each client to determine the expected cost of services for the year, assuming we meet for the full year. Contact your health plan to find out whether your plan will reimburse fees for my services.

For more information about your rights, please see www.cms.gov/nosurprises and here.

About Me

One of my core beliefs is that the greatest gift that any of us can give is our self.  To be fully present and genuine with someone is a profound display of respect and of trust in them and in ourselves.  The benefits are far-reaching in terms of developing actual intimacy that allows connection, healing and growth.  This is in large part why I describe my approach as relationship driven.  

My work reflects the totality of my life experience.  In a previous career, I spent years travelling the world working with other cultures while practicing and teaching international trade law.  I’ve played or coached ultimate frisbee since 1979, an experience I carry in various ways in my body and soul.  I’m a husband and a father (also an experience I carry in various ways in my body and soul).  

I am a member of the American Academy of Psychotherapists, the National Association of Social Workers and the Greater Washington Society for Clinical Social Work.  I hold an MSW with a clinical focus from the University of Maryland, Baltimore; a JD from the University of Chicago Law School; and a BA with majors in psychology, philosophy and political science from the University of Kansas. 

David Christy, MSW, JD

David Christy Psychotherapy LLC 


Takoma Park, MD 20912



MD LCSW-C 24887

DC LICSW LC200001463

VA LCSW 0904013386