James F. Mills
Oftentimes, people just need someone to listen to them, to help them work through an issue, sort out their feelings. That’s where Michael Kaltenbach comes in. A licensed psychotherapist as well as a medical social worker, Kaltenbach is skilled at hearing what people are really saying and helping them to figure out strategies for improving their situation.
“I work with a wide variety of clients—men, women, gay, straight, all races,” says Kaltenbach, a 41-year-old native of Decatur, Ill. “I help them with all sorts of issues.”
During the week, Kaltenbach works with clients at Good Samaritan Hospital, and on weekends, he sees clients privately in his office near the intersection of Santa Monica and La Cienega Boulevards.
While his clients range in age from 10 to 60, a majority are in their early 30s. “Developmentally, that’s when people start questioning what they want and how do they get there,” says Kaltenbach, who likens going into therapy to going to the gym to tone up muscles. “They realize they need change, and that’s when they go to therapy. It’s personal growth.”
With the gay and straight couples he sees, the issues are generally the same. “A lot of times, it’s acceptance by the family that is an issue for a couple,” he says. “With gay couples, it’s the fact they’re gay that the family often doesn’t accept. With straight couples, if there is a problem with the family, it’s generally a personality issue.”
Among gay clients, HIV can still be an issue. “Most of my clients who have HIV, it’s not a matter of coping with the disease—it’s a matter of disclosure or things related to that,” says Kaltenbach, who has also worked at AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “They’re worried about society’s view or about the discrimination they’ve suffered.”
HIV can also be an issue for couples if one is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative. “The person who has more problems with it is the positive one—a fear of infecting the partner,” he says. “The negative partner is more comfortable with it, knows they can take precautions and be safe.”
As far as choosing the right therapist, Kaltenbach says it’s important that there be some common ground between client and therapist.
“You want to have an accepting environment that encourages personal growth and insights,” says Kaltenbach, who spent two years in the Peace Corps in Africa doing community development. “Acceptance is the key for any personal growth.”
Michael Kaltenbach accepts most insurance and works on a sliding scale. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (323) 646-1139.