Playa Vista resident Stephanie Mintz offers a unique alternative to traditional therapy
By Kamala Kirk
Strategic Relationship Consulting was born out of a need for the type of help that Stephanie Mintz discovered people had been wanting. While she was going through school and training to become a licensed marriage and family therapist, she realized that her thought process around helping people was completely different than what she was being taught and what was intuitive to her. After completing her education over a decade ago, starting her private practice and seeing clients, she noticed that her clients wanted quick change in their lives—which ultimately led to her becoming The Strategic Relationship Consultant.
“They wanted more than just to unload and vent,” Mintz says. “After leaving their therapist’s office, they would just walk back into their lives and not know what to do next. There were good parts of therapy for them, but not everyone was getting what they needed in terms of ‘Now what?’ My brain started creating strategies with actionable step-by-step guidelines. My clients were reaching their goals more quickly and resonating with the type of help that I was offering them to create the relationship or marriage they’re looking for.”
Mintz works with people from all around the world who are going through different situations in life, from singles in the dating world and premarital couples to long-term and married couples. She points out that her consulting differs from traditional therapy, which is more about process and focusing on one’s feelings and what’s happening within.
“Therapists are usually taught to stay away from content, they don’t necessarily want the details of an argument,” she says. “I found that the content was very important for my strategies in order to make quick changes. I’m like a detective, I ask lots of detailed questions about what has occurred and my brain picks out all these nuggets of information and synthesizes them together. I find, at the core, what piece went awry and what caused the ultimate continuation of a problem, so if that piece is adjusted utilizing my strategies then that issue won’t come up again.”
Through Strategic Relationship Consulting, Mintz then comes up with a strategy to address the piece that needs adjustment, and over time she has created a plethora of strategies for different situations, whether it’s a couple that wants to strengthen their good relationship or marriage to make it great, couples considering ending their relationship or marriage, premarital couples, or helping singles find their best match. She also points out that not every relationship can or should be saved, but she provides her clients with the tools they need in order to reach the conclusion that is best for them.
“My clients love the process,” Mintz says. “They leave our meetings with actionable steps that they focus on throughout the week, and they tend to reach their goals more quickly than with traditional therapy. They become more hopeful because they’re seeing changes and there is decreased intensity and frequency of arguments. It allows people to enjoy each other more and it increases intimacy, so all around they’re feeling better and stronger about their relationship because they’re making actionable changes. I’ve often heard that sometimes after one or two meetings, my clients have had the best week or weeks that they’ve had in a long time. As soon as I worked with my first couple, I fell in love with the process and the energy. I could see how the puzzle pieces were being put together and how my strategies were helping the couple quickly move forward towards their relationship goals and the joy and love that it was bringing.”
Katelyn Balsamo, who has been married for 20 years, says that she and her husband have significantly improved their marriage as a result of working with Mintz.
“While we love each other very much, in the last few years things have been tough, and made even tougher by living and working in close quarters due to the pandemic,” Balsamo says. “We had been having many issues, fighting a lot, and things had gotten pretty dire. While I knew we really needed couples counseling, I was anxious to start due to a not-so-good experience with a previous therapist. Stephanie really put me at ease, she’s easy and friendly to talk to, and her strategies are extremely helpful. Some of the sessions were tough and emotional, but it was 100 percent worth it. Three months later, my husband and I are fighting way less, communicating much better, and we have a happier and more peaceful marriage.”
When it comes to relationships, Mintz shares that communication is at the core of everything.
“Communication isn’t just key, it is the pillar of a relationship, and if it isn’t as strong as possible, it can affect other areas in a relationship such as finance, family planning and intimacy,” Mintz says. “If you can’t communicate about something, it creates a disconnect. Almost everyone can strengthen their communication. We need to be able to feel comfortable sharing difficult things with our partners and I have a core strategy that really helps with that.”
Mintz meets with her clients virtually and finds that it has been especially helpful for her consulting business.
“I find that it’s really helpful because people feel most comfortable in their home and I’m able to see them in their natural environment,” Mintz says. “It’s also easier to meet with clients because everyone has such different schedules. And instead of traditional therapy, which typically consists of meeting once a week for an hour, I become a partner in the process. I have tracking questionnaires that my clients can fill out and I review those in real time. They help me prepare for the next meeting or I may give some feedback that will help them during the week.”
Mintz’s ultimate goal for her clients is to equip them with the knowledge and strategies they need in order to have success in their life and relationships so that eventually they won’t need to see her as often.
“I’m always here whenever my clients need me, now or in the future,” Mintz says. “I’m incredibly passionate about helping people with relationships, which are such a big part of our lives. My clients know that I’m their biggest cheerleader and I’m down in the trenches with them when it’s difficult. Helping people is my passion and I absolutely love it.”
With Valentine’s Day coming up, Mintz also offers some words of advice.
“There tends to be a lot of pressure around Valentine’s Day and it’s important to look at what the day is really about, which is love and being able to express love,” she says. “From personal finances to having trouble making reservations or buying presents, it can often come with challenges. My suggestion is to come up with something that will help you connect with your loved one, whether it’s going to a pop-up exhibit, a walk in a new neighborhood, creating your own wine and paint experience at home—find something that you both love or try something you’ve never done so that you’ll have a memorable experience. We want connection through experience and the more you connect, the more the love deepens.”
Mintz, who has lived in Playa Vista for the past five years, says she knew about the area back when it was still being built. Several of her family members are also residents of the community and she fell in love with it when she would visit them.
“I absolutely love Playa Vista and the community feel, which I had never experienced before,” Mintz says. “The people here are amazing and so neighborly, always going out of their way to help each other. We’re close enough to be able to experience all that Los Angeles has to offer while at the same time, separate enough from it all to be able to enjoy such a peaceful and calm experience. I always knew that I wanted to open my practice in Playa Vista so it was a natural progression to eventually move here.”