Welcome to Central Coast Counseling Center

Welcome to Central Coast Counseling Center

Welcome to Central Coast Counseling CenterWelcome to Central Coast Counseling CenterWelcome to Central Coast Counseling Center

Welcome to Central Coast Counseling Center

Welcome to Central Coast Counseling Center

Welcome to Central Coast Counseling CenterWelcome to Central Coast Counseling CenterWelcome to Central Coast Counseling Center

About Us

Mary Jo Pedersen - LMFT

My Approach


Mary Jo’s expertise is in working with families in overwhelm from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including traumatic stress from addictions, affairs, and from Domestic Violence and from every day stress. The best way to work with Trauma and Addiction is in a Healing Community. A Marriage and Family Therapist can be one part of this healing community, in addition to doctors and support services, and can offer the following expertise:


  1.  It is very important to identify Destructive Family Dynamics that fuel the overwhelm.  There are about 45 Family Destructive Dynamics that Mary Jo can help you and your family identify.
  2. Once engaged with a Destructive Dynamic, the “Self” becomes “Split”. This is where you think  and feel one way and behave in another way. The feeling is that you are divided into two pieces.
  3. Once the self gets split and the person feels shipped out to sea to die it’s fight, flight or freeze mode.  
  4. At this point your inner child is going wild. This inner “wild” child takes the wheel of your life and becomes very destructive.


The healing involves the following:

  1. Identification of the Destructive Dynamics in your family relationships
  2. Taking good care of you – getting back to internal peace through guided imagery, meditation and breathing – the constructive off ramp to the emotional Tsunami highway.
  3. Parenting your inner child, EMDR helps your adult self take the wheel of your life so you can more effectively parent your inner child. Mary Jo is EMDR trained.
  4. Creating constructive dialogue from Honor/Honor, Ask for what you need and make a boundary. 

My Vision

My vision is that if we, as families and as a community, begin to identify when we are in a destructive process, understand how our self is being split and divided, identify when we are on the emotional highway of overwhelm and when our inner child is running wild – then we can begin to, take responsibility to get ourselves calmed down and regain some peace. Then our adult self can begin to parent our inner child self. At this point we are ready to have a dialogue about exactly what is bothering us in a constructive way. The skill is honor/honor, ask for what we need and make healthy boundaries. My hope is  that these skill sets result in decreased divorces, managed addictions, managed medical issues, and improve parenting. 


Mary Jo Pedersen, M.S., LMFT & Director of Central Coast Counseling Center, has twenty years of counseling experience working with families who are recovering from all kinds of addictions and trauma.

 Mary Jo has expertise in working with couples who are “trauma triggered” by Addictive Family Dynamics, and then fly off the handle into divorce, and provides skills and tools as to how to manage all of this emotional overwhelm.  Also, she provides a space in her counseling office for a couple to re-think what issues are really going on and how to dialogue about the things that need to be talked about and problem solved rather than go destructive into divorce.

Gail Liguore - RN, MS, LMFT

What is psychotherapy?


Psychotherapy can be seen as an interpersonal invitation offered by psychotherapists to aid clients in reaching their full potential or to cope better with problems of life. Psychotherapy often includes techniques to increase awareness and the capacity for self-observation, change behavior and cognition, and develop insight and empathy. A desired result enables other choices of thought, feeling or action; to increase the sense of well-being and to better manage discomfort or distress. Perception of reality is hopefully improved. Grieving might be decreased producing less long term depression. Psychotherapy can improve medication response where such medication is also needed. Psychotherapy can be provided on a one-to-one basis, in group therapy, conjointly with couples and with entire family. Therapy may address specific forms of diagnosable mental illness, or everyday problems in managing or maintaining interpersonal relationshipsor meeting personal goals. Treatment in families with children can favorably influence a child’s development, lasting for life and into future generations. Better parenting may be an indirect result of therapy or purposefully learned as parenting techniques. Divorces can be prevented, or made far less traumatic. Treatment of everyday problems is more often referred to as counseling, but the term is sometimes used interchangeably with "psychotherapy". Therapeutic skills can be used in mental health consultation to business and public agencies to improve efficiency and assist with coworkers or clients.

Psychotherapists use a range of techniques to influenceor persuadethe client to adapt or change in the direction the client has chosen. These can be based on clear thinking about their options; experiential relationship building; dialogue, communication and adoption of behavior change strategies. Each is designed to improve the mental healthof a client or patient, or to improve group relationships (as in a family). 

My Practice

Counseling services are a valuable part of restoring balance to a person's life. The foundation of counseling success is an interactive partnership between the client, the client's support group, and the counselor. 

Anyone's life can become out of balance due to common events. Usually, there are several events occurring at the same time. At this point, anyone can benefit from counseling services. In counseling sessions, a client learns insight into self and coping mechanisms. Many people have coping mechanisms, but the mechanisms may be ineffective, inappropriate, or immature.

Examples of lessons to learn in counseling sessions are: behavior modification, stress management, effective coping skills, assertiveness training, conflict resolution, parenting education, anger resolution, social skills, cognitive therapy, social skills, and more.

I counsel adolescents and adults, including the older adult. I work with individuals experiencing anxiety disorders, learning and attention disorders, mood disorders, relationship disorders, brain injury impairments, chronic medical problems, and personal skill issues.I am also EMDR trained.


 I have been a registered nurse for the past 30 years working in various areas of the nursing field, intensive care, emergency room, home health, and most recently psychiatric nursing. I am very familiar with disease processes. I have been a psychotherapist for the past 18 years, most of which has been working with brain injured individuals and their families. I have counseled couples and individuals including children, adolescents, and adults and. I have also facilitated groups assisting clients with learning communication and anger management skills.

contact us

Central Coast Counseling Center

900 E Main St, Ste 204 Santa Maria, CA 93454

(805) 934-5088




By Appointment Only

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