Dr. Suzanne Pelka, LMFT, CSAT, Ph.D.

Founder and Clinical Director

Over 12 years experience helping clients recover and enjoy happy, healthy sex lives!

Sexual problems never happen in a vacuum. There’s an origin story to everything even if it seems well hidden. The same is true of betrayals, infidelities and sexual addictions. We are complex creatures. Crisis, dysfunction and traumas can cause our lives to unravel. Sometimes that unraveling happens very slowly, sometimes the unraveling can happen in one devastating moment. True crisis may also be one of the only things that has the power to actually change us for the better. It is my passion as a marriage and family therapist to help guide people out of the crises of dysfunction and into the light of healing, change and recovery.

I have successfully treated thousands of clients struggling with a variety of sexual problems. I’ve helped many male clients overcome erectile dysfunction, rapid ejaculation or premature and delayed ejaculation. I’ve helped women with low desire, painful intercourse, vaginismus, vulvodynia, and anorgasmia. Some of my former clients, both male and female, have struggled with various sexual fears based on a wide variety of anxious underpinnings including sexual inexperience, sexual anorexia, and various childhood sexual traumas including incest, sibling incest and/or sibling sexual play. I often use EMDR to resolve these underlying trauma to great effect. EMDR can be a magic tool in helping clients resolve traumas but it is not for every client.

I came to this work through a circuitous route. I began my first clinical externship at The Gay Center in New York City in 2002. I worked with people of all sexual orientations and of all ages and gender identities – the full LGBTQIAA rainbow. My next clinical internship landed me just outside of Chicago, IL at The Center for Contextual Change – a clinical practice that specializes in healing sexual trauma as well as families affected by incest. I treated men who were sexual offenders and, simultaneously, I treated many sexually abused children. That was very hard work and I needed a change. After obtaining my doctorate from The University of Chicago, I returned to Los Angeles (I am a native-born, proud Angeleno) to begin a 4 year post-doctoral research and teaching fellowship at UCLA. During my post-doctoral years at UCLA, I simultaneously began a 3 year internship training in sex therapy and the treatment of sex and love addictions under Dr. Alex Katehakis at The Center for Healthy Sex (2006-2009). I found great compassion for and fulfillment in working with this client base and so have stayed in this field ever since.

My Credentials

B.A. with honors in Anthropology from UC Berkeley (1996); Masters and Ph.D. in Human Development from The University of Chicago (2005); Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Foundation for Psychocultural Research (The FPR from 2007-2009) at the UCLA Semel Neuropsychiatric Institute and at the UCLA Center for Society and Genetics (2005-2007). Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist (CSAT) and EMDR (Ee Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) certified. Extensive clinical training using Hypnotherapy for Rapid Trauma Resolution. I have taught coursework in Psychology and Medical and Psychological Anthropology at UCLA, Santa Monica College, The University of Chicago, and DePaul University. I am frequently asked to be a sexuality expert on NBC, ABC and KCAL 9 news as well as various other news and print media.

As a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), I have helped hundreds of clients recover their lives from various forms of sex, love and pornography addictions. I was personally trained by the founder of the CSAT community, Patrick Carnes, through IITAP (International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals). The joy that I feel witnessing individuals put an end to living double lives, end their sexual compulsivity, and begin to live healthy, congruent lives makes my job as a therapist enormously fulfilling. Working with the partners of sexual addicts as well as with couples in recovery from betrayal and addiction is another passion and speciality of mine. I have been a trusted therapist for dozens of betrayed Partners. I work with Partners based on the Trauma Model (as originally defined by Dr. Omar Minwalla) which stands in stark contrast to the co-dependency model that was so popular a decade ago.

Some of my clients have not experienced the pain of sex addiction per se, but instead, have suffered the devastation of infidelity in their partnership, whether physical, emotional or both. ANY of these experiences are incredibly devastating and painful. I am honored to help guide and support my clients recover their lives after any kind of infidelity. Some have the goal of building a new relationship with their partner. Others wish to heal after ending that relationship and create a separate new life for themselves. My only goal for my clients is their health and happiness. I want to see each of them get healthy, find their joy and thrive. I believe mental health is best defined by a state of deep CONGRUENCE. When we are living congruent lives, everything we think, say and do aligns. There is no internal conflict, no hidden secrets – no double life. Living in congruence allows for deep peace and thus lasting joy.

It’s important to say that healing rarely occurs in a linear way. The beginning stages can be a messy dance of many steps forward and some backwards. But, with consistent effort and deliberate “right action over time,” change does happen and healing will occur. Individuals and couples do RECOVER. I know it can be hard to believe this sometimes. At this point in my career, my years of experience and my warm but actively engaged style of doing therapy helps me dive right in with new clients and do deep work rather quickly.

As the Founder and Clinical Director of Psychotherapy Works, I also train new therapists who want to work with the population that I do. I take great pains to provide and otherwise support an excellent education for all members of my staff. I provide consistent, careful, empathy-based supervision to all of my supervisees and trainees. I am always on the lookout for any new therapy modality or resources that might help our clientele in order to keep our team up-to-date with the latest trainings and cutting edge therapy modalities. Every one of my staff is trained in treating complex trauma, anxiety, multiple addictions and compulsive behaviors in addition to being trained in the many presenting sexual issues that our clients come in wanting help with.

My own life has had it’s many twists and turns and I am no stranger to many of the painful experiences that my clients have undergone. I am a mother of two young boys and I know the importance of being the healthiest person you can be as a parent and as a partner. Again, nothing happens in a vacuum. My clients and my clinical staff are all extremely dear to me. I take my work very seriously and feel deeply grateful for those people who come in to see me weekly, putting their trust in my ability to hold safe the most vulnerable parts of themselves, as I witness them and help guide them towards their best “becoming.”

Contact Us

11835 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 820E
Los Angeles, CA 90025