Say hello to RHODA

    Rhoda Mills Sommer

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    In 2024 my private practice marks it’s 43rd year of providing individual, couples and family therapy (gay and straight). My client base encompasses a broad range of issues. Typically my caseload includes issues of sexual abuse, chemical dependency, codependency, adoption, depression, adolescence and profound character change with personality disorders. What links all the issues is pain. Pain is one thing our culture works hard to sidestep and ignore — deflecting pain is a mistake. Wrestling with pain cleans up character and sets all of us on the right path.

    Here is a 2018 podcast episode from another podcaster who interviews me on relationships.

    A new friend, Nell Branum wrote this description of me:
    “The first thing you’ll notice when you meet Rhoda is her glasses – bright blue in front, fluorescent orange on the sides. But stick around, and soon you’ll detect other fun and funky pieces that melt together to compose this mom – a sincere and irresistible laugh, a wealth of quirky stories that pour forth as easily as milk from a jug, a walk-o-meter that is always on and insisting that she jog just one more mile before sunset, & her bulldog devotion to Diet Pepsi.

    Stay a little longer, and you’ll begin to hear her heart. Right in the middle of a story, she might say something like, “Life works better when you’re honest with yourself” or “When fear is driving your train, it makes your world too small.”

    And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll get to sit with Rhoda for a 45-minute session, or maybe more than one, and you can tell her what’s bugging you, and why you’re pissed, and how your life is crappy and falling apart, and why you are terrified about tomorrow, or tonight. If you tell Rhoda, she will listen. She will help you find your soul and love it, because Rhoda is a therapist.

    A therapist is a person who knows how to help you come back from something terrible. If your knee ligament is torn, a physical therapist will help you strengthen it and get your knee working again. If your soul is torn, your inner self has been hammered, Rhoda’s the kind of therapist that will help you put it back together, gather your gifts, and find the inner strengths that are waiting for you.

    Unofficially, Rhoda has been listening since high school, when her friends always seemed to choose her to tell their problems to, or help them down from bad drug trips. Officially, she has been licensed and in private practice for 37 years. But if that seems like a long time to you, you should know that her passion for what she does is just as bright as it was in the beginning. In fact, the wattage has increased.

    So if you meet Rhoda, tease her about her glasses. Offer her a Diet Coke instead of a Diet Pepsi (well, you can try, anyway). And then settle down with her and have a talk. You can bet she will listen.”

    This website is in conjunction with a blog started in 2009 & a podcast begun in 2015.

    relationship, relationships, podcast, couples, communication,

    “Relationships are the place where the soul works out it’s destiny.” – Thomas Moore

    In the interest of authenticity: There are 2 mistakes that therapists can make, being too supportive or too challenging. When I make mistakes it is out of being too challenging.

    Growth and change are fearsome directions to embrace. If there is something about yourself that you would like to change, first understand why you do it and how it works for you. I.e. – child sucking thumb, source of comfort and reassurance.

    The most important ingredient to change is if you want to and if you are willing to be honest and brave.

    My Experience:
    Time Period Previous Experience
    9/81 to Present Private Practice including individual, group and couples therapy. In the management of my client load I make an effort to encompass a wide range of issues and broad client base. Typically my caseload includes issues of sexual abuse, chemical dependency, codependency, adoption, depression, adolescence and profound character change with personality disorders.
    7/83 to 5/86 Contractual Clinical services for individual therapy for adolescent residents and consultation for group home staff at Hosina House, Pittsburgh, PA. (Part-time)
    9/83 to 11/84 Clinical work in the Drug And Alcohol unit of Alternatives, Bridgeville, PA. Treatment was provided to addicted persons and their families. (Part-time)
    1/80 to 8/83 Developmental and operational responsibilities of the incest component of Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, Pittsburgh, PA. My responsibilities included individual, group and play therapy with victims ages 8 to 70, direct clinical supervision of other staff members, professional education, public awareness efforts and media relations. Extensive public speaking to professional and lay groups in Pennsylvania and to professional groups out of state.
    1/79 to 4/80 Clinical Practicum in the Family Therapy Clinic at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA. And at Family And Children’s Services of Tarentum, PA.
    6/76 to 8/78 Job placement counselor working with women with criminal records. Included visits to the State Prison at Muncy. The Program for Female Offenders, Pittsburgh, PA.
    9/75 to 5/76 Caseworker for Information and Volunteer Services of Allegheny County.
    5/74 to 7/75 Family Services Caseworker at an inner-city agency that served the African-American community, Rochester, NY.


    EMDR Level 2 Completed 11/02/2000

    Post Graduate Training Program, Gestalt Institute Of Cleveland. Intensive exposure to the theory and methodology of Gestalt therapy. Instructors included Laura Perls, Miriam Polster and Joseph Zinker.

    MSW, University of Pittsburgh, 1980. Clinical course emphasis with a systems theory based approach.


    April 2015 – Started Podcast “What Healthy Couples Know that You Don’t”

    February 2009 – Started Relationship Realities Blog

    June 2004 – Mental Health Disaster II Training for the American Red Cross

    Marquis Who’s Who 55th Edition 2001

    Marquis Who’s Who in American Woman – 1993-2003

    Marquis Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare – 1999/2000

    Marquis Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare 55-58th Edition – 2001-2004

    Publication on subject of trans-racial adoption in the Nov/Dec 1993 issue of OURS magazine.

    Conducted workshops and graduate level course in Gestalt Therapy, Continuing Education Department, School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh.

    Presented a paper on incest treatment, N.A.S.W. National Conference, 1982.

    Conducted statewide training program on sexual abuse, State of Louisiana, 1984.