May 2016 Wellington Health

Dr Michael Rathjens

Wellington Health

Dr. Michael Rathjens Provides Patients With Psychological Support

By Jason Stromberg

Dr. Michael Rathjens developed a passion for helping those in need while attending Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. The Wellington resident was drawn toward the study of psychology.

After graduating from Oglethorpe in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Rathjens completed his master’s and doctoral degrees at Nova Southeastern University in 1990. He then completed his internship and residency training at the University of Miami.

“I worked for the first 10 years of my practice as the chief psychologist at a physical rehabilitation hospital in Fort Lauderdale, where I was the program director of spinal cord injuries, chronic pain, oncology and traumatic burns,” recalled Rathjens, a clinical psychologist who has been practicing for 20-plus years.

Since that time, Rathjens has moved on to provide support for patients at his own practice, located in the Lake Wellington Professional Centre.

“Biology and psychology go hand-in-hand with the psychological adjustments to people’s physical problems,” Rathjens said. “The primary focus of my private practice for the past 20 years has included helping people who have had difficulty with relationships, substance abuse and parenting, which has led to symptoms of depression and anxiety.”

Rathjens relishes the opportunity to help patients understand their feelings and solve their problems.

“Once the patient begins to focus on what he can control, or in other words, if we can put our energy on the focus on what the person has control over, that makes them feel so much better moving forward,” Rathjens said. “We answer for ourselves only. If we stay focused on what we have control over, and what is truly worth our energy, it makes it easier for us to accomplish our goals to be a better parent, or someone who can stop using substances, or can have a better relationship.”

Rathjens tells patients, regardless of what they face, not to internalize everything or blame themselves or carry guilt for things for which they’re not personally responsible.

A common issue that Rathjens deals with involves an adolescent coping with his or her parents’ divorce.

“They need to adjust to the fact that their parents are separating despite the fact that they want things to be what they once were,” he said. “This can affect school, work and social things. Typically, people need to get their perspective back.”

All of this can depend on the age of the child. “You still need to do your job, get your work done in school, and be with your friends,” Rathjens said. “These are things we can’t lose sight of. You can’t control your parents’ decisions, but you can control the way you live your life.”

Rathjens’ favorite success story is when parents apply a consistent way to help their children cope with what they are dealing with and see the improvement in each child’s life through everyone’s efforts. “It’s very rewarding. I’m very impassioned by that,” said Rathjens, who noted that married couples having trouble in their relationships make up about a third of his practice.

He also works with people who have been through traumatic situations.

“What I feel most satisfied and passionate about is when a person has had a traumatic injury and is able to regain a sense of independence,” Rathjens said. “For example, when someone is paralyzed from an automobile accident, or someone is diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, through their efforts and therapy, they are able to become independent, when they once felt that this was never going to be possible.”

The cornerstone of Rathjens’ profession is the importance of confidentiality and the respect that he holds for a person who is willing to work with him on his or her concerns.

“You can always go for an initial consult just to see if this doctor can be helpful to you,” Rathjens said. “I practice cognitive behavioral therapy, which is problem-specific, with focused treatment goals. So, in that initial consultation, you’ll know whether the treatment that is being proposed to you is going to work.”

A comfort level between the psychologist and the patient is crucial.

“Everyone has something to work on, but not everyone needs therapy,” he said. “If you’re suffering from those issues, at least have a consultation to see what direction you should take.”

To contact Rathjens, call (561) 790-7975 or e-mail him at