Introducing Dr. Evelyn De Villiers

Dr. De Villiers is a psychologist with specialized training in blended families, chronic pain, trauma, deafness and hard of hearing and military families. 


Welcoming couples to book in-person marriage retreat in
San Diego, California.

Also offering an intensive marriage retreat online.

Want to attend a couples therapy retreat in San Diego, California? Contact us.

Education

Credentials

Education

Ph.D., California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, (Alliant International University),  2001.

M.A., California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, (Alliant International University), Clinical Psychology,  1995.

B.A., California State University, Bakersfield. Psychology; minor: English Honors: Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology. 1992.


Licenses

Psychologist

State of New York  #020699-1
State of California #psy18687


Evidence-based Models

Gottman Method I & 2

Gottman Leader Training --7 Principles for Making Marriage Work  - Gottman Institute

Additional Certifications & Trainings

Practice Values

I found my passion for couples therapy after a one-year stint doing custody evaluations with high conflict parents fighting for child custody during their divorce. The heartache suffered by the children and the parents…but especially the children..motivated me to change course and do all I can to help couples prevent divorce. 

John Gottman’s four decades of research and track record of being the best method for improving relationships, (including rescuing a marriage from divorce,) was so exciting to me.

I, myself, had gone through a painful divorce, remarried and soon realized how perplexing and difficult a blended family is. My husband and I both had full custody of our 7 children (his 4 and my 3) and were determined to make our marriage work despite the many challenges.

We have been married now for 26 years and feel relief and joy that our children are grown and good people.. (side note—my son was my stepson’s best man at his wedding, and my youngest daughter was maid of honor at my stepdaughter’s wedding).

We now are thoroughly enjoying our 7 grandchildren with the 8th one on the way. But it was not all a cake walk.

Love is hard.

The good news is that I believe anyone is capable of transforming their relationship as impossible as it may seem. This is what excites me the most..to have a couple walk in my office feeling very little hope or no hope at all and providing them support, empathy and solutions.

It’s more than avoiding a break up or divorce or a mediocre relationship. It’s helping the couple find a “new beginning” that will make their marriage stronger and better than ever.

We don’t just talk or focus on problems. I help the couple to develop John Gottman’s evidence-based skills with the hope that….

“Doing so can turn conflict into a new experience of revealing and honoring life dreams, finding shared meaning, and reaffirming the couple’s friendship.” —John Gottman 


Work Summary

Currently, I work in both a clinic setting helping military service members and their families and a private practice setting (sometimes video sessions) where I do mostly couples therapy. Recently, I began working with a non profit organization that helps Navy Seals transition into the civilian life. They especially need couples therapy and I find this extremely interesting and rewarding. 

Personally Speaking

I grew up a military brat. My dad spent a career in the Marine Corps, was a Field Commissioned Officer (kept his commissioned status) and retired when I was in my first year of college.

We moved every 2-3 years. One of the qualities I not only valued but sought out when growing up in a military family and relocating so often was kindness. It’s pretty difficult having so many “first” days of school and eating alone in the cafeteria. I looked for and was very good at finding kind people. I see it as a strength and I look for this in my couples. I believe that being kind and hospitable myself also helps couples feel safe with me. 

My Dad spent many years in Vietnam and Okinawa and we were able to join him in Okinawa throughout my junior high years. As much as I loved the adventure of moving, attending new schools so often was hard academically for me.

I never thought I was college material so I dropped out, got married very young and had my first daughter when I was 21. My daughter at 4 years suddenly lost all her hearing due to a very rare virus. My infant son was 6 weeks at the time.

This was life changing and the pain somehow turned into a quest to not only help my daughter but other parents who were going through similar experiences. I started a support group for parents at a nearby hospital.

My daughter’s audiologist must have seen something in me and suggested I return to school. I learned that I actually was a very good student and even made the Psi Chi Honor Society, and decided to continue by education. 

So I’m a late bloomer, but I love the field of psychology and have enjoyed over 20 years as a clinical psychologist. My husband and I raised our children in La Jolla, California where I also had a private practice for many years.

When we empty nested, my husband got an opportunity to work on a project in NYC in the culinary world with some top chefs. It was a very exciting and delicious adventure for four years.

After becoming licensed in New York, I practiced in Midtown, Manhattan, where I work with a wide variety of clients. Some grew up in the projects, some worked on Wall Street, and some were high profile clients. I also worked with employees of a non profit organization that helped women who were sex trafficked find “safe homes” and get psychological and emotional support.

It was all a very exciting experience but we were happy to get back to California and closer to our families. When we returned to California we got the bright idea to buy a bed and breakfast in Big Bear Lake so that my husband could put his passion for culinary arts and wine tasting into practice.

Alpenhorn Bed and Breakfast in Big Bear Lake, CA. Running it with my husband was the hardest work I've ever done.

I opened up a practice at the community church and saw individuals and couples there. I also hosted couples retreats at our inn while my husband enjoyed hosting food and wine events. We won all sorts of awards and it was the hardest work either of us have ever experienced.

We should have done it when we were younger…my husband had a heart attack and we were advised that he recover at a lower altitude. So, we shuttered the business and moved to our home town of San Diego. He’s as healthy as a horse now and we get to see our kids and grandkids a lot more often. 

Clinical Office

San Diego is a beautiful city and rather spread out. The downtown area..especially Sea Port Village and other places by the water is picturesque with lots of wonderful restaurants and shopping and outdoor activities. The climate is pretty perfect year round.

I have 2 office locations. One is about 15-20 minutes Southeast of downtown in a charming place called Chula Vista and that office is located near a harbor. The other office is in Mission Valley close to freeway access and about 10 minutes from everything including the beach, Fashion Valley Mall, the airport and the downtown area. 

Obsessions 

I love to spend my free time reading. I especially enjoy spy books—author Daniel Silva is one of my favorites.

I get kind of obsessed by the stories of brave men and women who risk their lives.

A very memorable high point in my career was when I was the only “shrink” among a group of special agents, spies, a Seal Team and with General Hayden and Cindy McCain as the speakers at a summit in San Diego.

My husband thinks I’m "weird" but I find it fascinating. I love listening or reading stories about people who find ways to overcome insurmountable odds—and get the bad guys. 

I also love to read historical fiction. Reading is a way for me to escape, recharge my batteries and it helped me battle loneliness in my childhood because we moved so often.

Sometimes I indulge/binge watch shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime—and if I’m really tired I might spend a day in my jammies doing this—don’t feel guilty about this one bit. 

Inspirations

My dad, who is in his 80s now, is an inspiration to me. He left home at 13 years of age, having lived in poverty with a violent and alcoholic father. He got a job and worked and lived at a lumberyard. He became a lumberjack in Oregon until joining the Marines at the age of 17. He and my mother have been married 63 years.

When he retired in his 70's from a very successful business in agriculture he decided to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer helping Foster children in his community. He’s brave, hardworking and kind.

Family

I enjoy spending time with my husband, my children, my grandkids and my brother Glen. My husband, kids and grandkids just make me happy…but I belly laugh whenever I’m around my brother…he has a very wicked sense of humor and is a big tease. We’ve been through a lot together and he’s one of my very best friends. 

He and his wife are the best travel companions. I also love attending our church..some of my friends who also attend, I’ve known for nearly 20 years—my faith and supportive community are very important to me. 

"When I was living in Okinawa I was on the swim team and had a wonderful coach. I think it was the discipline, endurance, persistence and learning about winning and losing that has helped shape my personality. On the plus side, I don’t easily give up on anything and will persevere.


On the negative side, I am competitive, stubborn and get grumpy when things don’t turn out the way I want. I have to get over myself a lot!  Insecurity feels like such a waste of time and I fight it to this day.


In my 20s and 30s I dealt with some depression and anxiety and I found that my faith, hobbies, exercise, social support and rest helped me more than anything else.


I have so much compassion and empathy for those who suffer from mood disorders, insecurities and self-esteem issues. I love when I can help clients with tools and resources to break free of their suffering.

Our seven children and  almost 8 grandchildren

Rosie, my best therapist.

Being a grandparent is the best job in the world.

Hobbies

My favorite hobby is traveling to faraway places, especially South Africa (where my husband is from) and Europe. My husband and I took our 7 children and we actually got married at a game reserve in South Africa.

It was literally a shot gun wedding with rangers and their rifles out in the bush protecting us. I have many beautiful photographs of lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes. Going on a safari is heavenly to me. We also spent many summers traveling throughout Europe. Experiencing the beauty, history, architecture, and landscape is an obsession. 

Another hobby is nearly everyday I go on hikes with my ear pods listening to beautiful music— it soothes me, helps me think, is grounding and good exercise.

And my dog Rosie is my best therapist and my true love. 

I look forward to welcoming you to my office in San Diego!