Welcome to Lighten Your Load, LLC

Providing Counseling Services in Tempe, AZ

About Me

My Background

My name is Michael Johnson, Ph.D. and Lighten Your Load, LLC is the name of my private practice. I think it's important for potential clients to know a little about me, my upbringing and my values as part of the process of determining whether or not I am a good fit. To that end, I will share a little about me. 

I was born in northwest Washington, D.C. to a single-parent, middle-class African American family. My mother’s family was the only family that I knew. I never met my father or any of his family and he died before I could get to know him. My grandfather served in the Army and was a World War II veteran. He later worked for the National Security Agency until he retired from government service. My grandmother was an elementary school teacher. As a child she would often try to teach me mathematics and English and encouraged me to read. My family, as a whole, placed a high value on education. 

My mother raised me as a single-parent and retired from Verizon (formerly Bell Atlantic). We lived in several parts of Maryland as well as East Point, Georgia for about 5 years. My time in Georgia exposed me to children from various cultural backgrounds. In 1984 we moved back to D.C. where I began attending a Catholic high school - Archbishop Carroll. It was a result of my experiences at this school that I began to develop my values such as compassion for others, integrity, and perseverance in addition to awareness of social justice and social activism issues. 

From high school I went to Rutgers University in New Jersey. I just knew I was going to major in mechanical engineering, but I soon realized that my heart wasn’t in it. I became active in student organizations and began to explore social science majors. After much research, I eventually settled on pursuing a career in psychology. Because I had already accumulated a slew of credits in physics and math, it was easier for me to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in physics. I was able to apply for and granted entry into Rutgers’ master’s program in counseling psychology. From there I applied to Penn State’s counseling psychology program and graduated from there in 2000 with a doctoral degree.

Professional Experiences

My first job as a psychologist was at James Madison University’s counseling center. In 2001 I was granted a license to practice psychology in Virginia. After feeling discontent with working and living in Virginia, I applied for a job at Arizona State University’s Counseling & Consultation center and for some reason, they hired me! In a strange irony, I received my license from the state of Arizona on September 11, 2001. I had wonderful experiences at ASU and I remained there for 5 years until 2006 when I decided to leave to pursue private practice full-time.

I have taught psychology classes to undergraduates and master's level students at Northcentral University, Grand Canyon University and Argosy University. I have always liked being involved in an academic environment so much that I try to periodically take classes in various areas such as mental health, technology and personal development. 

About My Practice

My Psychological Practice

I offer effective outpatient, individualized, counseling in Tempe, AZ. I treat a variety of mental health disorders, and provide culturally competent care to individuals beginning age 21 and older. 

My Treatment Focus

My focus is to help individuals heal, energize, and become aware of their inner strengths. I achieve this by providing a neutral safe space, listening to your concerns, and customizing a treatment plan. 

My Client Promise

I promise to be there for you every step of your journey. My goal is to help you grow from your struggles, heal from your pain, and move forward to where you want to be in your life. If I can't help, I will do my best to provide you with resources that can.

My Therapy

Depression & Anxiety

Depression, fear, and anxiety are some of the most common and uncomfortable emotions that we can experience at some point in our lives. Through counseling and treatment, I are able to help you recover motivation, perspective, and joy that you once had in your life. 

Trauma & PTSD

Many individuals can experience symptoms associated with painful and traumatic circumstances. Anxiety, fear, and hopelessness are a few emotions that can linger post traumatic events. I can help you overcome these symptoms and guide you through the process of grief and healing. 



Relationships can be challenging. Through individual counseling I assist persons who are looking to strengthen their emotional connection with others. I provide a supportive place to discuss issues and solutions to better strengthen your relationship.     

My Therapy Continued


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a treatment that focuses on stimulating the brain to process previously insufficiently processed disturbing memories. EMDR has been used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, low self-esteem, addictions, eating disorders and impulse control problems. In addition to EMDR, I also utilize cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal process and dialectical behavioral approaches to treatment.

Services I Provide

In addition to depression, anxiety and relationship issues, I treat persons age 21 and older for the following mental health concerns: grief, GLBTQ, work/career, stress management, and mild substance/alcohol use and abuse.

Services I Don't Provide

I don't provide the following: court mandated treatment, pastoral counseling, prescribe medication, neurological assessment, couples or family counseling, forensic assessments, severe substance/alcohol use or dependence, personality disorders and legal consultation.

Rates & Insurance Plans

Rates for Individual Counseling

Rates (if you're not using insurance)
$200 for the initial 1-hour therapy session
$180 for all subsequent 50-minute session 

Using Your Insurance

Insurance benefits can be confusing. Please make sure you have called your insurance company to confirm your health insurance benefits. Please do not solely rely on information found on the web or on your insurance card about your benefits.

Insurance Companies Accepted

I am a provider with the following insurance companies: BlueCross BlueShield, ValueOptions, Aetna, Cigna, Optum/United Healthcare, First Health, and Multi-Plan. I am not an AHCCCS, Humana, Tricare, Comp-Psych or Biodyne provider. If you do not see your insurance company listed, it's best that you contact them to determine if I am a provider on your plan. 

Reduced Fees

Reduced fees are available on a limited basis.

Forms of Payment

Cash, check, credit cards (including Discover) and PayPal are all accepted.

Cancellation Policy

If you do not show up for your scheduled therapy appointment, and you have not notified me at least 24 hours in advance, you will be charged a $35 missed appointment fee. 

Payment Method

Psychotherapy Sessions


Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card

You can pay any outstanding balance using PayPal. I also accept major credit cards, checks and cash. Just contact me to make other payment arrangements.

Contact Me

If you're requesting an appointment,  please provide your name, a contact phone number, a brief description of the concern(s) you're wanting help with, your preferred day(s) and time(s) of day to meet and the name of your behavioral/mental health insurance (if you're using one).  

Lighten Your Load, LLC

430 West Warner Road, Suite 104, Tempe, AZ 85284, us

(602) 421-7481




Mon-Thu: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri: 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Appointment Request