How I Approach Therapy

therapist walnut creekEach and every individual has a different reason for why they may be experiencing their own symptoms, and I do not use a “cookie-cutter” approach to therapy. I see each client as a unique individual with their own, unique history and circumstances that contribute to what they are experiencing.

If you decide to call to make an appointment, I will spend some time asking you some basic questions so that both you and I can see if we both feel we are a good fit to work with one another. If we do, then at the first appointment, we I will spend quality time building a therapeutic relationship with you. This includes getting a solid understanding about what is bringing you in, your background, and hearing what you need from your time in working with me.

Together, we will establish goals, and continually re-evaluate them throughout the therapeutic process to make sure that you are progressing. If clinically necessary, I do make referrals to psychiatrists and nutritionists in the area.

My Clinical Background

I was born and raised in the Bay Area. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to
help people. Not only was I the one my friends turned to when they had problems,
but I also was sought out as a young teen to write a teen advice column for the
Contra Costa Times, called Teen-to-Teen. After high school, I pursued my
bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

During my time there, I was able to spend a year studying at the University of
British Columbia. I was also able to start working with autistic children at this
time, which is when I became introduced to behavioral and family therapy. After
just three years, I graduated with my B.A. with honors in Psychology from UCSC. From
there, I went onto the graduate Clinical Psychology program at Pepperdine
University in Malibu, California, which had an emphasis on Marital, Family, and
Child Therapy.

During my time there, I started to work with teenagers at a high
school, where I conducted individual and group therapy for 2 years. During this
time, I was inducted as a lifetime member of Psi Chi, which is the National Honor
Society for Psychology. After 2 years. I graduated from Pepperdine with my M.A.
in Clinical Psychology. I was then admitted into the doctoral program in
Counseling Psychology at the University of Southern California, which is
accredited by the American Psychological Association. During the 4 years as a
doctoral student there, I was able to work at several different elementary schools
and high schools, providing individual, family, and group therapy. I was also able
to work for a year at California State University, East Bay providing individual
and group therapy to adults. As part of that program, I completed my pre-doctoral
internship at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Counseling Center, also
accredited by the American Psychological Association, where I was able to provide
individual, couples, and group therapy.

During my year in Hawaii, I was also on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which provided me the opportunity to learn a great deal about crisis work and handling a multitude of clinical situations. My
work with such a variety of clients led me to have an interest in adopted children and adoptive families, as I started to become aware that adoptees have a unique set of clinical concerns. Thus, I completed my dissertation on the topic of adoptees, comparing those adoptees in open versus closed adoptions. After completing my Ph.D. at USC, I went on to work at Kaiser Permanente as a post doctoral intern, where I saw adults in individual, group, and couples’ therapy. I was licensed in the
state of California in August, 2005.

Throughout my clinical experience, I have had much experience and interest in treating patients with eating disorders. I currently am a member of the Academy of Eating Disorders, the Binge Eating a Disorder Association, the Center for Mindful Eating, as well as the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals. I routinely attend annual conventions to maintain abreast of current eating disorder treatments for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
I am also a licensee of Am I Hungry? for Binge Eating, which is a comprehensive mindful eating program. Through this program, patients reconnect with their physical signals to guide when, what, and how much to eat without restrictive diet rules and recognize and cope with their triggers for binge eating.

Cristina A. Castagnini, Ph.D. is an experienced psychologist with many years of experience in treating patients in the Bay area.