The Cognitive Therapy Institute
of San Diego



Therapy, Consultation, Training
Click Here to Contact Us

CBT San Diego Cognitive Therapy

     3262 Holiday Court, Suite 220 | La Jolla, CA 92037 | (858) 450-1101

     The Cognitive Therapy Institute is conveniently located in a shared office
     building near the 5 Freeway and La Jolla Village Drive

                        The Cognitive Therapy Institute has provided psychotherapy and training in the San Diego
                                                                        community since 1991.

Our goal is to assist you in reaching your personal or professional goals, to experience liberation from excess anxiety, depression, compulsive behaviors, conflicts, or other problems that may be preventing you from experiencing a full, meaningful, and enjoyable life.

At the Cognitive Therapy Institute we strive to offer the highest quality of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to our clients, using established treatment plans that have proven effective for depression, panic attacks, phobias, PTSD, OCD, social anxiety, and other anxiety conditions. Our primary goal is to be supportive to you, to assure that you feel cared for and guided in a competent way as you work toward recovery, growth, and achieving your goals.  Our therapists have expertise in CBT, proven by our certification with the Academy of Cognitive Therapy.  We also have extensive training in related treatment strategies such as Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or Assertiveness Training that are integrated in our treatment to ensure that you develop a range of skills that will support optimal health and resiliency. We recognize that each individual or family comes with their own unique background, needs and preferences, thus we attempt to work together with you in a supportive and flexible way to reach your particular goals. We offer group therapy and other reduced fee options, and under some circumstances a sliding scale fee may be available.

The Cognitive Therapy Institute (CTI) also offers training and consultations with mental health professionals and supervision of interns regarding the practice of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The training is provided by a certified member of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. We also offer classes and consultation to businesses, organizations, and to the general public regarding the personal and professional benefits of CBT.

What is Cognitive Therapy?

Cognitive Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have emerged in recent years as the leading form of psychotherapy for panic, anxiety, phobias, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, stress, and many other conditions.  It was developed and refined over the past four decades through the pioneering work and research of Aaron T. Beck M.D., in conjunction with extensive research and contributions by many other clinicians around the world.  Cognitive Therapy (CT) is often referred to as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) because of the frequent use of strategies and techniques developed initially within the behavior therapy field.  CT maintains a holistic approach to each unique individual, recognizing the interrelationship between our thinking, behavior, emotions, and physiology as they interact with a given environmental context.  The primary emphasis in CT is on identifying, evaluating, and changing maladaptive patterns of thinking and relevant underlying beliefs (i.e. cognition) that are causing or maintaining anxiety, depression, or other problems. In general, cognition is represented in the way we view ourselves (self-image), other people, and the world, in our day-to-day lives.  It involves the particular or unique meaning that we give to things we experience.  For example, some people may interpret their own shortcomings or mistakes as perfectly normal parts of being human, whereas others might interpret similar shortcomings as meaning "I'm a failure, or they may believe "People won't like me if they know about these flaws".

The term "cognitive", at a more scientific level, refers to the psychological structures, processes, and resulting thoughts (or images) that are relevant in our way of perceiving and reacting to life events.  Cognitions include phenomena such as perceptions, thoughts, images, assumptions, expectations, schemas, other beliefs, ourselves, people and life: Each of these directly affects our emotional reactions, behavior, relationships and virtually all areas of life.

Excessive worry about things that "might happen", frequent self-criticism, or chronic self-doubt are just a few examples of cognitive patterns that cause or perpetuate anxiety and depression, and which might interfere with activities or progress in life. Such dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs may seem completely true, or may be occurring at a subconscious level, thus we may not be aware that they involve exaggerations, distortions, or unbalanced views about ourselves and the world.  Unhelpful, maladaptive thinking patterns can usually be changed in a significant and positive way through CT, providing some immediate relief from emotional distress. Further, learning to change such maladaptive thinking and the relevant underlying beliefs can lead to lasting improvements in emotional reactions, self-esteem, relationships, and other areas of life. CT requires conscious work on the part of the client, but your therapist will provide support and guidance in the process.

 Examples of maladaptive cognition:

Panic: “These racing thoughts / weird feelings of detachment / out of control feelings… must mean I’m going crazy!”, or , “I’m not getting air!… I’m going to pass out! … I must get out of here!”, or, “I’m having a heart attack!" (when the heart has been tested and is fine), or “I’ve got to pull the car over or else I’m going to lose control!”

Social Phobia: “I don’t know what to say to people… They’re going to notice how uncomfortable I am…They’ll see my face turn red … my hands shaking … my voice tremble… and they will think I’m weak/weird, and won’t want anything to do with me!”

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
“What if he was in an accident!” , “ What if this pain is an early sign of cancer!”, “What if I lose my job!”, “What if we can’t pay the bills!”

Depression: “I never do anything right…I’ve messed up so many things in my life…I feel like a total failure…I’m too depressed to even go for a walk…Whatever I try, I’ll just fail at it… Everything in the world is going downhill…Who would want to be around me …. No one really cares… What’s the use…I’ll never come out of this depression…”.

OCD: “I’m contaminated … have to wash my hands again…can’t take any chances.”, or “If I don’t go back and check, I’ll be responsible for starting a fire!”, or “Having that awful thought must mean I’m a bad person…(or) must mean I’ll lose control and do it!”

Anger:  “I shouldn’t have to explain it to them a second time…Those people are so stupid!”, “How come everything in the world is so screwed up!”, “I hate getting stuck in these ridiculous lines…”, or “She/He is always doing that to me!”

Relationship issues:
“She did that because she’s trying to control me.” “If he really cared, I wouldn’t have to ask him to help with the dishes.” “She never wants to do what I want to do”. “The best way to deal with him/her is to just avoid the whole issue.”

How is Cognitive Therapy different from other  therapies? 

Cognitive therapy (CT) employs a positive, active, educational approach that focuses on how to change and on seeking solutions rather than just simply talking about your past, or “exploring” your feelings and problems. CT is typically provided within an emotionally supportive, empathic relationship, giving opportunity to express feelings and receive caring in addition to working directly on positive changes in your thinking and your life. The treatment is often short term, because it is more focused on specific goals and treatments techniques, and because it is based in a clear cognitive conceptualization that guides the treatment process. CT emphasizes a collaborative relationship between the therapist and the client wherein they work together to specify goals and to implement the treatment strategies. Each client is assisted in using CT/CBT techniques that will help in resolving current areas of difficulty as well as learning skills that will be useful in preventing relapse and in dealing with future life challenges.