Yet another therapist recommendation request
September 23, 2010 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend a qualified non-woo-woo (intelligent, educated, up to date on the literature and able to deal with a thinking/introspective patient) therapist in the bay area (santa clara, san jose, sunnyvale, ...). Big plus if they take Cigna.

I am sort of coming apart at the seams -- not sure if it is depression or anxiety, but whatever it is, I have started having very regular obsessive thoughts of just throwing my life away, selling my belongings and just abandoning it all. Considering all sorts of drastic life changing actions that defy my lifelong adherence to planning and common sense. The highlight of my previous week was a few days where I convinced myself I was going to be let go.

I have one brief experience with therapy as a teenager and it was generally negative. The therapists I encountered seemed... completely incompetent. In general, they were not able to follow even slightly complex chains of reasoning.

A friend (who is a therapist herself) many years later noted to me that people like myself are basically very rarely helped by talk therapy of any kind -- a combination of very high intelligence and depressive realism. She has no recommendations as she is physically as far away as one can go and still be on the same continent.

I have examined the therapists that turn up on the psychology today website in the area and most of them have comically poor credentials ranging from having attended a school like Palo Alto University (ranking: 178th of 180) to not even having attended a school of that calibre, including a number of holders of degree mill paper. I am not usually one to take one's schooling too seriously but something other than the bottom of the barrel would be nice.

I am in a very high visibility position and several co-workers post here, so posting anon.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd recommend that you start your search for a therapist through channels other than a pop-psychology website. Ask your GP for a referral, or use the Cigna website to find an in-network provider. Through either channel, you should be able to find a psychiatrist who will probably come closer to meeting your expectations in terms of education. He or she will have completed medical school and a psychiatric residency, and in the Bay Area, lots of those people will come from the very well-regarded local medical schools.
posted by juliapangolin at 9:36 PM on September 23, 2010

I hear ya. As a transplant from New England whose previous experiences with psychotherapy were with some very non-woo-woo practitioners, I had a hard time finding therapists out here of the style I was used to. Change is always good and all, but... yeah, phrases such as "they were not able to follow even slightly complex chains of reasoning"... I can relate to.

I very highly recommend:

- Christopher Cunningham of West Portal Counseling Associates in SF. Billed primarily as family therapy / couples counseling, which my spouse and I have benefited from, but he does great one-on-one work as well. An old soul, very down-to-earth, with a heart of gold.

- Dr. Seth Robbins, in SF and Berkeley; psychiatry and cognitive/behavioral therapy. This guy could smell my bullshit from a mile away, and very patiently and effectively helped me learn to identify and overcome an entrenched, defeated cynicism.

No idea if either takes Cigna. Sounds like you're looking for someone in the South Bay, but I do think that a few rides north to visit with either of these two professionals, will be worth your while, even if you have to pay out of pocket. If you're truly in crisis, it's probably not a bad idea to suspend the exhaustive search for The Perfect Fit, and instead meet with someone for a handful of sessions; you can find a more workable long-term situation once you're in a better place, and maybe these guys could refer you to someone more local...

MetaMail me if you have more questions.

Good luck, and remember to breathe.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 12:39 AM on September 24, 2010

FWIW- The rankings you are looking at for Palo Alto are based on data published in 1995. A lot can change in 15 years for academia. A new NRC report is scheduled to release on Sept 28th of this year. It might be worth a look with current data.
But remember that terrible therapists can graduate from Harvard and world changers can come from Palo Alto.
posted by WhiteWhale at 6:34 AM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dr. Christoper Sato-Perry in Palo Alto. Couldn't tell you about insurance, but he's quite forward thinking.
posted by mcschmidt00 at 11:30 AM on September 24, 2010

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