Approach to Therapy

My style is warm, welcoming, and client-centered. It is very important to me to create a space with you that feels safe and free of judgment. Together, we will explore the experiences that are significant to you and collaborate on an action plan as necessary to help you reach your therapy goals. I am eclectic in how I frame and guide this process, though I generally draw from the following approaches:

  • “Person-in-Environment” (“PIE”): Understands people’s experiences in the context of their environment and relationships to people and larger systems. Looks to improve upon factors in the environment to bring about change. Closely related to the "ecological perspective" and Systems theories.


  • Intersectional Feminism: Explores the intersecting types of oppression faced by people who have membership in one or more marginalized groups. Seeks to bring social justice to these groups by resisting oppression at the individual as well as structural levels.


  • Cognitive Behavioral Theory: Assumes that people’s thoughts influence their emotions and behaviors. Targets changing people’s thought processes in order to improve their mood and enrich the actions they take.


  • Mindfulness: A concept and set of skills that encourage bringing awareness to the present moment as a way of cultivating inner peace.


  • Solution-focused: Identifies short-term goals and builds on strengths to reach them.

Specialty Populations

  • People of Color

  • APIs & Asian Americans

  • Women

  • Students

  • “Millennials”

  • Young adults

  • Teens & adolescents

Specialty Issues

  • Feeling down, hopeless, or stuck

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, inadequacy, or self-doubt

  • Spiraling, hard-to-control thoughts

  • Anxiety & avoidance

  • Structural & intersectional oppression

  • Pressure to “live up to” high expectations

  • Cultural & identity issues

  • Stress at work and school

  • Conflict in the family

  • Communicating with others

  • Life transitions

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I am a licensed clinical social worker with over 7 years of experience providing psychotherapy to adults, teens, and youth. Before starting my private practice, I worked as a clinician and clinical manager at a community-based mental health program in Oakland serving APIs (Asian Pacific Islanders) and immigrants and refugees from various parts of the world. In this setting, not only was I able to develop a high standard of clinical rigor in my work, but I found and grew a passion for mental health advocacy, outreach, and preventive education. I worked on several projects aimed at reducing mental health stigma among high-risk populations including Asian seniors, adults with severe mental illnesses, and my personal favorite, high school and college students.

I became interested in ethnic studies and the social work/mental health professions as a Sociology undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco, particularly after doing my senior field work placement at a residential substance abuse recovery program serving the API community. I went on to attain masters degrees in Asian American Studies and Social Welfare at UCLA. These two disciplines are grounded deeply in the pursuit of equality and social justice, and they continue to inform how I see the world and try to empower others to change and grow. While at UCLA, I researched the experiences of Filipinx Americans and wrote my master’s thesis on racial microaggressions experienced by Filipinx American youth in Hawaii, where I grew up. Simultaneously, I studied social work and did field placements at a program serving the homeless community in Los Angeles (my first year) and in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s School Mental Health Program (my second year). Additionally, I attained the Pupil Personnel Services Credential (PPSC) which allows me to practice social work in California’s K-12 public schools.

Kate Viernes, LCSW
About Kate