Kathleen Kawamura, PhD Clinical Psychologist
Kathleen Kawamura, PhDClinical Psychologist

FINDING A THERAPIST

 

A psychotherapist is someone you are going to trust to help you with your psychological and emotional well-being, and therefore, you want to feel confident that you are choosing a qualified psychotherapist who best fits your needs and interests. If you are suffering from anxiety or stress, it is important to know that decades of scientific research and clinical trials have shown again and again that for many people cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for anxiety and stress and that these benefits tend to be long lasting. 

 

Many therapists describe themselves as using CBT but may only be using certain strategies in the context of a more traditional "talk therapy." Other therapists may use CBT in general but may not have training in the cognitive behavioral treatment of specific anxiety disorders. For example, for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Panic Disorder there are specific treatment strategies and explanations that are unique to those particular disorders and are the components of treatment that have been found to be powerfully effective. 

 

Therefore, if you are seeking cognitive-behavioral therapy for the treatment of anxiety or stress, it will be important to find a therapist with specialized training and experience in those areas who can also provide you with the materials and strategies that can help facilitate your treatment. Do not be afraid to ask a therapist questions that will help you determine whether the therapist has the skills and expertise you are looking for.

 

Questions can include:

 

  • "What training and supervision did you have in the cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders?"
  • "How much of your practice involves anxiety and stress disorders?"
  • "What are your treatment strategies for someone with the types of issues I am struggling with?"
    • For Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, ask about Exposure and Response Prevention.
    • For Panic Disorder ask about "interoceptive" exposure.
    • For Generalized Anxiety Disorder ask about more than relaxation strategies such as mindfulness, scheduling worry time, or the cognitive behavioral treatment for insomnia.
    • For Social Anxiety Disorder, ask about behavioral experiments and social skills training.
    • For all types of anxiety, ask if they incorporate mindfulness or acceptance based strategies.
  • "Are you willing to leave the therapy room for the purposes of behavior therapy?"
    • To help with exposure to situations that cause anxiety, going outside of the therapy room may be necessary
  • "Do you typically have readings or strategies to practice in between sessions?"
    • The goal in CBT is for you to become the expert on anxiety and its treatment. This can take time and practice. Between-session readings and practices not only can facilitate treatment but also may reduce the number of therapy sessions needed.  
  • "How do you feel about medications?"
    • Though medications are not for everyone, they have been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders and thus should at least be considered for discussion

Once you have described the problems you are struggling with, perhaps in your first session, you could ask: 

  • "What is your conceptualization of the problems I am struggling with?"
  • "What are your treatment recommendations?"
  • "How long before I can expect to start feeling better?"
  • "How long do you expect treatment to last?"

 

If you do find a therapist who is experienced in the cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders, it is now up to you to decide how comfortable you feel with the therapist and whether you feel the therapist is able to communicate clearly about anxiety and fit the treatment to your particular needs. You will probably have a sense of this within the first one or two sessions of therapy.

 

This is your therapy, and you are in charge of getting the most out of it!   

 

ABOUT ME

 

To help you make a better decision about whether I would be a good fit for your needs, my training and qualifications are listed below.

 

EDUCATION

 

Master of Science (M.S.), Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Clinical Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

 

The clinical psychology program is based on a scientist-practitioner model and therefore involves both clinical training and the production of original scientific research. My research was in the areas of perfectionism, anxiety, body image, depression, and Asian American issues. My work has been published in scientific psychology journals and as book chapters, and I have presented my clinical and research findings at a variety of professional settings such as the Amerian Psychological Association and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

 

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), University of California, Irvine

 

I graduated from UCI in three years with honors and participated in research labs in the fields of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning processes in children, and hearing mechanisms in adults.  

 

High School/Jr. High, American School in Japan

 

My experiences living overseas, attending an international school, and interacting with other international students has had a great influence on who I am both personally and professionally. The American School in Japan provided solid academic instruction and promoted awareness and respect for other cultures through both academic and experiential learning. This early experience helps make it a natural process for me to utilize cultural sensitivity in my therapy practice.

 

School of Life

 

Though not part of my formal academic training, I do consider my year backpacking solo around the world to the Netherlands, Kenya, Rwanda, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, and New Zealand as one of my most valuable learning experiences. I have also traveled throughout the years to Japan, the islands of Hawaii, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Mexico, South Korea, Italy, Costa Rica, and Peru. These experiences have introduced me to new lands and new cultures which have broadened my understanding of the human experience. During my travels, I not only try to appreciate the sights but also try to learn about the people, the history, and the culture of the places I visit. 

 

Professional Development

 

I recently obtained certification as a Certified Anxiety Treatment Professional to ensure that my knowledge in the cognitive behavioral treatment of Anxiety Disorders is up-to-date. Throughout the years, I have also taken additional courses including the cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety, mindfulness, acceptance and commitment therapy, insomnia, and psychopharmacology to continue to be informed and inspired by experts in the field. The most notable shift has been in the deliberate incorporation of mindfulness techniques into cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders and in neurological understandings and explanations for anxiety. I also update my library regularly to keep myself informed of various self-help books to recommend to clients.  

 

CLINICAL EXPERIENCES

 

Graduate School

 

My clinical experiences included training and working in:

  • Community clinics (including an Anxiety Disorders Clinic)
  • College counseling centers
  • An inpatient substance abuse treatment center at a Veteran’s hospital
  • A psychiatric emergency center
  • Inpatient psychiatric hospitals

I developed a specific interest in the cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders while at an Anxiety Disorders Clinic with Dr.s Randy Frost and Patricia Di Bartolo who are both clinical experts and published researchers in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Dr. Randy Frost is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and hoarding, and Dr. Patricia DiBartolo is an expert in treating anxiety disorders in children and adolescents and trained under Dr. David Barlow, one of the pioneers and leading experts in the cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxiety disorders. At the clinic, I received education and clinical training for two years in the use of empirically-validated treatment protocols for Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I found it invaluable to learn from experts in the field who have been practicing, learning, teaching, and developing for many years.

 

Predoctoral Internship, VA Long Beach Health Care System

 

My focus was on behavioral medicine, which relates to the use of psychological principles to prevent and manage medical issues. I used primarily cognitive-behavioral techniques to address anxiety and depression in the areas of oncology, HIV, hospice, neuropsychology, spinal cord injury, primary care, general medical inpatient care, and mental health. I was also trained in the cognitive behavioral treatment of chronic pain, which included relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness techniques.    

 

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard Medical School Clinical Fellow, Cambridge Health Alliance Behavioral Medicine Program

 

The fellowship provided extensive education and clinical training in integrating cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness, relaxation, biofeedback, or hypnosis.  Clinical work was focused on working with adults at a community mental health clinic who presented with issues related to anxiety, depression, chronic pain, body image dissatisfaction, weight management, and stress-related disorders such as headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and TMJ. 

 

University of California Irvine, Counseling Center, Staff Psychologist, 2003-2008

 

My specialization was in the cognitive behavioral treatment of anxiety and stress. I ran a Stress Management Group, provided supervision in cognitive behavioral therapy to psychologists in training, and conducted seminars in cognitive-behavioral therapy. Being at a Counseling Center required a generalist approach, and therefore, individual counseling also involved working with depression, body image dissatisfaction, transitions into and out of college, personal growth, coping with medical illnesses, bereavement, and difficulties in family, romantic, roommate, and friendship relationships all in the context of an ethnically diverse, LGBTQ friendly environment.

 

TEACHING EXPERIENCES

 

Teaching is an important skill in cognitive behavioral therapy in that this type of therapy involves providing the client with education about the development, maintenance, and treatment of their presenting problem, and this must be done in a clear and concise manner that is digestible to the client. 

  • Argosy Orange County, graduate program, adjunct professor - Cognitive Behavioral Theories and Techniqes
  • Argosy/Pepperdine, guest lecturer - Stress Management, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Irvine Valley College, adjunct professor - Introduction to Psychology, Human Development, Abnormal Psychology
  • California State Dominguez Hills, adjunct professor - Behavioral Modification
  • Smith College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Teaching Assistant - Introduction to Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Theories in Clinical Psychology
  • Kaplan - SAT and GRE prep courses

 

PUBLICATIONS

 

     Kawamura, K. Y. (2015). Cross-cultural and ethnicity issues in diagnosis. In L. Smolak & M.P. Levine (Eds.), The Wiley Handbook of Eating Disorders (pp. 197-208). Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

     Kawamura, K.Y. (2012). Asian American body images. In T. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.), Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice, and Prevention, 2nd Edition. New York: Guilford Press.

     Kawamura, K.Y. (2012). Body image among Asian Americans. In T. Cash (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance (pp. 95-102).  Oxford: Elsevier.

     Kawamura, K.Y., & Rice, T.  (2008).  Body image among Asian Americans.  In N. Tewari & A.N. Alvarez (Eds.), Asian American Psychology: Current Perspectives (pp. 537-558). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum.

     Kawamura, K.Y. & Frost, R.O. (2004). Self-concealment as a mediator in the relationship between perfectionism and psychological distress. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 28. 183-191.

     Kawamura, K.Y.  (2002).  Asian American body images.  In T.E. Cash, & T.P. Pruzinsky (Eds.), Body Image:  A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice (pp. 243-249).  New York: Guilford Press.

     Kawamura, K.Y., Frost, R.O., & Harmatz, M.G.  (2002).  The relationship of perceived parenting styles to perfectionism.  Personality and Individual Differences, 32(2), 317-327. 

     Kawamura, K.Y., Hunt, S., DiBartolo, P., & Frost, R. (2001). Perfectionism, anxiety, and depression: Are the relationships independent? Cognitive Therapy and Research, 25, 291-301.
     Harmatz, M.G., Well, A.D., Overtree, C.E., Kawamura, K.Y., Rosal, M., & Ockene, I.S.  (2000). Seasonal variation of depression and other moods: A longitudinal approach.  Journal of Biological Rhythms, 15(4), 344-350.

 

Reviewer for research articles from Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, and Psychological Assessment.  (2005-2006).