Michael Burnias, Psy.D.
Client testimonial: "Dr. Burnias offered good advice on dealing with stress and communicates his advice well. The center works well with busy professionals and flexibly schedules meeting. I definitely have tools to help combat stress going forward."
We all experience stress and anxiety, but sometimes it can become an unmanageable struggle. In these times, we may find ourselves avoiding the things that bring meaning to our lives, such as relationships, friendships, or work challenges. This can be a signal that it's time to make a change. As a clinical psychologist, I help you to understand how your usual coping strategies are holding you back, and I work with you to develop a new set of skills for overcoming stress.
In our society, therapy can seem like a mysterious taboo subject, so you may be hesitant or uncertain of what to expect. To begin with, you should know that psychotherapy (especially CBT) has been shown to be effective for a range of issues, with benefits often exceeding those attained through medication. Therapy has shown to be particularly effective in the treatment of anxiety.
In addition to my expertise in treating anxiety, I am also passionate about understanding how our identities impact our health and lives. In a time where there is a growing focus on race/ethnicity, gender identity, gender roles, sexual orientation, and religious affiliation, it is crucial to consider how your identity influences the stress you experience. In particular, I have extensive experience working with people of color and the LGBTQ community.
My Approaches to Therapy
As a clinical psychologist, I appreciate that the roots of our difficulties are complex. Our genetics and physiology, our past relationships and experiences, and our cultural background and environment all play a role. I see therapy as an opportunity to consider them all. So, I aim to create an open and safe environment where we can apply our curiosity to those aspects of our lives, without the usual self-judgments and criticisms that exacerbate our stress.
My therapeutic approach is grounded in well-researched psychological theories. I incorporate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Time-Limited Dynamic Psychotherapy (TLDP), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), and mindfulness techniques. Scientific research supports the use of all of these approaches for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and general stress. Since certain techniques are better suited for certain personalities, I will work with you to create a customized plan.
Embedded in all of my work is a sensitivity to the importance of culture and identities. When I work with clients who identify as belonging to a minority, I help them understand and acknowledge the potential influence of “minority stress,” which is the additional stress individuals can experience when they are different from the dominant culture. I have extensive experience with the LGBTQ community, individuals who are HIV-positive, those in open relationships, people who have immigrated to the States, and individuals of various ethnicities and backgrounds.
My Qualifications as a Psychologist
As a licensed clinical psychologist, I have years of training and clinical experience with a variety of clients. I received my B.A. in psychology at UCLA, and I completed my doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. While completing my degree, I trained at local community clinics that provided services for those facing homelessness or living with HIV. I also worked at a maximum-security forensic hospital evaluating individuals who were suffering from mental illness and had been accused or convicted of committing a crime. These sites were instrumental in cultivating my awareness of and dedication to working with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
During my doctoral residency at Hartford Hospital, I began my focus on working with young adults (age 18-28) and understanding the unique stressors people face at different stages of life. I gained extensive experience with facilitating group therapy and conducting psychological assessments. I also trained at Hartford Hospital’s Anxiety Disorders Center where I developed a passion for treating social anxiety and general anxiety disorders. As a postdoc resident at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, I continued my work of treating depression, anxiety, and trauma with diverse military veterans, particularly LGBTQ veterans. I am specially trained in the evaluation of gender dysphoria and am qualified to conduct evaluations for the commencement of cross-sex hormone treatment or gender affirming surgeries.
I continue to work as a staff psychologist at the SFVA, and I enjoy my work with both civilians and veterans in the Bay Area.
Michael Burnias, Psy.D.
Licensed Psychologist, PSY 27591
(see here for licensure verification)
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