Born to newly immigrated parents, I learned English in school, and grew up in tiny Western towns because my father worked for the US Geological Survey. Beginning in high school I have worked a wide variety of jobs including waitressing and mining. This background has exposed me to an extensive range of attitudes, customs, styles, and ways of living. Observing the myriad factors that influence behaviors, as well as one's thoughts and feelings, has instilled in me an openness and acceptance of the diversity of human expression.
My formal education reflects these interests beginning with my undergraduate degree in political science that enhanced my understanding of the societal structures that influence our behaviors. Several years later I obtained a teaching credential. After teaching high school English for four years I pursued a master's degree in School Psychology that also led to a Marriage Family Therapist (MFT) license. These programs trained me in the assessment of learning and personality styles, learning theory, psychodynamic traditions, family systems, and the treatment of adults and children based on these modalities.
Wishing to deepen my knowledge and clinical effectiveness, I pursued a doctorate in counseling psychology at the University of San Francisco’s (USF) APA approved program. My dissertation examined the development of empathy as well as the means to increase it. USF had a strong cognitive-behavioral focus (CBT), providing me a very solid foundation in CBT, considered among the most effective evidence-based treatments. Internships at Kaiser (individual psychotherapy, couple's therapy, and addictions treatment) and Berkeley Therapy Institute reinforced my academic training with practice implementing a variety of CBT methodologies and psychodynamic strategies.
I have been a student and practitioner of yoga and mindfulness for forty years. These soothing and stabilizing practices inform my work. Much of my continuing education these past 30 years has been devoted to learning how to include somatic and mindfulness-based methods into my clinical work.
Giovanna Otfinowski, PsyD.
During the covid crisis sessions will be conducted through a secure telehealth platform or by phone.
412 Red Hill Drive #5
San Anselmo, CA 94960
paintings by Joseph Ashton