Jason Cohen, Psy.D, M.A.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Therapy Approach

Other mental health professionals describe my style of interaction with clients as supportive, collaborative, engaging, highly active and rather direct. My preference is for a combination of "doing" and talking. I am very much action oriented.


My approach is geared toward change. Although the specific reason(s) people seek psychotherapy can vary considerably, two commonalities exist:

1) A person has maladaptive thoughts and incongruence between their thoughts, emotions and behaviors. For example:

  • A person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction may continue to use intoxicants despite an understanding that it will result in problems and feelings of guilt and shame. As such, their behavior (drug/alcohol use) is not logically connected to their thoughts (understanding it will result in problems) or emotions (guilt and shame). Alternatively, they may think that they have the control to stop at the bar for “just one” despite having repeatedly done this and with the same result (e.g., “just one” turns into 20). Thus, their thoughts are not logically connected to their behavior.
  • A workaholic may have thoughts that their performance is substandard and fear failure, so they stress and overwork themselves (behavior) to the point of inefficiency, thereby increasing the likelihood of “failure”.
  • A depressed person may have thoughts that “life is boring” and “nobody cares” about them, yet they spend much of their day isolated in their bed (behavior).

2) A desire to enact some form of change in their lives. The change can include a desire to become “unstuck”, feel better, overcome an obstacle in their way, stop a problem behavior, or get someone off their back, etc. Ultimately, this motivator will be transformed into a goal.

Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapy Designed to Create Positive Change in Thoughts, Feelings and Behaviors.

The method with which I assist clients in enacting change is largely defined by the “Cognitive Behavioral Assimilative Integrative” school of thought. This means I focus heavily on thoughts, emotions, and behavior. To that end, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors have a reciprocal relationship whereby any one of the three (e.g., thoughts) impacts the other two (e.g., emotions and behavior). Focused interventions aimed at one of these areas are intended to create a change in the other two areas. Interwoven are external factors such as environmental contingencies and interpersonal relationships.

In general, the therapeutic process is:

  • Designed to meet the client where they are: As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.” It is not uncommon for people to be ambivalent toward change or even completely lack a desire to make a change that other people see as the only rational option. Forcing change on someone rarely proves effective, as lasting change occurs over a series of stages. Therefore, it is best to work with an individual where they are as opposed to where you would like them to be, and create the necessary motivation that will allow them to change. For more on the stages of change, click here.

  • Client Directed: Such an approach takes the client’s goals and perception of progress, as well as the bond based on trust between the psychologist and client into account.

  • Outcome Informed: Progress toward treatment goals, the client’s perception of progress and objective behavioral evidence are evaluated on an ongoing process to ensure interventions are effective and allow for adjustments intended to produce greater treatment efficiency. It is great to feel better, but an indication of effective treatment requires evidence of overt behavioral change. For illustrative purposes, a person seeking treatment for stress not only feels less stressed but also begins to joyfully engage in hobbies that were previously hindered by stress.

©Copyright 2013 Jason Cohen, Psy.D., M.A. All Rights Reserved.

Psychologist offering psychotherapy, therapy, counseling, psychological testing, sports psychology, forensic psychology, expert witness in San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Shell Beach, Arroyo Grande, Templeton, Paso Robles, Santa Maria, California


The transtheoretical model represents 5 points along a continuum of motivation to make an overt behavioral change. Individuals may enter therapy at various points along this continuum and their motivation may not necessarily progress in a linear fashion. Recycling to an earlier stage is often the rule rather than the exception, but with each recycle, the individual learns what worked and did not work for them. Each stage also has specific interventions that assist an individual in progressing toward the next stage. The 5 stages are as follows:

  • Precontemplation – The person has no desire to change their behavior and may not be aware of the problem. [An obese person may not realize they are overweight.]

  • Contemplation – People in this stage are aware of the problem but have not yet committed to making a change in their behavior. Ambivalence toward change is a hallmark of this stage. [The obese person may have tried on a pair of pants that previously fit but are now too tight. They realize they have gained weight but have not yet committed to losing that weight]

  • Preparation – In this stage, a person is preparing to make an overt behavioral change. [Realizing they have gained weight and desiring to change, the person may research necessary preconditions to losing weight such reading books on healthy cooking, portion control, and exercise.]

  • Action – The action stage is where people modify their behavior, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioral changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy. [Having learned what is required to obtain their goal of weight loss in the previous stage, the individual changes their diet and exercise habits]. 

  • Maintenance – At this point people have made an overt behavioral change and focus on maintaining the gains they have made and avoiding a return to the behavior as it was before the action stage. [Having lost the weight, the person must now make efforts to avoid gaining back the weight.]

It is easy to see how skipping a step places the individual at a significant handicap. For illustrative purposes, failure to proceed through contemplation, will leave the person with an insufficient desire to make the desired change. Furthermore, without gaining the required knowledge obtained during the preparation phase, the person may not have sufficient knowledge regarding how to make a change.