pastel by PattyRice,

Dr. Elizabeth McMahon, PhD

After 30+ years as a psychologist with Kaiser Permanente in Fremont, I have a private practice in the Cow Hollow area of San Francisco where I specialize in:

Anxiety Treatment

I love helping people with anxiety or fears because they can improve quickly. Overcoming fears changes your life. While at Kaiser, I created and lead specialized therapy groups for anxiety and trained postdoctoral psychology residents in anxiety treatment. I was the “anxiety champion” for our clinic and helped develop regional best practice treatment guidelines.

See my new self-help workbook, Overcoming Anxiety and Panic interactive guide, available on Amazon.

Read this blog interview on "Overcoming Anxiety and Panic."

Virtual Reality Therapy for Anxiety

Virtual reality uses 3D graphics technology for faster, more effective treatment using realistic simulations of stressful situations. For more information, see Virtual Reality Therapy. I offer virtual reality therapy as part of treatment for: fear of flying, fear of heights, fear of driving, needle phobia (fear of needles, injections, donating blood, or medical procedures), fear of public speaking, job interview anxiety, fear of enclosed spaces, elevators or public transit, and fear of spiders or cockroaches.

exploded view of a virtual reality headset

Want to learn more about how Virtual Reality (VR) can be used in therapy? Listen to the April 12, 2019 blog episode of "Crazed" as Matt Vogl and Debra Boeldt, PhD, of the National Mental Health Innovation Center of the University of Colorado, interview Elizabeth McMahon, PhD on using VR to help clients overcome anxiety disorders, especially fears and phobias.

Positive Psychology

You can learn to become happier. Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology that helps people live happier lives instead of focusing on treatment for diagnoses or pathologies. This approach has changed the way I think about my work, how I work with clients, and even how I describe my services.

At Kaiser, I developed and ran a very popular positive psychology group for many years. I now offer a similar service for individuals (Positive Psychology Skills), as well as helping clients improve their quality of life, learn new ways to manage stress and prevent or reverse burnout (see Stress Management).

Video of Dr. McMahon

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the core of my approach to Anxiety Treatment and many other issues. CBT is very effective in helping people understand what is going on and quickly make lasting changes in their thoughts and actions.

Based on the needs of each person, I may also utilize other therapeutic techniques as appropriate. I favor techniques supported by evidence of effectiveness in the research literature and my clinical experience. These may include mindfulness, EMDR, hypnotherapy, and self-hypnosis.

Brief Therapy and Long Term Relationships

My expertise is providing short-term help that delivers long lasting benefits. I continue to get positive reports from clients helped many years ago.

Typically we will agree on a current area of focus and begin work during our first meeting. Many issues can be resolved in four to ten sessions or less. Overcoming panic attacks seldom requires more than four to eight meetings and many people start feeling better after 2-5 sessions. The number of sessions, and the time between sessions, are flexible to fit your schedule.

After resolving their initial issue, some clients arrange periodic refresher meetings. Other clients return only when they feel the need, which may be years later, or to work on other issues.

Private Pay

My practice is private pay; this allows us to focus on the issues that are most important to you, without concern for the requirements or limits imposed by managed care. Please plan to pay at the start of each meeting by check, cash, Visa, or MasterCard. I will provide documentation if you want to request reimbursement from your insurance. Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and similar tax-favored plans can be used to pay for my services.

Speaking and Writing

I am available to speak to general audiences, support groups, medical professionals and mental health professionals on a variety of topics (see Speaking). My self-help book for people with anxiety or panic (written with Dr. Lindsey Kremmel) will be out soon. I helped write four books for people with lymphedema and several articles, see Lymphedema.

Call me at 1-415-625-3565 or Contact Dr. McMahon to learn more. I look forward to speaking with you.


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