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7860 Mission Center Ct, Suite 209
San Diego, CA, 92108


At The Center for Stress and Anxiety Management, our psychologists have years of experience. Unlike many other providers, our clinicians truly specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety and related problems. Our mission is to apply only the most effective short-term psychological treatments supported by extensive scientific research. We are located in Rancho Bernardo, Carlsbad, and Mission Valley.

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Read our award-winning blogs for useful information and tips about anxiety, stress, and related disorders.


Filtering by Tag: Unified Protocol

The Benefits of Group Therapy

Jill Stoddard

Written by Lauren Helm

The Benefits of Group Therapy


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Though it may be intimidating to envision sharing your path of recovery and well-being with a group of others (who are admittedly, at least initially, strangers), group therapy may be a worthwhile alternative to pursuing individual psychotherapy. It is often more cost-effective than individual therapy, and yet can be just as efficacious as therapy provided one-on-one.

 At CSAM, we offer evidence-based group therapy treatments that are structured in approach, but also allow you to connect with others while you learn more effective ways of responding to anxiety or other related disorders. The therapist both teaches and guides group members through exercises geared towards helping each person make significant changes in their lives.

 Our CSAM therapist, Dr. Michelle Lopez, regularly leads a cutting-edge cognitive behavioral group, called the Unified Protocol for the Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders. The group helps you to understand the nature of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, the role they play in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders and depression, and how to begin reclaiming your life. If you’d like to learn more about these groups, feel free to reach out to us!

Above and beyond the useful informational content that the group offers, there are added benefits to receiving therapy in a group setting. Here we briefly review a few (though not all) of Yalom’s therapeutic factors that may occur in group therapy: 


When you participate in a group and share your experiences with others, you may become more and more aware of the shared nature of human experiencing (including pain and joy), thus creating a sense of universality, and reducing feelings of isolation or aloneness. FYI, a sense of common humanity is connected to self-compassion and optimal well-being!


Group therapy offers opportunities to practice compassion and other altruistic behaviors towards one another, enhancing a sense of connection to others as well as your connection to yourself. You can also be a role model for others: Studies find that kindness breeds kindness.

Instillation of hope

Each of us is resilient in our own way, and we can share with others how we have persevered despite extreme difficulty, offering hope and inspiration to one another.

Imparting information

Often, we have learned very practical information about how to navigate various aspects of life that others may benefit from. Imparting information is also a form of social support, which can positively impact our physical and emotional health.

Development of socializing techniques & Interpersonal learning

A group setting may allow members to practice new social and communication skills in a safe environment with the support of the therapist. This may lead to more satisfying interpersonal relationships.


These are but a few of the benefits that may be experienced as a result of participating in group therapy. If you’d like to learn more about the group therapy that CSAM offers, click here. You can also call our clinic to see if any groups will be offered in the near future so that you can experience the benefits of group therapy for yourself!



If you'd like to speak with a professional at the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management for help with anxiety, please click here.

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Barlow, D. H., Farchione, T. J., Fairholme, C. P., Ellard, K. K., Boisseau, C. L., Allen, L. B., & May, J. T. E. (2010). Unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: Therapist guide. Oxford University Press.

Ellard, K. K., Fairholme, C. P., Boisseau, C. L., Farchione, T. J., & Barlow, D. H. (2010). Unified protocol for the transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: Protocol development and initial outcome data. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice17(1), 88-101.

Ellis, A. (1992). Group rational-emotive and cognitive-behavioral therapy.International journal of group psychotherapy.

Farchione, T. J., Fairholme, C. P., Ellard, K. K., Boisseau, C. L., Thompson-Hollands, J., Carl, J. R., ... & Barlow, D. H. (2012). Unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: a randomized controlled trial.Behavior therapy43(3), 666-678.

Yalom and Leszcz (2005) The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, 5th edition, Basic Books p. 272

Unified Protocol: Cutting Edge Treatment (2 of 2)

Jill Stoddard

by Lucas Myers

Today, we continue our introduction to a powerful new therapeutic treatment for depression and anxiety disorders... ALL of the anxiety disorders.

One of Dr. Michelle Lopez's clients was astounded to learn that the very techniques she was using to reduce her anxiety in the moment were actually increasing her anxiety in the long term, making it even more difficult to manage. Her initial reaction “This is so counterintuitive!” was soon forgotten as the multiple anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and PTSD that she had been living with for years began to lose their grip on her life.


So how does the UP work? There are a number of skills that a client learns from the therapist that cumulatively comprise treatment. The client will learn to record experiences, set goals and maintain motivation, understand emotions, recognize and track emotional responses, observe emotions and reactions to these emotions, understand how thoughts influence feelings, understand the connection between behavior and emotions, learn to identify and change unhelpful patterns of avoidance, and recognize and master physical sensations. Although this might sound like a lot, the truth is that these skills are all interrelated and as therapy goes on, the client learns to combine new skills in order to face unpleasant emotions in the context in which they arise.

Emotions are responses to our thoughts and environment that motivate us to behave in certain ways. These emotion driven behaviors are adaptive in both nature and function, but can sometimes develop in harmful ways. During therapy, patterns of context, behavior, and consequences are identified. As the therapist and client work together to understand how uncomfortable emotions arise, reactions to these emotions can be replaced with more healthy and adaptive responses.

Next, client and therapist work on building motivation for change. As motivation increases, an increased sense of self-efficacy leads to empowerment and the client is ready to practice non-judgmental emotional awareness, learning to focus on the here and now and observe both the emotion and the reaction which follows it. This increased awareness allows a critical evaluation of the emotionally loaded beliefs and assumptions that lead to problematic behavior. This leads to more flexible thinking and sets the stage for breaking the negative pattern of distress. The client is now ready to actively start countering the maladaptive emotionally driven behaviors. After polishing skills to overcome harmful patterns of behavior, the therapist will prepare the client to start testing and practicing these skills by gradually exposing the patient to stressful situations that evoke distress. In the final stage of treatment, the client and therapist review all the new skills that they have learned and practiced, discuss continuing challenges, and put in place plans to maintain treatment gains.

For many clients, the end of this 12-16 week treatment program is just the beginning of change experienced as a result of the UP. Consistent with scientific research on the UP, Dr. Lopez's clients report that they continue to improve well after they completed treatment.

How can the UP be effective in treating so many conditions? The genius of the UP is that every step is designed to be flexible. An expert therapist like Dr. Lopez can emphasize specific skills to tailor the treatment to every individual client, situation, and range of symptoms. Likewise, the UP targets the shared aspects of emotional disorders, making it effective across anxiety and mood disorders.

The UP can be used as a preventative treatment for those more susceptible (i.e., family history of anxiety or depression) as well as for those with mild, moderate, or severe symptoms of anxiety who have postponed seeking treatment. The point is that it’s never too early or too late to learn the skills necessary to overcome anxiety and/or depression.

Remember, if you or someone you know suffers from an anxiety disorder, such as social anxiety, panic, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, PTSD, OCD, or depression, professional support is available. If you are in the San Diego area and you would like to speak with Dr. Lopez, or one of our other qualified therapists, you may contact the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management at 858-354-4077 or To learn more about Dr. Lopez, read her bio in the “About Us” section. To see a list of other mental health conditions that we specialize in, click here.

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Tags: PTSDSan Diegodepressionanxiety disordersOCDagoraphobiasocial anxietypanicgeneralized anxiety