Adult Psychodiagnostic Assessment
An important first step in treatment is accurate diagnosis. While assessment and diagnosis are not without their limitations (e.g., a medical description of symptoms does not define you as a person), accurate psychodiagnostic assessment can be a pivotal aspect of intervention, as it not only informs decisions about what treatments will likely be most effective, it can be a tool for helping identify potential contributors to one’s presenting concerns.
In my work, I administer a wide range of psychological tests to inform treatment and assess client progress. If stress and other emotional issues are what bring you to treatment, this will typically involve a brief interview and a few short questionnaires, as well as any collateral contacts one authorizes for additional assessment information. Informed by the information obtained from these various sources, we will work together to formulate a plan for meeting specific, attainable treatment goals that build upon the strengths and values you bring to treatment.
Individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to create long-lasting improvement by teaching clients techniques to manage and navigate not only existing concerns that bring them to treatment but also future challenges. As a proponent of evidence-based practices, I firmly believe that clinical psychology and other helping professions should apply what we know works from rigorous scientific investigation. For many psychological conditions, including anxiety and depressive disorders, treatments that fall under the umbrella term of “CBT” have been shown to be especially effective. These include cognitive therapy, behavior therapy (e.g., exposure and response prevention), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), problem solving therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).
While what individual therapy “looks like” will vary depending on what brings you into therapy and the treatment approach adopted, a typical CBT session will involve reviewing assignments from the previous week, examining what skills were effectively used the previous week or need to be improved upon, and collaboratively deciding what assignments would be effective before your next session. Individual therapy sessions are typically 45-60 minutes weekly but, at times, sessions could be longer as necessary.
CBT can also be effectively delivered in a safe, group environment where numerous dynamics, including interactions among group members and the interpretation of these exchanges, can be used as vehicles for individual growth. In fact, group therapy is commonly viewed as an essential component of comprehensive DBT treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), anger, relationship issues, and substance misuse. With the guidance of a professionally trained facilitator/teacher, those new to CBT, as well as those who require extra support and a safe space to improve interpersonal skills, can benefit from CBT group therapy. Group therapy has the added advantage of helping one normalize and gain perspective on one’s problems.
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Education & Licensure: Dr. Dinovo earned his Ph.D. from the APA- and PCSAS-Accredited Clinical Psychology Training Program at The Ohio State University, which is consistently ranked among the top psychology doctoral training programs in the nation and worldwide. During the course of his studies at OSU, Dr. Dinovo embarked on a system of clinical training and research aimed at answering several empirical and theoretical questions, including: (a) What makes a person vulnerable to symptom dimensions found in anxiety and mood disorders?; (b) What individual differences in temperament, cognition, and self-regulatory capacity moderate risk for these symptoms?; and (c) How might differences in the capacity for self-regulation be modified by experience? In addressing these and related questions Dr. Dinovo examined variables across different levels of analysis, including basic cognitive and physiological processes. Chief among these processes are attention biases toward threat-relevant stimuli and measures of cardiac-vagal functioning (e.g., heart-rate variability) that relate to the regulation of attention, behavior, and emotion.
Upon completion of his doctoral studies, Dr. Dinovo continued his program of research and academic instruction in the realms of psychology, behavioral genetics, and public health, including completion of a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. In tandem with his academic training, Dr. Dinovo completed his clinical training in assorted inpatient and outpatient settings, both during his graduate studies and, subsequently, via pre- and post-doctoral clinical work at numerous clinics and medical centers throughout San Diego. He is licensed to practice psychology in California.
Philosophy: As a cognitive behaviorist and proponent of evidence-based approaches to clinical practice and intervention, Dr. Dinovo thinks it is important to recognize that all clients have unique experiences and learning histories that influence their perceptions of themselves, others, and their situations, and that these can shape the course of treatment. Thus, while believing that treatment should be informed by the relevant clinical and scientific literature, Dr. Dinovo also believes in the importance of client collaboration and accounting for an individual’s unique attitudes, beliefs, circumstances, stressors, and strengths as they work toward addressing clients’ presenting concerns.
Affiliations: Dr. Dinovo is an active member of the San Diego Psychological Association (SDPA), Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS), and Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).