Online and Telephone Therapy Options, Safety Policies, Appointments, and Procedures Information

We want to express our caring and support to all clients of The Cognitive Therapy Institute (CTI), and to the broader community in San Diego, in California, and around the world, as individuals and families are coping with this pandemic. 

At this time and until risk levels change based on local and national (e.g. CDC) recommendations, we are offering all of our therapy and consultation services through telemedicine options.  Most of our clients are electing online, face-to-face video therapy through a HIPAA complaint, secure video meeting platform that we have secured, while others are electing to hold therapy sessions by telephone.  We are happy to report that the vast majority of our clients have elected to continue their therapy online and that they report being quite happy with the experience of interacting through video.  There are even some advantages such as not needing to travel to appointments, and being able to share written (typed) notes and documents during the session.  

We also welcome new clients here at CTI and hope to support you in coping with this crisis as well as in finding ways to manage and recover from ongoing anxiety, panic, OCD, depression, or other conditions that you or a family member are struggling with.  We begin the initial assessment and evaluation (the “intake” process) with a confidential online or telephone session to identify your needs and goals, to get to know each other, and to determine for sure whether online or telephone therapy would be possible and appropriate with us.  Prior to that first appointment, you will have opportunity to speak with our office manager who can answer questions, gather some basic information, and facilitate the referral to one of our therapists.  Our website will also provide answers to many of your questions. 

We are glad that we are able to continue our individual and group therapy services through the face-to-face video conferencing options, or by telephone, and we look forward to “meeting” with you to provide guidance and support in these challenging times.  


James L. Shenk, Ph.D.

Director, The Cognitive Therapy Institute, APC


The Cognitive Therapy Institute now offers psychotherapy online or by telephone for some individuals or couples, throughout California, who are not going through a crisis or at significant risk for suicide. Online group therapy options and classes are also being planned and will likely be available in the near future.

This option for online therapy or teletherapy provides some clear advantages but may also present some limitations or disadvantages. 

Possible advantages of online or phone therapy may include:

  • Convenience: The client does not have to leave their home and spend time driving or dealing with traffic. This may expand the hours when the client could fit in a therapy appointment, and could allow some clients to have therapy in spite of a busy life with work and/or family.
  • Privacy: The client does not have to be concerned about running into someone they might know in the hall or waiting room of the office.
  • Saving Money: There is a savings of the cost of travel and time away from work, and in some cases from childcare expenses.
  • Location: Individuals who live in rural or small town areas at a distance from our center have access to our specialties and expertise.

Possible disadvantages include the following:

  • Face to face therapy most likely allows the therapist to better recognize some important nonverbal indications of a person’s current mood and feelings, and to detect reactions to topics discussed and explored in therapy. Thus, the therapist may not be quite as able to notice or respond to subtle indications of a client’s needs with teletherapy.
  • Face to face therapy may provide a sense of emotional support and caring conveyed in the therapist’s facial and physical responses, and this may not be experienced as deeply or meaningfully when the therapist is not physically present in front of the client. 
  • Insurance companies or plans may not reimburse for online or teletherapy (you can check with your insurance company directly or request our assistance in helping to clarify whether they will or will not reimburse for these forms of therapy).

Often an initial face to face session may be required, and also could be quite beneficial, to establish a more personal connection and provide opportunity to assess the appropriateness of this form of therapy for an individual. A combination (e.g. every other week) of teletherapy and in-person sessions may be appropriate or preferred for some clients.

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