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Katherine Martinez

Featured Therapist Interview

Biographical sketch:
Katherine Martinez, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist (PSY 20426) and partner at the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy. She received her Psy.D. in clinical psychology from Rutgers in 2004. Dr. Martinez provides empirically supported, cognitive-behavioral assessment and treatment to children, adolescents, and families presenting with obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, phobias, selective mutism, panic disorder and agoraphobia, depression, attention-deficit disorders, and tic, elimination, and habit (hair pulling and skin picking) disorders. She also treats sleep difficulties, school refusal, and provides parent effectiveness training to parents and caretakers. Dr. Martinez is the co-author, with her partner Michael A. Tompkins, of the book, Your Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Anxiety and Panic (Magination Press, 2009).

Congratulations on being the ABCT Featured Therapist.

First, we would like to know a little about your practice.

When did you begin your practice?

In 2005, I joined the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy (SFBACCT), a group psychotherapy practice promoting CBT and evidenced-based care.

Do you have a specialty?

In my practice, I work with children, adolescents, and parents exclusively. The majority of my clinical work involves the treatment of anxiety disorders.

What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?

I take an idiographic approach to case formulation, allowing me to treat complex cases and cases for which there is no protocol. In addition, I like to think I am fun and creative in my application of cognitive and behavioral skills, allowing my patients to get better and have a little fun along the way.

What is one method you use to promote your practice?

I provide workshops to the local community on the assessment and treatment of anxiety and depression in youth that emphasize the role of case formulation and application of cognitive and behavioral techniques. I also network on a weekly basis with other practitioners, including psychotherapists, psychiatrists, and pediatricians. Finally, I support the professional efforts of my partners, which promotes my practice indirectly each time they give a workshop, write an article or book, or present at conferences and mention the SFBACCT.

How important are board certifications and/or credentialing programs to your practice?

Although I am not board certified by the ABPP, I think this is important as a means of highlighting to the public and other professionals one’s competence in the field. Other credentialing programs offer this benefit too, such as the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, of which several of my partners are founding members. Perhaps it is time I take this next step.

What “tips” can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?

Speak with other psychotherapists in your community and determine what they have found to be effective methods to ensure a thriving practice. I am a proponent of not re-inventing the wheel…if someone is doing something that works, find out what it is and do it! Thinking of your practice as a business will enable you to carve out time for marketing, networking, and other business-related activities in addition to time spent seeing clients. Opening a practice means operating a business, and simply seeing clients is unlikely to keep your business afloat.

What sorts of literature do you make available in your waiting room that describe evidence-based therapy?

This is a challenge for my partners and me, as we share a waiting room with psychoanalysts who require we maintain a neutral waiting room. This has meant we have been restricted from keeping materials openly available. However, I have pamphlets and educational materials from ABCT, ADAA, and the OC Foundation that I offer to incoming patients when appropriate.

What self-help books do you suggest to your clients?

Our website ( promotes a long list of self-help books for children, adolescents, parents, and adults. The books provide psychoeducation and CBT self-help approaches to managing various problems and psychiatric disorders. Some of my favorites are the “Helping Your Anxious Child” and “Helping Your Depressed Child” series from New Harbinger.

What one book do you recommend as a “must read” to improve your practice?

My favorite book for child clinicians is “Clinical Practice of Cognitive Therapy With Children and Adolescents: The Nuts and Bolts” by Friedberg and McClure (2002). This is a “must read” to increase your creativity and enhance your CBT skills when working with youth.

Are you involved in other types of professional activities in addition to your private practice?

ABCT of course! I also provide workshops several times each year to promote CBT in the local community, as well as in-service trainings to hospitals, schools, and agencies, and most recently, I completed collaborating on a book, “My Anxious Mind: A Teen’s Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic,” with my partner Michael Tompkins.

Next, we are interested in your continuing education activities.

How do you stay current with new research or advances in the field as applied to your practice?

I am fortunate to work alongside clinicians such as Jackie Persons, who value bridging the gap between science and practice, and who engage in research in a clinical setting. I learn a tremendous amount from my partners about the latest research findings and new advancements, some of which has come from the SFBACCT itself. In addition, I subscribe to several journals, attend workshops, and am involved in two consultation groups. Finally, and not insubstantially, I attend the annual ABCT convention. Here I learn about the latest developments in the field, network with colleagues, and get intellectually stimulated for the year ahead.

Where do you earn your continuing education credits?

I go to the ABCT annual convention, where I typically attend a daylong and several half-day workshops each year. In addition, each year my partners and I organize one or two in-house training sessions where we pick someone we admire and would like to learn from, and invite them to do a day or half-day workshop.

We would also like to know a little about you personally.

Who was your mentor?

There are four distinguished people who have influenced my professional development and clinical practice: Michael Petronko and Terry Wilson at Rutgers taught me much of what I know about BT and CBT. As a fledgling CBT graduate student, I could not get enough time in their clinics and lectures. In addition, Jackie Persons and Michael Tompkins at the SFBACCT helped me to refine my clinical skills and mentored me as I evolved from a trainee into a licensed clinician. What is the last book you read?
“The Emotional Life of the Toddler” by Alicia Lieberman. I have a toddler at home so much of my personal reading time is geared toward him, but this book also has been quite informative in my clinical work with younger children and parents.

How do you avoid burn out?

I find digging for worms and finger painting highly effective! Fortunately, raising a toddler allows for such things. I am at home part-time, which has enabled me to limit my work hours and find a natural means of avoiding burnout.

When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?

I like to cook and eat. I live in a “foodie” neighborhood where fresh organic produce and quality meats abound, so it is easy to get enveloped in this culture.

Do you have any other “talents?”

Alas, no!

We are also interested in some of your views of CBT.

What do you think is the single most important thing CBT can do for your clients?

There are two: empowerment and speed of recovery. Meeting children and adolescents who feel helpless to manage their moods or bolster their self-esteem is hard. Teaching them in the first session that there are tools that they can learn and apply, and thus to be their own agent of change, can be incredibly empowering. Furthermore, collaborating with this population to feel better within weeks or months, instead of years, can be life-changing for some of them. It makes me feel good, frankly, that I provide a treatment that has the potential to get a child or adolescent back on a normative developmental path and that I can do this within a shorter period than other more traditional play or talk psychotherapies.

Where do you see the field of the behavioral therapies going over the next 3-5 years?

Given the current state of affairs in the world, it is difficult to make predictions. However, I would like to see BT and CBT headed in the direction of increased preventative care for children and adolescents. I understand there are pilot studies underway in some Canadian schools to prevent depression in youth, which I think is terrific. I’d like to see more CBT prevention programs for anxiety and depression embedded within the school systems in the US. Obama, are you reading this?

How do you use the local media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?

We have a website that provides this information to the community. In addition, several of my partners are frequent guests on local news-radio shows or television programs. Appearing on radio or television intimidates me so I tend to avoid these things!

Finally, we would like to know your opinions about ABCT.

How long have you been a member of ABCT?

Since 1997. How has ABCT helped you professionally?
I met my current partners networking at the ABCT, which lead to the offer of a job and then becoming partner. It really doesn’t get better than that! In addition, I depend on the ABCT annually to remain abreast of the latest developments in the field and to remain connected with former mentors and colleagues.

What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?

The find-a-therapist service is terrific, and I use it often when I have to refer out. In addition, I depend on the list serve a great deal and learn a tremendous amount from my colleagues this way. Finally, the journals are another valuable resource.

What service(s) are missing from ABCT in your role as a practitioner?

Nothing is missing. Recent changes to the website have really enhanced what ABCT has to offer to the membership and public given the many resources now available at one’s fingertips.

How do you see the future of ABCT?

Bright! I hope the membership continues to expand as demand for evidence-based care increases and CBT remains an important part of this trend.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

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Membership in ABCT grants you access to three journals.


We are now accepting Abstract submissions for Continuing Education Ticketed Sessions at the 2024 ABCT Convention in Philadelphia, PA.

My Account Info

Manage your Membership information, email preferences, and more.


Membership in ABCT grants you access to three journals.


We are now accepting Abstract submissions for Continuing Education Ticketed Sessions at the 2024 ABCT Convention in Philadelphia, PA.