Current Studies

Intensive Examination of Moment-to-Moment Interactions in Cognitive Behavior Therapy 

Are you interested in receiving cognitive behavior therapy that focuses on a detailed and intensive understanding of your interactions with your therapist as way to understand and improve your relationships outside of therapy -- and also contributing to science as you do this? 

This treatment-research opportunity is available at the Oakland CBT Center during the academic year 2019-2020. The project is led by Mr. Garret Zieve, a graduate student working toward his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. He is working at the Oakland Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center under the supervision of Jacqueline B. Persons, Ph.D., Director of the Center. 

Treatment will begin with a consultation session or two in which you meet with Mr. Zieve to assess your current situation and difficulties, answer your questions, and determine whether CBT seems likely to be helpful to you. If you and Mr. Zieve elect to go forward in treatment, CBT usually entails weekly sessions. The fee for each session is $100; however, this is negotiable. 

Participation in the research element of the study does not change anything about the treatment you receive. In order to carry out the analysis of the interactions in the therapy session, Mr. Zieve will ask you for permission to make video-recordings and transcripts of the therapy sessions, and to collect some feedback via brief paper and pencil or online measures before and after each session. Mr. Zieve’s analysis of these data will contribute both to your treatment and to a research study of the process of change in cognitive behavior therapy. The study has been reviewed and approved by the Behavioral Health Research Collective Institutional Review Board. 

At any point in time, you may elect to stop the research portion of the procedures. If you discontinue participation in the research, your treatment will not be affected. Even if you are not interested in participating in the research, you may still seek treatment in Dr. Persons’ practice. 

If you would like to participate in this treatment-research opportunity, or have questions about it, please contact Mr. Zieve by telephone at 510-662-8405 ext 3 or at

Study of Skills Learning in CBT with Amy Sanchez, M.A. 

Although there is a lot of evidence that CBT is quite effective in treating mood and anxiety disorders, surprisingly little is known about exactly how it achieves its benefits. One hypothesis is that in CBT patients learn skills to change behaviors and thoughts and manage their emotions, and by practicing the skills repeatedly, the person learns skills that help them reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and achieve their other treatment goals. Other hypotheses include that the therapy helps by increasing a person’s confidence about having skills that he or she can call on when needed, or by changing schemas, or the beliefs that underpin and guide a person’s perceptions of his or her experience.   

The beautiful thing about this research question is that it is a question that is of importance both to psychotherapy researchers and to the clinician who is working with patients every day. We all want to know where to focus our energy to provide the most help to our patients. (And of course, the answer might be different for different patients!) Jackie is beginning to collect data to test these hypotheses by designing the progress note she uses in her clinical work and the feedback form she uses in therapy to collect information about skills teaching in the session by the therapist, and about the patient’s skills practice and confidence. Dr. Persons is collecting those data in the course of her clinical work, and asking her patients for permission to place the data in an anonymous database that can be used for later research on skills learning and CBT.  

Association with Psychotherapy Outcome and Dropout of the Therapist’s Use of A Written Case Formulation, List of Treatment Goals, and Plot of Symptom Scores with Vael Gates

Implementing evidence-based psychotherapy can be a challenge. Empirically-supported treatments (ESTs) usually target single disorders and assume the goal of treatment is remission of the disorder. However, most patients struggle with multiple problems and typically do not have treatment goals that are disorder-focused. Case formulation-driven psychotherapy provides a model to guide evidence-based psychotherapy through an individualized case formulation, a list of the patient’s treatment goals, and a plot of symptom scores to monitor progress towards those goals (Persons, 2006).

This study examined the effect of using a written case formulation, list of treatment goals, and plot of symptom scores on outcome and dropout in naturalistic cognitive behavior therapy. Preliminary results suggest that use of these three elements can improve outcome and reduce dropout.

This paper will be presented at the ABCT convention in Atlanta, GA in November 2019. The abstract can be viewed here.