Dr. Hilary Combs

My Background
About Oakland Therapist Hilary CombsI grew up in New York City, leaving to go to college in Boston and then returned to New York for my graduate studies. In New York I worked in various hospital settings with adults, adolescents, children, and families. I taught and supervised graduate students, medical students and psychiatric residents at Elmhurst Hospital Center affiliated with Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and Kings County Hospital Center affiliated with SUNY Downstate College of Medicine.

At Kings County Hospital Center I became interested in Perinatal Mood Disorders and took on a grant funded program that detected and treated perinatal mood disorders in low income and indigent women. As Clinical Director, I greatly enjoyed building a new program and helping women in need.

In 2006 I moved to Los Angeles and building upon my hospital experience, became the Clinical Director at Bridges to Recovery, a private residential psychiatric treatment facility for adults. Patients at Bridges to Recovery suffered from a variety of disorders – Bipolar, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Patients make tremendous progress during their stay at Bridges to Recovery leaving after 4 – 6 weeks to re- integrate into their lives and families in a new way.

In January 2010, I made my last move to the Bay Area and immediately opened my private practice in the Rockridge area of Oakland. I have returned to supervising psychology graduate students at the California School of Professional Psychology and in addition, treat law students in student health services at UC Hastings College of the Law. I also do pro bono work with a wonderful Bay area organization, A Home Within, that provides long term therapy to foster children. I feel fortunate to have landed in the Bay area as it is such a beautiful, vibrant area in which to settle and build roots.

Theoretical Background

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

Focuses on your present thoughts, feelings and difficulties as being a function of earlier life experiences. Creating a safe environment through supportive listening and empathy will enable you to become aware of what you learned growing up which helps you to make more conscious decisions in the present. In addition, our early life experiences shape our current beliefs and ways of relating to others. Together, through the therapeutic relationship, we will examine the complexities of your interpersonal relationships to give you the opportunity to see and understand them differently

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT is based on the idea of acceptance and change. It is a skills based approach used to give people alternative strategies when they are struggling with intense emotions, interpersonal difficulties, or general feelings of emotional imbalance. The skills fall into four categories: distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and acceptance.