Dr. Adina McGarr-Knabke

Welcome to my practice!  I specialize in the treatment of anxiety, eating disorders, and addiction. These and other disorders often begin, in part, as coping mechanisms to deal with uncomfortable life experiences. Unfortunately, the more time spent engaging in them, the harder it is to stop, as neural pathways in the brain are literally being rewired, which will ultimately reinforce the behavior.  What was once used to regulate the self, gain a sense of control, and/or improve feelings of self-worth becomes a significant source of distress and actually impairs functioning in all areas of life.

My approach to therapy is strongly influenced by Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB), Psychodynamic Theory, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).  IPNB provides the road map to mental well being and how to use our mind to effect brain change.  Psychodynamic theory addresses the underlying core emotional issues and provides a framework for healing relational trauma.  ACT provides immediate tools and concrete methods for individuals to begin living their valued life immediately, even though their therapeutic work may not be complete.  The combination of these theories provides a comprehensive model that supports and heals, allowing for lasting change and personal growth.

Major principles from IPNB that inform my work are that the mind can be used to change the brain itself and that our relationships throughout life change the brain.  IPNB stresses the importance of understanding and defining the human mind and how to cultivate mental well-being. These three entities, the mind, the brain and our relationships are  differentiated processes, that intricately link together to create our lived experiences.  These foundational concepts provide a clear direction of what we are striving towards in treatment.

Drawing from psychodynamic theory means that we will be addressing the underlying, often unconscious issues that are manifesting as symptoms or problematic behavior, as well as identifying your psychological defense mechanisms and  how these work to keep anxiety provoking material out of your consciousness.  We will also be exploring painful life experiences, your patterns of relating and attaching to others and the needs you to seek to have fulfilled.  Through this process of gaining insight into yourself and your behaviors, you will have more flexibility and thus the freedom to change the areas that do not serve you.

Finally the incorporation of ACT,  highlights the importance of working towards psychological flexibility and living our valued life even in the presence of painful emotions and experiences.   ACT stresses the significance of changing our relationship to problematic thoughts and feelings (accepting what is), rather than focusing on eliminating or resisting them.  ACT assumes that the psychological processes of the mind are often destructive and create psychological suffering.  Core components of this work include values identification, mindfulness, disentanglement from problematic thoughts and feelings, and committed action even in the presence of uncomfortable feelings.  The goal of ACT is to create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting that pain inevitably goes with it.

Dr. Adina McGarr-Knabke completed her undergraduate work in psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2000 and received her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2003. In 2007, she received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Phillips Graduate Institute.

Please contact me with any questions.