Minimalist Staircase

My Approach

About Debbie Duggan, LCSW


We all experience trauma, losses and challenges that can lead to depression, anxiety and interpersonal relationship issues. I know, both personally and professionally, how prevalent these issues are in today’s world. It’s so common to feel lost, alone, uncertain about the future and/or consumed with the past, all while trying to keep up with the demands of everyday life. After more than two decades as a practicing psychotherapist in California, I also know that engaging in a deep process of self-discovery—an exploration of emotional reactions, thoughts, memories and even dreams—can help us access the deeper layers of our personal experience, foster growth and experience profound healing.


Although I am trained to work with people on a variety of issues, my primary specialties include treating anxiety and depression, helping people work through relationship and self-esteem issues, parenting and couples counseling, and chronic illness counseling.

I'm very experienced in working with individuals who have had a cancer diagnosis. I focused on oncology social work early in my career, and I did guided imagery work with breast cancer patients at the first multi-disciplinary breast cancer center in the U.S. I have also worked with surgical oncologists and hospice and served as the Clinical Director of the Integrative Oncology Program at California Cancer Care Center. In addition to providing compassionate, practical therapy, I can also help you and your loved ones break down the often-complicated medical jargon and help you learn how to effectively advocate for yourself when working with a medical team.


Regardless of the specific issue that brings you to therapy, we will focus on your pressing concerns in initial sessions so you can experience immediate relief and develop the insight and skills needed to engage in deeper, healing work. Although all human beings go through times of struggle and we all experience pain, I recognize that we all heal differently and have different needs and goals. I believe in working collaboratively, and within a safe, authentic relationship, we can develop a therapy strategy that best supports and honors your unique personality, needs, concerns, values, cultural background and therapy goals. In addition to your personal goals for therapy, our sessions are designed to encourage the healing, personal growth and self-development needed for you to feel contentment, fulfillment, peacefulness and joy in all aspects of your life.


Although I will meet you where you are, I am highly trained in psychoanalysis, which can help you understand yourself on a deep level. Psychoanalysis is a unique form of intensive therapy that involves sessions three to five times a week. This form of therapy can bring you to a relaxed state and help you access the deeper layers of your subconscious and personal experiences so you can quickly uncover what is blocking your way to true happiness. That said, psychoanalysis, while highly effective, is not for everyone, and we can meet for more traditional therapy sessions once or twice a week or as your schedule allows. Regardless of the approach we take, we can develop solutions to your struggles as you uncover deeper meaning and unlock your innate wisdom.


I celebrate diversity and inclusivity, which I think we need more than ever in today’s world. I believe in the power of the therapeutic relationship and provide a safe, authentic and caring relationship in which you can share, explore and address anything and everything that is coming up for you. I am an active listener and highly compassionate therapist who takes life’s difficulties seriously; however, I also bring levity into sessions, which can help promote laughter, healing and a new perspective. I am highly committed to helping you get to the root of your issues so you can alleviate your distress. Whether you participate in short-term or long-term therapy, my goal is for you to leave my office feeling much better than when you first arrived.


I am really passionate about what I do and I love helping people, which is why I have sought out years of advanced training and stay up to date on current research. At this point, there is not much that I haven’t seen or heard, and I engage with all of my clients with warmth, compassion and completely nonjudgmental care.

Although seeking help can feel daunting, you don’t have to navigate the inevitable challenges that come with life on your own. It takes courage and strength to be vulnerable with another person, but through vulnerability, you can become more authentic in all your relationships and enjoy more fulfilling experiences in life. You can discover the inner wisdom that can help you maintain stability, tap into your creativity and set and achieve realistic goals in relationships, work and your overall life. Essentially, you can be who you really are and become more comfortable expressing your thoughts and emotions in day-to-day life.


If you’re in the Bay Area, I invite you to call me at 415-388-2223 for a free phone consultation. We can discuss your specific situation and needs, and I’m happy to answer any questions you have.

Practice Overview:


Psychotherapy will help you to better understand your emotional and interpersonal life and how you relate to others. I treat adults who are facing challenges such as depression, grief, anxiety, poor self-esteem, relationship difficulties, parenting struggles, chronic illness, addiction, obsessive thoughts and stressful life transitions.

Clinical research has shown that one of the most important curative factors in psychotherapy is the quality of the relationship between the therapist and client. I foster a warm, thoughtful and respectful working alliance with my clients, and as a therapist I listen attentively and empathically.

I’ve been trained in a wide variety of therapeutic modalities. This gives me a well-rounded perspective that I apply to your particular needs and circumstances.

Modalities Include: Psychoanalytic, Psychodynamic, Cognitive-Behavioral, Guided Imagery

Debbie Duggan, LCSW received her Psychoanalytic Training at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis (SFCP); her Master of Social Work at the University of Southern California (USC); and her Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Rio Grande. Debbie had also received advanced education and training through First Start Coordinator Training, an early intervention program for children with special needs at the University of Colorado; the Academy for Guided Imagery; and Cancer Guide Training. In addition to her work in private practice, Debbie has also served as the Clinical Director of the Integrative Oncology Program at California Cancer Care; and First Start Training Instructor, Children with Special Needs through UCLA Extension; and is a founding board member of the Foundation for Integrative Oncology. Debbie is a licensed clinical social worker in the State of California (LCS 18512) and is affiliated with the National Association of Social Workers, the Association of Oncology Social Workers, and the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis and the University of Southern California Alumni. Debbie has also spoken on topics such as “Helping Children and Families Cope with Grief and Loss” and “Effective Parenting Strategies” at schools around the Bay Area.