Hi, I’m Sarah Tippit, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Clinical Art Therapist in San Diego.
I work with clients of all ages to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, complex trauma, intrusive thoughts, unwanted habits, anxiety, and related issues.
I hold compassion for those who struggle with the OCD Spectrum: the persistent, unwanted, intrusive thoughts, the sometimes paralyzing anxieties, the mental rituals, actions, avoidances meant to neutralize the obsessions. I understand how often OCD can be misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and the shame and stigma sufferers sometimes feel. Most of my work is dedicated to helping people gain control over their OCD and process associated traumas.
I employ an effective type of Cognitive Behavioral therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), which has the strongest evidence supporting its use in the treatment of OCD. I was trained in this technique by a respected San Diego OCD specialist, Lori Riddle-Walker, EdD, with whom I worked for four years in private practice prior to her untimely death in June 2017. In my work I also employ a trauma-focused approach through such modalities as Mindfulness/relaxation techniques, DBT, ACT, Schema Therapy, EMDR, and psychodynamic. I know that when symptoms flare up they can seem insurmountable. I’ve had the personal satisfaction of witnessing my clients’ suffering decrease — through their own courage, perseverance, and willingness to try something new — even when the work seemed silly or impossible.
I also work with related issues: body dysmorphia, body-focused repetitive behaviors such as skin picking and hair pulling, people who have both tics and OCD together, specific phobias such as Emetophobia (fear of vomiting) and Misophonia (strong hatred of specific sounds). I often attract clients who have histories of both complex trauma and OCD, and the types of intrusive thoughts involving taboo or self-loathing thought content and less overt compulsions (colloquially known as “Pure O,” or “Purely obsessional OCD).
My other passions include supporting clients in their recovery from emotional/psychological abuse, bullying, complicated grief. No condescension or criticism here. I strive to provide a safe, respectful space. I believe in post-traumatic growth. I think it’s possible to find meaning in one’s challenging experiences, to make peace with the past, develop tools to manage unwanted symptoms, to practice emphasizing strengths, to heal, to thrive.
Should clients desire it, I like to incorporate expressive arts in my work, particularly art and writing. To that end I have a Master’s level certification in Clinical Art Therapy and worked for more than 20 years as a journalist prior to becoming a therapist. In addition to five years in private practice, my experience also includes work in acute-care residential settings, hospitals, with Older Adults, and in hospice with children and adults.
I specialize in:
OCD without overt compulsions including obsessions around taboo subject matter: fear of becoming a pedophile, sexuality and identity obsessions, post-part
Obsessive self-loathing, perfectionism and/or jealousy
Health anxiety (fear one might contract a dreaded disease)
Body-focused repetitive behaviors including skin picking, hair pulling
General and Social Anxiety
Recovery from psychological/emotional abuse, relationships with narcissists, bullying
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
Habit Reversal Training
Art Therapy for groups and individuals
Education and Specialized Training:
MA in Marital and Family Therapy with an emphasis in Clinical Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles
BS in Journalism from University of Maryland College Park
Levels I and II for Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing, (EMDR) Completed training and supervised internship
Trauma-focused CBT, Personality Disorders, Intensive Trauma Treatment, DBT
License and Membership:
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, MFC#103044
International OCD Foundation