Sharon Greenberg, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist

“Helping people discover how to enjoy their life more fully and to be successful in their endeavors is both my mission and my passion. Unconscious patterns often prevent individuals from pursuing their life goals. I help people change these patterns so that they can live a more fulfilling life.”

Sharon Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Los Altos, California. Educated at University of Pennsylvania and California School of Professional Psychology in San Diego, she has been in private practice for over thirty-two years.

About Me

Sharon Greenberg

Sharon Greenberg, Ph.D.
California License #Psy12931


  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist, State of California
  • Private Practice since 1992 in California
  • Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego
  • Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology
  • B.A. in Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Professional Memberships

  • American Psychological Association
  • Northern California Community for Emotionally Focused Therapy (NCCEFT)
  • International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy (ICEEFT)
  • Resolve – A national organization formed to help individuals and couples coping with infertility and adoption
  • Former member of The Addictions Institute, Menlo Park (12/92 thru 12/01)
  • Weekly consultation group

I’m a licensed clinical psychologist located in Los Altos, California. I have been in private practice for over thirty-two years with a practice focused on individual, couples and group therapy.

“A therapist should always be willing and open to examining his or her own thinking about clients. Meetings with my colleagues, attendance in weekly case conferences and regular workshops keeps me informed of the most current and advanced methods of counseling. I can then better assist my clients in applying these ideas to make their lives more fulfilling.”


My areas of specialization include:

Research shows that to make a relationship last, couples must become better friends, learn to manage conflict, and create ways to support each other’s hopes for the future. I work from an Emotionally Focused Therapeutic (EFT) and Gottman approach. I focus on what research has shown actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship.

Research studies have found that 70-75% of couples undergoing EFT successfully move from distress to recovery, and approximately 90% show significant improvements. This recovery is also quite stable and lasting, with little evidence of relapse back into distress.

When couples are fighting, a part of our brain called the amygdala is activated which triggers our fight-or-flight response. When incoming information is familiar, the amygdala is calm. However, as soon as the amygdala encounters threatening or unfamiliar information, it increases the brain’s anxiety level and focuses the mind’s attention on the immediate situation.

People go into a self-preservation mode, often doing what they did to “survive” or cope in childhood. This is the reason we are triggered as adults in our romantic relationships, in the same repeating (and unhealthy) patterns from our formative years. EFT can help to unwind these automatic, counter-productive reactions

EFT provides a language for healthy connections between partners and looks at key moves and moments that define an adult love relationship. The primary goal of the model is to expand and re-organize the emotional responses of the couple.  The process reduces couples’ conflict while creating a more secure emotional bond. Couples learn to express deep, underlying emotions from a place of vulnerability and ask for their needs to be met.

This results in couples learning to be emotionally available, empathetic and engaged with each other, strengthening the attachment bond and safe haven between them.

The Gottman Method Couples Therapy is a structured, goal-oriented, scientifically based therapy. Intervention strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s three decades of research with more than 3,000 couples. This research shows us what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship. Gottman Method Couples Therapy was developed out of this research to help you and your spouse or partner:

  • Increase respect, affection, and closeness
  • Break through and resolve conflict when you feel stuck
  • Generate greater understanding between you and your partner
  • Keep conflict discussions calm

Maintain improvements in your relationship

  • Do you drink alcohol alone?
  • Do you drink to escape worries?
  • Do you drink to feel more comfortable in social situations?
  • Have you ever missed time from work or school because of drinking?
  • Do you ever feel guilty after drinking?
  • Have you ended up fighting with those close to you when you were drinking?
  • Do people close to you worry about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had any legal problems associated with drinking? DUIs?

I address alcohol and substance abuse issues in context of other issues. There is no specific timeline to reduce or end alcohol or substance abuse; it needs to be accomplished at the client’s own pace.

  • Do you have frequent feelings of sadness, low self-esteem or worthlessness?
  • Do you lack interest in your normal daily activities or lack sexual desire?
  • Do you sleep excessively or suffer from insomnia?

These can be symptoms of depression.

  • Do you feel overwhelmed, under-pressure or stressed?
  • Do you worry excessively, have feelings of panic?
  • Do you suffer from insomnia?

These can be symptoms of anxiety.

  • Do you feel angry when people make you wait?
  • Do you postpone activities that you find enjoyable?
  • Do you perseverate, thinking about issues over and over?
  • Do you find it hard to settle into sleep?
  • Does it seem like you never have any spare time?
  • Do you feel as if you work longer hours than associates and friends?
  • Does it feel as though you are always rushing?
  • Do you get less sleep than you think you need?
  • Do you find yourself multi-tasking constantly?

Stress can be beneficial, helping to focus and motivate. However, it can become overwhelming. Feeling rushed or lacking confidence in the ability to handle professional or personal issues can lead to stress. Prolonged stress can lead to serious health issues.

If you can answer “yes” to three or more of the above questions, you would likely benefit from stress management therapy.

  • Do you have problems setting limits or assigning responsibilities (chores) with your children?
  • Do your children have issues involving eating or drug use?
  • Do your children struggle with peer relationships or peer pressure?
  • Are your children experiencing academic stress or anxiety?

Understanding children in the context of their relationship with their parents and siblings can foster a healthier environment for the entire family. I conduct therapy with adolescents both individually and with their families.

  • Do you have difficulty with intimacy and trust?
  • Do you feel overly responsible for others?
  • Do you put everyone else’s needs before your own?
  • Do you have difficulty expressing feelings?
  • Do you blame yourself when things go wrong?

Having an alcoholic parent can create an unpredictable family environment and can lead to certain emotional problems as an adult.  I trained at the Stanford Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center and was Associate of the Addictions Institute from 1992-2001. This wealth of experience helps me address the challenges of adult children of alcoholics.

Infertility can lead to a cycle of hope and despair on a monthly basis. As a member of Resolve, an infertility association, I am well versed in working through the emotional difficulties of infertility with couples or individuals.

Group Therapy as a Treatment of Social Difficulties or Issues

The two most common issues that get in the way of connection with others are communication and defensiveness. One of the biggest obstacles people have in relationships is the ability to communicate their feelings, their likes, their dislikes, and reactions that relate to any issues they may have. The second major difficulty people have is that when people in our family or at work give feedback, we tend to get defensive. This is because we feel we must justify our behavior. It is very hard to listen to others, and then decide whether or not to incorporate their requests or feedback about our behavior.

While many people make headway on relationship issues through individual therapy, group therapy is a more direct, and sometimes faster, way to work on relationship problems. Group involves a way of working on these issues in the moment.

Group Therapy

I run an ongoing group that focuses on relationship issues. The members range in age from early thirties to early fifties. The group works on the assumption that there are two central focuses for the all group members:

  • Dealing with issues of trauma from childhood
  • Establishing and maintaining close gratifying relationships

The therapy group is a special social laboratory where honest interpersonal exploration with the other members is encouraged. If people are conflicted in the way they relate to others, then a social situation that encourages honest, direct in-the-moment feedback can provide them with a clear opportunity to learn many valuable things about themselves.

A big contributing factor to difficulties in relationships is how you are affected by other people’s comments and reactions. Everyone can recognize the experience of having someone else give you feedback that “maybe you just took what they said wrong”. It is often difficult to discern, whether others are acting in an upsetting manner or whether you are reacting in a way that doesn’t fit what the other intended. Previous and current group members say the most important thing they gain from their group experience is the ability to distinguish between what is their “stuff “or (issues) and what is other people’s “stuff”.

I conduct a process-oriented group. This means that the group focuses not only what is going on outside the group in the members lives (present and past) but also on what is happening between the members in the group at the moment. The way members can help themselves most of all is to be honest and direct with each other at the moment. This is the core of effective group therapy.

Group therapy provides a forum for risk-taking and trying out new types of behavior. It is important that members recognize that this is probably the safest medium in which they can experiment with change of attitude and action. The group can tolerate this sort of experimentation and can provide feedback to the member about how the new change is working. Group therapy provides a safe place for allowing people comment on others expressions with a therapist monitoring.

Often people wish that when others are sad or angry, they could understand that the person is just going through something, or is simply “grumpy”. Group therapy helps people to recognize problems that cause reactions that are not their fault. This ability not to over personalize experiences is something that most people find group therapy helps with enormously. Not over personalizing is a skill that allows people to better function at home when a spouse or a child is upset and allows the individual to not “take it on”. When you have this ability, you can listen to your friends and family members’ feelings without being defensive – A skill that is necessary for successful relationships. In group therapy, individuals learn to tolerate other’s emotions without having to “own” them or become hurt by their expressions of feelings.

It is common to feel anxious about attending group therapy – to think about sharing one’s inner self with others can be somewhat daunting or scary. However, once people start they often find that they bond strongly with the other group members. Group tends to feel like a safe place to be to express feelings and ask questions about other’s thinking that you never could ask before.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need to see a psychotherapist?2023-10-24T14:21:33-07:00

Just because you experience challenges in life doesn’t mean you need therapy. Life is full of ups and downs. If you have experienced patterns in your adult relationships that you don’t really like, and you find they keep repeating themselves – these are things that often can be changed through therapy.

What are the most common problems people have?2023-10-24T14:21:12-07:00

Relationship difficulties are the number one problem presented to therapists. Anxiety, stress, and depression are also common complaints. Relationship Issues, alcohol abuse problems, and eating issues are also frequently discussed.

What are some specific problems for which I should consider psychotherapy?2023-10-24T14:25:38-07:00

If you have any of the experiences below regularly enough to seriously influence the quality of your life:

  • Feel anxious, have panicky feelings, are often stressed, depressed, or hopelessness.
  • Marital problems.
  • Worry about eating compulsively.
  • Recent divorce or separation.
  • Parenting concerns or issues that you simply wish to consult with about difficulties one of your children is having.
  • Have eating, sleeping, or sexual problems.
  • Have a history of abuse in your past or are currently involved in an abusive relationship.
  • Dislike patterns that you find yourself repeating in relationships.
  • Coping with a recent death in the family.
  • Are concerned about alcohol or drug use.
  • Worry excessively.
  • Behave in self-destructive ways.
  • Dislike your job intensely.
  • Experience chronic health problems (headaches, digestive problems, back pain)
What different approaches to therapy are there?2023-10-24T14:36:55-07:00

While each of the main approaches each has a variety of offshoots; the primary two theoretical approaches are psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral approaches.

Psychodynamic therapy includes examining and resolving unconscious conflicts. The client’s early history is seen as extremely important in the forming of the character of the person and in the forming of patterns of unconscious thinking that may influence people in their present day life. The relationship between the therapist and the client is also seen as very important and is primary in the healing process. Unconscious patterns are discussed and understood, as is the relationship between the therapist and client.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on helping clients identify and examine faulty beliefs and ineffective behaviors. It is focused on the present, and the client’s family background is seen as less relevant. Unconscious patterns are not examined, nor are dreams, or the relationship between the client and therapist.

I operate from a psychodynamic background primarily. I believe that that is the way to heal individuals on a longer-term basis. While it is important to incorporate some cognitive work, and I do, I believe without looking at the patterns that were adaptive to help people deal with whatever they needed to in childhood, these patterns cannot be changed in adulthood. These are often the very things that get in the way of people enjoying their life today.

Is therapy effective?2023-10-24T14:41:21-07:00

Most people who attend therapy report that, because of therapy, they feel better about themselves and more confident that they can handle the problems of their lives. Factors that may contribute to the success or failure of therapy include: the difficulty of the problem; the competence of the therapist, the motivation of the client to apply therapeutic principles, and the length of therapy. One of the most important factors in successful therapy is that you feel good about your therapist and view them as competent, someone you can trust, kind, open, healthy, and a person who understands you and works well with you.


919 Fremont Ave. #202 – Los Altos, CA 94024

A clinical psychologist in Los Altos, California, Dr. Greenberg’s office is easily accessible from most of the cities within the Silicon Valley / Bay Area, including Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, Los Gatos, Santa Clara, and San Jose.

Send a Message

Go to Top