Individual Therapy

Specific Areas of Expertise:

  • Depression, (including major depression and bipolar disorder)
  • Anxiety (panic, somatic anxiety, social anxiety, performance anxiety, etc.)
  • Personality issues & associated emotional problems (e.g. angry, avoidant, isolated)
  • Mood problems
  • Identity issues
  • Relationship problems (romantic relationships, peer relationships, family relationships)
  • Self-esteem
  • Problems in coping
  • Anger and impulse control problems
  • Self-harming
  • Substance abuse
  • Sexual addiction (including pornography)
  • Behavioral addictions  (e.g. gambling, internet)
  • Childhood trauma and attachment issues
  • PTSD

Psychotherapy Treatment for Individuals in Santa Barbara


Dr. Robert Shafer PhD is a mature professional psychotherapist/ psychoanalyst with more than 40 years in practice in the Santa Barbara area.   He has had extensive experience with a wide variety of clients and presenting problems.   His strength rests on his exceptional ability to listen and understand from an empathic perspective.   Whether you are struggling with personal identity, a relationship, or emotional issues, Dr. Shafer can help you explore your unique, inner experience and make sense of it in a way which is both deeply meaningful and healing.

As a father of five and grandfather of ten, Dr. Shafer has a gentle demeanor and knows the value of parental warmth and strength in resolving problems.  The kind of wise and compassionate support he is able to provide helps to relieve emotional distress and empower individuals to make more effective choices.  Exploring strengths and weaknesses in the light of early experiences which have shaped them, you will gain clarity about where you are stuck and how best to move forward with your life.

The core of most problems are inner conflicts and relationship problems rooted in early attachment wounds or traumatic experiences.  These issues may result in feeling chronically depressed or anxious;  others may feel out of touch with their feelings altogether, disconnected from their needs and their desires.  Some people are caught in unwanted behavior: efforts to escape feeling experience with sex, food, drugs and alcohol, or other addictive patterns.  The opportunity in psychotherapy is to face into experience and take charge of creating the outer life you want.

All individuals are entitled to understand themselves and enjoy the freedom to behave authentically in daily life.  In order to accomplish this, they need to resolve the inhibitions that betray their strengths.  Therapy explores many surfaces of experience: relationship issues, emotional distress, physical symptoms, dreams, and other expressions of mind and body.  In this process, old patterns can be released and clients can find greater well-being, purpose, and meaning in life.   Many individuals find that this inner work continues to grow and deepen long after therapy has ended. Others may require more support (at times) and need suggestions to resolve immediate needs.

Because each person is unique, there can be no set formula for helping people find solutions and pursue their goals.   For this reason, Dr. Shafer’s approach to individual psychotherapy is not a  ‘one size fits all’  method or strategy.  Rather than “specializing” in a particular symptom or problem, Dr. Shafer’s treatment philosophy is based on the view that emotional growth best occurs in a trusting relationship.  Accurate empathic understanding helps people gain confidence and self esteem, and establishes the foundation of trust which makes growth possible.  This is the basis for effective psychotherapy for Dr. Shafer’s practice in the Santa Barbara area.

Although based on contemporary psychoanalytic theory (see Psychoanalysis Page), Dr. Shafer’s approach is pragmatic, utilizing a blended range of interventions which center around empathic understanding and which include, as appropriate, strategies such as coaching and cognitive behavior work.

Within the milieu of the therapeutic relationship, Dr. Shafer will help you construct personalized goals by carefully and non-judgmentally attending to what is being presented.  He endeavors to respond in a direct, supportive, and interactive manner, always from an empathic perspective.   Dr. Shafer views his empathy and depth of understanding to be his greatest assets as a therapist.

Psychotherapy is a collaboration between therapist and client which supports the cultivation of self-understanding, self-confidence, and  self-esteem.   Psychotherapy will help you will begin to see more clearly how you have gotten in your own way and what you need to do differently.

Visit or Call to Learn More

136 Por La Mar Circle
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

(805) 969-7474

Office Hours

Mon – Fri — 9:00AM – 6:00PM
Saturday — TBA
Sunday — Closed

Dr. Robert Shafer
136 Por La Mar Circle
Santa Barbara, CA 93103