How I work
Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. -John Gardner
About me
Welcome   You are one of a kind. No one experiences the world exactly as you do. So it is important to find a therapist you feel is capable of understanding your unique, lived experience so that together you can work towards change.  I see the moment you enter my office as an opening into a more fulfilling life. Whatever brings you to therapy, whether the wish to overcome anxiety or depression, change repetitive relationship patterns, unblock creativity, or come to terms with a divorce or other seismic shift in circumstances, my hope is to create a trusting relationship in which we can work together to explore the inner forces that shape your experience and understand what is interfering with your satisfaction in life.  Disruptive patterns often derive from early relationships and take on a life of their own, outside of your awareness. I see the therapy relationship as a laboratory, playground and crucible in which you can discover new ways of relating to yourself and your world, in which you can feel both supported and challenged enough to stretch the limits of what you thought possible. You have strengths and abilities waiting to be unearthed, and buried potential poised to bloom.  In the privacy of our therapy relationship, I hope to help you think about, move beyond and learn from emotional pain in order to create more choice and possibilities in your life, and find new and more effective ways of coping with life's challenges. Come: let's begin your journey.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?-Mary Oliver
How I Work  People come to see me when they want to make meaningful changes that will lead them to having more of what they want in life: more loving relationships, more work satisfaction, more insight into themselves, more creative fulfillment, more joy. I believe that people grow in relationships, and that two minds working together on complex problems is the best way to uncover their core and create the conditions for change.  My style is engaged, respectful, collaboritive and compassionate. I am interested in grasping the whole of your world, inner and outer, and how they interact. I find that the best way to make sense of your current feelings is to understand them in the context of your life, past and present, and I will listen carefully and work with you to develop a fuller understanding of what you are struggling with and how I can support you in moving through it. I have often found that what starts as an effort to overcome pain can become a "portal of discovery" to new ways of being, seeing, and living a fuller and more fulfilled life.
All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster's autobiography.-Federico Fellini
Creativity & its Discontents  A creative slump is agony for a writer, artist or musician. When ideas won't hatch and you can't incubate any inspiration, your mind can feel like a caged bird. Psychotherapy can be an effective way to free your creativity from captivity and dry off those wet wings.  Emotional blocks and un-thought meanings about creative work can block your flow and inhibit your ability to generate new and interesting ideas.  Understanding and working through whatever is keeping you stuck can allow your creative process to take flight again. 
Payment  Therapy is an intimate conversation, and you need to feel comfortable with the person you work with. The best way to know whether I am the right therapist for you is for us to talk.  I offer an initial phone consultation free of charge to allow us to assess whether we are a good fit. During this conversation, I will ask questions to see whether I believe I can be helpful to you, and you will get a sense of how it feels to talk with me. At that time, you can inquire about my current fee. If you cannot afford my full fee, please tell me so we can discuss your options; I may be able to accommodate you, or provide an appropriate referral. I do have a limited number of sliding scale sessions available during the day for people who cannot afford a full fee, such as students and younger clients. I prefer payment at each session, but can arrange to bill at the end of the month. If you are using insurance, I can provide you with a monthly statement upon request so you can submit it for reimbursement.
Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.-Albert Einstein
Relationships  Opening yourself up to another person and developing true intimacy can be the most enriching experience imaginable. But so much can get in the way. Continually choosing the wrong partners, anxieties about getting close to the right ones, and being haunted by past relationship failures can scuttle your ability to make a satisfying and sustained connection.  Psychotherapy can allow you to see your relationship patterns more clearly and help you to understand what drives you to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. It can also enhance your ability to communicate with partners, family members and friends so you can develop greater closeness and connection.
The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed.-Carl Jung
We learn geography the morning after the earthquake.-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Loss  Are you having a hard time moving beyond a loss? You may have felt stuck for some time, unable to move forward, and fearful that you are wearing out your welcome with loved ones who just wish you would get over it. Here, your loss can be talked about for as long as it takes to let go. When you process a loss as deeply as you need, you will find it easier to move on. Let me provide a safe place where you can come back to life again.
Life is not having been told the man has just waxed the floor.-Ogden Nash
Life Transitions  Life transitions challenge you to reshape your thinking to meet the next phase. You must mourn what is lost to be able to open yourself up to new experience and face the anxiety that comes with change. Dissolving old structures and building new ones can be exciting, but difficult to accomplish alone. Therapy can act as a chrysalis that supports you through your process of transformation.
Trauma  Steve Jobs said it: "Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick."  Traumatic experience destroys the world as you knew it. It cracks you open and loosens familiar ways of thinking and feeling about yourself and your life. Alongside overwhelming emotions, unanswered questions and raw pain lies the opportunity to discover new competencies and strengths within. Some things are too devastating to face alone, and an empathic presence can ease the anguish of talking about experiences that feel unthinkable and unspeakable. Therapy can help you become more adept at sorting through and coming to terms with the often confusing and conflicting thoughts and feelings left behind in the wake of a trauma.
The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places--Ernest Hemingway
--Sharon R. Bass, Ph.D.
Sharon R. Bass, Ph.D Licensed Clinical Psychologist psy 17521  3223 Lake Shore Avenue  Oakland, California 94610  510.419.0999
Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.-Rainer Maria Rilke
About Me   I am a clinical psychologist with over 17 years of experience providing psychotherapy to adults, couples and adolescents. Prior to opening my private practice, I worked in various mental health settings, including USCF/Mt. Zion Hospital, California Pacific Medical Center, several community clinics and the Ann Martin Center, where I taught for many years as clinical faculty.   In addition to my work as a psychotherapist, I write and give talks about psychology, creativity, and film, teach at the graduate level, run the clinical training program for psychologists at Rubicon Programs, Inc., supervise psychotherapy trainees at California College of the Arts (CCA), and have served on the editorial board of fort da, the journal of NCSPP, for the past 9 years. I have a creative background, and enjoy helping people to make new and unexpected connections that can energize change.
A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Office Locations: Sharon R. Bass, Ph.D. 3223 Lake Shore Avenue Oakland, CA 94610 50 Sand Creek Road Suite 140 Brentwood, CA 94513 Phone:  510.419.0999
Contact  I will generally return your call within 24 hours. If you have not heard from me within 24 hours, please call back, as messages at times do not come through clearly and I may not have gotten your information, especially if you are using a cell phone. If you are hesitant about contacting me and prefer I contact you, please email me and I will get back to you promptly. I am usually able to respond within 24 hours during the week and within 48 hours if you contact me on a weekend. You can click on the map to get precise directions to my office, which is at the top of Lakeshore Avenue across from Trader Joes. One hour parking is available across the street from my office in the lot that serves Lakeshore businesses.
A man's errors are his portals of discovery.-James Joyce
Divorce  Divorce can leave you shattered. Even if you saw it coming, you can feel like someone took a hammer to your life. No one around you comprehends how out of control you feel.  Mining this distressing experience to understand what went wrong can be painstaking and difficult, but insights gained about yourself and your relationship patterns can help you avoid repeating mistakes and lead to greater satisfaction in the future. A supportive ally can help you navigate this difficult transition and assist you to transform your heartache into wisdom. What may start out as an excruciating loss often becomes a voyage of self discovery.