Arwin Cotas-Girard, Psy.D.

she / her / hers
Therapist and Assessor
Psychologist License PSY 31381
925-954-6229, ext. 8

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My name is Dr. Arwin Cotas-Girard, and I offer assessment and psychotherapy services.

I love working with children of all ages (including adults who are young at heart), and I connect well with kids and teens, and appreciate people for who they are.


My Approach to Assessment and Evaluation

I believe that assessment should not only be investigative, but also playful, warm, and respectful. I work collaboratively with my clients, their caregivers, and other important people and systems in their lives to gain a comprehensive and authentic understanding of both their strengths and challenges.

I hope to spark curiosity within my clients and answer any questions that they may have about themselves throughout the evaluation process.

Healing Through Self Discovery In Assessment

I am trained in Therapeutic Assessments, and my evaluations may include therapeutic interventions that promote healing and change to occur through the process of self-discovery and reworking of narratives.

I Listen Carefully and Accommodate Your Individual Your Needs

The assessment process tends to be a positive experience for all, even fun. If your child has (or you have) sensory issues or sensitivities, I will do my best to accommodate your needs. This includes meeting in a room without overhead lights, working in a space that is comfortable (whether a larger space with homey comforts or smaller space with few distractions), taking breaks as needed, allowing a stuffie, toy or fidget, etc.

Please talk with me about any of your particular concerns. I want the assessment process to be the best possible for you, and am here to help!

I Offer Insight and Clarity

I strive to bring the insight and clarity necessary to ensure your child’s (or your) future well-being.

Comprehensive Reports, Geared for Children, Teens and Adults (H2)
To ensure this, assessment results will be provided in a comprehensive report that is detailed and understandable, and also distinctly matched to an individual’s developmental level. This includes personalized fable reports for children, and letters to adolescents and adults.

To learn more about assessment and evaluation services at TheraThrive, please click here.

My Approach To Therapy

I specialize in serving gifted, highly sensitive and those with high functioning Autism. My therapeutic style is strength-based and humanistic. I work systemically and from an attachment-based perspective. I also believe in insight-oriented therapy, and am psychodynamically trained. My approach may also be Dyadic, which is an evidence-based attachment-focused therapy. Dyadic work is also often used to treat complex trauma, reactive attachment issues (RAD), and other issues with attachment. I am also a trained ABA therapist and use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Pediatric Specialist

While I enjoy my work with adults, I am considered a pediatric specialist, and I am trained extensively in child/adolescent development and child/adolescent psychology.

I love working with children of all ages (young children to older teens).

I have worked with children in multiple capacities throughout my life. I have been a babysitter, a camp counselor, a special education tutor, an Applied Behavior Analyst for children on the Autism Spectrum, a child therapist, and, of course, a child assessor. 

I believe that all of these experiences have provided me with exposure to a wide variety of children, and have contributed to a deeply comprehensive understanding of child development, as well as children’s psychological and emotional needs. 

Most importantly, over the many years I have spent working with children, I have learned how to connect, build trust, and relate to children of all ages, so that we can work effectively together within a safe and warm relationship.

Play Therapy

I love play therapy. The Association For Play Therapy defines play therapy as “the systematic use of a theoretical model to establish an interpersonal process wherein trained play therapists use the therapeutic powers of play to help clients prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development.”

I see play therapy is a way to communicate with children, and to help children to express what is going on with them within their inner world. Play therapy helps to decrease or remove negative behaviors, improve emotional regulation, and to increase positive coping skills and effective problem-solving skills. Play therapy is a way to learn healthy communication and feelings expression, in order to relate well and get along with others. Play therapy also helps with assessment and improving an understanding children.  

Parent Support

When I work with children, I believe it is also important to support parents (or guardians, care-givers). I work with parents in a way that is most comfortable for them, which may be via phone calls, office meetings, and/or collateral family work.

Previous Clinical Experience

My professional training in psychology has centered primarily on child, adolescent, and family work. 

My previous clinical experience includes various settings, private practice and outpatient settings, with children, teens and adults. For example, I have worked at alternative schools, private schools, public schools, juvenile halls, and community mental health outpatient settings. I have also served on the Contra Costa County assessment team.

I worked for two years as an Applied Behavior Analyst (ABA) for individuals on the Autism spectrum between the ages of 2-19 years old, who had varying degrees of functioning (from mild to severe). 

I also worked extensively with parents to help them build the skills that they needed in order to support their children at home and to decrease maladaptive (unwanted) behavior. This parent-support experience led me to pursue my doctorate in clinical psychology, as I found this work to be extremely rewarding. I understood that behavioral work was only a piece of the larger puzzle and I was hungry to gain knowledge and understanding of the inner workings of a person’s mind and emotions.