Meet Dr. Nicely

Dr. Eric Nicely, Psychologist in San Francisco, CaliforniaWelcome!
I am Dr. Eric Nicely, a San Francisco-based, Licensed Clinical Psychologist.
My private practice has been in operation in the Financial District of San Francisco since 2003.

Half of my practice involves working with individuals coping with anxiety problems, where I utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

I also work with substance abuse and dependence problems with alcohol and drugs. I have been working with these problems since I first started training in 1991. Whether you are interested in controlling or moderating your use, or want to start a sober recovery program, I have the experience to help you.

Other clients include people going through life transitions, such as a job change or relationship problems.

I also specialize in personal coaching, usually with work-related goals. I have helped people start businesses, change careers, or develop management skills.

On the remainder of this page, you can find out more about my experience, research and education, my approach to therapy, personal philosphy, and my credentials.  Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation.

Gay and Lesbian Experience

I am also a gay psychologist who is part of and serves the gay community. I address issues regarding sexual orientation competently and compassionately in individual and couples therapy, as well as in workshops.

As an undergraduate, I participated in AIDS-prevention outreach activities and was a volunteer peer-counselor for the Gay Men’s Counseling Collective. Also as an undergraduate, I co-founded the gay and lesbian student union and was active in building student awareness of gay and lesbian concerns.

As a professional, I’ve volunteered my time as an addiction counselor for gay and lesbian drug and alcohol recovery programs. I have provided services in a number of gay and lesbian settings, including the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco-based New Leaf Services, including HIV/AIDS, individual, and couples counseling.

Education and Research

My education and training includes work with gay and lesbian individuals and couples in a variety of treatment settings, group therapy with HIV+ men, brief bereavement counseling for gay men with AIDS, work with gay and lesbian clients in recovery programs, and internships in gay and lesbian mental health agencies.

My doctoral dissertation research examined the impact of internalized homophobia (shame and self-loathing associated with being gay) on stopping drinking among gay male alcoholics trying to quit.

My dissertation is available at the bottom of this page.

I have been in full-time, independent practice as a psychologist since 2003, after years of training and working with individuals and couples since 1991.

This page is designed for you to get to know me and my style, in the hopes that it will help you make a decision about your therapy.

If you are looking for general information about psychotherapy, or for tips on how to find a good therapist, go here.

Personal Philosophy

Although my personal philosophy grows and changes over time, there are some useful descriptors that can give you a general idea of who you will find when working with me:

  • I believe in the dignity and worth of all individuals and work to affirm it;
  • I believe in both ‘seeing is believing’ and ‘believing is seeing’;
  • I stand for compassion, dignity, and transformation in working with others;
  • I help people bring possibility into reality;
  • I know we all struggle at times, and that the process can be as important as the result;
  • My approach to life is goal-oriented and achievement-focused at times;
  • I ascribe to and practice the ethical principles of the American Psychological Association;
  • I believe that the more we learn, the less we know, and we’re better off for it because we’re more flexible;
  • I believe spirituality is as important as authenticity;
  • I believe in the power of therapy to help people change;
  • I believe education is as important as life experience, and that both complement each other.

My Approach to Therapy

My approach to therapy is client-centered and humanistic. I affirm the dignity and worth of all people, regardless of any specific attribute they possess.

My approach to therapy is best described as caring, compassionate, and nonjudgmental. I believe in the potential of all individuals to grow, become fulfilled, and live satisfying lives.

My goal is to provide you with caring, compassionate, and skilled therapy. Finding the right therapist is critical to your success.

When you contact me for an appointment, we’ll schedule an initial consultation to determine whether we could work well together. If your needs fall outside of my scope of practice, or if there is not a good “fit” between you and I, I’ll provide you with appropriate referrals to other qualified providers.

I practice both cognitive-behavioral therapy and brief, solution-focused therapy. Below is a description of each approach:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT begins with a careful and thorough assessment of your particular problem and is highly goal directed in nature. Specific remedies are developed for specific problems. Problems are improved by altering maladaptive thoughts and behaviors.

The present context is emphasized, rather than your past history. The goal of CBT is to prevent the recurrence of problematic thoughts and behaviors, allowing you new choices and different responses to life.

Brief, Solution-Focused Therapy

The basic premise of solution-focused therapy is to increase what is working and decrease what isn’t working. Therapy usually focuses on the present situation, and only uses information from your past when it bears on your present problem.

One assumption in solution-focused therapy is that you bring a lot of personal strengths to coping in your life. The goal of solution-focused therapy is to increase and build on these strengths. The focus of therapy is on building workable solutions for the challenges you face.

Long-Term and Dynamic Psychotherapy

Longer-term psychotherapy has many variations. For people who wish to explore deeper levels of understanding and gain increased insight into their behavior and inner world, long-term therapy is an option.

My emphasis is psychodynamic and relational, which means that we explore early relationships, childhood and other significant life experiences, and your experience of how you relate to yourself and to me in the therapy room. I generally provide long-term therapy only for clients who have completed a course of brief or cognitive-behavioral therapy, or for clients who have a problem best treated by this method.

The goal of long-term therapy is to resolve early conflicts and develop a healthier relationship to yourself and others. This is achieved through an exploration of those conflicts, emotions, and relationships that have formed your world. Successful psychotherapy results in new psychological insight, additional choices, better expression and experience of feelings, positive behavior change, and improved satisfaction in relationships.

About My Practice

I practice brief, solution-focused psychotherapy for a variety of life’s difficulties including:

  • Anxiety, Fear and Worry (including obsessive thinking, social anxiety, panic attacks, and nervous breakdowns)
  • Career and Work Issues (including career transitions and more)
  • Drug and Alcohol Problems (including other addictions like pornography, internet, and gambling – also recovery)
  • Gay and Lesbian Concerns (including coming out, coping with homophobia, and self-esteem)
  • Personal Growth (including physical health issues, self-understanding, and happiness)
  • Self-esteem Issues (including self-awareness, self-worth, and happiness)
  • Stress Management (including workplace problems)
  • Work-Life Balance (including time management)
  • Workplace Issues (including anxiety, stress management, and balance)



  • License – California Psychologist #PSY18892 – 2003-present, California Board of Psychology.
  • Doctor of Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology, Alameda, CA.
  • Master of Arts in Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego, CA.
  • Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and Sociology, The American University, Washington, D.C.

Positions & Memberships

  • Adjunct Faculty, Alliant International University – California School of Professional Psychology, San Francisco, CA
  • Member, San Francisco Psychological Association (Membership Chair, 2004 to 2006; Website Coordinator, 2005)
  • Member, California Psychological Association
  • Member, American Psychological Association
  • Member, Division 42, Independent Practice, American Psychological Association
  • Member, Gay and Lesbian Therapist Referral Network (WWW.GAYLESTA.ORG)
  • Member, National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists
  • Member, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies

Curriculum Vitae