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Meet Clarissa Gosney of Pinnacle Counseling and Testing Center in Rancho Penasquitos

Today we’d like to introduce you to Clarissa Gosney.

Clarissa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I knew I wanted to be a therapist when studying Child Psychology in high school. I supposed I am one of the fortunate ones who always knew my passion! To make money while going to grad school, I got my certifications in teaching special education. I moved to Hawaii in 2007 to teach Special Education while completing my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). It was then that I met my husband. Long story short, I completed my MFT in Hawaii and went straight into my Doctoral program at CSPP in San Diego. My husband and I decided to have two beautiful daughters while I was completing my PsyD and he was completing his RN. Many people thought we were crazy, but having children during the craziest time of our lives was the best time to be introduced to so much unconditional love. <3 It just took hard work, creativity, an amazingly supportive husband, and a whole lot of love. [I’ll leave out the part where I had to leave my practicum site at Rady Children’s Hospital early because I went into labor with my second child while my husband was working his clinicals. That was exciting!] Somewhere in the middle, our dog Liberty joined our family. She’s a certified therapy dog and is used during Exposure sessions to help individuals with dog phobia overcome their fears!

In November 2017, I became a Licensed Psychologist in California and started my own practice, first working on as a contractor, then in February 2018, Pinnacle Counseling and Testing Center was born. I chose the name “Pinnacle” because we all have our ‘mountains,’ and I wanted to help each of my clients conquer theirs to achieve peak mental health performance. By the time Pinnacle was born, I had been working with 3 clients with Selective Mutism (SM). Since the SM community is so small and there are not many people that know what it is (much less how to treat it), word spread quickly. I wanted to improve my knowledge and skills further, so I volunteered as a Counselor at Mighty Mouth in the Bay area, a week-long camp for kids with SM. This camp not only strengthened my clinical skills for working with these kiddos but further ignited my passion for working with them!

In May 2018, a week after we had our third beautiful daughter, I opened up my own office space in Murrieta (I had been subletting prior to this). I’ve since hired two more clinicians (1 in San Diego, 1 in Murrieta) that are trained in treating anxiety, trauma, and stress-related conditions in children, adolescents, and adults, and have trained them in the treatment of SM as well! We just recently held our first SM Group Intensive in November and will be running two SM week-long camps this summer!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think the biggest challenge of starting a business is maintaining a really good work/life balance. There is a lot of work that goes into running a business and thankfully I have a very supportive husband, three great daughters, and a dog that have loved me unconditionally through the process. Part of having good work/life balance is knowing when to take on more work yourself and when to hire and train excellent help. It was a unique transition, going from being a sole-practitioner to now being a small group practice, but it happened quickly and I am very fortunate to have the team of therapists and office staff that I do! Having an amazing team (both in the office and at home) makes for a smooth road!

Alright – so let’s talk about your work. Tell us about the Pinnacle Counseling and Testing Center – what should we know?
I am a licensed psychologist who specializes in treating anxiety, trauma, and stress-related conditions among individuals of all ages. Naturally, that became the basis of my practice. Something that makes Pinnacle Counseling and Testing Center stand out, aside from the fact that we conduct psychological assessments, is that my staff and I are all trained in the treatment of Selective Mutism (SM). SM is an anxiety disorder that causes someone who is capable of speech to be unable to speak in certain situations, such as at school or in the community, due to anxiety. We provide therapy at our offices in San Diego and Murrieta, as well as in the community for clients who benefit from Exposure Therapy. Exposure therapy is not just for our clients diagnosed with SM, but for individuals with trauma, OCD, panic, social phobia, and other anxieties.

Treating SM has become a passion of ours, and for good reason! Every one of our clients and their families work very hard to conquer an anxiety disorder that restricts their social relationships, progress in school, and ability to function independently. The bravery of each of these individuals? Remarkable! We work on “Brave Talking” in the office, and then we take these skills out into the real world together, where our clients get to put their bravery to the test. It’s such a blessing to see someone who had never spoken to another adult outside of their family (prior to therapy) walk into a restaurant and order their own food! Often times people talk about SM with kids, but adolescents and adults can be diagnosed with SM as well. So far, we have treated individuals with SM anywhere from 4-18 years old. Regardless of age, the bravery of our clients is what we are most proud of!

We are very excited to be starting up our own week-long camps for Selective Mutism this summer!  This will be our first time inviting children from all over the nation to benefit from this life-changing treatment!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Honesty. People of all ages walk into our offices because they are experiencing something that they don’t know how to conquer on their own. They put their trust in our hands. They come with their strengths and their vulnerabilities, looking to us to help guide them through it. We take our time to assess every client that walks in our door. We empathize with them, we grab their hand, and then we help them climb the mountain that has been casting a shadow over them. We are honest with them about their progress, their challenges, and what lies ahead. Honesty is what propels our clients forward in treatment. We tell them it’s not going to be easy, but that they are not going it alone. We’re going to climb that mountain with them.


  • San Diego Therapy: $150-$195 per session (depending on the clinician)
  • Murrieta Therapy: $150-185 per session (depending on the clinician)
  • Psychological Testing: price varies due to testing being individually-tailored to each individual
  • Scholarships available at both locations!

Contact Info:

  • Address: 9330 Carmel Mountain Road
    Suite F
    San Diego, CA 92129
  • Website:
  • Phone: (951) 396-5701
  • Email:
  • Instagram: pinnaclecounselingtestingca
  • Facebook: @pinnaclecounselingandtestingcenter

Image Credit:
RZ Design (
Brenda Boyd Photography (

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