Kile Ortigo, PhD

Clinical Psychologist
Palo Alto CA
My approach is evidence-based and informed but highly flexible and adaptable to the client. I have a strong philosophical understanding of how people can change, grow, develop skills, and manage mental health symptoms. I approach psychotherapy from an existential, psychospiritual, and behavioral framework that acknowledges powerful personal experiences, including but not limited to those that can be evoked from psychedelic medicines. Compassion, mindfulness, and curiosity are bedrocks to much of this work. Nevertheless, my understanding is the background to the highly creative, personalized nature of my work as a psychotherapist. The therapy belongs first and foremost to the client, and my role is one akin to a guide, a creative problem solver (as needed), and a fellow explorer on the journey of finding personal meaning and growth. I enjoy collaborating and learning from my clients as much as I appreciate helping them in their own journey. Whether it’s through analyzing dreams and symbolic material or by unpacking a complex, confusing interpersonal interaction, we find the answers together.
As the founder of the Center for Existential Exploration, I specialize in personalized methods of supporting people in connecting to a deeper sense of meaning and understanding of the self. My work is driven by exploring personal values, spirituality, underlying emotions, and recovery from painful life experiences. These experiences may involve trauma, loss, medical illness, and/or periods of difficult transitions (career change, moving, break-ups, coming out, a terminal diagnosis, etc.). As a research-trained clinical psychologist, I have worked extensively in foundational and applied research in the areas of personality, attachment, trauma, and care delivery models of psychotherapy. I actively update, modify, and create therapeutic protocols and manuals for clinical care, personal growth, and adaptation of evidence-based approaches to technology-driven interventions. Examples of my work in technology at the National Center for PTSD include Mindfulness Coach (iOS, Android), STAIR Coach (iOS, Android in development), and webSTAIR. At Psychedelic Support, I also serve as an editor and consultant for web content, articles, and training resources. My interests in psychedelic-informed themes of the ineffable, the cosmos, the experience of awe, the nature of reality, and symbolism (including dreams, film, art, myth) fuel this aspect of my work. I've integrated my diverse interests into my book, Beyond the Narrow Life: A Guide for Psychedelic Integration and Existential Exploration, which includes a foreword by luminary psychologist and psychedelic expert, Dr. Bill Richards. The book functions independent of one's personal use of psychedelics and involves deeper reflection activities, meditations, and creative expressive exercises, which I incorporate as appropriate in my work with clients.