Cassandra Vieten, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist, mind-body medicine researcher, author, consultant, and public speaker. At the Pacific Pearl La Jolla, she guides patients in creating an optimal emotional environment that supports all medical care. By creating a personal ecosystem of change, patients receive tools and insights to help them overcome their unique unconscious blocks and reach new levels of thriving. She leads The Pearl’s Mindfulness and Wellbeing classes.
In practice for over 20 years, Dr. Vieten is also the Executive Director of the John W. Brick Foundation, as well as a Scholar-in-Residence at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at the University of California, San Diego, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, where she served as President from 2013-2019. Her research has focused on spirituality and health, transformative experiences and practices, the development of mindfulness-based interventions for emotional well-being, and development of media technologies to inspire awe.
Dr. Vieten’s training includes a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. She completed her research training in behavioral genetics at University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Vieten’s practicum and internship training took place at Haight-Ashbury Psychological Services (HAPS), a low-fee psychotherapy clinic in San Francisco, and the Center for Special Problems, a San Francisco County Mental Health clinic focusing on domestic violence and sex offenders, victims of violence and trauma, transgender, and HIV+ individuals with serious mental illnesses. Before this experience, Cassi worked as a counselor for six-years in long-term social model drug treatment centers, including My Family and MFI Recovery Centers in Riverside, CA, and Centerpoint in San Rafael, CA.
Cassi completed her pre-doctoral, dissertation, and post-doctoral training from 1993-2001 at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco, where she began as a research assistant and became a clinical co-investigator on studies examining the biological basis of alcoholism. In the UCSF Family Alcoholism study, led by geneticist Kirk Wilhelmsen, she led a team of research assistants who assessed over 2,000 people from families with alcohol-dependent members, working to localize genetic variations that increase risk for alcoholism and co-occurring disorders. There, she received her first grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the role of affect regulation in alcohol dependence and recovery, also the topic of her dissertation.
In 2001-2003, she worked on the Cultivating Emotional Balance project at UCSF, led by Margaret Kemeny and launched by Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama. After obtaining a grant to study mindfulness with pregnant women at risk for postpartum depression, she left UCSF to become a Scientist at California Pacific Medical Center’s Research Institute from 2001-2013. Along with colleague John Astin, she co-directed the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group and collaborated on studies developing and pilot testing mindfulness and acceptance-based approaches to smoking cessation (California state-funded), and preventing alcohol dependence relapse (NIAAA-funded).
After giving birth to her daughter in 2001, Cassi became interested in the potential for mindfulness for pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum wellness. She and John Astin launched the Mindful Motherhood project (funded by the Bella Vista Foundation), which later became a book, an online course, and a professional training. The curriculum was adapted for the Maternal Adiposity and Metabolism Study (MAMAS) at UCSF, where Cassi served as a co-investigator with Elissa Epel, Barbara Laraia, and colleagues on a five-year NIH-funded project examining mindfulness and nutrition training on health outcomes in at-risk inner-city pregnant women.
Through her role at California Pacific Medical Center starting in 2001, Cassi began working on research projects at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Founded by the Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, IONS’ approach to bridging science and spirituality became an 18-year passion for Cassi. After several years as a scientist there, she became Director of Research, then in 2013, the 7th President and CEO of the organization. During her tenure at IONS she grew the science program at IONS to six scientists and five international fellows, all dedicated to studying the extended reaches of consciousness. She had the opportunity to work with scientists, futurists, astronauts, spiritual leaders, healers, and scholars throughout the world, to investigate how consciousness studies could contribute to creating a better future for all. She has authored three books, published numerous articles in scientific journals, was the speaker in three TEDx Talks, and is an internationally recognized keynote speaker and workshop leader.
Cassi lives in San Diego, CA with her partner and dog. She loves being near the ocean, singing, art, poetry, travel, geeking out on space exploration and science fiction, exploring big ideas, learning about the world’s spiritual and religious traditions, being with friends and family, and working with community to make a positive difference in the world.