Viviane de Castro Pecanha, Ph.D.

Viviane de Castro Pecanha

Associate Department Chair
  • International Psychology Ph.D. Online program

    Program Lead, M.A. International Psychology Online Program

  • The Chicago School Online
International Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (Online)
Office Location
Office Phone
On-campus Ext.

A clinical and research psychologist, Dr. Viviane Pecanha began her education and career in Sao Paulo, Brazil. With a focus on cognitive and behavior analysis, she received a doctoral degree in the field of addictive and chemical behaviors at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Since 1998, Dr. Pecanha has worked to advance research and education for addictive disorders. She helped found the first South American treatment and research center dedicated to understanding impulse control disorders and gambling. Dr. Pecanha also co-founded a Brazilian non-profit organization that educates and trains mental health professionals to diagnose and treat impulse control disorders. She has provided both inpatient and outpatient psychological services for behavioral and chemical addictions at psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment facilities, and community counseling centers. In 2005, Dr. Pecanha began teaching at the graduate level at the University of California in Los Angeles while researching addiction issues as well as counseling clients in private practice . She has since returned to Brazil, teaching online for The Chicago School and furthering its global mission by arranging field study in Brazil for TCSPP students. Dr. Pecanha continues her work as a clinical and research psychologist in Brazil, providing cognitive behavioral therapy to clients suffering from mental health issues, and working to increase public awareness of addictive behaviors and related consequences such as trauma and violence.

  • B.A., Psychology, Mackenzie University, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • M.A., Clinical Psychology, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Certification: Specialization in Cognitive and Behavior Analysis, Chemical Dependence, and Impulse Control Disorders
  • Brazilian Clinical Psychologist
Areas Of Expertise

Select Presentations

  • de Castro Pecanha, V. (2010). Workshop - Introduction and Treatment of Impulse control disorders at Federal Sao Paulo University, Sao Paulo - Brazil.

  • de castro Pecanha, V. (2009). Impulse control disorders. Oral presentation at Santa Casa University, Sao Paulo - Brazil.  

  • de Castro Pecanha, V. (2008). Pathological gambling: a brief diagnosis and historical overview of North and South America rising addiction. Oral presentation at Antioch University, Los Angeles, CA.  

  • de Castro Pecanha, V. (2007). Motivational interviewing and alcohol dependence. Oral presentation at the University of California, Los Angeles, CA 

  • de Castro Pecanha, V. (2007). Pathological gambling and cognitive and behavior therapy. Oral presentation at the University of California, Los Angeles, CA. 

  • de Castro Pecanha, V. (2006). Chemical dependence and cognitive behavior treatment. Oral presentation at Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.  

  • de Castro Pecanha, V. (2006). Pathological gambling and chemical dependence: correlations between craving and emotional states. Oral presentation at Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Select Publications

  • Silva, J.V., de Castro, V., Laranjeira, R., Figlie, N.B. (2012). High mortality, violence and crime in alcohol dependents: 5 years after seeking treatment in a Brazilian underprivileged suburban community. Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr., 34(2):135-142.  

  • Dias, A., Araujo, M.R., Dunn, J., Sesso, R.C., de Castro, V., Laranjeiras R. (2011). Mortality Rate Among Crack/Cocaine Dependent Patients: A Twelve Year Prospective Cohort Study Conducted in Brazil. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 41(3):273-8  

  • Nyamathi A, Shoptaw S, Cohen A, Nyamathi K, Marfisee M, Kallifard, F, de Castro V, George D, Leake (2010). Effect of Motivational Interviewing on Reducing Alcohol Use. Drug Alcohol Depend,107 (1):23-30.  

  • Nyamathi A, Compton M, Cohen A, Shoptaw S, Greengold B, de Castro V, Reaves M, Hasson A, George D, Leake B, Marfisee M, (2009) Correlates of Hospitalization for Methadone-Maintained Persons with Physical Health Problems. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 31,525-543.  

  • Nyamathi, A., de Castro, V., McNeese-Smith, D., Nyamathi, K., Shoptaw, S., Marfisee, M., Khalilifard, F., & Cohen, A. (2008). Alcohol use reduction program in methadone maintained individuals with Hepatitis C virus infection. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 27(4):27-33. 

  • Nyamathi, A., Smith, D.M., Shoptaw, S., Mutere, M., Cohen, A, Amrani, I, Morales, L., & de Castro, V. (2007). Perceptions of methadone maintained clients about barriers and facilitators to help-seeking behavior. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 1(4): 301-309.  

  • de Castro, V., Fong, T., Rosenthal, R.J., & Tavares, H. (2007). A comparison of craving and emotional states between pathological gamblers and alcoholics. Addictive Behaviors, 32(8):1555-1564. 

  • Savoia, M.G., Vianna, A.M., Esposito, B., Guimaraes, E.P., Gil, G., Jorge, L.A.F., Toledo, L.C., & de Castro, V. (2006). Portuguese translation and cross-cultural validation of a personality disorders inventory. Arquivos Médicos dos Hospitais e da Faculdade de Ciências Médicas da Santa Casa de São Paulo, 51:43-46. 

  • de Castro, V., Fuentes, D., & Tavares H. (2005).The gambling follow-up scale: development and reliability testing of a scale for pathological gamblers under treatment. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(2):81-86. 

  • de Castro V. Cognitive and Behavior Treatment for Chemical Dependences In: Savoia, MG, Ed. Interface between Psychology and Psychiatry – New Concept in Mental Health. São Paulo: Rocca, 2012, p 155-166.  

  • de Castro, V. Relapse Prevention – Contributions of The Cognitive and Behavior Approach. In: Brandão, ZS, Eds. About Cognition and Behavior. Santo André: Esetec, 2004, v.13, p 374-383.  

  • Tavares H, Fagundes G, de Castro V, Daltio C, Braun I. Changing the Game: treatment manual for pathological gamblers. Sao Paulo: Leitura Medica, 2008.

Community Involvement

  • Led workshops that promoted mental health in L.A.'s Brazilian community
  • Member of The Brazilian National Institute on Alcohol and Drug Policies a non-profit organization in Brazil devoted to treating chemical dependency and developing public health policies in the field of chemical dependence
  • Provide psychotherapy for a reduced fee or pro bono for under-privileged populations
  • Psychological Consultant, Brazil Explore Magazine, a magazine devoted to issues facing the Brazilian community in Los Angeles

Professional Memberships


Q: Please describe your teaching philosophy.

A: As a professor, I believe knowledge is just one of the ingredients an instructor must have; an instructor must also have a dynamic personality and humor in order to motivate, engage and encourage students to be proactive participants during the learning process. In my opinion, human beings are constantly evolving and education assist us to continue improving ourselves. For me, learning is like a two-lane road where professors and students are expected to learn from each other. I encourage my students to share their own thoughts, experiences and concerns, as well as develop critical thinking, and I provide students with a safe place that facilitates the learning process. Students learn to respect each other's opinions and to disagree without being disrespectful. In class, I use an active learning method, where I frequently give real world examples and show movies and educational videos. Students are invited to be proactive participants, rather than passive learners.

Q: Please provide a statement or philosophy regarding the practice of psychology.

A: Coming from a different cultural, social, and economic background enables me to address significant issues--treating people with respect, as well as the importance of developing sensitivity to diversity. I started my career in Sao Paulo, Brazil as a clinical psychologist and psychology professor. Being a professor and a clinical psychologist for me is not only a job, it's a passion! I love being in the academic and the clinical fields. I am passionate about the field of psychology and I am fortunate to have found it in my life. I am a psychology enthusiast and I believe students are able to capture this energy. It is an honor to share the subject matter I love with others and I am grateful for the opportunity to teach psychology.

Q: Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?

A: I believe I was born to help people; however, it was not immediately clear to me how I was going to do that. I decided to become a medical doctor but during the process of getting accepted to medical school I became very ill. This opened my mind to the field of psychology. It was love at first sight! I can't imagine my life without psychology, and I can't imagine myself doing anything else besides being in the field of psychology.

Q: What advice would you give to a student entering The Chicago School?

A: Five key words that will support the process of your learning: flexible, open-mind, interested, proactive, and engaged. All human beings are expected to make mistakes; don't let the fear of making a mistake hold you back. The most beautiful thing about making mistakes is learning from them!