Need more recent referral for pro-active short term couples counselor

We are looking for a couples counselor in the Oakland/Berkeley area, but there are so many recommendations on BPN and many are now a few years old so it's difficult to sift through. We have a very concrete issue that we need help with from a neutral third party (whether to stay in the bay area or move away based on my partner's career prospects which could conflict with mine). We are not looking for long-term exploration/psychotherapy. We need someone who can jump in to focus on the key issues at hand and give us specific, tangible tools so we can move forward on our own - other than this issue we have a solid partnership. Ideally we want someone who can come up with a step-by-step action plan (e.g., "Try these three things this week") and help us be able to talk this through ourselves in the future so that we don't need to continue in counseling for months (some counselors we've tried seem to leave us feeling worse about our relationship so that we'll keep on paying). 


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We love Shawna Sodersten in Oakland. Her number is 510-355-1505.

She also has a great blog:

We had great help and quickly from Michael Gelbart in San Leandro. 

After months of seeing a therapist that made us feel worse every time, we finally realized that we needed to get a different kind of help. We saw Michael and his suggestions at the first appointment got us checking out John Gottman, a fabulous resource for research-based couples help. We checked out a video at the library and then started listening to Gottman's audiobooks and reading his books. We were dealing with a very different issue, but Gottman plus Michael really quickly worked at solving the problems and got us back to a very happy place together. Michael gave us assignments and helped each of us to work on specific things and we were both willing and able to do so. His suggestions of books we could read and things we could do were spot on, did not make us feel worse, but instead got us on the right track quickly. We saw him briefly, but would go back if we needed help getting back on track, but he gave us a lot of tools that we can use now. 

We did not leave feeling worse after our appointments. Sometimes we had a few emotions stirred up, but we definitely felt better than with the previous therapist.

Happy wife, happy husband

Patricia Hart on The Alameda in Berkeley. She's great. We've gone 2 or 3 times and she checks in on us by email every once in a while. The first appointment is a double session so it's twice as expensive, but worth it. She made some great observations about how we interact and that makes us more sensitive to those tendencies in the heat of a discussion. 

You might try Susan Champagne ( -- she is practical, warm and friendly, and is good at working to help short-term and long-term issues.

Good luck!

I would urge you to seek help on this issue from Lisa Lancaster (841-2525).  She helped my partner and I work through a tricky work/relationship issue last May.  She was fantastic.  Super smart and got us to the decision we needed to make fast.