Therapist for teen with anxiety

A couple of years ago, my 14 year old daughter developed anxiety about being home alone (after previously being totally comfortable staying home by herself). She’s afraid that something will happen to me or her dad while we’re out and she’ll be left by herself and be in danger. It’s not rational and she knows that but it’s gotten increasingly worse over time, not better. Just tonight she was in tears thinking about how hard it is and how scared it makes her feel, even when only one of us is away now. This morning her dad was out early and she was awake and she said she had to look into my room several times to reassure herself that I was still there. And even seeing I was there, she still felt overwhelming anxiety. So I’m looking for a therapist, preferably in or near Berkeley, who specializes in anxiety and may be taking new teen patients. 

Thanks so much!

Parent Replies

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We see Anatasia Kim at the Wright Institute. She specializes in anxiety. She is knowledgeable, warm, has a great sense of humor, patient, puts kids at ease and has been so, so helpful.

We have had good luck with Reyna Cowan, PhD in Rockridge. She helped my son with his anxiety and he really enjoyed talking with her. 

I heartily recommend Kendra Dunlap as a therapist for teens. She is kind, approachable, makes teens feel heard, and also gives helpful guidance to parents (while respecting therapist/patient confidentiality.) We tried out about 3-4 different therapists while trying to find a good match for my child, and I'm so glad we found Kendra. She has an office not far from downtown Berkeley BART.

This sounds very much what my daughter when through for several years.  It has lessened over time with therapy and meds.  We also have had a long standing policy in our house that any time she is afraid, she knows she can come into our room and crawl into bed with us or wake us if she needs support.  This is not going to be easy on any of you.  And...our job as parents is to give our children support and comfort at all times.  I am sure you and your husband are great parents, but even with great parents, what your child is going through requires more hand holding than with other kids.  It took years for our girl to be relaxed at being home alone.  We put an alarm on the house and she can track us from her cell phone, just like we can track her movements.  You need to share with her what is the family plan should something happen to you both.  We put one in place so that our daughter knew what she should do in such a situation.  Even through our daughter is 21, she still knows who she can count on to call both in our town and out of town should anything happen to us.  A very strong support system needs to be in place.  Our daughter is an only child and I am not sure that is your situation.  If not, have her siblings provide some support to her, if you are like us, get a support system in place for her asap. As for therapist, we went to Bay Area Clinical Associates in Oakland.  They really helped all of us.  We highly recommend them.

We've had good results working with Amanda Urena (510-473-5795) on similar issues. Not sure if she's taking new patients, but recommend her highly. Her office is near Piedmont Ave, a short drive from Berkeley.

My daughter starting having pretty severe separation anxiety as a child. At 5-1/2 she began seeing Dr. Fortunee Kayra-Stuart and after 18 months of therapy she overcame this particular anxiety. Dr. Stuart practices in Berkeley and she's quite excellent! 

A therapist sounds like the place to start and I'm sorry I don't have a recommendation. But in tandem with that, and only if it fits your family's lifestyle, have you considered getting a dog? This really helped my daughter's anxiety about being home alone and as an added benefit, we have ALL grown to LOVE our dog. They are a huge commitment – daily long walks, training, feeding, vet visits and the responsibility will largely fall on the parents – but even as first time pet owners, we have not regretted it at all. She knows when any of us are feeling anxious, upset or down and will snuggle up immediately. Lots of local rescues with wonderful potential family pets.