Therapist for Parenting Teens

Parent Q&A

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  • We are parents of an adopted 12 year old girl. Her behavior at home has gotten worse. We are having a lot of power struggles and need help figuring out the best way to take care of her so are not always fighting. We are looking for a therapist that knows a lot about adopted kids and who understands the adolescent mind. The therapist is for us not for our daughter.

    Laine Demetria, LMFT, helped me to understand how to parent my adopted teenage son. She herself has adopted children. You can reach her at  (510) 703-4766.

    Good luck!

    Hi I highly recommend Stacy Outten in Oakland. We spent over a year working with her (just my husband and me, our boys not willing to engage in therapy). She was hugely helpful in getting us on the same page and really holding us accountable. We’ve worked with lots of kind people but Stacy was the one who helped us make meaningful change. Highly recommend.

    Hi, I know it can be tough, I am also the parent of 2 adopted girls. One 7 and one almost 12.  I see Judy Benziger-Haynes, MSW (925-683-3274) in Lafayette to get parenting tips.  She is absolutely wonderful. And my younger daughter sees DR Maria Chiaia on College Avenue for play therapy. (510-654-3281) One of the best things that my older daughter did for 2 years was join a therapist lead arts and crafts group for adopted girls.  Unfortunately the therapist retired.  I would research to see if anyone else is doing this. 

    I have found non violent communication to be very helpful. Also attachment therapy (for myself to heal my own trauma issues triggered by my kid)  Pathways counseling at girls inc has helped us a lot too,  Kaiser a nightmare—avoid if possible. Hang in there! 

    My younger daughter attended two years of a group for adopted tweens run by Virgina Keeler-Wolfe who has tons of experience with adoption.

    My older adopted daughter is “easy” while my younger one is challenging. I also have friends and family with “difficult” teens born to them.  Don’t give up.

  • Hello Fellow Parents of Teens & Emerging Adults,

    I am wondering if anyone can please give me some names and contact information for counselors or "parenting advisors" who could offer me strategies and support to improve my communication and my overall relationship with my 16+-year-old daughter? I'm hoping for someone who has a cognitive-behavioral bent and is a true expert in teen development and in parent-mid teen relationships. Thanks in advance for your help!    

    I highly recommend Sara Biel in Berkeley. She has been amazing support for my teen daughter, and our mother-daughter relationship.  

    Try BACA (Bay Area Clinical Associates) in Oakland.  They have been treating my daughter for the last three (3) years and we have seen great progress and they offer counseling for the entire family.  They are wonderful and extremely helpful.  Don't know where we would be today without them.  

    An educational psychologist who just tested my 13 yo daughter suggested which uses a collaborative approach to parenting. 

  • Hi, I am looking for a support group or a family therapist to help my partner and I better cope with our challenging 15 yo daughter.   We are experiencing a lot of stress when she is with us. Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thanks

    Re difficult 15 year old girl: I was there last year and my heart goes out to you. I have found incredible support in Willows in the Wind. I generally attend their parent support group meetings 2x/ month, once in Los Altos and once in Oakland. I would be happy to talk to you by phone and/or to invite you to come to one of the next Willows meetings with me. You (and I) are not alone in having a challenging child! Let me know if I can be of help, as others have been for me.

    Sending you moral support!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Male Therapist for Parent of Teen (East Bay)

Jan 2013

I'm the single parent (no ''ex'') of a teen who has addiction issues. My teen has been in treatment and is getting lots of support. I take part in the related parent group, but of course the limited time is shared among many parents. So I am looking for a therapist. I am an aging Boomer, and struggle with acceptance of the outcome of my life, including some grief centering on parenting, letting go of hopes and expectations for myself, my child, etc. My wish list includes a male therapist who is warm, smart and who understands addiction AND adolescents. A good sense of humor would help, too. (To those who would suggest Alanon: I have checked out a number of meetings/locations. Haven't found any with mostly parents of teens and didn't find them helpful.)

I'd like to recommend Bruce Nemirow, Ph.D., whose office is in North Berkeley. My son saw him regularly while in high school. I have also seen Dr Nemirow for issues regarding my son, as well as for myself. Dr Nemirow's manner is warm and he is a good listener. He is thoughtful, supportive and has a sense of humor, but best of all he follows up with ongoing issues, which has really helped me grow. He can be reached at 510.524.2082 ext. #2. W

Need ''Parenting Specialist'' therapist familiar w/ teen issues

Sept 2012

Hello, Seeking recommendations for a therapist extremely skilled in parenting issues. It seems there used to be one name mentioned often on BPN, but of course I didn't pay attention b/c daughter was sweet back then. She is now a junior in HS, and I've reached the end of my rope. Seeking a skilled professional well versed in teen/parenting issues who can help me through this. Thanks for any & all recommendations. Nothing but negative/hatred from daughter

I highly recommend Joshua Coleman, who helped us with similar issues: We're all in it together

Michael Simon in Oakland is amazing with teens. This is his area of specialty. He just wrote a book on the topic as well. I suggest you look him up. anon

Therapist to consult with as parents of a teen

Aug 2012

We are looking for a therapist to consult with about our teenage daughter. She is a wonderful kid, in most ways incredibly together - bright, social, athletic and mostly happy. Her peers look up to her. She is social at school but doesn't have a good number of close,one on one friendships. She has an intensity about her that can be experienced, by peers and her parents alike, as slightly controlling and just ''too much''. As parents we would like to understand what is going on with her and how we might gently and subtlely learn some things to help her help herself. We wonder if we had a few sessions with the right therapist we might be able to gain a better understanding of what compels her and how we might help her without hurting her feelings or confidence. Any recommendations for a therapist that knows teen issues well but could meet with us as parents would be helpful. A UBH provider would be even better. Thank you. Parents wanting to help

We found Amy Friedman LCSW (near Piedmont Ave. in Oakland) very helpful regarding similar issues with our teenage daughter. She is experienced and down-to-earth and very good at communicating with parents. I don't know if she takes UBH, though. anon

Need a professional for parenting advice

Sept 2009

Help! Is there a parent-of-teen-support group out there (East Bay)? AND do you know of a good professional to whom I can go for more ''structural'' advice on how to set parameters for my daughter on dating, discipline, privacy, etc.?

When my daugther was a baby, then a toddler, I read ''all the books'', and felt pretty intuitive about parenting during the ''easy'' years (ages 5--13); my daughter truly was very easy and we were extremeley close.

Now I have a 14 year-old and I am clueless--about dating, discipline, privacy, etc. And for the first time, she and I have fought, where my sweet girl has morphed into a vampire teen and screamed about how much she hates me. My daughter has met a boy she likes and wants to go out with him. I don't know what the parameters of behavior should be. She is in the early stages of all this and has shared with me that she and this boy have kissed twice (at a camp). Today she wants to meet him ''to walk around'' (Bay Street, 4th Street, Shattuck, she's not sure yet). They may meet at a mutal friend's. Aieee!

I am divorced, do not effectively co-parent with my ex (we never talk), which was okay when parenting was easy. Now the stakes are higher. I don't expect to have a more effective relationship with her dad. I need the support of other parents and/or professional parenting help.

Please advise! Thank you. Very clueless and a bit scared

Dear Very clueless and a bit scared:
I have been there! We belatedly found Coyote Coast which offers one on one mentoring to teens, teen group therapy, and family therapy. Both my children, 16 and 20 are participating in this program and I highly recommend it. We just got back from a very productive family therapy session when I read your e-mail Their offices are in Orinda, an easy jump off the freeway. Call Alex Georgakopoulos, LMFT Admissions Director & Family Therapist alexgeorgakopoulos [at] ext. 1 or (510) 333-4144
Mother of daughter with extremely troubled adolescence

I would recommend David Heckenlively, MFT in Walnut Creek. His website is We are members of a support group that is ongoing for clients who use his services. Our daughter needed extra help thru the teen years that included residential treatment. Some families are able to manage a ''home'' plan, but most end up at least having the teen go to a wilderness program. anon

A good book is ''Get out of my life but first can you drive me and Cheryl to the mall?'' Also a bit of reassurance - your daughter's behavior is completely normal and age appropriate. The fact that she has told you she kissed a boy already and is telling you where she is going is indicating a very good relationship. She could do all these things (and more) without telling you and you would never know. At this age, you are transitioning more to a ''consultant'' relationship rather than a ''boss'' - she's developing her life skills in handling situations and making choices herself. I like to think of this age as the terrible twos - push/pull all the time. It seems that the closer a mother/daughter are when the child is little, the harder the daughter may need to push to separate. By all means get the support you need and set limits - but trust yourself and her, you will figure it out. btw, love the expression vampire teen, will have to use that. parent of 16 year old girl

I could be the mother of the boy your daughter likes! Probably not, but our stories are very similar. My son is 14 and has had several ''girlfriends'' with whom he texts and meets to walk around downtown. I think the girls usually are with a friend (a good rule for girls at this age) and sometimes my son meets his best friend and they do things as a group.

Being the mom of a son is much different from being the mom of a girl (I can only imagine, since I have two boys), but I have similar concerns. I've found talking with other parents gives me a better idea of what to expect and how to approach my sons. There are some good books on parenting teens, but I don't have time to read!

The other thing I've done is talk quite openly about my expectations about his behavior with girlfriends. We've had lots of 'sex talks' so he knows how everything works and what my values are. He doesn't talk much, but I do! I even bought condoms to show him how they work, all the while telling him he wouldn't need them for a long time! I bet there are some on-line places we can go to get support, too. I'm so busy I don't think I could fit in another regular meeting. Thanks for bringing this up! Another concerned mom

Bananas is trying to put together a resource list for parents of teenagers and parents in step-family situations and would like to know of resources so they can share them. They are at 5232 Claremont Avenue, Oakland 94618. Phone is 510-658-7353. Website:

Yes, there is an active parents of teens support group in Berkeley that is moderated by an LCSW who specializes in teen issues. The group meets on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8pm at the offices of JFCS/East Bay in downtown Berkeley. Please call Rikki Sudikoff at (510) 704- 7480, ext. 761 for more info. Holly

As a mom of a teen, I would like to recommend a therapist I know, Fran Wickner. She is straight forward and has worked for years with parents and teens. Her number is (510) 527-4011 and her website is her name, Sarah