Pediatric Psychiatrists at Kaiser

Parent Q&A

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  • I'm looking for a therapist at Oakland Kaiser for my daughter, and would love to hear people's experiences (positive or negative) with any of the female Child/Family therapists there. 

    I'm looking specifically for a female therapist, since I think my daughter will connect better with a woman.  My daughter is 9 years old and dealing with what I believe is anxiety and mild depression, manifesting in social issues/social anxiety, negativity, and general irritability.

    I've done the intake process already, and have an appointment booked with Dr. Rukhsaana Shabudin for the end of the month.  That will be more than 6 weeks since my initial call to Kaiser to get the ball in case Dr. Shabudin isn't a good fit, I want to have some idea of who else I can ask for.  I know a lot of this will depend on the connection between my daughter and the therapist, which is a very individual thing, but I'm hoping that hearing others' experiences can help me gauge who is likely to have a good connection with my girl.

    I looked at the Oakland child psychiatry provider bio's on Kaiser's site already (though it looks like only the providers who are accepting new patients are listed there).  I understand Kaiser often recommends groups in conjunction with individual therapy, and I'm open to that, but really want to make sure my daughter has an individual therapist she can connect with.

    Thank you in advance!

    Concerned mama

    We're no longer with Kaiser (not an option my employer of 7+ years offers), but we were when my daughter was 13.  She saw Dr. Shabudin for depression and anxiety, and I think Dr. Shabudin was excellent.  Unfortunately, it was hard to get weekly or even biweekly appointments -- not Dr. Shabudin's fault, but the Kaiser model at the time.  I hope she is a good fit for your daughter.

    Over the past two years (ages 10 & 11) my daughter has had two rounds of therapy sessions at Oakland Kaiser for anxiety, etc. that were manifesting pretty much as you describe. (Her usual anxiety was exacerbated by severe bulling and a death in the family one year and a temporary medical condition another year). Both times we were referred all the therapists were so booked up that it was either going to be too long a wait or so long a wait that per their protocols we would have to find someone outside of Kaiser (which they would cover). So both times we ended up agreeing to see a therapist in training, both of whom were female. I was hesitant at first but both times it was an excellent experience. I found out too that the therapists in training have graduated and are working on the 3,000 hours they have to long in order to be eligible for licensure so do have some experience. They also have more availability and work closely with a supervisor. Both times my daughter went for about 8 months. I was concerned about starting with a new therapist the 2nd time, but the first therapist said that the goal was to give her tools to deal with her anxiety and not to be dependent on a therapist. My daughter liked both of them so it worked out well.  So while this isn't a referral for a particular therapist, it is a recommendation for talking to the person that supervises the therapists in training too to see if there is someone that would be a good fit -- in my daughter's case the therapist in training happen to have done a focus on children with medical conditions so it really was a good fit.

    Hi. I had a very similar situation to you and unfortunately had a very bad experience with Kaiser psychiatry. Our daughter's condition sounds very similar to yours. First of all, as you've noted, it takes forever to get any real help. First you get a group meeting while they look over your intake form. Then you meet with someone who most likely refers you to someone else. In my case, we had already done a fair amount of private therapy and I wanted more of a medical assessment and diagnosis. Well I did not get it. The person we eventually got referred to, Jillian Goldstein, turned out to not be very helpful or sympathetic. She never actually gave us a diagnosis (I think the official diagnosis was "adjustment disorder" or something equally vague), her suggestions for how I should treat my daughter were very simplistic and behaviorist (rewards and punishments, which of course I had already tried), and in the end she even refused to sign the form requesting a 504 plan. So she was really the opposite of helpful, and it was like 2 or 3 months from the time I first requested help from Kaiser to figuring out that this person was not helpful, which was a big waste of time. In the end we got a recommendation for Dr. Denherder, who is very good but unfortunately works in Richmond. I'm sure there are good therapists and psychiatrists in Oakland, but we didn't have any luck finding one. I wish you better luck!

Parent Reviews

I wanted to write you to tell you I get it. I too am a mom of a tween who was adopted. Have been exactly where you are. So much anger, despair, threats of suicide and running away—and all of it completely invisible to the world outside our home. He behaves like a completely different kid in public. Saves all of his attachment/abandonment rage for his parents. It’s exhausting but I guess, also, maybe encouraging that he has learned how to be socially appropriate and so does not alienate teachers and potential friends. 

I can can recommend Dr Wymes at Kaiser for a psych evaluation. He doesn’t do cognitive behavioral stuff and he’s not a therapist but he did do a great job for us of assessing danger and figuring out diagnosis and meds. Also—he seems to have a lot of experience with adopted kids. He told us things tend to get even worse through the teenage years (sigh...) before they get better, as the normal teenage search for one’s identity re-ignites all the abandonment stuff. 

Best of of luck to you mom. We will get through these years eventually. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Kaiser child psychiatrist

March 2014

Please let me know about any really good child psychiatrists you have found in the Kaiser system. My child has a fairly complicated mood disorder and we need more help than we're getting. Willing to travel a significant distance. Thank you. Concerned mom

Dr. Wymes at Kaiser oakland is fantastic. Our son also has a complicated mental health picture and doesn't neatly fit really into any category. Dr. Wymes is patient, kind, and direct. All qualities I really have appreciated. Our son has made tremendous progress under his care. Anonymous

Kaiser psychiatrist for 17-year-old son

Oct 2013

I'm desperate to find a top-notch psychiatrist in the Kaiser system for my 17-year-old son. Does not need to be a male, as my son is often more comfortable with female providers. Does need to be warm, compassionate, non-dogmatic, open to alternative approaches. I'm willing to go to pretty much any Kaiser -- San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Hayward, Fremont, etc. (Oakland and Richmond are most convenient, but I'm pretty sure there are no child psychiatrists at either of those locations who fit the bill.)

My son has very strong prejudices against taking psychiatric medications, and has had some bad experiences in the past when he's tried them. But he's dealing with some very big challenges right now (depression, anxiety, panic, sleep difficulties, PTSD following a bad drug experience and hospitalization, possible mood disorder), and it's not clear that he's going to be able to get through this without at least a short course of medication. But it will take a VERY skilled and compassionate psychiatrist to convince him to give it a try and stay the course until he gets results. Anon

We have had some really awful experiences with Kaiser pediatric psychiatrists, and we have had extraordinarily good experiences and care for our child from Dr. Roy Eyal at Kaiser Richmond. He is kind, compassionate, flexible, willing to work with us, skilled at dealing with our difficult teen... in short, amazing. Wishing you all the best

Has anyone recommended Dr. Wymes to you? He is out of Kaiser Oakland. He is wonderful. My son is too young to really be resistant to medication, but I sure was and I found Dr. Wymes to be extremely warm and supportive, but also firm. I really appreciated his patience in helping me through what was the hardest decision I've ever had to make as a parent. I really can not recommend him highly enough. I read the previous reviews on BPN and have to disagree 100%. I feel like Dr. Wymes saved my family. We were really in hell, but didn't know there was a better way. Anonymous

I recommend Dr. Richard Roston at Kaiser Oakland. He is very compassionate, thoughtful, and also specializes in mindfulness-based approaches to managing depression, etc. If you can get an appointment with him, he is great! take care

Your son sounds a lot like my son with similar issues and possible PTSD after traumatic and harmful hospitalization. My son is extremely resistant to medications too. We ended up sending him to a short term program to get intensive cognitive therapy. It helped somewhat and made him more open to therapy going forward.

I'm afraid I can't suggest a psychiatrist, but I do want to encourage you to look into the support groups offered by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill ( They are offered in a multi-week series and are very focused, almost like trainings on how to cope with a loved one's mental illness. Very helpful. I was there for a spouse, but I think more people attend as a parent. There are NAMI chapters in most counties, the groups are free, and I can't recommend them enough. You learn about various types of mental illness, how to respond, how to cope with symptoms, etc. I thought of you because I still remember a couple who attended the same group I was in because their son had had a psychotic break after a drug overdose. you're in my thoughts; good luck

Recommendation for kaiser pediatric psychiatrist

July 2013

Hi. My 12 year old son and I are looking for a compassionate psychiatrist in the Kaiser Permanente system. Preferably, an doctor sensitive to anxiety and adolescents. We live in Alameda and are open to traveling to a Bay Area office to work with the best match for my son.

Dr. Wymes at Kaiser Oakland is fantastic. He worked with us around our son's behavior issues. My son's primary issue is not anxiety, but mine probably is and I found Dr. Wymes to be incredibly reassuring. I always felt better after seeing him. He is really charismatic, has a great sense of humor, is knowledgable, and does a wonderful job quickly building rapport and putting people at ease. I can not recommend Dr. Wymes highly enough. The process of medication trials with your child is horrible, but now that I am on the other end of it, our lives have all been changed for the better. Our household is so peaceful, something unimaginable a year ago. Good luck to you and your family! Anonymous

We have consulted several times with Dr. Wymes, a pediatric psychiatrist at Oakland Kaiser, for our 12- year-old son's ADD meds. Dr. Wymes is friendly in a low key way, he's a good listener, and he is extremely knowledgable about the array of options and treatments. He explains the options thoroughly, and works with the kid and the parents to suggest various strategies. We've been very happy with him. local mom

Dr. Tamar Gershon, in Child Psychiatry in Oak. Kaiser saved our child's life. She was able to diagnose and prescribe the perfect treatment when numerous other doctors including some private (famous) psych. could not. She is always monitoring him throughout the years and being sure his condition is maintained. He is now happy and productive and joyful.. after long time misery and fright for him and our whole family. Did I hear ''not returning calls?''. really.... if you know the kaiser system, management continues to increase , increase and increase these doctors caseloads without any more support or time... part of Health Care Crisis. We are so blessed that Dr. Gershon stays at Kaiser when so many excellent doctors leave. She has ALWAYS returned our calls in the time frame we would expect as well as emails. We can also get appointments when needed in record time. Dr. Gershon is well-known and respected at the local , state and national level. We are so lucky to have her in Oakland. I know many , many families who feel the same way as we do, but do not see this network. Those of you who need help.. go to Dr. Gershon at Kaiser Oakland. as we've said, we will be eternally grateful for her saving our son's life and helping our whole family recover from the issues we've had to face. Take care Dolores

Kaiser Child Psychiatrist for bipolar 10yo

Feb 2012

We are looking for a Kaiser child psychiatrist who understands that early-onset (juvenile) bipolar disorder manifests differently than adult bipolar. We need a psychiatrist for our 10-year-old who is open-minded, smart, and keeps up on the latest research. Willing to travel anywhere in the Bay Area to see someone who really understands and is willing to treat childhood bipolar disorder. Our current doctor uses the DSM-IV criteria (which were written for adults) for bipolar in children, which has been very inappropriate. Concerned parent

I don't have a specific recommendation for a Kaiser psychiatrist, but after spending nearly six years at Kaiser Oakland, I can give you some advice about the psychiatrists there. My son saw Dr. Gershon for anxiety and anger/depression issues and we were not impressed. We tried to switch to another psychiatrist in that office, and were not allowed to do so. We could never get her on the phone, as it was always full of messages, or she was unavailable to take messages. Not a good situation when you need a quick call-back for an urgent problem. ex-Kaiser patient

I want to second the previous comment to avoid Dr. Gershon, Child Psychiatrist at Kaiser Oakland. Our experience was the same as that of the previous responder. Our child saw her for anxiety/ depression issues. We could never get Dr. Gershon on the phone, and never had a call back from her to messages we left. In addition, the Receptionist clearly hated her job and took it out in negativity and rigidity/ unwillingness to help us at times. (This was acknowledged by the Dr. we were seeing at the time). Interacting with this grumpy and sometimes unhelpful person was really unpleasant. I think you may have better luck at the Kaiser Richmond Child Psychiatry dept. Best of luck. Wishing you well. 

Psych intake at Kaiser for children

Dec 2010

Strongly considering bringing in my 7, 5 and 4 y.o kids to the KP child psych ''intake'' process to get started with a counselor. Have you been through it? Do you recommend it? What should I look out for? Did it help? Thank you, sincerely. AnonMom

While I'm not familiar with the intake process per se, I can highly recommend a psychotherapist on staff at Oakland Kaiser. Mary Haake (sp?) has helped a neighbor's child tremendously. Harriet


Psychiatric services at Kaiser for 10 year old

January 2003

I am interested in seeking psychiatric services for my 10 year old son. Smart but unmotivated, feels inadequate, fearful, opositional behavior at home and at school, etc. We have Kaiser and I'd like to hear from parents who have had experience from any of the following Kaiser psychiatrists: Harold Bornstein, Michael Wymes, Virginia Wolfe, Robin Asher, Alexander Tribe Thanks! su

While I know you're asking about a psychiatrist, if you're interested in going the therapy route I HIGHLY recommend Larry Liebman. My 8 year old son has been visiting him for a couple of months and while my son still struggles, it has helped immensely. They have developed a great repoire, and he is very open to working with the entire family, if you desire.

Virginia Wolfe is the Chief of Psychiatry at Richmond Kaiser. She is outstanding. I work with her and would recommend her for your son. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Joyce.

Virginia Wolf used to be the psychiatrist for the pediatric patients at San Francisco General Hospital. I work in the same clinic and my impression is that she is very highly regarded by the pediatricians at San Francisco General Hospital, they were very sorry to see her leave. She is a thoughtful, compassionate type of person. She has experience with meds, of course, but didn't seem to recommend them routinely. She also provided on-going counseling to patients, not just medication prescribing. I would highly recommend her based on her reputation at the General. Jennifer

We have had two visits and a few phone calls with Dr. Wymes re: medication for our ADD daughter, so our experience is quite limited. I found him thorough, smart and forthright, but not hugely warm and fuzzy. He was responsive to calls and followed up well. Good luck with everything.

We have worked closely with Dr. Wymes over the last year at Oakland Kaiser. We agree that initially he does not come across as warm and fuzzy but our experience has been that he has been extremely responsive to our needs and very compassionate. He always returns phone calls even if it is at 7pm in the evening before he goes home. He has often called on a Friday evening to let us know what he was doing about a particular issue so that we did not have to wonder all weekend what was going on. He has welcomed our input into the process and is very willing to consider different options while making good arguments for his final decision. He has not hesitated to consult other professionals, both in and out of Kaiser, which we find very reasssuring. He initially recommended therapy(did not go straight to medication) and now works very closely with my child's therapist. We had a bad experience with the Kaiser Psychiatry Department until my pediatrician put us in contact with Dr. Wymes but we consider ourselves lucky to have this combination of therapist and psychiatrist at this point. Good luck!

My wife and son saw Harold Bornstein briefly. She thought he was too brief and ready to prescribe without uncovering what was really going on. Our son has now improved tremendously without meds. My wife's favorite person was Kate Mountain, not a psychiatrist but a PhD. She would be happy to talk with you about her experience with other staff members there if you are interested. nils

Family Psychiatry, Oakland Kaiser

Re: African American therapist for teen
Dear Mom with Clashing Son and Husband: If you have a membership with Kaiser Permanente which includes mental health benefits, I highly recommend their family psychiatry department over in the Mosswood building at the Oakland facility. They have two outstanding Black male professionals on staff (and perhaps others whom I am not personally familiar with). Dr. Whitmore and Dr. Simmons counsel both adults and children in individual sessions and in groups organized for early/pre-teen children. You will need to inquire as to whether your situation meets their criteria for obtaining services and of course, they are probably already very busy. But for serious family problems affecting our children, Kaiser members should be aware that affordable help can be obtained. Good luck. Nicolie

Rosco Simmons at Kaiser, Oakland is excellent.

One of the other therapists in my building used to be a Kaiser Oakland therapist, so I asked him. He suggested Dr. Roscoe Simmons and Dr. Gerald Whitmore of the child and adolescent unit. The number to call for appointments is 596-2737. Good luck. Vicki