Psychiatrists for Children

Parent Q&A

  • I'd be grateful for any recommendations for a child psychiatrist with lots of experience with children with anxiety and depression, and who takes insurance (Anthem BlueCross a plus).  Many thanks in advance. 

    Greetings Daisy, We have the same insurance and I found Pacific Coast Psychiatric Association ( to be an invaluable resource. They have five offices throughout the state and my daughter has had two outstanding psychiatrists from PCPA at the Walnut Creek office, both were women. My daughter’s first PCPA psychiatrist left the practice to pursue private practice but prior to leaving she selected a PCPA colleague to manage my daughter’s clinical depression. Local offices are in Walnut Creek and San Francisco. I struggled for a few years finding good doctors for my daughter. When I discovered PCPA I perused all doctors bios and found a very promising sounding psychiatrist that interviewed us parents (twice!) before seeing my child. 

    It’s a tough road navigating the mental health industry to find appropriate care for my depressed child. Best of luck to you seeking a good match for your child.

  • We are in search of a psychiatrist for our child, age 10, who has been described by specialists of all kinds as having a "complex case." Our child has ADHD, ASD, depression, and atypical mood presentation, which makes it very challenging for our child to fit into any neat box.  We have already had one mismatch with a psychiatrist who was very cold to neutral, which we as adults found off-putting, and who really activated our child's anxiety and made working with this psychiatrist untenable for our family.

    We are looking for someone who is warm, engaging, and deeply knowledgeable about prescribing meds for kids who have WAY more than one thing going on.  Also (obviously) she or he needs to be accepting new clients, as we have already been on this journey for way too long without the right psychiatric help.

    Many thanks.

    Karen Sprinkel has held my son's hand since he was eight.  I think honestly she saved his life.  Now at 26, they are still in touch.  Finding a therapist for this tender age can be difficult.  I am eternally grateful for her. karen_Sprinkel [at]


    You might try Dr. Paul Abrinko in Oakland -- %20PaulMD [at]  •(510) 496-6014  • 

    We have friends whose son had multiple conditions and were really happy working with him.  He helped us too, but we only had one issue. 

    I recommend Dr. Lisa Hardy in San Ramon (well worth the drive from Oakland, in our case). 925-362-3861

    She’s just wonderful in every way. I don’t know whether she is taking new patients or not, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions & Advice Related Pages

2010 - 2014 Recommendations

Child psychiatrist for ADHD treatment

Feb 2014

My six year old son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. I am looking for recommendations for a child psychiatrist or qualified doctor to oversee and educate us on medication for him. We are located in Alameda, so Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda or other nearby locations would suit us best. Thanks in advance, Annette

We have seen more than one psychiatrist since our son was diagnosed with ADHD and have found Petra Steinbuchel to be warm, knowledgeable and a fantastic resource for both medical treatment and non-medical treatment (such as CBT). Bonus - she is with Children's, so your insurance is likely to cover her! Petra Steinbuchel, 510-428-3571. Once, when she was out for maternity leave, we saw Dr. Schreier and also really liked him. Camille

Psychiatrist for 7yo with possible Aspergers & ADD

Sept 2011

I think we finally need to look into a psychiatrist for my just-turned 7-year-old (we will probably start up therapy again too). He received a ''possible'' Aspergers diagnosis two summers ago, and this past summer received an ADD-inattentive diagnosis. We've been living with years of emotional volatility and my son is becoming increasingly physical when he's angry. Although he doesn't do it frequently, he does talk from time to time of wanting to kill himself (and not for the dramatic effect) and it's happened often enough that it's too often. He's negative and unhappy more than he is happy. I'm looking for someone who is great at dealing with younger kids, especially ones that are highly intelligent, shy and not really forthcoming. Someone with experience in the above mentioned conditions would be great to help us sort things out. I would appreciate hearing others' experience or suggestions too. thank you BPN community! anon

Hi. It sounds like your child, you (and undoubtedly the rest of your family) have been dealing with a complex and likely to be ongoing situation. My son was first evaluated at age 5--he is now 18--one excellent piece of advice from our pediatrician --this is a marathon, not a sprint. Over the years, he has had diagnoses of ADD, Asperger's, social anxiety--all valid to a certain extent. I wanted to make several points that I hope can be helpful.

First--while assessments and diagnoses can be helpful, each child is unique and needs to be valued for their individual gifts and strengths, as well as supported/coached/learn to compensate for their specific challenges. And it is crucial to love and support the child.

Second--medication made an immediate and dramatic improvement in my son's ability to participate in his ''journey'', as well as school and social interactions. He himself sees medication as useful. Currently we see Brad Berman for medication and periodic assessment/encouragement.

Third, ongoing therapy from Betty Tharpe, MFT (510) 549-2092 has been invaluable for my son, and our family--she is positive but clear thinking and pragmatic about what we all need to be doing. fellow marathoner

Child psychiatrist for 5 year old son

Feb 2011

Looking for a child psychiatrist in the bay area for my 5 year old son. Has anyone used a psychiatrist at UCSF? Please let me know if you have any recommendations at UCSF or other places. Thank you J.

My friend in Palo Alto has spoken quite highly of Dr. Carol Harrus. Harriet

We have been very happy with Dr. Karen Hardy in San Ramon. Dr. Hardy was head of the Department of Child Psychiatry at Oakland Childrens's Hospital before going into private practice. She has really helped our daughter recover from a severe depression. The office telephone number is 925-264-4069. Anon

Child Psychologist or Psychiatrist in East Bay

Jan 2011

Our son was diagnosed with Selective Mutism earlier this year and we are looking for a child psychologist or psychiatrist (preferably in the Walnut Creek or Lamorinda area) who we can meet with on a monthly basis. While he has responded well to speech therapy, etc.- we want to better understand what is causing his extreme anxiety and how to better support him as parents. Ideally, this doctor would do play therapy with our son and also work with us as parents on how to better support him. Thanks

There are many talented psychotherapists in the East Bay. Some are more concerned with quick, short-term relief from symptoms. Others are more engaged with seeking the underlying causes of problems. One in particular who works with kids, and adults, is Reyna Cowan. Her office is near the Rockridge Bart. harriet

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

5-year-old child who is hearing voices

Dec 2008

My 5 years old child recently told me several times about hearing voises. The child is much more anxious, aggressive and doing tentrum tantrums often over last 2 weeks. There was a recent stress (relocation) which might provoked it. Could anyone PLEASE recommend an experienced children psychiatrist. Had anyone had an experience with this, and is it possible at all for a normal child this age to hear voices in his head and to have ''conversations'' with someone in an empty room? I am sooooo scared. Thank you very much. anon

Our pediatrician gave us a referral. Try calling your pediatrician and making an urgent appointment or ask for a call back to get a referral. The referral we received was great, but not sure if it is the right age range for your child -- Dr. Philip Grossman in Albany. Best of luck to you. anonymous

WE've seen Dr. Brad Engwall in Albany,559-1819. He helped us a great deal with my son's ADD and anxiety. He's young, really sweet adn ''kid like''. The person who recommended him to me (a therapist) said he was great with figuring out the right meds for the particular person. For my son he did a brain scan. Good luck. anon mom

You might want to consider getting an evaluation from both a psychologist and a psychiatrist. Community Psychiatry Associates offers easy access to psychiatric services. Their closest offices to Berkeley are in Downtown Oakland (510-834-2049) and Lafayette (925-299-9033). They have other offices also. If you want to do a psychological evaluation from a licensed Psychologist: Alisa Crovetti, Ph.D., is in Albany (510-882-2771) and Alan Siegel is in South Berkeley (510-652-4185). Evaluations can be expensive, but some insurance will cover them, depending on the psychologist and insurance coverage. I suggest that you get a couple of opinions to make sure your child is being evaluated properly. These evaluations can be very different, depending on the provider.

You may not like this response: however, try to learn more about where you relocated. It could be that your 5 years old is a bit stressed with the move expesically if she left friends. However, it could also be the case that your 5 year old really does hear voices- this doesn't mean that it's wrong or bad.

Don't be scared.. be educated.

Learn as much as you can about ''who she talks to'' (if she open to sharing with you) The worse thing you can do is issolate your child and make her think she crazy. I have had personal experience with a situation VERY similar. Yes it is very possible for her to have conversations with no one you can see in the room- it's called using her imagination (which is very heathly).

Please don't think she's ''crazy'' or lead her to believe she is the only one that does that. ~Zariah

When my son was discharged from John George Hospital in May of 2008, I found myself with the challenge of helping my mentally ill son regain his life again. I did not have a glimmer of hope, because everywhere I turned for answers, I was turned away. That was until I found Dr. Janice Cohen. Dr. Cohen not only helped my son medically, but also educated our family about his illness and the many resources that existed. She has been interested in all aspects of my son's life and has helped him address his recovery like a whole person. Dr. Cohen proved that what I thought to be impossible was actually very obtainable.

In the six months that we have worked with Dr. Cohen, my son has made outstanding progress. Prior to seeing Dr. Cohen, my son had two very traumatic hospitalizations and was discharged on high doses of six medications with no supervision. These medicines caused him very bad side effects, which led to an emergency room visit and then a second hospitalization. Dr. Cohen reduced the number of his medications and lowered the amount to a point where he now has no more side effects.

From the first day of working with Dr. Cohen, I felt her warmth and sincerity. Not only has she helped my son recover, but also, she has helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel ' A light that everyone else told me was lost. I highly recommend that anyone faced with a mental illness or simply seeking therapy for life problems give Dr. Cohen a chance. You will find what you're looking for.

Dr Lisa Hardy at Children's Hospital. Call NOW anon

You can try Dr. Jonathon Gross (psyciatrist) in Berkeley or Dr. Nancy Euwing (psychologist) in El Cerrito. Good-luck-your doing the right thing. anon

I'm so sorry to hear about your son's troubles. It sounds like his behavior change may have stemmed from the recent move? Are the voices telling him bad things? Is it possible he has created an ''imaginary friend'' to help him cope? I hate to sound kooky, but is it possible he has picked up on something paranormal going on in the new house? Kids are very in tune to those things. It sounds like this change in his behavior most likely comes from the new adjustment, and not him suddenly becoming psychotic, but that's just my personal opinion.

I still think it would be a good idea to get him to talk to someone, I'm sure you'll get other good recommendations here.Or you could start by discussing it with his pediatrician. Try not to worry, talk to him about it some more. Ask him what the voices are saying to him. Open up a dialog and let him know it's OK to feel differently about his new surroundings. Don't be ''scared'' he will pick up on it and it can cause more unneeded stress. good luck. -anon

Seeking child psychiatrist for 4-year-old

Feb 2007

My almost 4 year old daughter is quite difficult to manage. She is quite stubborn and defiant, she rarely plays on her own, demanding my attention most of the time, she has difficulty socializing with other children. I finally think she and I need help. I am looking for a psychologist or psychiatrist to help with these issues. We are in Berkeley. Thanks for any recommendations! Tired parent

Brad Engwall MD is an excellent child psychiatrist with a private practice in Albany: 510-559-1819.

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Child psychiatrist with OCD experience

June 2006

Can someone recommend a good child psychiatrist? Someone with expertise in OCD who can, if needed, prescribe medication anonymous

Any/ All of the psychiatrists at Oakland Children's (Herb Schreier, Lisa Hardy, Andrew Giammona) are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. You can't go wrong there. One Who Knows

Child Psychiatrist (MD)

Nov 2004

My five year old needs a full evaluation done by a board certified CHILD psychiatrist. I am looking for a child psychiatrist (not a psychologist or therapist) since we do not want to rule out medication. My son responds much better to warm and empathetic than cold/clinical type, which unfortunately most psychiatrists we have encountered are. As you can imagine this is very sensetive and importante to us and we dont want to muck it up. If you have had a good or even bad experience, please let us know. Thank you in advance. PS. Isnt it funny that I come to this site for recommendation before asking our pediatrician?? Thanks everyone! concerned mom

For the concerned mom looking for a warm, board-certified child psychiatrist, there's one at Children's Hospital Oakland named Andrew Giamonna. (don't know if I spelled his name right). I'm a pediatric resident there, and have had good experiences working with him. The main number at Oakland Children's is (510) 428-3000. Hope that helps. Joan

I can recommend Dr. Philip Gross as a child psychiatrist. He is an MD but he does not prescribe medications. If he feels meds are part of your child's treatment he will refer you to another doctor, probably starting with your pediatrician. While Dr. Gross or Dr. Phil to our son, spends time with your child, you and your spouse will consult with his wife, Miriam Gross, a licensed clinical social worker. We were able to have our insurance pay for all this; however, if you can't, perhaps, you can skip seeing Miriam; I don't know. Dr. Gross spent 3-4 months getting to know our child before he felt any additional testing was warranted. Our child, who was showing quite a bit of defiant behavior at home, which was why we initially sought a psychiatist, was always happy to go see Dr. Phil. We felt that was a testament to Dr. Phil's ability to connect with our child.

It was very hard to get a psychiatrist, as you may have already learned. Most do not take new patients. Dr. Gross was not either, but when we left the initial message on his answering machine we mentioned we had been referred by Dr. Gruber who was our pediatrician at the time. Dr. Gross and Dr. Gruber are good friends so that got us in the door. Another approach you could try is a developmental pediatrician. We now take our child Dr. Gary Landman in Orinda for meds management. Dr. Landman will do testing and meds but he does not do counseling. I think the only doctor in the area who does all of that is Dr. Berman in Walnut Creek. It only takes a year of waiting to get in to see him. No kidding! I called in August of 2004 and was scheduled to see Dr. Berman in August 2005. Hope this helps and Good Luck. been there, done that

Have you ever thought of going to a place like Berkeley Therapy Institute (don't know if they take kids) where one talks to a psychologist, but they have a psychiatrist on staff to evaluate and prescribe when medication is needed? Just a thought... Karen

Kensington Psychiatrist

March 2004

Please help. In the past 6 months there was a recommendation for a Kensington psychiatrist who used to be a pediatrician. I've looked through archives and past emails but can't locate it. I'd appreciate getting her name. Thanks! Disorganized Mom

I think you're talking about Ms. Blacklidge (her first name is either Virginia or Victoria), who has a private psychiatric practice out of her home in Kensington. anon

2003 & Earlier

Child Psych - food issues

Aug 2003

Hi - My 3 1/2 year old is beyond picky. He now does not want to eat in front of people, other than family, or at school. I figure a child psychiatrist could not hurt. Does anyone know one that deals w/food issues? Thanks! Julie

Sounds familiar. I recommend that you do a little research first, to try to figure out what type of professional would be most helpful. My child has had two related issues about eating, and it sounds like yours might share one or both. First, the range of food he likes is very limited. Texture and temperature are issues, as well as taste. This seems to run in his father's family, and is related to sensory processing. An occupational therapist can be helpful with strategies for expanding the range of food accepted by a child with sensory issues. You can search for information about ''sensory integration.'' Second, my child does not eat in school or in large social groups, such as at birthday parties. This is, in his case, a symptom of social anxiety (also known as social phobia), and is accompanied by other symptoms of discomfort or extreme shyness in social situations. Some websites to look at are and Our initial experiences with general psychologists and some psychiatrists led us down the wrong path and did not help. They tended to see issues of control, limit-setting, and parenting style as the root causes, and they were apparently unaware of the underlying anxiety and sensory issues. When we finally learned about anxiety and sensory disorders, this new information was enlightening. Psychologists with a neurological perspective and some psychiatrists have been helpful. I suggest that you start out by doing some reading to see what ''rings true'' for your situation, and use that to help identify the type of professional to look for. sensitive child's mom