Coaches & Mentors for Teens and Young Adults

Parent Q&A

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  • Back in the (college) saddle

    (6 replies)

    Our son is 20, and just completed two years at a school in Boston. On paper, he did fairly well, perhaps 3.3.  But behind the scenes, and unbeknownst to us, he was a mess.  

    He found himself as literally the only guy who thought the election wasn’t stolen on his (jock) dorm floor; lacked confidence in his path and major; found an abusive group of young women to glom onto; was isolated like all of us by covid; got behind on school etc.; started abusing alcohol,    (As an example of the “amazing” friend group:  when he tried to take a break from drinking, the lead Mean Girl would shame him in front of 20 people, calling him terrible things). 

    All of this led to him feeling terrible about himself.  He became withdrawn, depressed and anxiety-filled.  He went from one of the more enthusiastic contributors—his Freshman teacher said his essay was literally the best student paper he had ever received—to sitting silently in class.

    We got an urgent call from his therapist.  He said he thought our son was seriously at risk.  We flew him home from Boston, that day.   That was six months ago.

    I have since read of, and spoken with many parents who are experiencing similar things with their children.  It seems to be that the pandemic behind the pandemic has been mental health.

    But we are all trying to move forward.   S has been in both group and individual therapy, and is also going to AA meetings.  My wife and I are also working with a family therapist, to do better on our side of the fence, in terms of supporting him.  S is now better, not great, but better.  

    However, he’s also beginning to feel like he wants to get back to school.  I’m not excited about this, as he is objectively not ready.  That said, his therapist says, S wants to work towards a goal, and if he gets in somewhere, he’d still have months, perhaps as long as one year, to continue his self-care.

    So I want to support the parallel efforts.

    I have long been an admirer of this amazing BPN community.   The one slight issue I have is, I can’t always seem to find the right threads among this Library of Congress-esque riches.

    There are many many threads about College Advisors for kids in high school, most of whom seem to be driven.

    What about advisors for lost transfer students— kids who no longer have the college counselor available at high school (and are not attending JC)?

    Does anyone have any experience with a consultant who helped their overwhelmed kid winnow down their interests, leading to a major, and this, the best school fit?  

    I’ve been looking into the Meyers-Briggs and Strong Interest career tests.  Those seem great, but I’d rather S work with someone who can lead him through it.

    These might be two initiatives: an MB consultant, followed up by a college advisor.  

    Any advice would be so welcome.  We lived in Berkeley for many years.  I so appreciate the people in this forum. 

    What about getting back into college gradually by taking a community college class or 2? I realize he already has 2 years of school but it could be an opportunity to explore different majors/ take prereqs for a different major, re-establish confidence with school, in a very different atmosphere. Community colleges are great.

    Hi there, I can’t speak to the college advisor part of your post, but I can definitely, with true empathy, speak to the pandemic aftereffects on our teens. I have an 18-year-old who is completely lost after being out of school for so long. The pandemic started in his sophomore year. Up until then, for the first time in his life, he’d been doing well and enjoying school, then the school system decided to move to online schools.
    This had devastating consequences for my son, who is still recovering, and I’m not quite sure he will ever recover, frankly. When he had enough units to graduate, he left high school early. During online schooling, his grades and interests tanked. He’s been floundering ever since. He plays video games and is online a lot, and thankfully he has a local part-time job, but otherwise has no interest in college or other goals. I think the closing of schools did terrible damage to many students, and it will be impacting their generation for years to come. So while I don’t have any advice, I have empathy and respect for your persistence and support of your child during these difficult years. You’re not alone.

    Hi Dad. I’m sorry your son has gone through this and I understand your urge to protect. But - he’s 20 and he wants to be back in school. IMO you should follow HIS lead and support him 1000%. He’s an adult. Why isn’t he in community college? He could enroll in a class or two right now. Why not? It might be exactly what he needs. And he’d have access to counselors and a community. If you’re near a Peralta school, some of the classes are great.

    I have a PhD from Berkeley. I started in College of Marin, after my dads alcoholism triggered depression in me, and I crashed out of the East Coast university that I’d been accepted to. Community college classes saved me, and getting myself on a path towards my future helped me feel empowered and adult, and ultimately put me on a path to significant achievements.

    Sorry that your son is struggling.  And good for you to seek ways to support him.  How about getting him into the wilderness? out into nature to find his own?

    Jesse Sachs and Eli Marienthal offer mentoring through backpack trips in the summer that have helped my son find himself and his own motivations while looking at life from a bigger perspective.  They run Back to Earth. Jesse was offering mentoring and purpose finding one on one while outdoors.  He would be worth talking to.

    Good luck!

    Dear Oakland Pop,

    My son had a similar experience-- he was in NY.  After settling back in in CA, he began taking courses at the community colleges (several different ones) and overtime determined to transfer to a UC.  (There is well defined program for transferring from community college to a UC based on completing core requirements and having a certain GPA that guarantees admission to a UC, though which UC depends on a few factors).  My son has generally been pretty happy with the courses and is on target to apply for transfer this fall.  The one caveat is that you forfeit any credits earned at the school in Boston.  For us, it has worked out well as it allowed my son to pace himself, live at/close to home, continue in therapy etc., while giving him the chance to re-establish his goal of getting back on track re college.

    Best of luck to your son, and to you and mom.

    Look up Rebecca Field in Oakland.  She has a website.  She is experienced.  She has an affinity for learning disabled students.  That said, we used her for my son who had chronic illness that was not in remission but wanted to go to a 4-year college (in the end his best choice was community college, and transfer to UC after 2 years).  She administers the Strong Interest Inventory assessment.  We found her very helpful for our son who was flailing, but she is expensive.  She will do an initial consult, which is also expensive.  Good luck!

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  • My adult daughter has been depressed for years, and we haven't seen much improvement even after many years of therapy, most recently with an experienced DBT therapist. She is on anti-depressant meds. I am now researching the next steps for treatment.

    Until we come up with a longer-term plan, I'm looking for a coach who can help her structure her days and set up some process for accountability. This might be an ADD coach who can help with procrastination and decisions. Or a "productivity coach" who can do the same. I've also heard about "behavior-activation" coaches. Ideally this person would be female, experienced and warm.

    Thanks for your suggestions.

    My daughter is also in that situation -- depression, anxiety, ADHD, mild ASD, some OCD. She's worked with two coaches she liked a lot.

    Eve Livingston has a therapeutic background but is now working as a coach. She definitely meets all your requirements of female, experienced, and warm. Even years later, she still checks in with me and my daughter about how she's doing. Love her so much!

    A guy, but my daughter liked working with him: Coach Kenji. He's specifically an ADHD coach. He has ADHD himself and takes a strong line on rephrasing ADHD brain as a creative strength, not a weakness. He was also warm, super enthusiastic, good about encouraging my daughter to take the lead in shaping what coaching looks like, emphasized that he was working for her not me, and there to support her, not tell her what to do. He is involved with mindfulness meditation, if that would be of interest. kenji [at]

  • Hello - my almost 18-year-old son may be returning to Berkeley after a year of wilderness then residential treatment. I have heard of people in other cities engaging life coaches to help their kids stay sober, keep in shape, and engage productively in their lives. We parents will do our part of course, but I would love to find a young man that my son could connect to in this way, someone who fills the slot between therapist and mentor. Does anyone have ideas, references, etc? Thanks

    My friend is using Coyote Coast in Orinda. They help the returning teens and their families have a smooth transition home and a successful life after. They have mentoring program too. My friend says it has been a great resource for them.


    This was a really scary and challenging time for us one year ago. I hope your RTC is heavily involved with the transition planning with a home treatment plan you have worked on together with agreements for expectations, responsibilities and privelidges. The best part of our home treatment plan was agreements we made about scenarios, behaviors and situations that we should be worried about and consider a warning sign for help.  I had been involved with Willows in the Wind, a support group for families contemplating or with children in wilderness/RTC while my son was in RTC and as we worked towards his transition home, they were able to assist me with a grant for  mentor Conor Powell through Eastgate Mentoring. Willows also recommends Coyote Coast. 

    Conor was a great match for my son and did a wonderful job, though there are some pitfalls with foisting a mentor on someone who doesn't want one, which was our situation. For us we needed to bridge the gap between a summer with no planned structure until school started and Conor did exactly what we needed to give some structure to some of his days.  If your son wants a life coach, that's wonderful he is asking for what he needs

    We are now a little more than 1 year post-RTC and things are "good enough".

    Good luck to you.


    Coyote Coast specializes in helping people in your exact situation, and they are very good at it. I highly recommend giving them a call ASAP. They are often all booked up, but it's worth calling. They have "mentors" who are actually licensed therapists and provide a variety of levels of support. Our family has benefited from their services.

    I also cannot say enough good things about AA. They do have "young persons" meetings, and your son could find a sponsor. They encourage not only sobriety, but "clean living" in general, which includes being honest, taking responsibility, and other traits that everyone could benefit from.My understanding is that recovering addicts of all kinds are welcome at AA meetings (even for recovery from non-alcohol substance abuse).

    We had a fantastic experience working with Coyote Coast after our kid came home from wilderness.  They have an intensive wraparound program with family therapy and a mentor plus groups if you want it. 

  • I'm looking for a peer mentor(female only) to provide regular social support for a young adult who struggles with ADHD, neuro diversity & social anxiety. Ideally someone who is studying to become a counselor or therapist & can model desired behaviors while out in the community. Any leads on how to find such a person highly appreciated. TY

    Try East Gate Mentoring.  Yoshi Hedges is wonderful!  mentor [at]

    They work all over the bay.

    Jan Rao


    You might consider:East Gate Mentoringwww.eastgatementoring.comI spoke with Connor there regarding mentoring for my son. There is also a female mentor who's name I forget. My son was not receptive to the idea, so we did not move forward. However, East Gate Mentoring was recommended to me by a trusted source.

  • I am looking for a ‘case manager’ type therapist for my young adult son who has significant mental health issues and needs professional help to become more independent and responsible for his own well-being. He sees a therapist who provides specific treatment for his illness however I believe he would benefit from seeing a therapist/social worker one-on-one (i.e. not in a group at this time) who can help him on his day to day living, set short and longer-term goals, review with him how he spends his time and money, work on life skills and decision making.  He has OPTUM (formerly UBH) insurance and it would be great to find someone in network, preferable in Oakland, Berkeley, or Albany.

    You sound like a very loving and compassionate parent. I have looked into the type of service you are describing for my young adult child with similar issues and added substance misuse. One resource that was recommended to me is East Gate Mentoring (  Unfortunately, my young adult has refused all support, so I cannot speak to an experience with them, other than I had a couple of phone calls with Conor. I found him to be compassionate and insightful; he sounded experienced.

    Although farther from you, you might also reach out to Cindy Savelli (ccbs91 [at] who runs a Parents Helping Parents Anxiety and Mood Disorders Support Group in San Jose. She is a wealth of information, and I imagine could point you to resources in the east bay.

    Another option you might consider now or in the future is transitional independent living ( I learned of this from an acquaintance who's young adult is there now. Her impressions are favorable.

    I'll follow this thread, as I look forward to hearing what others have to say so I'm ready with resources when my young adult is ready to accept support.

    Try contacting NAMI East Bay to network with other families who've dealt with this issue. NAMI stands for "National Alliance for the Mentally Ill" and it's a non-profit that helps the mentally ill and their family.

    Good luck!

  • Our current 7th grader seems to be struggling with staying focused in class, not being disruptive, etc. and we are concerned.  We'd like for him to take some time this summer to really focus on shoring up some skills and goals so he can stay on track.  

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a local coach who can work both on academics (I.e. how to craft an essay) and more of the motivation / executive function side of things?

    Fabulous mentor, tutor, teacher is Deborah Newlen.  She helped my same-aged daughter with all of the same needs. Smart, kind, focused and a great motivator of students. Best teacher/tutor my kid ever had. She is founder and head teacher at Bay Area Education Center (Pt. Richmond).  Reach her at 510-691-6624.