Seeking a Therapist

Parent Q&A

Therapist who works with creatives or specializes in midlife? Aug 18, 2019 (2 responses below)
Seeking therapist recs for husband (in network with Health Net) Jul 17, 2019 (4 responses below)
Desperately In Need of Recommendations for Therapist Jun 13, 2019 (9 responses below)
Seeking a therapist with expertise in infidelity May 2, 2019 (1 responses below)
Therapist for middle-aged woman with anxiety Feb 26, 2019 (4 responses below)
Seeking therapist recommendations for my husband Nov 7, 2018 (1 responses below)
Excellent trauma therapist in Bay Area? Oct 14, 2018 (1 responses below)
Therapist needed for marriage, relationship issues Oct 11, 2018 (1 responses below)
Therapist for racial issues? May 28, 2018 (1 responses below)
Therapy recommendations? May 26, 2018 (1 responses below)
PTSD - therapist or psychiatrist May 26, 2018 (3 responses below)
Trauma therapist? Mar 18, 2018 (3 responses below)
Need therapist to address female "midlife crisis" Feb 28, 2018 (6 responses below)
Seeking solid therapist in Walnut Creek/ Lamorinda Feb 27, 2018 (1 responses below)
Therapist for later-in-life issues Jul 24, 2017 (1 responses below)
Excellent therapist to help with long-term relationship Jun 21, 2017 (3 responses below)
Seeking solutions oriented therapist for adult May 3, 2017 (1 responses below)
Where to find emotional support May 1, 2017 (7 responses below)
Counselor/Therapist for colleagues? Mar 17, 2017 (1 responses below)
Compassionate, Experienced Therapist needed Jan 16, 2017 (8 responses below)
seeking therapist--Laurel district or south Oct 3, 2016 (2 responses below)
Therapist needed for big changes Oct 3, 2016 (2 responses below)
Therapist - help with facing changes Sep 18, 2016 (2 responses below)
  • Somewhere along the line, I allowed my creative life to wither and die, and now, at the midpoint of my life, I'm bereft and I need to make some changes to sort out how to get back on track. I'd love to work with a therapist who understands this and has a no-nonsense approach. A caveat: I don't have much patience for woo. I like straight shooters. Thanks!

    Hey This is not exactly what you are asking for, but at the age of 40 and after a couple years of a break from artmaking I finally cracked open “The Artists Way” by Julia Cameron 

    it might be what you are looking for.., 

    for me just the Morning Pages assignment has been incredibly useful as a way to get back to my studio practice.

    good luck 

    Hi!  I would suggest an expressive arts therapist.  Some are woo. Some  aren't.  You'll get a vibe probably right away from each therapist's website.  I would suggest looking on Psychology Today, typing in your city.  You'll see a list of therapists in that city.  Then, on the left scroll down to 'Types of Therapy' and selecting Expressive Arts.  I hope that helps!  Best of luck!

  • I have been urging my husband to seek therapy for a very long time, and to my great relief, he has finally agreed that it would be very helpful.  I worry, however, that if he doesn't find a good fit with a therapist, he'll easily give up -- and who knows how long it will take me convince to give it another try?!  His untreated depression (which manifests itself as anger and irritability) is really having a negative impact on our family in so many ways, and it saddens me what our life will continue to be like if it remains untreated.  So, needless to say, I have an investment in helping him find a good fit.  In any event, because we do have good behavioral health benefits through our insurance carrier (Health Net - UC Blue & Gold plan) and have limited financial resources, I'd like to try and find a therapist in network.  Health Net contracts with MHN for behavioral health, and the list I'm seeing is so exhaustive and with no names that I recognize.  Ideally my husband would like:

    * a therapist with an office in Berkeley

    * an older, mature female therapist (he seems to be more at ease in opening himself up with this "type")

    * someone with experience in addressing depression, anxiety, PTSD, work-related stress, and anger management issues in men

    * someone who is more verbally engaged (as opposed to someone whose style is just to be more of an active listener)

    BPN community, I would be ever so appreciative if you could help identify anyone who meets some (if not all) this criteria, and it would be especially great if you think they might be in network for Health Net members.  Thank you!

    Therapy Den and Psychology Today are excellent websites that allow you to search for therapists based on some keywords, location, experience, and insurance. You can match the list from your insurance to the descriptions on these sites to help you narrow it down. Good luck!

    I recommend Kristin Hirt. She was a very good therapist to me, fits your description. Her office is just off the freeway on Lakeshore Ave in Oakland.

    I have the exact same insurance and recently tried to find a therapist for my teenager. I highly recommend that you do nothing on line and CALL MHN immediately. You tell them what his requirements are and they will find someone who is accepting new patients that fits that criteria. I beat my head against a wall for the longest time because I looked at profiles for practitioners on their website, tried to research, contacted them, and inevitably I would be told that they weren't accepting new patients even though they were listed as accepting on the website. When I called MHN after looking for a while, I found them to be very helpful. I stated all the requirements (my teenager preferred female provider, had to be after school or on the weekend, had to be a certain day of the week and time so I could transport and attend a few sessions with my teen at their request). I thought I was being too particular, but that's what we needed for this to work. It took them a while and they had to "upgrade" me to a supervisor of some sort, but it worked! If you go through insurance, you save thousands of dollars, but these are the hoops you must go through. I sometimes want to try someone where I see their website, but I realize that the people who don't take insurance have the best websites because they need to have them to attract patients! There is also access to an on-line portal through MHN that you can get by calling MHN that he might respond well to because it is more anonymous and private. They make sure you understand your benefits too--make sure they go over them with you. Good luck!

  • Hi, 

    I grew up with one highly narcissistic and controlling parent and another emotionally distant one. As a result I developed low self-esteem, perfectionism and some codependency traits. During adolescent and early adult years, I coped with these issues  by being highly successful in academics and career but couldn't continue and for the last several years I ruined my career. Lately, I've been more aware that I am so eager to help others but act in a way that I don't matter and can't figure out what I want from life and don't know how to have the discipline to pursue whatever I want. I was seeing a therapist who helped me with some of these issues but got stuck at some point and stopped therapy last year. I would like to start again with a new therapist who is more knowledgeable on these issues stemming from childhood and also would help me to find the courage to start over again. I will appreciate any recommendations if you know a really good therapist in Berkeley or surrounding areas (SF included) that you can recommend. 

    Thank you,

    Still hopeful 

    You might try Lisa Lancaster--she is in Berkeley and she helped me with issues very similar to the ones you describe.  I too had one very narcissistic parent and one distant and neglectful one and it has followed me my entire life..Dr. Lancaster helped me to understand the depth and the nature of the damage so I was able to free myself a bit and make better choices.  She is also warm.  Good luck!

    Kathy Grayson has helped me with issues stemming from a dysfunctional family/childhood trauma. She is located on Alcatraz and College: https://kathygraysonmft.com/

    Julia Wallace in SF is spectacular. Really helped me and others I know. Not cheap but worth the money. 

  • I'm seeking an individual and couple's therapist to deal with emotional affair of my spouse. SF or Oakland will be great but will consider south Berkeley. 

    Thank you. 

    I had a positive experience with Kristin Hirt in Oakland (Lakeshore Ave.)  I found her relatable, grounded, and unbiased in working with both my partner and I in couples therapy. Each of us had some shifts to make in our communication and conflict management styles.  I found she was able to nudge each of us in our respective growth areas in ways that allowed us to feel emotionally safe in the midst of a vulnerable relationship scenario.  Here's her info: insightfulgrowth.com; KristinHirtLMFT [at] gmail.com 

  • Seeking therapist for middle-aged single woman for support around anxiety, relationships, and parent loss, in or near Berkeley.  Hoping for someone with admirable wisdom (hope this makes sense) and use of spiritual, relational, and practical approaches.

    Thank you!

    I highly recommend you meet with my therapist Yvonne Mansell. She is all you seek! I first met Yvonne through one of her divorced mom support groups five years ago. I have been seeing her for individual therapy for the last 18 months. I find her to be warm, professional, compassionate, and also happily well matched with my own eclectic spiritual approach to life. Of all the therapists that I've seen, I find her coaching approach to be immensely practical and helpful. Her office is on San Pablo in Albany right on the border of Berkeley. Best wishes!  http://yvonnemansell.com ‭(510) 528-9551‬

    I had a positive experience with Kristin Hirt, LMFT in Oakland (Lakeshore Ave. near Lake Merritt).  I found her to be tuned in, warm, thoughtful, and wise.  Her approach was both existential and pragmatic.  She works with individuals and couples.  Here's her information: insightfulgrowth.com  (510) 872-2336.  

    I would hugely urge you to seek out Dr. Lisa Lancaster.  She has been incredibly helpful to me with a number of the issues you mentioned.  She is in Berkeley near the Oakland boarder.  Her number is 510-841-2525.

  • My husband is seeking a therapist somewhere between Oakland and San Rafael.  He needs someone who is a very direct and openhearted person.  My husband is an adoptee and also has an anxiety disorder and is on the schizoid spectrum.   It is really important that he finds someone that has some knowledge of these issues and how they interplay. It's been difficult for him to find a therapist that he feels he can connect with. He already sees a psychiatrist but wants to add a therapist to address other issues.  Is there anyone who can recommend someone that provides mindfulness based talk therapy?  

    This isn't exactly what you asked for, but may help get you there.

    There's a group called NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) with local branches in the East Bay, Contra Costa and Marin. All offer separate support groups for the mentally ill and family members, plus several other resources (help lines, training, etc.). It's a good way to meet people who have walked in your shoes and who can probably offer practical advice and referrals. You yourself might find NAMI a great resource for yourself--trying to help someone you love with mental illness can be taxing and difficult.

    I can't offer any particular suggestion on the adoptee issue, but there are a lot of on-line groups who discuss this actively. I've browsed them because my mom is mentally ill and was essentially abandoned by her parents and raised by resentful family members.

    However, I think you might do better to steer your husband for the time being towards NAMI resources, because some of the websites I've looked at regarding adoption are pretty contentious and include trolls who insist adoptees can't be loved like birth children--not very helpful to someone already coping with disordered mental and emotional regulation.

    It might help your husband to realize that the sense of being raised by people who can't relate to you is pretty common for those with non-standard mental processing, whether they are raised by birth parents or adoptive parents.

    http://www.namieastbay.org/
    http://www.namicontracosta.org/

    http://namimarin.org/

    Good luck to you and your husband and god bless your travels.

  • Excellent trauma therapist in Bay Area?

    (1 reply)

    We’re desperately looking for an excellent therapist to work with a young adult to recover from anxiety due to a medical trauma.  We prefer Berkeley or Oakland (and prefer Kaiser) but are willing to travel or go out of network for someone outstanding.

    Thank you in advance so much for your recommendations!

    I have had great experience with Kelley Callahan.  https://www.yelp.com/biz/kelley-l-callahan-phd-albany

    She's also a trainer and certified in Sensorimotor psychotherapy. 

    You can also look up other trauma-trained therapists on the website. https://www.sensorimotorpsychotherapy.org/home/referral-us/prUSA_CA.html

    Take care.

  • Hi there. I am looking for a therapist/psychologist for myself. One that specializes in marriages, relationship issues with family and self help. Would be wonderful if they took insurance but willing to go to one out of network if really great. Thank you.

    I recommend Bowbay Feng, who is a marriage and family therapist in Berkeley. My spouse and I had met with her for  couple of sessions to address a specific issue that we couldn't agree on. She helped us see each other's perspective, and provided us with tools on how to improve communication with each other. I highly recommend her. I don't know if she takes insurance but her fee is quite reasonable. 

  • My young adult daughter (19) is looking for a therapist who lives a cruelty-free lifestyle.  I know that other therapists might be empathic and understanding about animals/sensitivity, but we really need someone who is vegan/living a cruelty-free lifestyle.

    If they happen to be on the Magellan provider list, that's a huge bonus!!!

    thank you!

    I can highly recommend Karen Finch LMFT 510 334 7482 who has helped me greatly.  She is vegan but she does use leather products.  Good luck to you.

  • Therapist for racial issues?

    (1 reply)

    Is there such a thing as a therapist who specializes in sorting through issues relating to race?  Someone who could help address trauma experienced in childhood in the context of being type of adult we want to be on these issues?  I have read a lot of books and attended workshops on race, but think I need something one-on-one where I can talk candidly about my experiences.  I should add that I am a white woman who is politically progressive.

    RE: Therapist for racial issues? ()

    Hello, 

    Yes, you can focus on issues relating to race and discrimination in therapy. Yes, there are people that can help you address trauma experienced in childhood around this topic.There is a web page with multiple therapists that focus on this issue so you can check them out and see who could be a good fit for you (http://www.therapistsofcolor.org/). Hope this helps!

  • Therapy recommendations?

    (1 reply)

    I’ve gone through years of traditional talk therapy but keep getting stuck in a rut where I live so much in my brain and am so sensitive to how I’m seen by people around me that I can’t turn off the intellectual defense and I don’t really get anywhere with dealing with the disconnect with my body related to old trauma. What are people’s experiences with something like somatic therapy and/or have you found any therapists or type of therapy to be helpful in bypassing the brain or getting past the intellectua defense l wall? 

    RE: Therapy recommendations? ()

    In my experience EMDR therapy is super helpful to work with the old trauma especially when your intellectual defenses don't let you process the somatic responses. I think EMDR is helpful when your heart and your head are in two different places. Your head "knows" how you are supposed to feel and think but you do not "feel" so in your heart. Somatic therapy is good too. So you might look for therapists that have both tools. Hope you find what you need. 

  • PTSD - therapist or psychiatrist

    (3 replies)

    A long time ago, I had several medical traumas.  I had to think about them recently to try to help my kid, I now find myself unable to sleep, sad, angry, depressed etc, which I think is PTSD.  I did not know it could crop up after 16 years .  I don't know if a psychiatrist or a psychologist is more appropriate for this.   Does anyone have any advice, or recommendations of professionals to see?  Thank you for any suggestions.

    I highly recommend Masako Guthrie at the kensho counseling center in Berkeley. She specializes in emdr therapy. In a short amount of time I had released so much. Good luck!

    I also highly recommend EMDR.  In a few sessions Gina McCarthy helped immensely.  

    I would also recommend EMDR therapy. It is very effective to help with Past trauma. You can look for a therapist through the International Association (www.emdria.org) and look for a therapist in your area. Also, you can find more information about this type of therapy. 

  • Trauma therapist?

    (3 replies)

    Seeking a therapist, preferably in or near Berkeley, who has experience with clients who have a trauma background. Someone experienced in helping adults who suffered various types of abuse as children, though not specifically sexual abuse - more emotional, physical abuse and neglect. Have you worked with a therapist on the sometimes arduous task of healing from such a background, or do you know someone who has?  Can you recommend a therapist who is skilled in this type of work?  Your recommendations are appreciated; thanks. 

    NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Therapists, please don't recommend yourself or a colleague/friend. We can only publish recommendations from patients or former patients. Thanks!

    RE: Trauma therapist? ()

    Different topics in question but also trauma; I've found the Trauma Recovery Center on 12th St. in Oakland to be very effective.

    RE: Trauma therapist? ()

    I recommend Karen Finch in Albany karenjfinch [at] me.com  510-334-7482  She's really helped me and she's a gem.  Best of luck to you and don't lose hope.  I also highly recommend the new book "Journey through Trauma " by Gretchen Schmelzer.  GREAT guidebook about how to navigate and survive recovering from trauma - the recovery can feel as daunting as the original terrible experience.  But it's worth it.  XOXO

    RE: Trauma therapist? ()

    I’ve been working on healing my childhood traumas with Anneli Richards. https://www.familymattersofmarin.com

    My traumas are related to difficulties with early attachment, emotional trauma and neglect. I have been in a lot of therapy over the years and this work feels like it is directly addressing my concerns. This book is supporting me in this work:  Healing the Fragmented Selves of Trauma Survivors, Overcoming Internal Self-Alienation by Janina Fisher. 

    Anneli is very attuned to me and has a tremendous range of skills and knowledge. She is in San Rafael but is worth the drive. 

    Best wishes to you. 

  • I always thought that "midlife crisis" was just a moniker given to address impulsive adult decisions, but I'm realizing at 43 years old that it's exactly what's happening to me. I really need someone to talk to about this, as I feel every day like I'm on the brittle cusp of emotionally self-destructing and taking my marriage and family down with me. Does anyone have suggestions for a great therapist in the Oakland/Berkeley/Alameda area who can help me navigate these feelings? I don't have a preference between speaking with a male or female, but I am female myself if anyone thinks that might make a difference.  I would really appreciate any leads or advice.

    Laila Shamszad does tremendous work helping women find meaning amidst family and professional responsibilities. She is really grounded and wise and has helped me see difficult situations from a higher perspective many times. Her website is http://www.lailashamszadmft.com

    I recommend Karen Levine, MFT in Oakland.  Her website is karenlevinetherapy.com.  Karen has helped me understand the complicated dynamics of my own "midlife crisis," and has guided me in developing skills and awareness around my own patterns and feelings.  She has a real understanding of the challenges of being a parent and a partner, and has warmth and a sense of humor.

    I love Ellie Vargas on Berkeley/Oakland border on Telegraph. She's trained in Internal Family Systems and has really helped me build a strong relationship with myself through difficult times. Wishing you the best - congrats on seeking support!

  • I'm looking for a therapist in the Walnut Creek/ Lamorinda area. Very much need support in the parenting teens- launching kids to college, grief-loss, aging parents, and general female 40's life.

    I have health net MHN so someone who takes insurance is important. 

    Not sure whether she takes MHN but Anne Case MFT is wonderful!

  • Hello parents, our family is in “that place” again. I’m reaching out to see if you have recent recommendations for a therapist, in or near Berkeley, that you wholeheartedly recommend / feel is a gem. Someone to discuss and assist with relationship (not “couple”, but other areas of life) / life transition / impacts of a traumatic childhood / related issues. A special interest is to find someone experienced with the impacts of childhood trauma, or Complex PTSD. We are finding it hard to simply flip through the phone book or the web, and would love to find someone that others have truly benefitted from seeing. Huge, major plus if Magellan insurance is accepted. Thanks for your assistance. 

    NOTE FROM MODERATOR: We do not accept self-recommendations or recommendations of colleagues, only recommendations from patients or former patients.  Therapists, please do not recommend yourself or a colleague. Thanks! 

    I saw Erika Goldman in Rockridge. She's amazing, many years of experience, and I have her to thank for my overcoming many traumas. Her office is above Market Hall; free parking.

    I have been seeing Natashia Fuksman in South Berkeley for the past 9 months or so to work through some birth and other trauma as well as my transition to the Bay Area with a baby to a new unfamiliar exciting but stressful job. She is great and I highly recommend her. She is super warm and loving, and has created a very nice space for her practice. She incorporates mindfulness of body/emotions/thoughts into her practice, so if that is your thing she would be great.

  • Therapist for later-in-life issues

    (1 reply)

    There are lots of books and groups for new parents, parents of teens, midlife crisis folks, and empty nesters, but not for those of us past midlife.  Not "how to have a happy retirement"; rather, how does one process the transition into a time when there are more years behind than ahead?  I would love to find a therapist who can work with me on the issues this stage of life is presenting.  Maybe it's someone good with grief (accepting the loss of certain hopes and dreams).  If anyone out there has had these issues and worked through them with the help and support of a wonderful therapist (male or female), I'd love to know.

    Patricia Cavanagh specializes in this.  patricia!the3rdact.com    www.the3rdact.com     I had a few sessions with her to work through my fears about retirement, aging, etc. and found them helpful. 

  • I am in a long term relationship and we are considering moving in together. The problem is that I feel his boundaries around his children are not consistent w/ mine. I also find myself questioning some values around $ as it pertains to what he is teaching his children. That being said, I need recommendations for a smart, engaged and assertive therapist who can help me figure out why my buttons are being pushed and how I can manage my feelings. I really love this man and want it to work between us. Albany, Berkeley, el cerrito areas preferred and must have someone who takes MHN insurance. 

    We've been seeing Michelle Sicula near the Berkeley/Oakland border (Rockridge area) for about a year and a half. I think she's excellent. She's a former attorney turned therapist; clearly very smart, warm, and keeps the work focused on whatever issue you're bringing. She's definitely prevented us from getting derailed and opening up too many boxes, which I think is key for a couple's therapist. I'd highly recommend.
    We started seeing her for stress around infertility, and now have been seeing her as we prepare to welcome a baby into our lives. She utilizes EFT, emotionally focused therapy with couples.

    David Shaddock on Grand Avenue across from Lake Merritt is a senior psychotherapist who is excellent with couples.

    Blue Oak Therapy Center has a number of excellent counselors--and they're quite affordable. My partner and I have used Uzma Knauss: she is fantastic!

  • I am seeking recommendations for a solutions-oriented therapist in or near Berkeley.  I am interested in working with someone who will provide specific strategies to help me change thought habits and behavior patterns.  It is likely that a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist would work well.  I would especially appreciate it if said person is middle aged and has a strong social justice stance.

    While I don't think she is a specifically a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, I had a great experience with Dr. Lisa Lancaster.  She gave me a tremendous number of specific strategies to help me through a really rough time.  I don't think you could go wrong with her.  She is in Berkeley.  510-841-2525.

  • Where to find emotional support

    (7 replies)

    My husband is a fun and funny guy, and we enjoy our time together for the most part. But he is not an "emotionally generous" individual, and it has always been hard for him to empathize with others. His parents are both fairly aloof and the entire family's coherence is based upon rather superficial ties and discussion, so he really has no foundation from which to address the complexity of other's emotions, let alone his own. It has presented us with many challenges, especially given my own sensitivity and life's challenges. Kids, geography, and the overall harried state of our generation's lives have consumed most of the close female friendships that I once had, so I often feel patently alone. I am also staring down the harrowing road of aging parents. I know that my parents' deaths will be a huge blow to me, as they are and always have been my primary emotional supports. I had imagined that this type of support would come from my life partner, but that has not proven to be the case. We have gone to meditation retreats and couples counseling together, but it has not helped to deepen the empathic connection. I know he works on it, but I also know that we have to accept our partners' limitations.

    I am someone who feels things extremely deeply, a "highly sensitive person" if anyone is familiar with that term, and as a result, life feels very intense for me most of the time. In my encounters with others, especially other parents, it does not seem that this is common. Most people I meet and speak with seem to take things at far more of a face value than I do. On the other hand, I am often overcome by the suffering I see in others and just as often shocked that I brought two children into the world to witness it as well. I wish I had someone to connect with around these things (a friend, rather than a therapist). 

    I am not a religious person, and do not find myself drawn to groups or gatherings, whether formal services or meditation groups, for example. I have tried many of them, and group settings just don't resonate with me. I am wondering how others have found this type of emotional support, in their 40s, with two small children, and as an introvert to boot. I am the type of person who can listen to another person "complain" for hours without judgment or censure, just as a supportive ear, and can feel deeply for them. I wish I could find someone like that, aside from my parents. Suggestions to aid my search?

    Your post really resonated with me.... I too would describe myself as a highly sensitive person, and both my kids are as well. I've lost a lot of close friendships due to the rising costs of living in the Bay Area (so many good people have moved away!). It's tough in this busy world to make those connections, especially when you are raising two kids and don't have the kind of time you used to. 

    A few of the friendships I really value have been made through my kids. Being involved in their schools, volunteering in my community. I love to read and have enjoyed book clubs in the past, though can't say I've made any close friendships there (but you never know!). One thing I ponder a lot is whether switching careers to something that I'm much more passionate about (but that pays less) will pay off in the long run in terms of forging close bonds with like-minded people. I look at my parents and a lot of my friends and see that some of their closest friendships are with those colleagues who they really bonded with. 

    Not sure if any of this is helpful, but just know you're not alone! Feel free to ask moderator for my contact info if you'd like to talk more!

    It's hard to know how to help you.

    You have married a good person who can't meet your emotional needs in the way your parents do, your friends are too busy, and you are an introvert who doesn't feel comfortable in a group and (I am guessing) takes a lot of time to warm up to people. So your odds of actually making new friends with compatible emotional styles who can offer the kind of support you want are small.  You are essentially boxed in a corner with things as they are. And for what you want, you will need not one person, but many supportive people in your life.

    You know the saying--you can't change others, only yourself. Maybe you need to take a look at your needs, actions, and expectations.  Here is what I read from your post:

    • You sound ready to have what is called "an emotional affair."  It's as if your husband is part of your "public functioning life" but you are starved inside for connection. You sound quite dissatisfied with your partner choice but you will not say so openly.  Be more frank with yourself.
    • We all want someone who we can be emoti0nally open with, but what you really seem to want is a friend who will be a therapist who can meet all your needs (i.e., listen to you complain).  That is part of a good friendship, but your definition seems  ... a little engulfing. Is it possible your friends are tired of the "mutual complaint" dynamic and need you to be in other modes to feel close to you?  Because a mutual complaint relationship is very satisfying at first, but it isn't a full, whole friendship; it's actually shallow and repetitious. Are you open to other dynamics?
    • You also sound overwhelmed by the pain and dissonance of the world. Could "highly sensitive" be a code word for "depressed?"  The book "Listening to Prozac" provides some insight into this dynamic. If you feel things so deeply and painfully that only hours and hours of talk can sooth you, you do need a therapist, and a new way to get your needs met, and a new friendship definition.
    • And perhaps one reason you are not getting your needs met elsewhere is that your picture of a "good relationship" is too closely modeled on your relationship with your parents.  Of course you love and rely on them, but have you developed a separate identity?

    I don't have a single solution for any of the above, and I've had many of these issues in my own life (so I'm not judging you).  I think you have some hidden issues and should examine how you have gone about getting your needs met so far.  I think you might make much more progress with a therapist and perhaps an anti-depressant.

    My 2 cents, hope it helps.

    Hi. I'm so sorry that you are having difficulties with what most think should be an easy part of life. My daughter didn't come along until I was 38, so I was always the oldest mom in school, thereby disproving the theory that "Don't worry - you'll make friends with the other moms in her school!" (never happened).  I even tried to join a local "Moms' Club" at the time and was shut out by ageism and clique-ishness. My husband and I are both very outgoing and outspoken, although we're both from very dysfunctional families, with his family ties also being superficial and unemotional (whereas my crazy family is overly emotional).  I'm now in my mid-50s, my kid is graduating high school in June. Having young kids and being in your 40s is tough, I can look back and say I felt the most isolated and lonely during that decade.  If you're not a "groups" person, it's going to be that much harder, especially while the kids are so little. I do have my 1 best friend who I met in grad school, before we were married and had kids. We've kept up the commitment to chat by phone once a week at least (usually more often), with no-holds-barred - any topic is fair game. Sometimes we even disagree. We used to live close by, but over the years the geographical distances have only grown, and now we're on different coasts! So my advice to you is to think about whether or not you already have a friendship that could be deepened and strengthened, rather than try to start new ones from scratch? And while you make it clear groups and therapy are not for you in general, maybe you could consider joining a support group for people with social anxiety? You might meet real kindred souls that way, and by nature the groups are tiny. Wishing you all the best.

  • Counselor/Therapist for colleagues?

    (1 reply)

    Hi BPN! My colleague and I are not getting along at all lately. We've both agreed to work with a counselor to help us be more productive.  The therapist will need to be VERY smart because my colleague is incredibly clever and I often feel manipulated by them. I need to find someone who will see through any shenanigans (mine included).

    Any recommendations?

    I would like to recommend Nancy Kahn, who is a non-violent communications expert. You can read more about her at www.baynvc.org or email her at nancy.r.kahn [at] gmail.com. We've used her for couples counseling and we've experienced tremendous progress. We felt "stuck" in traditional therapy.

  • Compassionate, Experienced Therapist needed

    (8 replies)

    I am hoping to begin therapy (again) soon. I am a seasoned veteran at this point, but deal with recalcitrant mental health issues and challenging life circumstances. Both have reached a tipping point, and so I find myself seeking some guidance. I would love to find someone nurturing, experienced, and conversant in dealing with conflicts around and ambivalence regarding relationships, mothering/parenting, and professional aspirations. I am not partial to any one modality, but have not had much success with somatic therapy or hard-line psychotherapists. I have had so very many therapists over the years that the thought of having to relate my life trajectory to yet another is enough to make me want to run the other way, but I also now that with the right person, it can make a world of difference. I am a fairly stubborn, intelligent, critical, and highly sensitive person. I need someone warm and non-judgmental who can appreciate these qualities and gently challenge them, but not with a bulldozer. Perhaps you have some thoughts.

    Insurance is not an issue. East Bay-based.

    Thank you!

    You sound like me! I've been seeing Ellie Vargas in Oakland and she's fantastic. Warm and compassionate yet still points out my issues in a kind way that I can handle. It's hard to face my own role in my life issues but Ellie has a good way of pointing stuff out without making me feel judged or attacked. She's really a gem.

    Well, I haven't had any luck finding the right person on this (east) side of the bay. The best therapist I ever had was Julia Wallace in SF- truly gifted at challenging and guiding those of us of the stubborn/intelligent/critical/highly sensitive variety;). She doesn't take my insurance so I haven't been able to see her in years but I compare every therapist I've been to since and none compare. I've sent numerous people her way and they have all been equally impressed. If you have the funds and don't mind traveling to Hayes Valley, I highly recommend her!

    I highly recommend Kristin Hirt, LMFT on Lakeshore Ave. in the Grand Lake district of Oakland.  Kristin is wise, warm, and engaging.  I never, ever felt judged even while she challenged some of my stuck patterns and encouraged me to consider alternate perspectives.  Her website is www.insightfulgrowth.com.  Her phone number is (510) 872-2336. 

  • Hi! i am seeking a therapist close to my home. prefer a female, open to mixed ethnic families and issues that may arise in those situations. recently read some books by brene brown and like her philosophy. preferred location anywhere in the Oakland Hills or San Leando. Thanks!

    Hi, I highly recommend Shira Gallagher, LCSW. She has offices in Berkeley & a newly opened office in San Leandro.  Shira specializes in working with mixed ethnic families and she is very familiar with the work of Brene Brown. She is also warm, compassionate and an extremely good therapist. I recommend her highly. You can check out her website: shiragallagher.com or call her: 510-594-4008. Good luck!

  • Therapist needed for big changes

    (2 replies)

    Love advice for a good therapist in Oakland or Berkeley in thinking about changes in jobs, kids moving on after college and relationship - kind of all the big topics.  Thanks for suggestions.  

    I can wholeheartedly recommend Karen Levine, MFT as a therapist who was extremely effective in helping me navigate a number of big transitions in my life.  She is warm and insightful, and I gained so much clarity through working with her.  She is really smart and has a relaxed, collaborative style which made me feel comfortable and connected immediately.  Her office is in Berkeley, (510) 761-5303.  You can check out her website at http://www.karenlevinetherapy.com/

    I saw Lisa Lancaster (in Berkeley near College and Alcatraz) when I was dealing with a number of very difficult issues (marriage issues; unhappy at work; overwhelmed with kids).  I found her to be incredibly warm, thoughtful and effective.  I don't think I (or my family) would be in half as good of shape today without her.  I highly recommend that you give her a try for dealing with the "big topics"!  

  • Therapist - help with facing changes

    (2 replies)

    Thanks for recommendations for a good therapist to help me think through changes and choices about changing jobs, daughter out of college and other decisions as I look ahead.  

    I would recommend Lisa Lancaster in Berkeley.  She is fantastic. 

    Lucia Grauman is a super compassionate, knowledgeable and so experienced at helping folks with transitions. I love her and highly recommend her. http://luciagrauman.com/ 

    For career transition advice you might also want to contact Julie Stuart. She has been instrumental in helping me find my gifts and understanding how to make necessary changes to settle in the career I'm in - you can find her at http://www.juliestuart.com/