Therapist for Help Making a Change or a Decision

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi BPN family! 40 year old mom here.

    I’m looking for recommendations of therapists you have seen that have gone beyond the typical superficial talk therapy sounding board setup that can take decades to make a dent, if lucky. Someone who has successfully reversed stubborn thoughts and behaviors instilled in you from very young.

    Background / detail below as needed.

    Thanks so much!

    I have seen maybe a dozen different talk therapists off and on over the past two decades. Other than some basic awareness of why I behave the way I do based on what happened in my childhood, and prescribing harsh drugs which I refuse to keep taking especially since they do nothing to fix the root cause, none have helped me actually reverse subconscious patterns, thinking, habits, and behaviors. I need a deeper type of therapy with someone who has proven results and a proven track record. 

    After some research, that deeper type of therapy might include biofeedback, hypnotherapy, neurolinguistic programming, EMDR, Neurofeedback,  EFT, etc. 

    I have spent countless hours searching for this in the area, and I will find profiles of therapists who say they possess these skills and I even interview them about it, and they say it to my face, and then in the actual session, their form of hypnotherapy is taking me through a basic guided meditation that has zero effect. It’s like they just are OK with lying to the world!

    Some issues I want to tackle: overwhelm / poor stress management, weight  fluctuations from emotional eating, maybe some leftover childhood trauma (strict verbal and pyschological abuse household), fearing failure or judgment or rebelling against anything regimented, perfectionism, procrastination, somatic pain/frequent injuries, addictions, low motivation / low energy, S.A.D., mood swings, general unhappiness/ dissatisfaction with life and work, memory issues, lack of mental clarity and focus, inconsistency/ don’t stick to things for long, negative thoughts/ habits/ behaviors, and judgmental of others like I was taught growing up.

    If you have found someone who has been able to reverse your programmed behaviors permanently, please let me know!

    I have anthem blue cross, but I’ve never had good luck finding therapists through insurance, I wonder if that’s part of the problem? I am prepared to pay out of pocket if that’s the reason for my failure and if someone actually will make a change after losing half of my life stuck in the same situation and wasting thousands of dollars on folks that have failed me. Now is the time since my child is going to be directly affected by this. It sucks when it can be $200 an hour, which makes one just not want to go consistently or long-term but again, if it’s going to make a REAL and permanent transformation, I’m prepared to make the investment.

    Thanks again!

    I'm sorry that you've had such a hard time getting effective support despite your best efforts. Unfortunately, I don't have a specific practitioner to recommend that's taking new clients at this time. But, I would encourage you to look for someone well trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectic behavioral therapy (DBT). DBT can be considered a ramped up version of CBT. These are the gold standard treatment approaches for significant mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, addiction, etc. Both are evidenced-based treatments based on behavioral science.

    CBT and DBT have been a game changer for my young-adult children and me after years of ineffective talk and relational therapy.

    It sounds like you might benefit from a DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) program. This is a structured course with skills training and then processing work. There are a number of groups in the area. One is DBT Center of Marin (, but there are others. It's a time investment, but it involves actual WORK on your part, and it has clinical studies to show that it works. Good luck.

    Wow, first of all, I commend you for your commitment to tackling the many issues you are facing and taking it seriously.

    I had a great experience doing hypnotherapy with a Marin-based practitioner named Anahaar around a decade ago. Working with her for a few sessions really helped me release the pain and the awful internal monologue I was experiencing after a very difficult break-up. Anahaar set me on a path toward choosing better for myself, and she did so in a way that had profound and very fast effects on my life.

    I almost didn't reply to your post, though, because it seems you have been at this for a while, and I honestly couldn't tell you the clinical difference between hypnotherapy and guided meditation, so I'm not sure Anahaar will live up to what you are looking for. She was extremely effective for me, and I am grateful to her years later. She's very different from any other therapist I've seen before or since. So... maybe?

    I also want to comment that the list of issues you are tackling seems immense to me. It's not surprising to me that you're dissatisfied with the therapeutic experiences you've had so far. Look at how much you are trying to change! That is enormous. It's been my observation among my friends that when they are feeling in crisis on so many fronts, medication actually is the thing that helps the most because (at its best), it can function as a reset of their baseline. As I perused your very long list of issues, I also wondered to myself if you had considered trying psychedelics. It seems that what you are seeking is an adjustment to your entire life and habits of mind. It sounds like you are hungry for something radical... could psychedelic therapy be an answer for you?

    Hi!  I wanted to offer some support and to tell you that I can really empathize with what you are going through -  I'm a 39 yr old mom and spent most of my life in the same situation.   25 years seeing multiple therapists and doctors who diagnosed me with general anxiety, depression, and Bipolar II over the course of my life.  I was prescribed a ton of heavy duty medications that never really seemed to address my actual symptoms.  Since I couldn't find a treatment that helped with my issues (very similar to ones you listed) I just assumed this was life and other people must be suffering this much as well because shouldn't all these medications and doctors help fix me?!  

    Last summer I was talking to a friend's mom, who works in the medical field, about how much difficulty I had just getting through the day and she encouraged me to talk to my psychiatrist about ADHD and how it presents in adult women (she was diagnosed about 30 years ago at the age of 40). After some research I was shocked that no one had suggested this earlier.  My behavior as a child through today made complete sense and I could finally start the work and get to the root of my issues.

    I wanted to share this with you in case you haven't explored this option yet. And if you have and ruled it out, I hope you get some great suggestions from other BPN members that can help you.

    I also wanted to add that I enjoyed reading "Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to heal from distant, rejection, or self-involved parents" and my current therapist, Neda Ehya (  has been wonderful.  

    I hear you!  I have been in therapy for the majority of my adult life, and have lots of insight but no deep healing and change until I began to work with Anneli Richards with Family Matters of Marin.  She is innovative, multi-modality and continues to incorporate new methods into her work. She is now expanding her work by including others in her practice. Internal Family Systems, EMDR, trauma-informed care, psycho-education and more. It has taken time. I had emotional challenges from a very young age, that led to coping strategies that were not functional for me as a parent, and as an adult. I now have inner resources and more self compassion that help me function as a whole person and not just reacting to inner turmoil. 
    this work with her has been life changing for me. I have a lot of experience with therapy and the approach here is unique and effective. 

  • Need a therapist to help me worry more

    (2 replies)

    This might seem like a joke, but it isn’t. All my life my mind manages to package worries and put it away and not let it bother me. This seems like a great thing, I can sleep well at night and go through life in a zen-like state - I’m always in the moment. But this also has meant I don’t worry about things that matter - from simple things like “I need to buy a gift for that birthday party this weekend” (which gets solved by scrambling a bit) to postponing difficult conversations in life which has affected relationships. 
    I am finally looking to take this on and address it. Can anyone recommend a therapist who can help me through this?

    Michelle Sicula,

    I have been working with her for years, and she is an amazing therapist who is empathetic and supportive but is able to help me plan goals. I often ask her, "I'd like to be more X, Y, Z. I want to be better at ABC." She'll take notes and while she allows me to share my stream of consciouness and emotional unloading, she also makes sure we don't lose sight of the goals that I want to work on.  She is what I need her to be that is different for different circumstances and needs.  Please note that a wonderful therapist for one person may not be the right fit another. The chemistry really needs to be there and the personalities need to match. I feel that after about 2 - 3 sessions, you know whether you like the therapist or not. 

    I found my last two therapists through Psychiatric Alternatives. You can call them and let them know what kind of therapist you are looking for and they can direct you to providers who match your needs and have availability. Best wishes!

  • Therapist for Decision Paralysis

    (1 reply)

    Hello, I'm seeking a therapist who is helpful in resolving Decision Paralysis (aka Analysis Paralysis).  It isn't about facing a specific decision, but rather a general difficulty in decision-making, which is hampering my life in a number of areas. It would be great, but not essential if the therapist accepts Anthem Blue Cross insurance.


    We love our couple's therapist as she's very solutions oriented. She also does individual therapy and is doing Zoom and Facetime sessions. She takes our insurance (Aetna) so maybe be worth asking her about yours.

    Louise Robinson

    450 Sutter Street
    San Francisco, California 94108
    (415) 787-2991

  • The archives have lots of names, but not many recent experiences - do you know a psychologist or therapist who has helped you or someone you love finally get 'unstuck' after so many years? 

    To be oddly specific (hoping it helps steer me in the right direction) I 'lack confidence in my ability to change' according to my current provider. I just can't find my way out of childhood trauma (not sexual) that left me with a bit of a split - my young and current emotional selves don't like to mix it up, and I really do want to be whole. I'm looking for someone who can help me tap into those younger parts of my emotional self and integrate, so that I can move forward, and leave behind the anxiety and fears that are paralyzing me. This crisis has made me feel like I'm near the end of my journey and I've just been spinning my wheels back at the gate.

    I think I would be more confident with the right guidance - someone super wise, kind, experienced, insightful, and ready to push when I need it -  if you have someone to recommend that you think could help I would be TRULY appreciative. 

    I strongly recommend Gregg Bernstein, PhD, Psychologist, in Oakland, 19 Glen Eden Ave. | Oakland, CA 94611 | (510) 652-0837.


    Personal Experience-

    Gregg Bernstein has decades of experience helping young adults and adults strengthen their sense of self.  His aim seems to be helping his client turn into human beings fully comfortable with who they are meant to be. And subsequently, fleshing out a life that fulfills their own unique qualities and personal ambitions. He does this through working hard to accurately perceive his clients, for who they really are. He then offers the kind of intelligent, sensitive, and understanding acceptance that is communicated through a reflective therapeutic relationship that supports and strengthens his patient’s embattled or yet unrecognized independent self-identity.

    His exceptional talent as a therapist is to intelligently and warmly engage his clients in the therapy process so that they move from confusion and distress to a sense of safety, self-awareness and eventually a deep and comfortable satisfaction with who they really are.

    Regardless of whatever of my organic or historic traumas created barriers to internal psychological balance and harmony my personal experience with Gregg Bernstein has been that he is a therapist who transcends all the clinical terminology and gets right to the heart of the matter. He is very capable and does the kind of therapy that results in developing a stable and effective sense of self capable of healthy relationships.

    For example: If it were not for Gregg’s understanding of ADHD, my return to college for a mid-life change of career would have been impossible. (There is a testimonial on his website where someone with ADHD is writing about how Gregg helped them, as well.)

    My own experience with him is as an adult  female with multiple concerns including body dysmorphia (in full remission) eating disorder, ADHD and other aspects from early infant neglect,  was that he was able to address all the diagnoses without ever making me feel like this diagnosis was all I was. He wanted me to learn about who I was in a much bigger way. I felt he was on my side. This meant that the impact of his work was so much deeper that I ended up much stronger in life than I ever imagined I could be.

    I strongly recommend Dr. Bernstein as a therapist, regardless of time of life, or specific diagnoses.

    I don't know a therapist per se, but you might find one of Evoke's online therapy workshops a good place to start.  They just started offering their intensives, which are normally done at their facility in Utah, online.  The one I am thinking of is called "Finding You" and it is specifically for those "who may feel stuck or could benefit from a therapeutic accelerator".

    Here is the link to their website where you can find more information:

    Good luck!

    Not a therapist but I highly recommend Susan Champagne for mindfulness-based life coaching. I've seen her for years and she is warm and helpful, and will give you those gentle pushes if you so desire.  Best wishes!

  • 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.

  • 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

    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. 

    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

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Need help sorting out issues of major transition

Aug 2011

I'm looking for a therapist to help me with the issues of teen getting ready to leave home, coming to terms with what my marriage has evolved into, how to make the transition to what is next.... It is the beginning of lots of transitions. It is kind of confusing and a bit lonely. I would love help in figuring this stage out. Thank you for your suggestions and experiences.

First of all congrats on making the decision to look for a good therapist. I highly recommend that you contact Shira Gallagher, LCSW. She is a highly skillful, warm and engaging therapist who is excellent at working with people who are undergoing a lot of change and need a safe place to sort through feelings. She is wonderful. You can reach her at 510-594-4008. Her website: Good luck. ems

What you're describiing is so familiar to me. When I was going through a series of major transitions, a friend recommended a wonderful, experienced therapist in North Berkeley named John Conger (510-524-8212). Wise and kind, practical and insightful, he helped me with some major decisions until I began to reconnect with parts of my life that I had set aside long ago. He has seen me through some rough spots in my marriage, too. My life is so much better, and I'm very grateful to him. I can't recommend him highly enough. Good luck to you. Lesley

Help me make peace with my situation

Aug 2009

I hate living in Berkeley but am stuck here because of my husband's job. I need to find a therapist to talk to, but don't even know where to start. The recommendations all seem to be geared toward depression and anxiety, neither of which I have. I just need to find someone who can either help me make peace with my situation or help me/us think of alternatives. Anon

A therapist sounds like a good choice, but don't be mislead by what therapists specialize in. Therapists all are trained to work with life transitions even if it you aren't depressed or having major anxiety. For example I see mostly women dealing with infertility issues, but I also see clients with a variety of life issues and a wide range of ages. So look for someone you can connect too.

Miriam Gross, MSW is terrific at ''putting our heads together'' to look at a problem like this. She's at 1225 Marin Ave, Albany. Phone:510-524-5103. She's respectful, good at putting things into words, and great at collaborative problem solving. If you want a more traditional therapist, Candis Cousins, Ph.D., is fantastic, too. She's near Piedmont and her office phone number is 510- 763-5358. They could be on vacation, but both are good about returning calls when in town. Judy

Elayne Savage, Ph.D. is the best therapist around! She's great with helping you look at options and alternatives to feel ''unstuck''. She will make you feel totally at ease and is non-judgmental, down to earth, and has many years of experience. I have really benefitted from seeing her and leave the sessions feeling positive and grateful to have an objective person when talking through issues. Here is her web address: and her phone is: 510-540-6230. I believe she is accepting new clients at this time. feeling positive

re: your request for a therapist to help you make peace with your decision or help you think of alternatives. I live in the East Bay and am seeing Fran Wickner in Albany. I like her style: very non judgemental and she works on what I want to work on, not what she thinks I need to do. She's very practical and could be a good fit to help you make a decision to stay or go. She has a website with her email if you want that. LK

I would recommend Lisa Lancaster. She helped me with a similar issue. I have found her to be a sensitive and insightful therapist. She is in Berkeley and her number is 510-841-2525. anon

Therapist for lifelong procrastinator

June 2006

Can anyone suggest a therapist (or other help) for a middle aged man who has finally concluded that he needs help getting to the underlying reasons for chronic disorganization, procrastination, and constant lateness? Admitting the problem is a good first step, but he needs help overcoming these issues before he drowns in a sea of paperwork, lost items and missed appointments! anonymous

I know of a very good therapist who has helped me with my procrastination and really helped me move forward in practical ways as well as helping me understand myself better and any underlying issues around my procrastination. Her name is Dr. Joanne Chao. She is very interactive, compassionate and easy to work with. Her # is (510) 594-4003. You can also check out her website at Hope that helps anon

As you seek a therapist for your lifelong procrastinator, you might also consider the possibility that the procrastination has a biological rather than a psychological basis. I, too, was a lifelong procrastinator, and was very down on myself for being unable to make what seemed to be pretty trivial changes in behavior. Then in my 50s I discovered quite by accident that I have actually had ADD all my life (ADD = Attention Deficit Disorder, though the name doesn't really capture the essence of the condition). This is a real disorder, and there are medications and other treatment approaches that have helped a lot of people. I suggest you read ''Delivered from Distraction'' by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey, two down-to-earth Harvard-affiliated physicians who have ADD themselves and who have done what I think is some of the best writing in this field. They also offer reasonably-priced conference call ''classes'' where they talk about many aspects of ADD, including medications and strategies for dealing with ADD and for dealing with partners who have ADD. The attendance is generally small enough that participants can ask questions about topics of particular interest to them.

For me it has been an eye-opener and a tremendous relief to realize that there's a physiological reason I have trouble getting organized, following through on tasks, taking minutes, finishing projects in advance, etc., etc. (even though it's a downer to realize there's something organic ''wrong with'' your brain). But ADD has a positive side, too, which Hallowell and Ratey emphasize. The website with info on the classes is

The website for Dr. Hallowell and the Hallowell [medical] Center (a branch of which has recently opened up in San Diego) is There's a list of some of the positive attributes associated with ADD there, as well as links to other useful articles.

Good luck! Finally understanding my procrastination