Therapist for Preteens

Parent Q&A

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  • Need therapist recs for 12 y/o daughter

    (2 replies)

    My daughter is strong-willed and very resistant to most of the boundaries her dad and I set for her. Her relationship with her dad, in particular, is very negative right now. She routinely accuses us of hating her if we don't let her do what she wants and is generally rude, disrespectful, and self-centered. On the other hand, having been a teen girl myself, I think a fair amount of this is normal behavior, and I also think her dad is too hard on her. Of course, the pandemic has been really hard - she has been doing well in school and has good friends she is now getting to see again, but she has gotten really sedentary and basically wants to be in her room on her phone all day.

    Against this backdrop of things not going so well, including my husband and I fighting about how best to respond to her, we just discovered that she used a razor to cut her arm. It looks like she's only done it once, but of course this is a big red flag and we want to get her the support she needs. Would love recommendations for a therapist who could help her with these issues. We're in Oakland and would prefer someone close by -- assuming that in-person therapy is starting back up. Thanks!


    I recently discovered Tonia who is an art therapist in Oakland. Our daughter is also 12 and will be going to her. We start this week, but from our initial conversation I truly enjoyed talking to her and her methodology seems in line with helping to raise strong, capable, emotionally stable, women.


    We are having very similar experiences with our 13 year old daughter. There is huge resistance to any moderation of screen use, coupled with anger, defiance, retreating to her room, rudeness,  etc. We would also love a recommendation for a therapist for her, as well as a suggestion for a family therapist so that her dad and I can more effectively align around how to parent her through this time, as it is challenging for all of us. 

  • Hi BPN-ers,

    I would love to get  recommendations from other parents for a cognitive behavioral therapist who specializes in children with anxiety. Our 11 year old son has been developing anxiety in a couple of different areas and needs some professional support, but it seems that many of the therapists from the archives are no longer taking new patients or have closed their practices. Any insights with regards to therapists or other resources would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    Hi, I would recommend Dr. Rama Ronen. She works with adults and children. 415-378-0328

    She is very easy to work with. She is located in San Ramon but does telehealth right now.

    Psychology Today's website has a list of therapists that can be searched within a zipcode.  

  • Hello BPN,

    Our pediatrician recently recommended Miriam Gross and David Green for our tween child, but the only reviews are from 2004. I would love some feedback before we proceed. What was your experience with them? Were they helpful? I really appreciate any help you can provide.

    Our pediatrician at the time, (Dr. B.K), recommended Dr. Philip Gross, a child psychiatrist.  Dr. Gross seemed good, and saw my child a couple times.  But it was a sort of policy that the parents see Miriam Gross (spouse) each time while Dr. Gross saw the child.  After Dr. Gross released my child, Miriam suggested my husband and I continue to see her.  Without going into details, it was a bad experience.  Dr. Gross was fine.  Miriam Gross, not so much.  I hope you ask for recommendations for other therapists from the ever helpful BPN community, and that you possibly speak to a few of them--call them and talk to them for 10 minutes. 

    We as parents saw Dr. Gross on the recommendation of our pediatrician when our daughter was 5.  She was nice enough but her advice was basically to talk to our daughter to make a plan for times that were problematic.  Eg for school pickup ask her what plan she would like to make to avoid the tantrums.  Her plan was pickup her only, without her sister, and take her to get ice cream.  Similarly for bedtime our daughter thought a good plan was let her stay up as late as she wanted watching TV.  I was not surprised that my 5 year old wanted to do these things, but obviously they are not practical! Dr. Gross didn't have any additional suggestions.  We ended up finding a much more effective counselor through UCSF. 

    My son saw David Green a couple of years ago. My son was very reticent at first but quickly warmed to David. He helped us a lot, though I think some of my sons issues were resolved by getting older and learning to know himself more.

    Miriam Gross suggested that I see her simultaneously which I agreed to. It did help me but I have to say I was turned off after a while with her focus on my role in our struggles. I understand that but her approach irritated me after a while. Maybe I was too sensitive or maybe I just felt alone since I am my child’s only parent. 
    I definitely recommend them since they did help us, but I stopped going and my son continued for a while longer. 
    David did help me with written documentation of his work with my son that was helpful to suit to the school.

    My daughter saw them several years ago and i was not impressed. Not awful but nothing earth shattering either. I would keep searching!

    My family had a wonderful experience working with Miriam before she started working with David Green and I can highly recommend her and the model they use to help children and parents work together to address issues. Miriam is thoughtful, smart and practical and she really cares about helping families. She is also excellent at collaborating with other care providers, which is part of the model she uses where she works primarily with the parent while her partner (when we worked with her it was her late husband Phil Gross) works primarily with the child. Although I can't comment on David Green, I know that in continuing her practice after Phil passed away she was very careful to pick a new partner who matched the approach she and Phil had so much success with.

  • Hi--my son was picked on a lot when he was at a small school in first grade and has often been a bit of a target to others because he will react to teasing.  I think that he tends to react defensively and with anger even when the situation could be laughed off and have a better outcome.  With me, he is fine, loving, gentle, fun, etc. but I can see that he needs to learn how to navigate friendships.  I was thinking that a therapist might be able to teach him some tools and I thought it might be good to do this before hormones fully set in or before he goes to middle school.

    Do others have advice or recommendations for a therapist who might be a good match?  We'd like to find someone in the Montclair/Rockridge/Lake area or possibly Berkeley/Alameda.

    Thanks in advance for sharing your experience!

    We didn't do it at the time, but I wish we had done Boy Scouts, or any similar organization where part of the mission is to build character and be inclusive.  We did do soccer and basketball, and each helped a little.  We didn't do therapy at that time, though we did it much later, and I can see how it could have helped.    Good luck.

    I believe Kaiser runs a variety of kids group therapy on social skills.  To me this is something best worked on in real time with a professional guiding the peer interactions.  good luck to your son.

    My son struggled with the same issues. Two things helped: social skills groups at Kaiser and twice a week kickboxing classes at Pacific Ring Sports on 40th/Telegraph. The classes there are fun, they do not tolerate bullying and they build self esteem and self confidence. Good luck!

    My son, who's now 16, had the same issue you're speaking of.   We have been doing therapy since 4th grade.   He didn't want to play sports but he did enjoy the Sax so he was involved in an assemble.  Anyway,  It's been a long road and it's very slow to change.  He is doing better and we have now moved him to a very small private high school called mentoring academy.  The therapist he works with is Anthony Graneri.  He is located on Telegraph near Ashby.   He is an older man but very hip and he seems to have helped my son.    Isolation is a big issue for kids like this so make every effort to get him involved.  I wish I had done Boy Scouts.  They need to belong to a group.  Good luck.  

  • Hi, we have a new sixth grader who has suddenly had a mild case of occasional anxiety develop into pretty intense school fears as he's started middle school.  I'd like to get him started learning some tools ASAP but we are on the peninsula so I'm having trouble finding reccs in the archives for our area (also ok with South Bay or SF, but getting to the east bay is daunting).  Any recommendations would be welcome.

    I'm sorry your middle schooler is experiencing anxiety. Both my teenagers have struggled mightily with anxiety over the course of their short lives. We live on the Peninsula, so I don't have a specific therapist to recommend. However, I will suggest that you seek out someone well versed in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and who actually uses it in treatment, not just an item on their credentials. CBT is shown to be very successful in addressing anxiety in children and adolescents. One of my children received true CBT and is managing their anxiety much more successfully than the one who received / is receiving more psychodynamic therapy from several therapists who said they used CBT techniques but did not. (Unfortunately, my children now teens refuse to see the same therapist.)

    I also highly recommend the website: for information and parent support / perspective.

  • Our son confessed that he has been thinking about suicide several times this summer. He says he doesn't like himself or his life and wants the pain to go away. He had a traumatic birth and he and I (mom) had a challenging time with attachment in the early years. He has a history generalized anxiety, moodiness, and is easily dysregulated by hunger or lack of sleep. He's been having trouble falling asleep lately so his sleep deprivation is aggravating everything. He blames his 7yr old younger brother for all his troubles and has been physically and verbally aggressive with him on a daily basis. We're with Kaiser and we've been playing phone tag with the Richmond Psychiatry dept all week. We're willing to go outside of Kaiser. We just want to find someone asap who would be a good fit to work with him and the whole family, as necessary. Hoping to find someone in the Berkeley/Albany area if possible.


    i would advise you to keep advocating for your son at Kaiser Richmond.   All three of my kids have been seen by therapists there, including a psychiatrist.  You do have to go through a Friday morning intake program, but it is truly worth it. I was so impressed with the quality of therapists and very happy with the psychiatrist.

    Don’t allow their messy intake system to turn you off!   Once you are in the system, it is very easy to make appointments and their quality of care is very high, especially for the price. If you have to, call every day until you get through to someone and schedule that first intake appointment. Good luck, we have been there as well. 

    I hope Kaiser is responding to you immediately given your son's state. Please contact a suicide hotline if they are not.
    Kaiser's psychiatry dept should make time for him immediately given he has suicidal thoughts. Ask to talk to the department manager. In the longer term, they can also give you an outside referral through Beacon or Magellan for a psychologist or counselor as counseling is not their strong point. However, they need to be able to schedule your son right away as he is in a crisis situation.


    I cannot say enough wonderful things at the Kaiser Oakland Child Psychiatry team.  We tried Walnut Creek and Richmond and thankfully ended up with Mario Raya in Oakland.  Our daughter was suicidal and has anxiety and ADD and Mario and his team helped her through many rough times when we didn’t have any idea how to help her.  The group classes at Oakland really helped our daughter see that it wasn’t just her having these feelings, so be sure to sign up for as man group classes as you can. Good luck!

    I am sorry to hear that you and your son are going through this. Try Reyna Cowan, PhD (510) 601-0232. She is located in Rockridge near Trader Joes. She is a very competent therapist. My son saw her for anxiety related issues when he was about 9 years old. They had a great connection and he actually looked forward to going to therapy. 

    I’m not sure if she sees kids, but Dr. Amanda Carroll at Oakland Kaiser is my life-saver. She specializes in anxiety depression.

    I'm sorry I don't have a therapist recommendation - I just wanted to reach out to you because I have felt so worried for you and your son after reading this yesterday. I can relate with my son who is older now but vocalized similar thoughts and we have a similar history of difficult birth and difficult behaviors which caused bonding problems, moodiness, dysregulation. It is so hard and sad to deal with. The one thing I thought I would suggest, since you mention that sleep is a big problem, and maybe you already tried this, is melatonin. We used that with my son for a couple of years and it was a god send. Of course no one wants to give a child mediation or supplements when it can be avoided, but if sleep is a real problem and it is a potentially crisis situation, then it is definitely worth it. Melatonin is generally considered safe but who knows. I use it often due to jet leg and find it very helpful.  We use a sublingual form (so no pill swallowing) you can buy at Whole Foods or probably Safeway - it comes in doses of 5mg, 2.5 mg, 1mg - we used 1mg and I would split it in half, so only .05mg - Source Naturals

    Our son is 14.5 and finally getting better. We don't live in the area so I can't recommend anyone but his current counselor uses hypnosis for 1 year now plus talk therapy - and I think that has helped - or something has helped as he is finally in a much better place (and we have tried everything basically since about 2 years old from regular therapists, occupational, speech, psychological, cranial therapy, special diets - all of which helped I guess it's just a long slog of sticking with it.)

    Problems going to sleep at night often have to do with "racing mind" usually a symptom of ADD etc - I also had this starting as a teen up to late 30s and a really good acupuncturist got rid of it for me in one session after decades of dealing with it (Dr. Wu Healing Center in the Richmond district of San Francisco). So far I haven't brought my son to an acupuncturist so I don't know if it would work for him. The other thing that has helped for us/him is regular swimming - swimming is a sport that often kids with ADD or on the autism spectrum or other difficulties find really beneficial and a way to make some friends. The last thing I will mention is consider sending him off to a YMCA sleep away camp next summer - they are GREAT, no electronics, nice kids, super supportive friendly atmosphere, charming cabins, beautiful settings, affordable. My son has gone twice and thrived due to their atmosphere of friendly acceptance and fun activities in nature - so much better than him sitting around at home bored and sad - there he was outside, made friends that he still keeps in touch with, got a change of scenery and away from the life/routine which was like a downward cycle. My son didn't want to go, but once we arrived and he saw the friendly kids and camp counselors, he could barely bother saying goodbye to me. Of course not possible if you feel he is really in crisis situation or a real risk - but something to think of, and a break for you and family.

    I am very sorry you are dealing with this, it is a sad and scary thing for your family and your son and I hope someone has a good therapist recommendation for you.  


    First of all, my heart goes out to you, and your whole family. It sounds like parenting your 11 yr old has been very difficult. I’m responding with a recommendation:

    Sheri Glucoft Wong  LCSW

    1715 Solano Ave


    Working with Sheri has transformed our family — she is really that excellent. She is very expensive (we are at top of sliding scale, $275 per hour) but I want to emphasize — every minute will be valuable for all the members of your family. 

    If this helps at all, my son who is now 15 had a childhood eerily similar to what you are describing. We had started OT at age 5, play therapy, CBT, you name it. Nothing seemed to really make a difference. Sheri spent 3 months getting to know us and was the only provider to recognize signs of asperger’s/ASD. It seems that kids who are right on the edge of ASD can often first be diagnosed with mood disorders (anxiety, depression) but what happens is that the typical emotional dysregulation is exacerbated because no one around the child understands what’s going on. I realize that this may be oversharing but I really never felt joy in my experience of my son until Sheri helped me understand what was going on.

    feel free to mention us - Ava and David - if you call her. 



  • I am seeking help finding an excellent therapist who can help us with our 10 year old daughter with major anger and impulse control issues. She has just moved to live with me in Oakland in the summer and attending a new school, 4th grade. I’m a single dad, educated professional, so is her mother, my ex wife.

    She has gotten into all sorts of trouble with other girls at her new school which has just resulted in her    suspension for threatening other students. Kaiser does not have appointments for weeks out. Private pay referrals are welcome.

    Thank you.

    We have had good results with Reyna Cowan, PhD. My 9 year old son loves her and we found her to be especially good with working with him. Her office is in Rockridge near Trader Joe's.  Phone number: 510-601-0232

    Hi there, 

    Our daughter also has anger and emotional regulation challenges.  We are just starting family therapy with Dr. Anthony Guinieri in Berkeley for this.  We spoke with several therapists and like his approach.  

    Also, if your child is getting suspended due to behavioral issues, I’d recommend you contact DREDF (disability rights education and defense fund) and speak with an advocate to get more information about different strategies to get your child the support she needs with your school district.  

    We found Jason Keppe to be really helpful.

    Please, do not let Kaiser continue to get away with NOT providing the services that they are required to provide by law (Affordable Health Care Act).  They are required to provide your family with parity in Mental Health as compared with physical health.  You can actually go "out of network" and force Kaiser to pay for a local licensed therapist to serve your family.  It is a simple process to make this happen.

    Kaiser also tries to get out of their legal responsibility by not having appointments available weekly for therapists, often only allowing families to have appointments every 4 to 6 weeks because their limited number of therapists are overbooked.  But the standard of care for therapy is weekly appointments and you have the right to receive this type of care.

    We have a similar age daughter and anger issues. You might look into Meghan Tunson in Oakland. I liked her alot (my daughter stopped seeing her because a trek to Oakland was going to be too difficult for us). I thought she was really skilled in dealing with strong personalities and kiddos that are hesitant to talk.

    We also really liked Laura Rainville in Rockridge - has a more gentle style.  Perhaps one of them will be a fit. 

  • We are desperately seeking an excellent family or individual therapist for out 9 year old.  She is an excellent student and very social but her behavior at home is out of control: defiant, angry, rude, aggressive with her little brother , drives us crazy and has gotten into a pattern at home we would like to break.  Please help with any recommendations in Berkeley, Albany etc areas. We would prefer a female therapist.

    thanks so much!!

    I would recommend East Bay Behavior Therapy Center.  They are all female therapists there.  Their website is and their phone number is 925-956-4636.  

    Lenny Levis in the Berkeley area has had 25-30 years experience with kids. He's great, and a dad himself.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Pediatric CBT therapist for 12 year old

Nov 2010

I have a 12 year old who has always been prone to depression and anxiety and now with puberty setting in, the irritability and moodiness is paralyzing to her and our family. We are all living in fear of her mood and disapproval, which is crazy! She is already on small amount of meds but her doctor suggested CBT for her and possibly later for her and her siblings and/or me together. Here is the catch - I am a single mom and work full time but i have a generous PPO. I would like for her to be able to go by herself once a week after school. So I need a female therapist in Albany who takes insurance. If you know of such a therapist, please let me know. very worried mom

I highly recommend Anne Marshall. She's warm, compassionate, supportive, funny, and she gives real-world, practical advice so that you come out of a session with a sense of what you need to do to tackle your issues. Not a straight-up CBT approach, as far as I know, but she's very good at helping her patients take concrete steps in the here and now. I saw her as an adult, but I think she would be a good fit for preteens and teens as well. Last I checked, she had an office in Albany (midway down Solano) and took insurance. Jennifer