Finding Affordable Therapy

Parent Q&A

How to get affordable/free mental health support Feb 12, 2018 (8 responses below)
Affordable therapist in Berkeley/Emeryville/north Oakland? Jan 12, 2018 (4 responses below)
  • Dear BPN,

    A dear friend who also happens to be an exceptionally wonderful person has been experiencing debilitating anxiety and panic attacks.  His work situation recently changed and he no longer gets health insurance through his employer. It’s expected to be a temporary thing  while he looks for longer term full-time employment opportunity.  However, financially can barely cover his expenses let alone mental health costs, and he is being very frugal! The problem is these panic attacks are making it extremely hard for him to put the time and effort needed for the job search. I have never seen someone try so hard to stay productive and positive while suffering so much. His current financial situation is new for him, which makes things worse, but his condition is hindering his progress to get out of it. He needs help and probably medication. 

    How does someone in his circumstances get medication and mental health services when he can’t afford it? What’s the process?  Note: I have offered to help financially but his pride won’t allow that. 

    Thank you in advance for any guidance here. 

    Sorry to hear that your friend is having so much trouble. If he lives in Berkeley or Albany he can get services, including psychiatric care, from Berkley Mental Health. You can find more information here: 

    Some clinics offer a sliding fee scale for ongoing therapy. I would check: 

    The Wright Institute:

    JFK in Oakland:

    Pacific Center offers sliding scale psychotherapy and support groups for LGBTQ folk:

    I would start with those. 

    I know a current client of Rubicon Programs ( who enthusiastically recommends them. I know this person is unemployed so isn't able to pay for services and is receiving mental health, housing, and employment support, in addition to other support. It seems like they have great wrap-around /social work services

    Low-fee therapy is available at the Wright Institute Clinic: 510-548-9716, or the Wright Institute CBT Clinic: 510-923-2241. Good luck

  • Hi, My therapist (a female LCSW) is closing up shop soon and I need to find a new therapist. I’m  hoping to get some good recommendations for therapists who are helpful with things like dealing with a difficult aging mother, absent siblings, depression, and handling making the single motherhood decision (and navigating that path). I’m looking for someone in the Berkeley/Emeryville/north Oakland areas. It’s a total fun-fest! Thanks in advance for any recommendations 

    My husband has been seeing Shira Luft for the past 6 months and he's very happy with her. She also offers a sliding pay scale. Her office is in Berkeley. 

    I think my therapist, Heather Roselaren might be a good fit for you. She is also an LCSW and is located downtown Berkeley. She has helped me work through complicated family and extended family relationships and depression.

    I highly recommend Cheryl Krauter on Solano Avenue in Albany.

     She’s been great at helping me with loss/grief issues as well as with my single motherhood journey. Feel free to message me if you want any more info. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Seeking Low-Cost Therapy Related Pages

2010 - 2013 Recommendations

Therapy on a budget in the east bay area

Aug 2013

I've recently gone through some very traumatic events (in law has cancer, other in law 51/50'd, best friend tried to commit suicide). I'm feeling overwhelmed and sad. I feel like I really need to talk to a therapist. Any good recommendations out there? I live in Concord and on a budget...

If you think you might be depressed, there are two types of cognitive behavioral therapy for depression at CAL enrolling right now. If you call 510-643-3797 they can do a phone screen with you to see if you will be a good fit. Golden Bear Sleep and Mood
Contra Costa County has low-fee mental health services:, as does John F. Kennedy's Community Counseling Center (in either Concord or Pleasant Hill): Thank you for asking for the help you deserve.

Therapist for trauma, anxiety who accepts Medicare

Dec 2011

Any recommendations for a therapist who accepts Medicare and can work with people who have anxiety and have a history of trauma. Judy

Dr. Simone Taylor on Telegraph in Oakland Works on both adult and child trauma, family dynamics. Takes Medicare. Recommender
As a professional in the field, I would recommend Paul Minsky, PhD. His number is 510 524-0700. I believe he takes Medicare. Good Luck

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Sliding scale psychoanalysis

May 2009

Can anyone recommend a psychoanalyst in Oakland/Berkeley who might be amenable to a sliding fee scale? I'm interested in a more intensive therapy but my husband just lost his job. Thanks. needs help

Hi, You can call Jeanne Harasemovitch: 527-9106 she is in charge of the psychoanalytic low-fee clinic in the East Bay. She will talk to you and match you up with someone who works on a sliding scale. O.
You may already know this but a good place to seek referrals for lower cost analysis and psychanalytic therapy are the local psychoanalytic institutes, such as PINC (, SFCP ( and the Jung Institute of San Francisco ( Ilene Diamond
Contact the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis Low Fee Clinic. This is currently run by Linda Bartlett PhD: (415) 673-3275. Leora

Sliding scale therapist?

Feb 2008

I am looking for a therapist in the Berkeley area who has a sliding scale. I have been in therapy at different times in my life and consider myself to be quite ''aware'' and would like to work on some life issues (i am in my mid-thirties) - relationship, parenting, etc. on a deep level. I am looking for someone who is talented and skilled and experienced. I can afford $65/session ($50 would be great). I would prefer to not see an intern but might consider it if it feels like a good fit. Anon.

Try Berkeley Therapy Institute on MLK in Berkeley. They train interns and post doctoral candidates and have a sliding scale. Even their staff therapists have a sliding scale. The interns and post docs are well-supervised and the staff is excellent. Many interns stay there for two years and go on to have private practices, if you want someone for the long-term. Former intern

Free or very low-cost counseling?

Feb 2008

Hi I am looking for weekly counseling or support groups to deal with general personal issues and stress. I cannot afford $100 or more a month that even the lowest sliding scales that I've found are. Any suggestions? Sad and broke

Try the Women's Therapy Center in El Cerrito or The Psychotherapy Center in Berkeley. Both are staffed by trainees who are supervised by wonderful, experienced therapists. Deena S
First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley has a counseling service that allows you to pay what you can afford. It does NOT push religion. Check it out at Been there, done it - several times a fellow traveler
You should try the Center for Holisitc Counseling. Their sliding scale starts at $10 and up. The office is located on Harrison near Grand/Lake Merrit. Good luck. a former CHC client
For low fee counseling try Jewish Family and Children's Services of the East Bay. They have an office in Berkeley and one in Walnut Creek and offer a sliding scale. You can reach them at 510.704-7475. You don't have to be Jewish to access their services. You can also try the new ''211'' number. Use it like the ''411'' or ''911,'' and I believe they offer referrals for counseling along w/ many other social services. Good luck- Jody B
if all the great orgs. with sliding scales as previously recommended are truly still not affordable, then you can probably qualify for Medi-Cal and there are MFTs who accept and can work with Medi-Cal. Chris

Single Mom support groups and affordable therapy

Feb 2007

My husband and I separated almost a year ago, and I am ready to admit I need some outside help to navigate through the many challenges I am currently facing. Does anyone know of single-parent support groups in the Berkeley area, or other ways to connect with single moms? I know I'd also benefit from therapy, but money is extremely tight until I can figure out how to find childcare and a new job and earn enough money to make ends meet and still (hopefully) have plenty of time with my child. Are there support services out there for women on very tight budgets? Thank you. Anonymous

Dear Single Mom needing support, I am not sure how low your budget is for therapy, but I highly recommend The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley. Their advanced training program offers therapy on a sliding scale, and unlike other clinics many patients are able to continue working with their therapist after the clinician completes the program. The number is 510-548-2250. Additionally, sometimes therapists are willing or able to reduce their fees somewhat to enable people to receive treatment that might not otherwise be able to afford it. Shira
The Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church in Lafayette near the reservoir has a great single parents group run by 2 therapists. I met a lot of single-parent friends there for support and activities. The group is eductaional and focuses on parenting techniques and the problems of the single parent - not a cry-on-your-shoulder kind of group. It's free and meets once a week. I don't have the phone number any more, but I'm sure you can call the church or look on google. Linda

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

New mom needs medi-cal of sliding scale therapy

May 2006

I'm interested in finding a good therapist to help me deal with issues of new motherhood. Nothing too specific, just feeling exhausted and confused about how to balance motherhood, work, and the rest of my life. There are a few recommendations on the website, but they are 6-7 years old. Anyone have a recommendation that is more recent? I need to find someone who takes Medi-Cal or has a sliding scale. Thanks.

I know that New Parent Support in Alameda has low-cost (sliding scale and Medi-Cal, I think) therapy. They're also going to be running a four-week evening workshop in June to help couples deal with becoming new parents. I'm co-facilitating the group and, from your description, it sounds like the workshop could be very helpful. It's going to be free. If you want more information, their website is Hope this helps
Try calling the Women's Therapy Center. They charge on a sliding scale and are located in El Cerrito near the El Cerrito Plaza BART station.

Spanish speaking family seeks low cost therapy

Nov 2004

wondering if anyone has had success in finding low cost mental health services for spanish speaking families. would love to hear any ideas. thanks for your help.
friend of the family

I can recommend a group called Mujeres Unidas y Activas women in Oakland and SF who offer peer support counseling (in Spanish) for women; if more is need they can make referrals to professional counselors. (510) 261-3398 or (415) 621-8140. Margi
Berkeley Mental Health, Family, Youth & Children Clinic offers low-cost therapy to families, focusing on the child(ren) - there are Spanish speaking clinicians. However you must me a Berkeley resident or have children in Berkeley schools. Good luck! anon
Contact La Clinica de La Raza at 510-535-4000. They provide mental health services to people with no health insurance or on Medi-Cal, and they may refer you to other available services. Good luck. Chris
BAY Area CHILDREN FIRST has spanish-speaking therapists and does a lot of work with low-income families call them at 510-883-9312 or 415-922-2344 Jessica
Try calling the Clinica de La Raza in Oakland. It's on Fruitvale. I don't know if they have therapy services, but they should be able to give you suggestions. anon

Really bad anxiety, can't afford therapy

June 2004

Hi everyone: I'm posting here because I've seen so many kind and helpful responses - and I'm at a loss about where to turn right now. I've been experiencing increased anxiety recently -- well, over the fast few years, I guess. But it feels like it's gotten really bad lately - and I think I've managed to alienate some people I care very much about. I worry a lot about ... everything. I'm always overthinking situations - and wondering -- what if... to the point where I have a really hard time relaxing and having fun. It's also affected my decision-making skills, because ...well, what if I make the wrong choice? I don't feel like I've always been this way, so I'm a bit perplexed about where these feelings are coming from and how to deal with them. I have had a lot of change and uncertainty in my life during this time...divorce, marriage, moving across country, changing careers, financial instability, trying to have a baby, etc... And I'm sure these issues have something to do with it. But I want to feel like myself again - before I forget who that is...or was. My financial situation prevents me from seeking therapy, so I'm hoping that someone out there might have some helpful advice about alternative methods. Has anyone had success with Sam-e or any other over the counter natural meds? Any cheap or free therapy - either traditional or non- traditional (acupuncture, hypnosis, etc...)? Has anyone experienced this and worked through it on your own by incorporating calming influences such as meditation or yoga? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Hoping to feel happy again soon

Low-cost therapy recommended:

  • Ann Martin Children's Center
  • Berkeley Therapy Institute
  • California Pacific Medical Center SF
  • JFK Center for Holistic Counseling
  • Langley Porter Institute at UCSF Affective Disorders Clinic
  • Psychology Clinic at UC Berkeley
  • West Coast Childrens Center
  • Wright Institute Clinic

    Other Advice

    I know you will get a lot of responses for this, and I hope my contribution will help a little. First of all, I could have written that post. It sounds like me all over, at least it sounds like me at times. Here are things that have helped me:

    Cognitive Therapy: I know you can't pay for therapy right now, but maybe this book will help -- Mind over Mood by Greenberger and Padesky. Also, depending on which insurance you have, you can get counseling at greatly reduced rates. Sometimes all it takes for you to get back on track is 2 or 3 months of weekly sessions. A friend used to tell me that we spend so much money on our physical health and alomst nothing to maintain our mental health. Maybe it's worth the investment. Just knowing that you are not going crazy helps a lot sometimes. I think the things you have been through are definitely anxiety-producing! I find it totally normal that you would react with anxious feelings. Perhaps someone will post some kind of facilitated support group. You need to know that your reaction is normal and you just need to get a handle on these feelings that seem to snowball.

    I think you will get lots of good advice here, and I wish you the best of luck. If you want to email me, feel free:

    It sounds as if you have gone through an amazing amount of change, and it doesn't surprise me at all that you would feel anxious. You mentioned Yoga and I just wanted to endorse your intuition. I have been practicing for about a year and have found it restorative and of huge benefit-- on almost every level. I began for a number of reasons-- including some emotional issues. I have also had the opportunity to do some traditional therapy-- and think that's great too if at some point that becomes available. I can definitely say that I accomplished more in my therapy sessions because I had gained so much clarity and understanding in my yoga practice. Best of luck to you--
    I was there a few years ago, right after I got married. I was generally anxious about everything, and had developed (out of nowhere!) a paralyzing fear of driving over bridges and getting on airplanes. I saw a cognitive behavior therapist for a few months and learned that the problem was that I was letting irrational statements repeat themselves over and over in my mind until I physically panicked. In addition to the therapy, which you mention you can't afford, I also came to like the books of Albert Ellis: ''A Guide to Rational Living'' and ''How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything, Yes, Anything''. In my case a lot of research about bridges and airplanes also helped combat the irrational fears. Yoga helped too, but I think I needed to understand how to stop generating negative, obsessive thoughts before yoga could have worked on its own. If any of this seems familiar, maybe these books will help you too. Good luck! Casey
    I could have written your posting! I have had trouble with anxiety for years and it does the same thing to me; I have trouble having fun and not overthinking everything. I am always worrying about what 'comes next' and can't just sit down and relax. It drives my husband crazy b/c he has the opposite problem, he's too relaxed. It's really hard to enjoy anything and just let go. It's also exhausting worrying all the time about nothing. I'm sorry, but I don't have any advice for you, only empathy. I thought you might like to know that you are not alone in this struggle! I was on Paxil for about a year and it helped at the time, but the other things it did to me were definitely not worth it. I wish you the best and look forward to any solutions other menbers may provide. --Been there
    I would suggest you to visit your family physician to discuss your anxiety. They might have some recommendations. Before the visit make some notes on when the anxiety started, what's bothering you most, how it manifests itself,and if there are any triggers. It might help you to see it all in black and white too. I do little bullet points when I go to the doctor so I can scan my list quickly as we talk.

    Are you eating and sleeping ok? From what I understand, anxiety can be a byproduct of depression. Do you think you might be depressed?

    Your dr. may be able to make a referral or may offer you an anti-anxiety medication that is covered by your health care plan. I'd rather have you see a mental health professional for an assessment but I don't think it is a bad idea to start with a physical from your doctor.

    Don't rule out therapy due to cost. Most health care plans these days will cover at least some therapy visits (usually 8) especially if your dr. makes the referral. Call your health care plan and ask what their coverage is.

    There are times when I think a health food store remedy can be very helpful for temporary anxiety. I sense from what you say that this is a fairly serious problem for you that has been going on for awhile. I'd say it is time to get serious and really figure out what kind of help you need to get through this bad patch. You don't have to struggle on with this by yourself. While I am not on the drug band wagon I have seen that temporary use of medications can make a huge difference. I've had two good friends that found temporary use of medications helped calm their anxiety and get them through a challenging time.

    At the very least I would urge you to look into low cost or sliding scale therapy. You'd be surprised at what is available. You obviously have been holding it together under very stressful circumstances. You are so smart to reach out. I think there is help readily available to you. Don't feel like you have to tough it out. Good luck and I wish you all the best

    dear non anxiety, first you have to stop and remember how you were before this anxiety came into your life. really stop and take the time to meditate and remember. second, during this period of rememberance you should also try to remember how you dealt with things and decisions before this current time and what kinds of decisions you had to make back then, preferably the biggest decisions are the easiest to remember.

    now ask yourself and be honest, all the things that i have accompished and have done in my life have i done them alone? sometimes as humans we tend to take everything on our own backs without even trying to share the load with someone else. also ask yourself who can you trust to give you ''sound'', ''wise'' advice? whomever you come up with, was this or these people there to help you in the past?

    religious beliefs were not mentioned in your original email but another sure way of stamping out anxiety is to establish a working relationship with god, which means putting your trust in him and letting him lead and guide you in your decision making in every area of your life. hear me when i say that anxiety stays far away from me now since i know that god will direct my path and i have the evidence of his ability to do so each and everyday that i walk this path through life. i am a wife, mother of two between the ages of 7-13 and i am currently working on my doctorate in psychology and working, not to exclude in any way that i attend bible study twice a week and sing in the choir. now you tell me if i don't need devine intervention.

    if you want more information in regards to this life changing way of doing things please feel free to contact me. the lord is forever showing himself to be true in my life everyday relax, relate & release................ afs

    Here's sone great advice from Dr. Joseph Mercola: Solutions For Anxiety That Might be Killing You - Most people have experienced the sweaty palms and excited sensation in their stomachs just before public speaking or taking a test. Find out what to do if your anxieties are hindering your ability to function in everyday life and learn some of the natural techniques you could practice to relieve anxiety symptoms instead of resorting to medication. For more info, go to: Rosemary
    About anxiety - I found great relief for anxiety 20 years ago when I started working with the Community of the Message, based on the work of South American spiritual leader Silo. My husband and I still participate - it's free, based on reciprocity, and focuses on nonviolence and coherent action - basically the golden rule, treating others the way you'd like to be treated. Email me if you'd like to know more - warm regards, Trudi
    There is a low-cost homeopathy clinic in Berkeley once a month where you can get homeopathic care- a great way to address intense anxiety. see for details on the clinic. good luck to you
    Therapy is certainly the best way for you to go and you can find cheap ways to do it: I'm thinking of places where you see interns or trainees therapists who are not licensed therapists yet (they are therapists in training either still enrolled in a program or preparing to take their license exam) but are strictly supervised by experienced therapists. I'm talking about as cheap as 25$ per session. I can recommend the Psychotherapy institute ( 548-2250) or Bay Area Psychotherapy services (649-7551) in Berkeley - I'm not sure if you'd see trainees or interns there. The JF Kennedy Counselling center in Pleasanthill forms trainees and the supervision is also very good . There are certainly other places in the East Bay, depending where you live. Hope that can help. Good luck, ver
    I really feel for you. That's a horrible place to be in. I haven't had much experience with treatment for anxiety, but I know of a wonderful homeopathic doctor who treats all kinds of illnesses through homeopathy, acupuncture and traditional chinese medicine: Dr. Sally Savitz, 510-655-9644. She's located in Oakland and has been in practice for over 10 years. I don't know whether she has a sliding scale for her fees, but you might want to inquire. Take care. hh
    I can relate, and know how disabling anxiety can be when it is constant. The list of changes and stressors that you give are all very significant, and even just one of them can throw a person significantly out of balance. Personally, I would be a total basket case in your shoes. You mention expense as an obstacle to seeking therapy, but many of the possibilities that you mention- over the counter natural supplements and treatments, acupuncture, and hypnosis- are definitely not cheap, so you might want to rethink that issue before you start spending your money. Yoga, if you shop around, is relatively inexpensive and is good for anybody for relaxation and staying centered, but may not be enough for you in your present state. Anxiety can come from many different sources such as unresolved issues from the past, current issues, and biochemical imbalances, (often a combination of all of these) and only a professional can help you sort through them and steer you toward the best choice of treatment. It really is too much to try and sort out all by yourself and feeling alone with it only makes the anxiety worse. Friends and family may be well-intentioned, but they don't have the necessary expertise, and the personal relationships are too complicating. California Pacific Medical Center in SF offers low cost sliding scale therapy (415 -600-3247), and Langley Porter Institute at UCSF offers sliding scale evaluations in their Affective Disorders Clinic (415-476-4000). Don't be afraid to seek the help of a doctor if you have health insurance. Medical treatments address the body on a biochemical level which is where all this stuff is stored and they are more precisely tested than are treatments using supplements (although vitamins and minerals that promote general health are also especially important in times of stress). From my own experience, and the experience of friends, I know that constant anxiety clouds judgment, and may cause you to grasp at a possible solution without enough information. It's possible, as I well know, to go through a lot of money this way. Please at least meet a few times with a qualified and compatible psychologist or psychiatrist through a low-cost source to help you figure out what's going on and what will help you most. There is nothing more important than your mental health. It is worth scrimping everywhere you possibly can in your life to get the help you need. anon
    I may not have the best solution for you, and lacking health insurance adds to the stress. Still, I want you to know that it is very, very important to treat this anxiety, because it really eats away at the core of your being. I know personally all too well. I typically avoid ''Western medicine,'' and I tried acupunture, homeopathy, many herbs, plus meditation, and I found that I couldn't find my way out of the crisis. In utter desperation, I did seek a psychiatrist, because I realized that I might need to explore antidepressants of some kind, and I wanted a therapist who also had medical knowledge. So.... long story short, the antidepressants have made an enormous difference, and so has talk therapy. I never thought I'd be singing the praises of these drugs, but they really did bring me back to life again. I hope to work through things and be able to wean off the drugs, but for now, I am accepting them as needed medicine. As for lack of insurance, I hope someone out there can give you concrete advice on getting therapy despite lack of coverage. That must be available, but I don't have the answers. Good luck to you. You deserve to feel better!!! Post-partum anxiety ''survivor''
    I do understand your worry. Anxiety and Obsessive thoughts tend to come together and they are both so unnerving. I have suffered on and off for years from both and after years of trying homeopathic remedies, including acupunture, nutrition, meditation (which I was not able to successfully concentrate on due to my condition) I decided to seek medical help. I do believe that insurance companies will cover a visit to a doctor or psychiatrist when they unfortunately don't cover therapy. If you have health insurance, I would recommend you seek an evaluation and see if perhaps there is a bio-chemical imbalance. It took a few months, but I found the right medication to help me and I feel like myself again. Fully functioning and calmer. I also want to recommend that you share your problem with the friends you feel you may have offended. Rather than thinking you are just being ''snippy'' with them, they will understand if you tell them that you are suffering from something that you are not used to. Good luck to you, there is help out there. believer in meds
    I used to have panic attacks when going through a lot of changes in my life. I did see a great therapist, Linda Zallen (Oakland). If you saw her once or twice a month, it would cost less than some of the alternatives you mention. I did try some herbs from an acupuncturist, but that was costly. At the health food stores, you can find Calms Forte, an inexpensive homeopathic remedy. What helped me most, besides the therapy, was getting more sleep, eating more calcium foods, and more exercise, plus a little quiet time to myself, either a bath, reading a good book, etc. All things that you feel you have no time for, of course! I was told by a doctor that I would need medication for the rest of my life, but I didn't get the rx filled, and it did go away. When I was pregnant, and while nursing, I felt better and calmer than ever, much to my surprise. It also helped to decide not to be embarassed and to tell people. More people have been through this than you realize. You could probably find a support group online, too. I also remember an anxiety workbook, probably Amazon has it. Calmer now
    Hi, I am sure you will get lots of postings, but here are my two cents. You are clearly experiencing increased anxiety because of increased external pressure in your life. As my psychiatrist says, you're normal: anyone in your shoes would be anxious! That said, I know how you feel. I inherited a tendency toward disbling anxiety and have battled it off and on, during stressful and even relatively calm periods of my life. Generally, it's vitally important to stay healthy and nurture yourself. While it's useful to get therapy to understand the cause and get an effective coping strategy, it ultimately wasn't the cure for me, although group therapy at Kaiser for people with anxiety really helped my dad. What has worked for me is excercise, both calming/meditative and cardio, like brisk walking, a near-vegetarian diet (the currently popular low or no carb diets that allow alot of egg and meat protein stimulate the adrenals and hence adrenaline production) and Ativan (lorazepam is the generic) for times when I can't think or deep-breathe my way out of an anxiety attack. You can get an anti-anxiety prescritpion from your family doctor or gynecologist. For me, it's reassuring just to know I have it in case I need it, so I'm less prone to attacks, and it really works to relieve the harsh symtoms when they do spike. My life is still hectic and stressful but I do feel I have the anxiety in hand. Don't despair - in my experience at least, anxiety is really quite manageable. Good luck. Susie
    I would recommend starting Bach Flower Remedies (flower essences). They are pretty affordable compared to therapy, etc (about $20/month total, maybe even less). They are available at Whole Foods, Elephant Pharmacy, etc. The store should have a book you can consult in order to decide what composition is best for you. Once you familiarize yourself with how it works, it is not hard to keep up. Just off the top of my head, I remember that either white chestnut or red chestnut (I don't remember which one) is great for some of what you describe, and there is another essence specifically for people who have trouble making a decision. There are 38 Bach flower essences, and it is recommended that you not use more than 4-5 at a time. They can be diluted in water. Acupuncture is also great for anxiety. There is a school of acupuncture that provides acupuncture at a very affordable price, but I don't remember if they operate year-round. Call around, though, because some acupuncturists have a sliding fee scale. Sara
    Hi, I can relate to your situation. I attend a couple of 12 step programs that offer support and direction when there seems to ''apparently'' be none. Having a higher power in my life and knowing that I am his/her beloved child is ''empowering'' and comforting. Knowing that I don't have to worry about and control all around me is a huge relief. My suggestion is find some Alanon meetings, attend a couple, and see how you feel. ( ,There's no charge.) Follow their suggestions. Let your higher power run your life. I choose to call mine God. It works. Chuck
    If you have health insurance, I recommend you consult with a medical health professional about your anxiety. There are some easily diagnosed and treated medical causes (thyroid for one). And if those are ruled out, most primary care physicians can recommend effective treatment for anxiety. an MD
    I'm sorry that you have been having problems with anxiety. I have suffered for years, and my anxiety levels ebb and flow. Since you don't have much money, I want to recommend two great books by Edmund J. Bourne: ''The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook: Third Edition'' and ''Beyond Anxiety and Phobia''. I used those books in conjunction with therapy and they really helped a lot. My favorite thing about the books is that the author gives tons of practical advice for changing your mindset and lessening anxiety. There are many things you can try in your day-to-day life that will help. So, you can get started in decreasing your anxiety right away. While therapy is also great, that takes a little longer to get started. Another good book is ''Worry: Hope and help for a common condition'' by Edward Hallowell. If you can only get one book, I suggest you get the anxiety and phobia workbook. Good luck! Anon
    I've been experiencing increased anxiety since my second child was born 15 months ago. I think it's partly due to my trying to do ''everything.'' And that this is a time of many changes and adjustments in my life. It's also a time when I'm not in control as I used to be. You have been through enormous changes. Stop and remind yourself of this. If I were in your shoes, I might start with trying to assess how much anxiety you are actually experiencing and then to think about what steps you do or do not need to take. (i.e. Have a consultation, find a book on the subject, check the web, talk to a friend.) I would also try not to see the anxiety as all bad, but as your body trying to tell you something. Good luck. Formerly laid-back
    Well, the first thing that caught my eye in your posting was just how many stress factors there are in your life right now! They are all tremendously significant issues and will most likely require more than just a yoga class or meditation to manage. Your situation, in my opinion, needs further assessment as you've listed so many issues. I would not recommend taking any ''supplements'' (such as Sam-e)as they are not fully researched nor will they prevent the issues in your life from occurring. Do you have health insurance of any kind? If so, I do strongly recommend seeking a referral to a professional therapist. Many private therapists use sliding scales and you can find many listed in local newspapers. If you're truly not able to find a low-cost therapist then you need to start by managing and prioritizing the many changes and challenges in your life. Starting a class or learning about meditation may only add to your sense of responsibility and feeling of being overwhelmed. Now is not the time to add to your list of changes. There are also many support groups out there which address many of the issues you've listed such as divorce, career change and having a baby. My sense though is that you'll need to tackle one problem at a time, and some of the changes you've listed (such as trying to have baby) may need to wait. You've brought up so many things, which create many different emotions and challenges; including anxiety and depression. It's quite difficult to give a single-remedy solution to everything you brought up. My advice to you is to try and find a low-cost therapist (often just calling a couple you see listed will help you find someone who fits your need and financial situation, through further referrals.) I wish I could give you more concrete advice, but as a therapist myself I really feel strongly that you need to meet with someone. Best of luck. Signed: Local LCSW
    It sounds like a good time to try anti-depressant medication. I (and many (!) others I know), as good Berkeley folk, resisted medication for years, only to discover that the new SSRI anti- depressants (Lexapro, Zoloft, Celexa...) can work wonders with anxiety as well as depression. In fact, many docs think that these SSRIs work primarily by decreasing anxiety. The main down- side is decreased sexual interest in most people who take these medications. There are other classes of meds that can be work without decreased libido, but I personally did not find them as effective. I would recommend Dr. Richard Levine, a Berkeley paychiatrist who is very down-to-earth and symptom oriented, and will do his best to help you be your best self. - a much happier camper
    As I approached my mid40's, my anxiety began to greatly increase, I don't know if it was from hormonal changes. I began to take ativan, under a psychiatrist's guidance. I take a small dose in situations where I begin to feel overwhelmed. I am so thankful for having this medicine as an option. It definitely feels like my anxiety had a definite biochemical effect. I use the medicine very cautiously, and do not seem to be getting addicted to it.
    Hi, I'm sorry anxiety seems to be taking over your life. It's great that you are ready to make some changes. As a therapist who works with lots of people with symptoms of anxiety, I've come to see that different things work for different people. First of all, do you have health insurance? Do you have a primary care doc, or OB? You might want to start there. There are medications that are safe and often life-changing for people who are suffering with anxiety. Second, there are low- fee therapy clinics that offer services to low-income people. Some that come to mind are the Ann Martin clinic in Oakland, Berkeley Therapy Institute, and the Wright Institute Clinic. I would be careful of trying something like SAM-E on your own. I've never seen it be terribly helpful, and it can be dangerous to take a medication without being under someone's supervision. Things like exercise, yoga, and medication can certainly help, but if you have a full-blown anxiety disorder, they may not be enough by themselves. Please, for your own sake and for those you love, take this seriously and get some medical and/or psychological help. It is out there. anon
    Please do not substitute over-the-counter meds, natural or not, for simple one-on-one counseling because you need to start there. It seems that your thoughts and feelings are very scattered and you need to bring them all to a place where you can learn to sort them out with a reliable and trusting person. I have a tendency to over-worry as well and for pretty good reasons like yourself. I started therapy at the JFK Center for Holistic Counseling in Oakland a couple of months ago and am slowly but surely starting to organize my life and take care of myself. The one thing about going there is for that whole week after each session I make tiny actions and changes to make my life better than it was before. It's not always roses mind you but you can bring it to a place for one hour and then for the following week try to make positive changes or just be and let your thoughts/emotions work itself out. Also CHC has a great sliding scale of $10-$40. I know it's easier said than done but take life one day at a time and give yourself more credit than you are. Good luck. Taking things slower.

    2003 & Earlier

    Therapist who accepts Medi-Cal and/or Medicare

    January 2003

    My mother has Medi-Cal and Medicare and suffers from severe depression. I am desperately looking for a therapist/counselor/psychiatrist who can help her, but have difficulty finding anyone who accepts Medi-Cal and/or Medicare. She has limited income, so we need someone who is at least partially covered by her insurance, or has a sliding fee scale. I wish I could afford to send her to the best specialists, but I'm afraid I cannot. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations or advice! Thanks!

    Christopher Cunningham, MS is an excellent counselor in SF. He has an office downtown near Montgomery BART and another in West Portal. I know he uses a sliding pay scale, but I am not sure whether or not he accepts Medicare/Medi-Cal. He can be reached at 415/661-5667.
    Try the Berkeley Therapy Institute , 510-841-8484. I believe the accept MediCal and MediCare. They also offer a sliding scale for those without insurance, starting at $35. Their staff includes psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and interns. I have been seeing an intern there for therapy and have been delighted at the quality of care at such a reasonable fee.
    I recommend LifeLong Medical Care , which provides both primary care and mental health services from a number of sites in Oakland and Berkeley. As a community health center they accept Medi/Medi, and they have excellent expertise with geriatric care. At the least they can provide recommendations. Kristine

    Lifelong (my employer)is a community health clinic which has a clinic in Oakland and one in Berkeley which specialize in geriatrics. We take Medicare & Medi-Cal. Although I am not familiar with the schedules, I believe that both sites have psychiatrists (at least part-time) and other folks who can offer treatment for mental health issues for seniors.

    Call 510-704-6010 and ask them for the phone numbers for either the Over 60 Clinic (on Sacramento) or the Foothill site in Oakland.

    We have a wonderful, dedicated staff who take excellent care of their patients.

    The very best to you & your mother. Depression is tough on everyone, not least of all the family members.

    Psychotherapy on a tight budget

    June 2002

    Recently moved to the Bay Area, three small children, one newborn and a husband who travels extensively. I am overwhelmed and living on a very tight budget. Can anyone recommend a low cost psychotherapist in Berkeley or Oakland. Thanks

    Links to some of the recommendations below:

  • Psychology Clinic at UC Berkeley Berkeley
  • Women's Therapy Center El Cerrito
    I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (and a parent) with an office in North Berkeley. I do offer affordable psychotherapy. However, there are a few other possibilities that I would like to share. There are a few Counseling Centers that offer therapy on a sliding scale. The Women's Therapy Center in El Cerritto and JFK Counseling Center in Orinda offer these services. JFK also has groups which can bring down the cost. If you are interested in going on line to view local therapists in private practice, you can visit It has a therapist finder database which will match your needs to a local therapist. If I may be of further assistance, please e-mail me at hillford AT or call my office at 301-6166. Good Luck. Cindy Hill-Ford, MFT
    You might try the Women's Therapy Center in El Cerrito - the number is 510-524-8288 Cassi Vieten
    If you can wait until September, try the psychology clinic at UC Berkeley. Graduate psychology interns work in this low fee clinic. The interns are being supervised by some of the best senior therapists in the bay area. Phone number is 642-2055. You might wamt to try other training clinics for low fee treatment such as the Wright Institute, California School of Professional Psychology, or the Women Health Center (I think that is the name, but I am not sure). Anonymous
    There are low cost psychotherapists available at the Berkeley Therapy Institute at 510.841.8484 located on MLK, at the Wright Institute clinic in Berkeley at 510.548.9716,at the Ann Martin Center in Oakland at 510.655.7880, and at the Women's Therapy Center in El Cerrito at 510.524.8288. Good Luck, Andrea