Seeking a Couples Counselor

Parent Q&A

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  • Therapist for One Partner in a Bad Marriage

    (12 replies)

    I am looking for a therapist for myself only (we tried couples therapy and my husband just refuses to really participate).  I have many years of deep resentment and anger towards my husband for his absence in our marriage and our children’s lives.  I often say that I’m a married single mother - because I have taken on 95% of the household work and child raising (while also working the same amount as him).  My main issue is that I feel very alone, he is (what I believe) to be very selfish and too independent.  He is very checked out, and when I have voiced my issues - either calmly or out of anger - he just walks away as if truly he never heard me.  Every little request (can you please not forget to bring the jackets from the car) to major requests (you will be there for this appointment, it’s important to me), he almost always doesn’t follow through.  I often joke to him (and I truly believe this) that if I was being murdered in the room next door, I don’t even think my husband would hear me or even save me.  So it’s bad.

    I am not fully there on divorcing, because we have two young kids.  My issue is that my anger towards him is now becoming on display in front of my children. And I am sure it is, and will, affect their childhood. Does anyone have any recommendations for a therapist that I can talk to, to help me accept this marriage, this reality, for the time being and give me tools to express my anger in a more productive way.  Nothing has worked and since divorce is currently off the table, I want to learn how to live my own life with little expectation from my husband and still somehow be happy. 

    I would so so so appreciate any recommendations. 

    I have found the therapists at The Connective (formerly WellSpace) to be great. 

    Also, having young children does not preclude divorce. Them witnessing the imbalance in the household and the active anger is infinitely worse than taking the opportunity to create a safe, supportive household without active neglect and active resentment on display daily. I hope therapy may help you get there. 

    I think a therapist is a great idea. Unfortunately I don't have any specific recommendations, but have had luck finding therapists in the past via Good Therapy (which is like an online directory). 

    Gently, though, I do encourage you to explore the possibility of divorce with your therapist (or other trusted people in your life). I know it sounds and feels scary, but the marriage you describe sounds utterly miserable for everyone involved. If you are not divorcing because you think it would harm your children, I guarantee you that being parented by happy fulfilled non-filled-with-resentment parent(s) would be 100% better for them than witnessing (and potentially being a part of) this dynamic of neglect/narcissism on his part and anger and resentment on your part. Just something to think about. Good luck. 

    I don't have a therapist recommendation. I could have written this post myself. So I am following this post for any recommendations. I also just want to say you are not alone. What has worked a bit for me is prioritizing doing things (with or without kids) that makes ME happy and lowering my expectations to almost none as a way to reduce the disappointment and anger.  

    I am so sorry you are in this situation. You could have been describing me twenty years ago. How positive that you are reaching out for support for yourself on this.

    I'm sorry I don't have a particular therapist to recommend to you. But I do want to share with you that I deeply regret staying in my marriage as long as I did. Sure, there were happy times over the years and my spouse was a good provider, but there were also times when I wished the plane they were on would crash (my therapist has since told me this is typical of people in emotionally abusive relationships). I couldn't imagine how I would support myself and my children. I didn't trust my former spouse to care for them, and I didn't think I could win full custody. I divorced when my youngest child turned 18. I am only now, years later, beginning to understand the depth of the impact on my children, particularly as they engage in (or avoid) intimate relationships. 

    I'm not saying you have to divorce your spouse. That may not be your path. I think it's very good you are reaching out for professional support for yourself. I wish you peace through this process and a path to a happier life.

    First, I am so very sorry you are going through this. As a mom of young ones, I know the pressures we face daily to make ends meet. I have gone through something similar. I recommend (Dr. Selph is our couples therapist and has been very effective and I know he also does individual therapy - CBT-based). His student is my therapist ( and she is great as well. Good luck and you are being brave seeking help to get through this (took me a lot longer to get there). 


    As a couples therapist, I highly recommend you try EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy). There is a ton of evidence-based research and great outcomes with this approach. It's not meant as a band-aid, but rather it addresses and changes root causes of disconnection and dysfunctional dynamics. It really does matter WHO you see for couples therapy. The dynamic you described is not at all uncommon and our training gives us excellent tools to work, even with a husband/partner who doesn't want to show up. As long as he wants to be in the marriage - withdrawing/not following through/silently sitting through sessions is ok and we are trained to work with it. 

    You can find a listing of therapists here:

    I recommend you interview 2-3 and see if they will work actively with the dynamic you describe. 

    Hope this helps. 

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Just want to share that having young children is not a reason to stay in such an unhappy situation. Arguably, you’re doing your children a disservice by staying. 

    Had similar situation- the longer you stay in a bad marriage, the more harm to your kids no latter how young they are.  It doesn’t do them any good to live in a family this dysfunctional. Kids are stunned for a while after a divorce but they recover. If they grow into a healthy household with a happy single mother or you find a new partner- it will be better for them. the kids are missing out on the joy and activities and growth a healthy family would provide them. Better to divorce now rather than later. You also  miss out on possibilities of better life for yourself. Hope you have family and friends who can support you as single parent and best of luck. 

    Hi.  I recommend Norma Myers. She focuses on anger specifically. She has groups and individual therapy sessions.  Good luck to you 

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It sounds agonizing and you deserve support. I highly recommend Maria St. John who has supported me with individual therapy related to marital challenges. maria.stjohnphdmft [at]

    I highly recommend Aretha Hampton (Roots Therapy She does both individual (and couples…if he ever decides to join). I’ve been working with her for years.

    ….staying because you have kids is just teaching your kids how women, mothers, wives should be treated, teaching them consent for maltreatment. As a single parent myself, I assure you that is not the messaging mine are getting. 

    I don’t have a referral for you. But I have a friend in the exact same situation. The only difference is that she has 3 kids. Moved by your situation, I shared your post with her. She wants you to know that you’ve been seen, felt, and heard. You are supported by those in the exact same boat and you are incredibly brave in posting your situation. You are her hero today, and helped her deal with today. I will be following the responses to share with my friend. 

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  • Couples Therapist working in person

    (9 replies)

    I am desperate to find a couples therapist who is seeing clients in person in the East Bay. I have been in touch with several talented providers who seem like they'd be a good fit, only to find that they are only seeing clients virtually. My husband and I are struggling to keep our 30-year marriage alive and we can't do it without skilled help. We also both work at home, in front of our separate screens, and at this point I can't imagine engaging in couples therapy that way. We need to leave the house and sit in the presence of a wise and thoughtful individual. Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

    Try Mary Gail Nelson in Walnut Creek. She specializes in couples therapy.  925-933-4055

    Julie Friend, LCSW, is seeing patients in person in North Berkeley.  My husband and I (also a 30-year-marriage) have worked with her and found her very helpful.

    Both Dr. Carmelinda Mann & Sherna Perez, LCSW, are talented couples therapists who see couples in person in their Oakland offices on Grand Ave. Good luck!

      I appreciate your position and have likewise been looking for an in person practicioner.  I wish I had one for you and will be watching for other's wisdom.

    My wonderful therapist Tricia Kim Walsh (LMFT) does couples therapy and has an office in Oakland for in-person visits. She has been warm and caring, and has great strategies for opening communication.

    I've had great experience with who meets in person and I think is taking new clients.

    We worked with Sean Holcombe. He provided consultations at our home in 2021. I would highly recommend him.

    Try Uma Kahn. She’s amazing.

    David Friedman is seeing people in person!


    921 The Alameda , Berkeley, CA 94707

    I recommend him - saw him for therapy with an adult sibling, so not couples therapy, but I know he does that too.

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  • Possible to save long term marriage?

    (5 replies)

    We are in search of a strategic therapist who can help us find a way forward in a faltering 30-year marriage. We have had lots of counseling in the past, and understand issues of past history. What we need is someone who can see us where we are and give us tools for a new way of being together. Or help us see that we should end our marriage. A therapist with expertise in narcissistic personalities would be a huge plus. Perhaps someone Gottman trained? And I think it will be important to do this in person, not on Zoom. We're located in the East Bay but we're willing to go through the tunnel. Thank you.

    Hi, I recommend checking out the East Bay region of the Northern California Community For Emotionally Focused Therapy (NCCEFT) member directory

    We absolutely love our couples therapist Kasey Varga. We've referred many a couple to her, and they've all really enjoyed working with her also. 

    We saw Karen Godfredsen and found her transformative for our 25 year marriage with known issues. She has also been transformative for at least 2 of my friends in long marriages with significant issues. it took a while to get an appointment with her but it was worth it. 

    I researched this same question and came away with 3 names, all of which seem to be in Berkeley and have expertise in this area: Cindy Blackett, Terrence Higgins and Yvonne Mansell. 

    Highly, highly recommend Sheila Addison. She is Gotman trained and I can’t say enough good things about her. She doesn’t exactly fit your criteria because she has now moved and is zoom only but used to be in Oakland. At the very least I hope you can do an intro chat with her and see if she fits your bill. She helped us tremendously. 

    Wishing you and your partner well!

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  • couples therapist for the conflict-averse

    (2 replies)

    Looking for a couples therapist who can help two very conflict-averse people communicate openly and productively about issues that are currently causing at least one partner to feel near-constant resentment and occasional rage. The couple communicates well about daily issues and needs but has a much harder time when there’s disagreement. Thanks for recommendations!


    my wife and I have been working with Steven Freemire for a couple of years now, and he has been hugely helpful. We’re both pretty conflict averse people, and he has helped us communicate better in so many ways, and break out of old patterns of arguing as well. I highly recommend him. 

    Could you share the contacts you find? Interested in this as well. 

  • Couples therapist who specializes in ADHD

    (2 replies)

    Does anyone have recommendations for a couples/marriage therapist who specializes in or knows a lot about ADHD? I'm also curious about coaches / therapists who work with adults who have ADHD to understand the condition's impact on their thoughts, behavior, and relationships. Thanks!

    Hello, I don't have a therapist to suggest personally, but I have another resource for you to consider.  Gina Pera, author of the book "Is It You, Me, or ADHD," has a massive blog, online course, and support group (live and online), and she has a directory of therapists who specialize in ADHD.  I have found so much great info from her writings, her online course, and from the forum of her other readers. She wrote a book for therapists called "Adult ADHD-Focused Couple Therapy: Clinical Interventions." She used to keep a database of therapists who focus on ADHD and did her book/course but you may have to register for the online course to access it, I wasn't able to find it just now.

    Her blog is

    Her online course lives at 

    Best of luck to you and your partner!

    I would reach out to Ann Laurie Valentine ( I have been seeing her for a little over two years, and she helped identify what had been previously undiagnosed ADHD as a major cause of conflict in my relationship. She does remote appointments but used to live in the Bay Area and most of her clients still live here so she understands some of the idiosyncrasies of relationships here, too.

  • Couples therapist in Berkeley

    (1 reply)

    I'm hoping to find some therapy and support for my husband and our marriage. He has huge emotional swings where he goes from being terrified to angry to exhausted. Then he has moments of being grateful and feeling like everything is fine. He blames all of his moods and dissatisfaction on his job. He blames having to provide for our daughter as the reason he has to keep his job. In reality, he's employable and could switch jobs easily. We have two incomes. I work full time and contribute to our expenses. I know we need some help. I've asked him about working with a therapist but he dismisses this idea in all sorts of ways, most often by saying he doesn't believe in therapy. I am hoping to find a therapist that we could go to as a couple. I think I could get him to go to therapy as a favor to me. I'm looking for a therapist that would work well with specific issues of fatherhood and career pressures. I think my husband might relate best to an older man as a therapist but that's just a guess. I saw some good recommendations posted here recently for life coaches but I want a trained therapist. Thanks for leads and ideas.

    My husband and I have both really benefitted from working with psychologist, Dr. Ferrero. We have talked through so many different kinds of issues at this point, and he has been great on all of them. He actually first worked with my husband alone for 2-3 sessions, and then we started working with him together. Although there have been many times where we still focused on my husband’s stress and emotions, it’s been helpful to listen and learn - and figure out how to make it better for the family. We have also now spent sessions on challenges with parenting - which is also a struggle if you are a stressed out and emotional parent. Dr. Ferrero is located in LA, but meeting virtually has also made the getting therapy process easier for both of us with both of us working full time. His email address is: mauroferrero2011 [at]

  • Marriage therapist

    (3 replies)

    Hello BPNs. I'm looking for a marriage therapist in the East Bay. My husband wants a divorce and I don't so I'm unbelievably heartbroken. If you have ever been through it you know how I feel. I'm looking for a professional who can help us out. Thank you. 

    I’m so sorry to hear that. I can only imagine how painful it is.

    We worked a couples therapist in Albany. Her name is Sharon Tyson.

    Her email is stysonphd [at]

    good luck. 

    My wife and I use

    She is absolutely amazing and I couldn't recommend her highly enough.

    I have worked with Mary Ann Kassier, LCSW in Berkeley as my individual therapist and I think she is exceptional. She also does couples counseling too. I’ve tried other therapists over the years and she really stands out. Good luck!! 

  • Therapist to help with a separation

    (1 reply)

    Hello Everyone,

    My husband and I thinking of separating. Our marriage has become toxic and I am not sure it is even salvageable.  But we have teens in the house and want at least to see someone. I was hoping people could share experiences they have had with either Dr. Lisa Lancaster or Terrence Higgins M.F.T, as we have heard their names from friends.  There is very little information about Dr. Lisa Lancaster (no website etc.).  Any advice would help, including rates.


    Hi there, 

    I haven’t heard of either of those providers but I cannot recommend Michael Schimek MFT enough (

    My husband and I saw him prior to getting married when we were at a crossroads of, do we move forward with this or do we split? His practical approach to couples therapy honestly saved us and set us up for success. When the pandemic hit, we went through another rough patch and saw him again and came out with more tools for our marriage.

    I know this sounds like a yelp review but what I love about Mike is that he breaks down what might be going on between you and your partner into understandable metaphors with visual aides. He then provides practical tools when encountering a situation in real time so you can approach the it from a place of mutual understanding and respect for one another. 

    His rates are pretty reasonable, I feel like we’ve done a 6 pack of sessions for around $600. 

    I hope this helps!

  • Hi everyone, we are a cis-straight couple with 2 young toddlers. My husband is a very loving and dedicated father. He is a naturalized citizen, originally from a country with 'machismo' culture, plus he grew up in a military household. All of this to say - many American ideas of modern parenting aren't his style. On most days, our parenting dance gets along. While he is more of a disciplinarian and I am more of the nurturer, we do try to meet in the middle. Here comes the rub: I would like a 3rd child, but he is adamant that he is done. He is fulfilled with 2 kids. I am trying to see it from his side and have realized that he is exhausted from the daily grind of having small children, the neediness, lack of independence, perpetual noise, mess, etc. When he gives, he gives 100%, but he also needs a lot of downtime. On the other hand, I thrive in motherhood and all the chaos that comes with it. I keep the house running, and I feel my job as the mother to be more important to me than any other job. We are at a standstill. More recently, we have been able to talk about this without ending in anger, frustration and tears. That's a big improvement, but I would like some therapist recommendations as well, however, one who has experience with working with not only biracial couples, but also understand men who aren't used to talking (and never saw the need for it). In fact, I am sure that he will initially see my foray into couples' counseling more for me than for him, but I hope the therapist can add value to his side too! I am happy to hear your experiences, thoughts, recommendations. Thanks!

    I have worked with Natashia Fuksman (, and she was amazing. I worked with her solo, but she also specializes in couples counseling, particularly with respect to deepening intimacy and parenting. Her heratige is culturally diverse so I think she would fit the bill for being culturally inclusive. When you go to her website, it seems like her main thing is sex therapy, but she is really so much more. SheI would recommend talking to her to see if she might be a good fit for you.

    I'm sorry, but his lack of interest in having a third child needs to be taken seriously! BTW, his decision has nothing to do with where he grew up. He sees a future different from your vision.  You are framing him based on your own judgmental terms like "machismo culture" and "military household".  You are hoping that a therapist can change his mind, but I doubt it.  If you try to force him to have another child, you could lose him!

    I was just wondering if you guys talked about fostering/adoption? You can skip the infant times that might effect your husband more (lack of sleep) while still stepping into a bigger motherhood role and helping a child in desperate need! Just a thought!  

  • Hello Hivemind,

    I have a kiddo with mental health challenges (officially diagnosed with Disruptive Mood Disregulation Disorder).  We've been struggling for years in spite of getting various types of support, and we're exhausted.  One year into this pandemic and we (the parents) need couples support more than ever.

    I'd love recs for counselors/therapists.  We have Kaiser (for what it's worth) yet are willing to pay out of pocket.


    I highly recommend Damian Cassels-Jones at Kaiser Richmond. He is absolutely brilliant, astute, kind and compassionate.

    I’m not sure if he is available for this specifically, but I know he sees adolescents and adults. If he’s not available for exactly what you need, I’d at least trust any recommendation he makes.

    Good luck! 

    I'm sorry that you are in this situation--it's really hard. I would recommend reaching out to Clearwater Counseling in Oakland. They are a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) practice, which focuses on strengthening emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and other skills that are useful for people who act impulsively based on emotions (I'm oversimplifying). Clearwater has different types of programs--we did the Comprehensive DBT program for teens, which involved a weekly skills-based class, individual therapy for the teen, and "parent coaching" for the parents. The parent coaching isn't really couples therapy, but they can help couples come together and agree on parenting strategies so that you aren't undermining each other. Not everyone does the "comprehensive" program--they have other arrangements. DBT was invented for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, which has a lot in common with DMDD. (I suspect DMDD is what they call borderline personality disorder in younger kids, but I'm not sure.) 

    Clearwater might have a waiting list--I would get on it while you pursue other options. Good luck!

  • Hello!

    I didn't quite find what I was looking for in the search engine, so am posting a new thread. I have Anthem PPO and am looking for a psychologist/counselor/social worker who is in-network. During these times, I'm willing to look at people throughout the Bay Area, though we live in Richmond. Thank you!

    You probably used the wrong search terms. Look for a "Marriage and Family Therapist" or "MFT." You'll find lots of possible therapists on the Anthem Blue Cross panel.

    I had the same insurance a few years back and tried to find a psychologist for my child. You must login to your account online and do a search for the in-network providers. Then, call them all and see who if any are taking on new clients/ patients. Also ask these providers if they can refer you to someone else in network if they are fully booked. If you have no luck, call the  insurance helpline and ask for their help. You will need extreme patience and perseverance, but don't give up as it can be done. It just won't be quick or easy. Best of luck.


    I found my last two therapists through Psychiatric Alternatives: They match you up with a provider based on your needs and insurance. The billing goes through them, so I never had to worry about paying the co-pay each session. 

    Best wishes!

  • I'm from southern Europe, in US 20 yrs, married to an American. Came for work and was to return to Europe within 2 yrs. Met him, and after a few yrs married.  He said he was willing to move overseas. I had already lived away from Europe for 10 years before I met him and made it very clear I wanted to return. I'm a v int'l person but at this stage of my life I was and am yearning to return to my continent if not my country. (I lived in 2 countries in Europe growing up, another 5 later)

    Then he got a great job offer and I stayed. I stopped working. Gradually my sense of 'I want to return to Europe' has grown to the point where I cry on the plane when we return and am depressed for weeks. This summer we're not going to Europe because of the virus so the kids will not have the language boost they get in the summer camps there. 

    I've talked  with him but feel stonewalled. He is thriving in his job and it's a job for life (academia). He dismisses my feelings or denigrates them by trying to break them down.  'You've been here so long can you even consider yourself European' etc.. I feel guilt at asking him to leave for an uncertain future, so have suggested a sabbatical to start. He said nothing in Europe will compare. Hasn't looked. 

    I need a foreign-experienced, preferably Euro therapist, who will understand my wanting to go back and my feeling 'cheated'. Therapist needs to be strong and used to dealing with 'strong willed' 'good at demolishing arguments'  'little empathy' men. He's willing to do counselling. He will likely fixate on the counsellors' credentials and use that to dismiss any advice he doesn't like. Maybe better if a man counsellor as he can be sexist. On the other hand he'll dismiss any man who chooses counselling as a profession. My husband isn't a bad person but I am deeply hurt by his ignoring my distress. For not understanding that my request is not unreasonable, and after living 20 yrs reluctantly in his country and his never having lived overseas maybe he could give it a try.. He has occasionally promised to register with a headhunter/tap into alumni network in Europe/call friend in Europe, but hasn't done this. If he had said when we were dating 'I want to stay in America'.  I would have ended it. 

    He works in his home office and comes out for dinner. He's not happy, but he's burying it and it's 'my problem'. I feel like a 50s housewife and do everything in the house/yard/admin. This is adding to my sense of feeling 'used' and 'ignored'. Never shows affection or appreciation. (I do show appreciation for the fact he works hard) I gave up my int'l career when we had kids. Our son is following his lead in disparaging me, daughter more sympathetic. Found a few counsellors but at 300 an hour I can't see us resolving this in a few sessions. I'd like someone more economical who 'gets' the situation. I know I'm asking a lot.

    I am sorry to hear your current condition. Unfortunately, you have provided him no incentive to change and it is unlikely that he will. You know that, he holds all the chips. I wish you the best. I feel there is a low likelihood that anyone on this website will be able to find you a therapist. I would join a Facebook group locally. Anonymously post this message. You may get a better response. Best wishes love. 

    This sounds like a terrible quandary. Is it really just you missing Europe? Or is it that you are unhappy in this marriage? It seems like you are not thinking about actions that you could take yourself to solve the problem.  Instead it seems like you're trying to figure out how to get your husband to make a change, which would be easier for you. But based on what you described, it does not seem likely. Can you think about what steps you are willing to take? For example, would you be willing to move back to Europe, without your husband, without your kids?  Are your kids old enough to decide where they want to live? Can you wait a few years until the kids are older to make your move? Are you willing to share custody and have your kids live in both the US and Europe? Would your husband be more willing to compromise if you show him that you are ready to make a change and you have thought it through?  I think that talking over your options with a therapist would be very helpful. You don't really need a therapist who is European - making difficult choices and taking chances is something all of us struggle with. I wish you the very best!

    If you have insurance, you can see a counselor with a co-pay.   Call the mental health benefits phone number on the back of your card, and they can send you a list of therapists.  Maybe you can go through his school to get a referral.  Maybe you can just pay for 1-2 sessions for yourself to talk to a therapist about a good way to approach your marriage issues, or how to find a good couples therapist.

    Hi! Your post mentions that your annual trip has been cancelled due to the pandemic. Now that European borders are opening up, and many academic institutions are announcing that fall and even spring semesters will be mostly online or hybrid, might it be possible to find a way to travel home, perhaps even for longer than usual?

    The long term solution you are seeking may not be possible, but the pandemic may have offered you an unusual win. Long term, even if your husband loved spending time in your home country, and had many professional connections there, it would be hard to find a well-paying, permanent, academic job. Southern European Universities mostly don't pay well; in some South European countries it is common for academics to have second jobs for this reason.

    But, depending on his field, spending more time in your home country, on a US salary, while you connected with family, should be very doable. If he's spending all day in his home-office now, his home office could be in Europe! Also, you could ask your husband to look into research collaborations and fellowships that would allow him to spend more time in your home country. That way, over time, you may both have more incentives to spend time there.

    Your post reads like you are seeking someone who can convince your husband to abandon his own feelings and come around to yours. This will be hard to do, maybe even unfair. You’ve listed lots of reasons why staying here would be incredibly advantageous, and few that might convince a tenured academician to abandon that. Continuing to visit sounds like the obvious solution to me, a complete outsider of course, but just based on your wording. Best of luck. 

    I felt so sad reading your post. You say your husband is not a bad person, but he's not really a good one either, is he? He is selfish, thoughtless, judgmental and sexist per your description. He also sounds emotionally abusive. The part that really got me is that he doesn't show any affection or appreciation. I am married to someone that was not from the US originally, but he never said he wanted to go back and I never agreed I would go with him if he did- so we worked that out long before marriage and kids. I'm sorry your husband lied to you. I think you need to figure out how long you want to stay. If your marriage was happy would you still want to go back to Europe? If the answer is yes, I think you should start to plot your way back. You don't mention how old your kids are - can you hang in until they leave for college then go? Plus it's NOT ok for your son to treat you poorly - you need to put a stop to that behavior right away or he will go on to be another partner like your husband. I hope you can find someone to help you in the short term, but in the long run I think you need to plan to go back on your own. So sorry...

    From what you write, your husband is an academic with tenure ("job for life") and is supporting your family.  Tenured academic jobs are not very portable.  Unless he is fluent in another language, he will have to teach in English.  This limits the jobs he could consider in Europe to the UK and Ireland.  (There are a few universities that teach in English in other countries as well.)  The likelihood that he could find an equivalent job is low unless he is an absolute superstar in his field.  Does he even have the legal right to work in another country?  Through your marriage, he might be eligible for EU or another citizenship, but he would need to go through this process before looking for a job.  Given this, what is your plan for supporting your family if you move to Europe? You suggest he "give it a try," but are you actually suggesting he quit his job, with the financial security it provides?

     Of course, he could take a sabbatical anywhere, as that is paid for by his home institution.  Would you consider a one year stay in Europe enough?   I would think through the financial aspects of your proposed move before you start paying a therapist to talk about moving to Europe. As for the fact that he dismisses your feelings, that is another issue entirely.  This is where a therapist might be appropriate.

    Sorry I don't have a therapist recommendation but be sure to watch the movie Marriage Story together!

    Hans Stahlschmidt is the therapist you are looking for. He's phenonemal. I'm a therapist, and he is the couple's therapist for myself and my husband. I recommend him to everyone, but he is particularly fitting for your situation. 

    Ah, I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. Academia is a difficult culture to permit flexibility, but your partner is clearly using this as an excuse to shut down your needs and preferences, as though they shouldn't be of equal and as important weight in your relationship. I'm sorry your son is learning this from his father, too. I don't know if she does couples counseling, but Dr. Melissa Holub ( is an incredibly smart, intellectually-responsive therapist. It took me a long time to find such an insightful and challenging (in a good way) therapist. She has a PhD (likely to be important to your husband), though I am not suggesting a good therapist must have one, I suspect it will be important to your husband. If she's not able to do couples' counseling, I suspect she could give you a good referral (though don't know how easy it will be to find a male therapist who meets all the criteria, and honestly, it sounds like you really need an ally, too, perhaps for yourself separately).

    Good luck. Your story sounds similar to many of my female friends' experiences with their male partners. This is larger than you, but it doesn't mean it's not impacting you in very devastating ways.

    From reading your description of your husband, he sounds like he has NPD (narcissist personality disorder).  Demeaning, dismisses your feelings, has no empathy, misogynistic, lies, ignores you, entitled acting,   manipulates, blames everything on you, etc.  They are often very intelligent, charming, charitable, often ambitious looking to the outside world.   I am a survivor of narcissistic abuse and after 22years and as a SAHM to 4, I finally had enough and decided to divorce.  Your post reads very much like what I experienced.  I’m in therapy with Stacy George in Oakland. She’s very familiar with this personality disorder and you might research this before trying to “fix” him.  She is in Oakland and charges 140$ (insurance generally reimburses portion).  It helps to have someone familiar with this validate your feelings.  People with NPD are incapable of change as they believe it’s you that needs to change.  This would be for YOUR benefit rather than your husband’s/or couples therapy.   If you come to the conclusion after some research that this isn’t what you’re dealing with, then have you considered spending summers in the country you’re from?  Rent a place short term or even buy a small apartment?  Something to consider if you really miss home.

    Our situations are mirrored, I could have written your message exactly but just the opposite. We've been trying to find a resolution for this for a long time but can't. Two continents - we haven't been able to overcome that.

    I'm sure you have considered a sabbatical - we did that a few years ago and it was KEY to allow me to live a regular life there again not as a visitor, but it was just a year.  Beyond sabbaticals, there is a lot more funding in some European countries for visiting academics or researchers. I don't know about Southern Europe, but through budgets from proposals, my husband hosts about 2 visiting professors every year for about 6 weeks, usually it is someone he has collaborated with who has heard about it and asks, another is a regular who comes every year. If your husband collaborates with anyone from Europe, tell him to ask them.

    Also in Germany I have heard of Humboldt Research Fellowships - I know 2 researchers/academics from California who have done this, you may want to look into it  Maybe not the right region of Europe you want, nor the solution, but if you had a situation where you knew you could come every year for a few weeks, it might help. For our sabbatical, I had to push for it, my husband wasn't really interested - be persistent. Why not look at this Humboldt Foundation site and see if it is something that might work for your husband's skill set and then push him to apply. I think these can be done all at once (like 6-12 months) or in units like a month a year. Of course all on hold due to the virus.

    Sorry I know your question was about a counselor and when we went to one to discuss this exact issue, I really had to make my case. Just as you've experienced, I found if you have a spouse who is unusually talented or making an important contribution, then even the counselor will find it hard to feel that that should be sacrificed for your old regular life. And even I of course saw that point too, which is why in the end we are still here. Yes he could have a good career in the States but the academic support is not the same. So we fly back and forth a lot. I too fell into despair with the virus, as did almost everyone so I remind myself that everyday, everyone is impacted, many have it way worse. My elderly parent died two months ago and I wasn't able to go home but had I been there I wouldn't have been allowed to visit, so maybe that would have been more heartbreaking to be right there and not say goodbye as is the case for so many.

    I can relate to your relationship with your son, our daughter has never known me in my former role as a working professional, and sees me as a housewife (although I am in graduate school right now) and an outsider, not a native like she and her father. It's sad sometimes. Double continent families have unresolvable problems and unless one person is eagerly desiring to live in the other country, it seems like it's just a conflict to continuously manage. Perspective helps (could be worse, this needs to be a daily reminder), finding a fulfilling passion helps, and setting up something that allows you to spend more time in your home country, and maybe longer periods when your kids are older helps - but definitely a husband who acknowledges the sacrifice you have made is essential! Wish you luck in getting him to see this and a big hug!


    Wow, even if you could have managed without therapy, I myself would need therapy after reading that slew of responses!!!  Take a deep breath (or 50) and pat yourself on the back for being so vulnerable as to ask for help on a social platform like this. I myself am struggling with marital issues, and my opinion after several months-long stretches of couples therapy is that real transformative change takes desire, tenacity and commitment from BOTH spouses. Yet even without our spouse on board, we can do our own work to get clear and learn to communicate ourselves better (and aren't those usually the hardest parts?). Of course you can find a therapist on this site who can help! The therapist doesn't have to be perfect. You just need to be able to progress in communication with your husband to the point that you can take clear actions.

    We've had strong breakthroughs in our communication and intimacy in working with Ken Seider, PhD: (510) 548-6015. Ken helps reduce the inflammation we feel and keeps leading us back to the work of listening and adjusting behavior -- always helping us understand our own position and each other better. 

    I also want to recommend an incredible book, recommended to me by a friend: "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay: A Step by Step Guide to Help You Decide Whether to Stay In or Get Out of Your Relationship" by Mira Kirshenbaum. Her thesis is that lots of us have a tendency to remain in ambivalence rather than make change. She leads you through a very clear process of evaluating your relationship, with the goal of removing ambivalence. It's actually fun, in a weird way -- maybe relief is a better word! Nothing bad can come of getting CLEARER, right?

    Wishing you comfort and PROGRESS!

  • Couples counseling online?

    (4 replies)

    I'm looking for recommendations for a couples counselor who does meetings online (because of social distancing). Things were frequently difficult before the lockdown, but job loss, being trapped together (with the kiddo) in a small house, and all the rest of it has made things nearly unbearable, and we need help. Strong preference for a male therapist (deep, unacknowledged sexism is one of our problems). It's going to be a divorce boom when all this is over, and I'd really, really don't want to be part of that statistic.

    Hi, I completely am with you in that SIP has made marriage much tougher. I have even mentioned the word divorce in the heat of the moment of an argument when I was feeling emotional and angry. I happened to see online that couples institute counseling services was offering a free 20 minute virtual consultation with a counselor and signed up for that. They give you different options of counselors in your area based on your needs. One of the male counselors they gave me was Robert solley. you can read his bio online. I never ended up pursuing counseling bc it seemed expensive at $390 for 90 minutes and also things seemed to be improving and cooled off between my husband and I while he has been gone and I'm solo parenting

    Van Metaxas would be perfect for this.  My wife and I did serious work with him over Zoom during the start of shelter in place, after having worked with him in person for a while.  As the male partner I found him very helpful.  Google him for contact information.  

    May I recommend any of the male psychologists at Bridge Therapy Center, all of whom, I believe, are working with couples via video.

    Wishing you the best of luck.

    Our couple's therapist is amazing and we've been doing zoom sessions or facetime sessions with her since SIP started. We used to see her in person before that in San Francisco.

    She takes out insurance (Aetna) and a few other insurance plans too. Here's her info:


    Louise Robinson

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

  • Seeking Couples Therapist Recommendations

    (2 replies)

    Dear All,

    My husband and I are looking for a couples therapist who can help us get to the heart of issues that keep resurfacing in our relationship.  We have been in couples therapy before but just seem to keep learning communication skills.  We need someone who can quickly help us get behind our conflict and hurt and then help us find new ways of being together.  We are deeply committed to each other and want a therapist who will fight for our marriage when we have lost heart. Any recommendations?

    Thank you,

    I see Liron Cohen for individual work. She's wonderful at getting to the heart of things, and she and her husband mostly do couples counseling. Definitely worth a try.

    I recommend Van Metaxas in Albany and San Francisco.  My wife and I did work with him last year and early this year that was very helpful.  He will quickly help you get to exactly the kind of issues you are talking about here.  Google him for contact information.  I found that he was very helpful in going beyond just communication, and also helping us to see each other in new ways, and in ways that we had forgotten about.  

  • Hi there, I am looking for a great marriage counselor in San Francisco (most postings on this site seem to be East Bay). I am somewhat more interested in psychodynamic (depth) psychology than quick fix communication skills therapy. I would like to get to the root of the problem. I would not discount any suggestions though!

    We are a couple who have been married for many years and our oldest chid will be going to college next year. My husband has always travelled a great deal and the upcoming life transitions seem like they could be a challenge. We have become somewhat disconnected over the years and would like to reconnect so we are excited to be alone together after our kids have moved on. Looking for a great therapist to guide us through the transition.

    Thanks for your suggestions!

    I highly recommend Rachel Katz. She has offices in Berkeley and SF (Noe Valley). She’s helped us immeasurably in improving our communication and getting to the roots of our difficulties. She has earned our trust so that we can be honest and vulnerable in our work with her. Rachel Katz: (415) 641-9380. 

  • After almost 20 years with my partner, and almost 11 years of marriage, we (mostly me) are finally speaking seriously about the possibility of splitting up. We're looking for a counselor who can help us communicate with each other to determine if there is anything left to salvage...and if not, someone who can help us uncouple with as little emotional fallout as possible (we also have a 9-year old son). Looking for someone in the Oakland or Berkeley/Oakland border. Any leads are appreciated.

    I'm sorry that you're having serious problems in your marriage. In terms of a good counselor, I highly recommend The Couples Center in central Berkeley. That's a bit north of where you're looking, but they're highly regarded.

    And, though I know you might not want to think about this right now, if you have brought up divorce with your partner -- or before you do -- it's wise to find consult an attorney or two. Even if you both start out amicable, things can change very quickly, even with someone you trusted and thought you knew well. It's better to be prepared and have eyes wide open, than to be caught flat-footed.


    Janelle Salah is an amazing therapist that my husband and I (married for 10 years, in a relationship for 16 years) have been seeing for the last 3 years.  We have been in couples therapy on and off throughout our marriage.  Janelle is the only therapist that has been able to connect with my husband who has a difficult time connecting with his emotions much less putting them in words.  She is kind but is direct and fair.  Although our work is lifelong, she has helped us find our way back to each other in difficult, stressful times. Janelle is located on Shattuck in Berkeley.  She does not accept insurance but can provide billing codes.  Her phone number is 510-540-5970. I cannot say enough great things about her.  She truly has a gift.  Good luck to you! 

    We have found Rachel Katz (415-641-9380) to be a very skilled and sensitive couples therapist. She is warm and down-to-earth, with a good sense of humor, and can navigate and hold space for very difficult conversations. She works with humility, strength, lucidity, and grace. The therapeutic process can be incredibly difficult, but we've come to trust her to help us find understanding and a way forward. Her office is located on Shattuck, near Ashby.

  • Hello.  I am looking for a couples counselor that is not afraid to challenge a man (my partner).  I have noticed that many counselors try so hard to make the man comfortable in therapy that they don't challenge him, and even only address his concerns, and not the woman's.  During our last therapy, my partner acted very calm (not at home) and I tended to do the opposite, finally hoping to be heard.  At home, almost walking on eggshells so that he won't stonewall me, I speak calmly.  When we were in therapy I would desperately try to be understood by our therapist who ended up treating me like I was too 'emotional', and would believe my partner was calm and collected.  So, I ended up often getting invalidated while the therapist took my partner seriously.  I need a counselor that is acquainted with these roles and can see through them.  I'm looking for a therapist that won't invalidate me as emotional, and focus on that, and give a free pass to my seemingly 'rational' partner.  In our therapy I ended up feeling very disempowered while my partner felt heard and justified by the therapist. I guess I'm looking for a couples counselor that is aware of sexism in therapy, and knows how to avoid that.

    Generally speaking I think it's worthwhile discussing your concerns with any potential therapist upfront. During the initial conversation /interview with therapists ask how they deal with inequity between spouses in both communication styles and presentation of position, etc. Sounds like your partner is manipulative so maybe bring up that you have felt like in the past sessions that you've been invalidated by his behavior.

    Try reaching out to Jessica McGowan. She's probably not for everyone, in terms of her direct approach, and she's definitely not the silent "tell me how your feeling" type. It's interactive, conversational type therapy but I've felt she's fair and not easily duped by manipulative behavior.

    Thank you for posting!   You've already helped me.  I thought I was being nuts (aka neurotic) whatever because this is the 2nd therapist (with a 15 year gap in between) who I suspected is entranced by my husband.  Yes, he is bewitching: respected professor, tall, left-brain (though also creative too), super vocabulary, etc.  Anyhow, Thank you!  I'll be interested in what other therapists are recommended.

    The therapist I see individually does a lot of work with couples: Liron Cohen at The Couples Center, which I believe she runs with her husband. She helped me free myself from a toxic relationship when other therapists couldn't see what was going on. If you look her up on Yelp she has a good reputation as a couples counselor who fosters intimacy, but in my experience she's also good at seeing through people's BS.

    If you suspect that your partner is a narcissist -- just a wild guess based on the difference between private and "public" behavior that you reported -- do some research to see if the profile fits. It's well known that couples counseling is counterproductive with narcissists because of the kind of dynamic you've experienced. Narcissists almost never own their part in a negative relationship dynamic, and have no qualms about using information against you the information that you divulged in the spirit of vulnerability and trust. The best thing to do in that case is to leave.

    Hello! If someone reaches out to your post with a suggested therapist please share. I am interested in a couples therapist.

    Thank you in advance! 

    It happened to me in couples therapy, it was damaging both to me and to my marriage.  Many years later I went into my own therapy, and left the marriage.  My therapy was good for me.  Good luck. 

    I agree with the other poster, your partner may be a narcissist. It makes them feel powerful to get you riled up. You may have to explain to the therapist, "He is mean to me and nice to you." And you have to do your part to change the dynamic. I suspect that he is the one who should be changing. But that is unlikely. So stay calm at home and in therapy, no matter what buttons he pushes. I also suggest the family meeting instead of therapy, exactly because of the problems you are having in therapy. Set up a day and a time to talk calmly once a week. I hope this helps. 

    Firstly, I'd like to express my sorrow for your experience. This therapist sounds very unprofessional if they were making obvious preference for one partner's version of events over another, or discounting your input.

    We have been in couple's therapy for nearly 2 years, and it has been the absolute lifeline of our marriage, and our home. We discuss our own personal histories and how it affects our current relationship, as well as our struggles with raising kids in a way that is different from our own upbringing. We use Alice Robinson. She is amazing at listening, showing empathy, and getting to the "heart" of the situation. She balances listening to both sides of the story - drawing out the "quiet one" and creating breaks when the "talkative one" starts to take over the session. And she is very good at referring back to ask "how did you react at the time?" Because in retelling a story, we do change our voice/mannerisms! She also does a great job of pulling out themes that come up again and again so we can see how we're progressing or re-thinking our approach as a family.

    Here is her info:  (415) 496-9863 2417 Carleton St, Berkeley

    Best of luck!

    This situation seems so common that I'm surprised this is the first time I've heard someone describe it. My mother experienced the same thing 30 years ago when the couples therapist didn't believe that my dad had anger issues because he seemed so nice in the counseling sessions. I myself went to a couples counselor with my husband and for 2 years thought that she "got" me and understood the dynamic of him just letting me do all the emotional work, and finally after 2 years she admitted that the whole time she had thought that I was being too demanding and that I was basically the problem. (She apologized for being so wrong, but didn't offer to give back any of the money we had paid over 2 years, or give us some free sessions or anything.) I have come to feel that it is a very rare female therapist who will actually believe the woman and hold the man accountable for his actions, instead of taking care of the man as we women are taught to do. I think male therapists might be better at this, ironically. 

    I recommend Karen Levine, MFT. My husband and I have worked with her through some tough issues around conflict and communication. She is warm and engaging, and had some really good insights into our patterns of behavior. I felt like she was able to see us for who we really are, not just for how we acted when we were in her office. She sometimes challenged my husband to think differently about his role in our relationship, and the ways society expects men and women to behave. She challenged me to see my own patterns as well, and we both felt really understood by her. (I believe she was a Women’s Studies major in college, which probably helps!) I suggest giving her a call.  (510) 761-5303   --MG

    Working with Sheila was very helpful for myself and my spouse (married M/F relationship). As we began our counseling relationship she sat down with each of us individually to gain some insight into what each of us was after and concerned with. We each filled out an extensive questionnaire as well.

    Our sessions would begin with my husband and I talking to each other about an issue or concern that we brought to the table and Shiela would come in to help as needed by giving us insight into how may be coming across to/being interpreted by our partner, how we might communicate something more effectively, assisting with de-escalating the conversations, etc. She was immensely professional and I never felt she favored myself or my husband. It took a few sessions to warm up and not feel like we needed to be on our best behavior in front of someone else. That said I was always surprised how when we were honest and brought our true feelings and concerns out in to the open we couldn't help but reveal our frustrations, pain points and personalities in a way in which she could help us.

    I believe she uses aspects the Gottman method for couple therapy. 

  • I am seeking a marriage counselor in Oakland who can help resolve fairly typical marital issues for couples married 20+ years with teen children, but is also equipped to address substance abuse and dependence. We are not interested in a gentle or light touch, and prefer someone who can get to the point and have honest and direct conversations. Someone who has the strength to challenge and debate strong personalities in various states of denial. Thanks in advance. 

    I recommend Joyce Lindenbaum, in Rockridge. We've been seeing her for about 9 months so far. She's very straightforward and direct.  (510) 601-9171

    hone numb(510) 601-9171

    I would highly recommend Patricia Craven. She has a vast amount of experience with couples and family therapy and specifically with addiction and the family dynamics. 

    Our family has been working with her on some similar sounding issues and we have been extremely impressed with her ability to manage a group of six strong minded individuals and really create a space for us to work through some long standing issues brought up because of a member of the family suffering from an addiction.

    I can highly recommend my old therapist Joyce Gidel who is an extremely gifted therapist. My partner and I met her when my partner was in the outpatient substance abuse program at MPI Alta Bates and then we continued to see her in her private practice. She has tons of experience with co-dependency. She is smart and empathetic and has the ability to connect with both partners in a relationship.

  • I am seeking a smart, no nonsense therapist who can help my partner and I as we navigate the blending of our families. (We are not divorced and have 5 offspring total aged17-27 ) I don’t want someone who just listens and acknowledges our feelings. I would like someone to call each of us on our own baggage/ behavior and give us practical guidance. We recently spent several months with a lovely kind and smart therapist but ultimately we felt we needed someone less neutral and more challenging. My partner has a very strong personality and we need someone who is not intimidated by him.  Lastly- We don’t relate well to too much touchy feely therapists. Just not our style. Any recommendations greatly appreciated! 

    We are in a very similar situation as you only we added a baby to the mix of our blended family. My partner also has a strong personality and doesn’t respond well to touchy feely therapists either. We tried to use one through insurance but she was way too novice for us. We ultimately went back to our who I think would serve you well in your situation but she isn’t cheap! Her name is Kim McCourt and she’s in Berkeley/North Oakland. She’s awesome. kimmccourt1 [at]

    best of luck!

    Fortunee Kayra-Stuart is a strong, engaging and no-nonsense psychologist that will not be intimidated by anyone’s partner. She prefers to work with children and is outstanding with them. She helped my daughter overcome separation anxiety. She helps the entire family. She’s incredibly experienced, hip, and candid. You’ll know real soon if she’s not for you. I miss her but she’s no longer part of my network providers. 

    Best of luck to you and your partner.

    (510) 526-9506

    2550 Ninth St., #115
    Berkeley CA 94710

    It was 10 years ago but we went to Thomasine Mcfarlin LCSW and I think she hits all your requirements. Really excellent. In our case, it helped us decide to split up, but we also tried someone first who was too soft and Thomasine helped us get clear on what was really going on. Best of luck to you!

  • Couples counseling with toddler in tow

    (6 replies)

    My husband and I really want to try couples counseling. We are having a hard time and want to find a better way to get through it. 

    Are there any therapists in the Berkeley/Richmond area that allow toddlers to come too? I am having a hard time justifying an expensive therapy session plus a couple hours of babysitter to make this happen. 

    We bring our 6-month-old baby to our marriage counselor and she is AMAZING. She's in Lafayette, but we consider the 20 minute drive out there totally worth it. Her name is Kathleen Haley.

    Don't do this. Young children can understand more than you think, even if they can't really process it. And you'll be inhibited from speaking the truth and grappling with scary adult issues if your kid is there. That would be a true waste of money. Confide in friends and have them watch your child during these sessions, and then trade care for their kids. Most parents of young kids will understand!

    I would strongly advice taking on the expences of a babysitter for your toddler while working on your relationship as a couple. Not only would one or both of you be distracted during therapy, but children (even newborns!) pick up on tension and parent’s bodylanguage, facial expressions, tone of voice and general feelings. If there is a problem with communication between you and your partner, I am sure you don’t want to expose your child to an hour of intense stress every week. Typically the child will react with increased activity, clinging, general miscontentment and/ or crying. Ex. look in to research like the still face experiment on YouTube, it has a powerful message. I think you should fully focus on improving your relationship and give it your best shot at it without kids present in the room. 

    Best wishes & good luck in therapy!

    We worked with Suzanne Behrens, and I found her to be very insightful. She's very good at creating an environment where both partners can express their feelings fully but respectfully, and at finding common ground between you that perhaps is being overlooked.

    I cannot imagine being able to do this work with my children in the room, and especially not a toddler when the need for attention is high. I think it is a false economy to try and save on child care in this situation. Divorce will cost you both and your child a huge amount, both financially and emotionally. 

    That said, you could check with Suzanne to see if she can do this, or knows anyone else who can. 

    I don’t know about any therapists that do/don’t allow it, but as someone who has spent a fair amount of time in couples therapy (and found it extremely helpful), I honestly cannot imagine any way that you could bring yourself fully to a therapy session while also watching out for your toddler. It might save you the expense of the babysitter, but I think it would even out in that your therapy session would be at most half as productive. 

    Agree with what's been mentioned before -- my wife and I did couple's counseling and there's absolutely no way we could have had the insights and openness we had if our daughter had been there. If you cannot spare the babysitter expense, try and find a family member or trusted friend to watch them. Alternatively, you might consider doing a phone or Skype therapy session during naptime or after your child goes to bed.

  • Marriage therapist desperately needed!

    (6 replies)

    My spouse and I are looking for a couples counselor and are having a very challenging time finding someone who is both a good match for us and is also accepting new couples. Our 18-year relationship has deteriorated over a long period of time and neither of us knows how to get things back on track. There are major issues around communication and trust (including infidelity) as well as co-parenting. We were in therapy years ago and did a deep dive into our family histories and the baggage we both bring to the relationship. Although that was helpful and those are important factors that will surely play a part in working on our marriage, we don't want to go back to square one with someone who is overly focused on the past. We are hoping to find someone who concentrates mostly on the practical in the present and future. We also need someone who is comfortable talking with us about sex. We raised this issue with our former therapist multiple times and wound up touching on some of the emotional issues without ever dealing with communication or the physical aspects. Thank you in advance for any therapist recommendations you can provide...we would be incredibly grateful for the help. Berkeley and the surrounding areas are preferable but we're willing to travel.

    I recommend Kathleen Haley! We feel so lucky to have found her. We were hesitant at first because she's in Lafayette and we live in Berkeley, but it is totally worth traveling the extra 20 minutes to get to her. She's so compassionate and has really great techniques and insights for getting marriages out of ruts. I feel comfortable discussing everything under the sun with her and I can't recommend her more! She's also somewhat reasonably priced for the area $150/hour.

    My therapist, Natashia Fuksman MFT, is fantastic. I see her alone, but one of her specialties is couples counseling, and she has definitely helped me find better ways to communicate with my partner. She is a somatic therapist, so while she will talk about the past if you want to, one of the tools she uses is a mindfulness-based exploration into the physical sensations/thoughts that appear when thinking about/talking about some sort of issue that is troubling you. In my experience, that often leads to insights that can help work through issues with a situation or with another person. She also specializes in increasing intimacy in couples, so I'm sure she will have no problem talking about sex.

    My husband and I saw Rivka Geoghegan in Berkeley and found her to be so helpful.  She really helped us focus on the ways in which we were interacting and shift them to restore trust and emotional closeness.  P

    My husband and I had great success with Ilya Parizshky (spelling?). He's very good at dealing with intimacy issues. He sees clients at the Manzanita center in Berkeley.

    Hello.  My husband and I worked with Janet Linder.  We both thought she was great.  Our situation was different than yours - we saw her before we got married (13 years ago) and our issues didn't include sex so much as communication - but something about your post resonated.  She was both practical and empathetic. I was feeling very betrayed and she definitely helped me put a lot behind me.  I feel she would have no problem talking about sex.   Good luck.

    I recommend Karen Levine, MFT for couples counseling. Karen worked with me and my husband around our long-term relationship issues including communication patterns, parenting challenges, and helping us to figure out what kind of relationship we envision for our future. Karen is direct and down to earth, and definitely comfortable talking about intimacy and sex as well! We had been married nearly 20 years when we started seeing Karen, and we felt immediately that she understood our challenges and was able to offer us very practical tools and strategies. Before meeting with Karen we had seen a few other couples therapists, but felt that they either wanted to focus too much on our pasts, or were unable to really understand our dynamic. We stopped seeing Karen a few months ago, but plan to see her again in the future if we need more help. Her office is in Oakland, near the Berkeley/Oakland border. Her website is Good luck!

  • Seeking couples therapist near Berkeley

    (2 replies)

    I am seeking a smart, no nonsense couples therapist for my partner and I. We have been coupled for 8 years and are still having trouble navigating the blending of our lives - including the 5 offspring we have between us ( I say offspring because they range from age 16 to 25)

    We would probably work better with someone who is straightforward and results oriented as opposed to someone who is too "touchy feely" 

    Our issues are mostly around the "kids" that still live at  home and the lack of schedule/ boundaries regarding the other parent.

    We get along really well but these issues keep surfacing and I want help navigating.

    We live in Berkeley so would love Berkeley Albany el cerrito oakland emeryville but not SF

    thanks all

    I think you would do great to try Dr. Lisa Lancaster.  She is in Berkeley near Alcatraz and College.  She was extremely helpful to me and my husband when we were in a pretty rough spot.  We both got so much from her!  Her number is 510-841-2525

    My husband and I worked with a great marriage therapist, Van Metaxas.  He is smart, kind, and a very skilled couple's therapist.  He has an office in Albany/Berkeley.  

  • Seeking marriage counselor in Oakland

    (4 replies)

    My husband and I fight all the time and should probably see a therapist. I am tired and fed up with my husband’s terrible communication and parenting skills. We need someone in Oakland. Close to Emeryville would be good. I am not interested in anyone who is into New Age spiritual stuff. Thanks for your help.

    Hannah W. Nystrom, PhD

    We have worked with her for a couple months and highly recommend her. She has an office in Rockridge and in SF. She is expensive, but I think couples therapy is worth it. I suggest you go in with clear goals and you will be happy with the results. Good luck and honestly, your not alone here- it’s great you want to go to therapy! So healthy. 

    We have liked Alice Robinson:

    We are still using her, and she does a great job facilitating listening, trying to get understanding and repair damages, get us both "on the same team." We have been very happy with our time with her. She recently moved to Berkeley, at Carleton & Telegraph. Best of luck!

    I recommend couples therapist Karen Levine, MFT in Oakland. My husband and I saw Karen during a difficult time in our marriage, and she helped us really understand our relationship dynamics.  I liked that she was direct and warm which allowed us to see communication patterns that were contributing to our conflicts. Somehow she managed to make us both feel heard and understood.  She is honest and compassionate, and definitely not too “new agey”!  (That would have driven us crazy.)  She gave us tools that we could use right away, and we were able to use them to find new ways to understand each other. Seeing her really helped with what seemed like insurmountable problems between us.  I highly recommend her to any couple that is looking to improve their relationship or deal with conflicts. Her website is

    She is just on the Oakland/Berkeley boarder and is fabulous!  Lisa Lancaster helped my husband and me through a very rough period.  I would highly recommend her.510-841-2525

  • Marriage Therapist

    (5 replies)

    I'm looking for a marriage therapist for my husband and I. We have two young children and are at the point of considering separating. We argue over everything from mendane things to parenting styles and decisions. I want to try marriage counseling before we make any decisions on our marriage. We have tried it (before kids) but it wasn't very helpful. I'm hoping to find someone skilled with couples, especially couples that are having trouble communicating and were raised in different family/ cultural backgrounds. 

    Hello,  I would highly recommend you sign on to listen to Jayson Gaddis and his podcast series, Smart Couple. It's better than any area therapist and it's free. He's trained and experienced as a psychotherapist and has created The Relationship School in Boulder, and has created 200 podcasts, with heavy hitter people in the field. He's all about results, getting to the heart of things, and giving people tools to use to have a better connection and do relationships well. It's the course none of us ever get. Good luck. 

    I'm not sure if she's taking new clients, but try contacting Mary Ann Leff in North Berkeley (510) 404-8350. My husband and I used her for years off and on, both before starting a family and after our daughter was born, and it has always been incredibly productive. (It might be worth mentioning that my husband and I were both 100% all in for the counseling sessions; we leaned into the hard work - sometimes extremely difficult work - to get to the other side.) My husband and I also came from very different cultural backgrounds. Good luck.

    I'm glad you are seeking help. A couple therapist saved my marriage so I know that when you find a good psychologist and do the work it will pay off. Unfortunately our therapist was in NYC so cant recommend anyone but I encourage you to keep looking. 

    Sarah Ackerman in Berkeley has really helped my marriage through improving how we communicate with each other.

    We like Dominique Lambert Blum. She has a website, easy to google.

  • Couples therapy recommendation

    (1 reply)


    My partner and I are in need of some extra support. We are both struggling with stress around being laid off while pregnant and moving for me and new career change for him although still temporary job so financially stressed out as well. We had a tough week and we agreed upon couples therapy. Does anyone have a recommendation on low cost or sliding scale couples therapists? I'm not sure how much they typically are, as I've had therapy covered under insurance. Unfortunately due to change in my insurance, couple's sessions are not covered and his will not cover it either. We are expecting our first child in October, which alone has been a challenge. 


    We had a really good experience doing couples therapy with Deb Lyman on Grand Ave in Oakland. I am not sure whether she does sliding scale, but it's worth reaching out - if she doesn't, perhaps she can recommend someone who does. Good luck!

  • Marriage counselor for Couple with ADHD

    (4 replies)

    We need help. My husband has ADHD, anxiety and depression. He needed to move out of the house to be able to cope. We need an exceptional marriage counselor who specializes in ADHD (he won't go see anyone else). We have seen 2 so far and neither of them were able to help us. He wants to try to make our marriage work, we both do but he needs his own therapist and we need counseling together. We know a lot about ADHD but need someone who can help us differentiate between which behaviors he can change and what we both need to live with. HIs self-esteem has suffered tremendously in the last few years and his anxiety has sky rocketed. We are definitely in crisis mode and the whole family is suffering. Please send recommendations that have worked for you. Thank you. 

    Hi, Check out Robert Gorden in Berkeley. We've recently begun to see him and are pleased. Admittedly, he is quite busy, so it did take us a couple of months to connect and find a time available in his schedule that worked for us as well. Best of luck!

    If you are a Kaiser member, they offer group classes and guidance for people with ADHD.  If you're not a member, maybe you can pay a fee to take the class, or they can recommend something outside.

    Also, explore the idea of medication with a psychiatrist. Many people are ardently anti-medication, but the situation you describe is very close to crisis, and medication can sometimes provide the extra help to get things stabilized.  Serious stress and anxiety are likely to make things much worse.   I have had years of therapy, but medication is the only thing that has provided long-term relief.

    Phil Mansfield would be a very good place to start. Near Rick and Ann's, across from the Claremont. He is extremely skilled working with couples, using EMDR, which is indicated for PTSD.  He helped my husband overcome fear of heights and agoraphobia, both of which were affecting his functioning.  Then we went to him for couples work, which was extremely helpful. Best of luck to you!

    Call Cindy Blackett.  (510) 540-5409. Her office is in Berkeley and she knows a LOT about ADHD. When my partner and I went to see her we were just looking for a couples therapist but it’s because of her suggestion that my partner might have ADHD that we looked into that further and discovered that is exactly what he has and that this was the source of so many of our conflicts. Cindy was extremely helpful with just the thing you mentioned: figuring out what things we have to live with and what things can be changed.Good luck to you

  • anyone know highly skilled couples councelor for individual with narcissistic tendencies/poor relational skills.  Thank you

    You should consider Terry Higgins. He is a couples counselor who has a practice in Berkeley. I personally have not seen him but have heard high praise from a couple who has gone to him. Here is a link to his website:

    I don’t know about narcissistic personality disorder in particular but I do know a couples counselor who is really good at the other part you mentioned: poor relational skills. Cindy Blackett. Her office is on Solano and her number is (510) 540-5409. She was an amazing help with my relationship problems. LP

    I recommend Yvonne Mansell 

    yvmansell [at]

    she was helpful to my spouse and I -- both of us have strong personalities. 

  • Hi all,

    My husband of 15 years and I have lots of arguments and anger and very little affection. We want to try out marriage counseling as a final effort to stay together. We have two kids under 10 one of whom has special needs and the other is dealing with emotional/ social issues as well. I would really appreciate any names of good marriage counselors in the Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton area or near Menlo Park/ Palo Alto/ Fremont. 


    distressed gal

    I'd recommend Theresa Allocco in Los Gatos. Check out her website - 

    May be a bit further than Palo Alto that you were thinking but she is very experienced in marriage, family and child counseling. 

    Good luck! 

  • Recommendation for marriage counselor

    (4 replies)

    Seeking recommendations for a very good licensed marriage counselor for parents who have had issues with infidelity but want to make things work. 

    I really cannot recommend Dr. Lisa Lancaster strongly enough.  My husband and I were dealing with infidelity last year and it nearly ended our relationship (a horrible, horrible prospect since we have three young children).  She was kind and so effective.  We were able to get through a really, really rough patch and I'm not sure we would have been able to without her.  She is in Berkeley near the new Safeway.  

    Carol Jenkins -- (510) 845-5178 -- is a remarkably skilled couples counselor. Her compassion and calm were crucial to us as we navigated a similar situation. We came out of the work together -- and better as a couple.

    For the couple who is dealing with infidelity, I highly recommend Karen Levine, MFT in Berkeley.  She is experienced working with couples around all sorts of issues, including infidelity, and is warm, grounded and practical. She is smart and insightful, and her clarity helped us sort through some very thorny issues when we went through a difficult period with our marriage. I encourage you to contact her.  Her number is 510-761-5303 and her website is

    Sorry you’re in that situation. It’s just awful. Call Cindy Blackett. Her office is on Solano Ave in Berkeley. My marriage would not have survived without her help. (510) 540-5409

  • We are looking for a couples counselor in the Oakland/Berkeley area, but there are so many recommendations on BPN and many are now a few years old so it's difficult to sift through. We have a very concrete issue that we need help with from a neutral third party (whether to stay in the bay area or move away based on my partner's career prospects which could conflict with mine). We are not looking for long-term exploration/psychotherapy. We need someone who can jump in to focus on the key issues at hand and give us specific, tangible tools so we can move forward on our own - other than this issue we have a solid partnership. Ideally we want someone who can come up with a step-by-step action plan (e.g., "Try these three things this week") and help us be able to talk this through ourselves in the future so that we don't need to continue in counseling for months (some counselors we've tried seem to leave us feeling worse about our relationship so that we'll keep on paying). 


    We love Shawna Sodersten in Oakland. Her number is 510-355-1505.

    She also has a great blog:

    We had great help and quickly from Michael Gelbart in San Leandro. 

    After months of seeing a therapist that made us feel worse every time, we finally realized that we needed to get a different kind of help. We saw Michael and his suggestions at the first appointment got us checking out John Gottman, a fabulous resource for research-based couples help. We checked out a video at the library and then started listening to Gottman's audiobooks and reading his books. We were dealing with a very different issue, but Gottman plus Michael really quickly worked at solving the problems and got us back to a very happy place together. Michael gave us assignments and helped each of us to work on specific things and we were both willing and able to do so. His suggestions of books we could read and things we could do were spot on, did not make us feel worse, but instead got us on the right track quickly. We saw him briefly, but would go back if we needed help getting back on track, but he gave us a lot of tools that we can use now. 

    We did not leave feeling worse after our appointments. Sometimes we had a few emotions stirred up, but we definitely felt better than with the previous therapist.

    Happy wife, happy husband

    Patricia Hart on The Alameda in Berkeley. She's great. We've gone 2 or 3 times and she checks in on us by email every once in a while. The first appointment is a double session so it's twice as expensive, but worth it. She made some great observations about how we interact and that makes us more sensitive to those tendencies in the heat of a discussion. 

    You might try Susan Champagne ( -- she is practical, warm and friendly, and is good at working to help short-term and long-term issues.

    Good luck!

    I would urge you to seek help on this issue from Lisa Lancaster (841-2525).  She helped my partner and I work through a tricky work/relationship issue last May.  She was fantastic.  Super smart and got us to the decision we needed to make fast.

Parent Reviews

I am so sorry for your situation. There are so many aspects of it that I can relate to...

Try Alisa Genovese, she is in Kensington. Be VERY clear how many sessions you all have to work with and since your objective is clear she may be able to help.

I have experienced many couples counselors in this geography taking care of the man in a heterosexual relationship - as if simply his effort were enough even when passive/aggressive, irresponsible or other bad behavior continue - rather than holding them accountable and treating them as fully capable adults who could benefit from growth - so were I you, I would just watch out for that.

Best of luck to you!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Attachment parenting couples counselor?

June 2014

Hi, We are expecting our second baby soon, and looking for a couples counselor we can meet with, hopefully in the next few weeks, who is familiar with and approves of ''attachment parenting''-- ie: co-sleeping, extended/tandem nursing etc. Ideally someone affordable and in the Oakland area! Thanks for any ideas! C

Hi, My partner and I have been seeing Yvonne Mansel in Albany. We have two children that we co- sleep and practice attachment parenting with. Yvonne has been extremely supportive of this parenting style. She is a very skilled therapist and has reasonable rates. She also specializes in anger management which has been very helpful for me . Sarah

Marriage therapist for new parents

June 2014

Seeking recommendations for a marriage therapist in the east bay (berkeley/oakland) area. The challenges of new parenthood are causing major fractures in our relationship. Our issues are around communication, intimacy, dealing with conflict, stress, fear, uncertainty, aligning our intentions. My husband also seems to be depressed since our daughter was born, and unsatisfied with his life, which is poisoning our relationship and causing him to retreat into himself. Help needed! anon

Craig Toonder of Oakland Couples Counseling is a skillful and sensitive marriage counselor. He also has communications classes from time to time. He's an excellent listener and really understands how the dynamics in a relationship work as well as how to help couples improve. He has a website you can check or just call him at 499 7137 anon

Sheila Longerbeam is excellent. She's on piedmont ave in Oakland, very experienced, and specializes in families with young kids: Jesse

Dear Anon, Sorry to hear you're having trouble (and I feel your pain). I wish people would have told me that being a parent was going to do the opposite of making me and my husband closer. I recommend Cindy Blackett. We saw her for the same things you're talking about. She was so immensely helpful. Her number is (510) 540-5409. And she's in Berkeley. Hang in there. It's going to get better after you get some help to talk about it. JL

I would highly recommend Alexis Adorador, a Marriage and Family therapist with a private practice in North Berkeley. Alexis specializes in working with couples and families, and, given the issues that you have posted, I think she would be the ideal person to help both you and your husband address these issues. Alexis' website is and her phone contact number is 510-548-6577. John

I would recommend calling Amber Schevon who is a Marriage Family Therapist located in Berkeley. She helps couples with many of the challenges you mentioned and I know she has a lot of experience and competence supporting couples as they transition into parenthood. Here is a link to her website and her phone number. Best of luck to you and your family. 510-926-6331 Anonymous

Jamie Murray MFT Great with parents, couples, kids and adults. Uses a relational style and approach that weaves in insights and helpful tools for creating the changes you want. Easy location to find in Oakland near temescal/piedmont area and her prices are very reasonable for a licensed experienced therapist . She is attachment parenting friendly and specializes in working with adults with childhood trauma. Call 510-859-7223 Best of luck

I would highly recommend Dave Rohrbach, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Working in the field for over a decade and does excellent work, 925-820-1467. chandler

Need couples therapist for unhealthy patterns in marriage

April 2014

I am looking for recent recommendations for a couples therapist who would be effective for our situation. I (wife) am primary breadwinner, primary housecleaner, primary childcare person, primary gardener, primary petcare person, primary take-care-of-everything person -- you get the idea -- in our household. My husband is a very kind and loving person who has struggled for years to make a living in the arts, and who is not succeeding in doing so. He is also, in my view, lazy and unfocused and generally unhelpful about most things. Along the way, we have fallen into some very unhealthy patterns, as reflected above. I love my husband; he is good father in many ways, and I do not want to break up our family. But the current situation is unsustainable, and slowly driving me insane. We do not communicate well. I am part of this problem, I know, but only part. Even when I really, really make an effort and communicate as gently and as explicitly as I can, nothing changes. He listens, he nods, nothing changes. My husband does not take criticism well, probably the result of an overly-critical and not-very-nice mother. He is willing to go to couples counseling, but I feel that we need to go to the right person, or he will shut down in the process right from the beginning. The right person would be someone with a sense of humor, who understands the drive of artists, who is non-judgmental, but who also is not the type to think ''everything is okay.'' Definitely not a New-Agey type (sorry, no offense intended). I need someone to help me deal with my own anger and frustration, and to reconnect with the love I know I feel for my husband, but who will also be able to help him see that things need to change, and HE needs to change. I have never done couples counseling, so I have no idea who such a person might be. I don't know whether a man or woman is better. Suggestions for me? Deeply Grateful

I had a very positive experience in a similar situation with Andrew Groeschel at Earth Circles. He was excellent, nonjudgemental, and made lots of space for my partner to talk and feel heard. Very similar dynamic, and I was pleased at the ways our communication improved in sessions with Andrew. Lindsay

My husband and I have been hugely helped by Rhea Loudon in Berkeley. (510) 845-9498 Still married thanks to Rhea

I highly recommend a couples therapist I refer clients to: Yael Goldblatt, Ph.D. Dr Goldblatt specializes in couples work, and as a psychologist myself, I strongly believe it is skill that requires advanced training which she has. She is very bright, makes it emotionally safe in the room for both members of the couple, and is direct in her approach, while down to earth . She has humor and the clients I have referred to her are always appreciative of her help. She has offices in Berkeley and Danville and can be reached at 925-736-8851. Good luck! another psychotherapist

Karen Harber is a warm, non-judgmental therapist who does really good work with couples. I found her VERY helpful when my husband and I saw her. best of luck!

My husband and I started seeing Van Metaxas at his Solano Avenue location about four years into our relationship. We wanted to spend some time making the foundation of our marriage as strong as possible, and specifically work on conflict communication skills.

Van quickly earned confidence from both of us, even though we had very different comfort levels with the therapy process. He was savvy about gender roles and working with both men and women, and was experienced enough to challenge us to examine our dynamics in a fresh and positive way. He takes a deeply compassionate approach; he held each of us and our marriage with great respect, admiration, and forgiveness. I believe this helped us both feel more positive about ourselves, each other, and our relationship. He was acutely insightful\xc3\x82\xe2\x80\x94we both started learning from him right away. He listened intently, noting not just our words but also our body language and unspoken communication. In fact, he was able to observe these nonverbal signals for us, and help us start to pay attention to them as well. Another good sign: the frequency of ''a-ha'' moments when working with him, true epiphanies that revealed new sets of choices to us.

Van is all about the down and dirty. He helped us figure out the deeper stuff that motivates and drives our conflicts, miscommunications, and less-than-ideal treatment of each other. He could explain what he was seeing to each of us in ways we could understand, and helped us learn to STOP in our tracks and choose differently to produce a different outcome--understanding instead of anger, intimacy instead of distance, connection instead of separation.

He is not cheap, but he is worth it! If you really want to change the course of your marriage and/or personal healing, please contact him--he is a truly amazing therapist and person. Michelle H

Couples/marriage counselor to improve communication

April 2014

I am looking for recommendations for a good marriage counselor to help us work through some past hurts and to help us get back on the road to a strong relationship with better communication... I am hoping to find someone in the El Cerrito/Albany area. Any advice is greatly appreciated! Bent but hopefully not broken...

This message is for all three people who were looking for marriage counselors. I totally without reservation would recommend you call Cindy Blackett (510) 540-5409. She's in North Berkeley. She's amazing with couples. I saw her with my husband and have also recommended several friends to her and they loved her. She is really easy to talk with, and more importantly, she really helped us. Anon

Marriage Counselor in Walnut Creek area

July 2012

Seeking recommendations for a marriage/couples counselor in the Walnut Creek or Lamorinda area. Thank you. anon

Hello, I highly recommend Aaron J. Feldman, LMFT. He is a super therapist and now manages therapists who are working toward their degree. You can google his name or go to his website: sherilyn

Marriage counselor to help us communicate better

April 2012

I'm looking for someone to help my husband and me communicate better, learn to nurture each other, and be on the same page with each other. We've never done counseling before. We are looking for someone affordable and understanding. We would like to build a loving relationship that benefits us and is a good model for our daughter. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

I recommend Dana McMullen 510-558-8475 in El Cerrito. She is intelligent, kind, professional and very good at marriage counseling. My husband and I have seen her for years and it has helped immeasurably. She will listen to both of you and teach you how to listen to each other and get what you need out of the marriage. She is actively involved and really compassionate. anon

I can highly recommend our couples therapist, Ashley Kirkman. She is on Telegraph, 2 blocks north of Ashby. Her approach is friendly, practical and positive. She taught us fantastic communication skills during a time that our marriage was under a decent amount of stress. She helped us practice those skills, while keeping a sense of humor about all of it. The most important thing was that we never felt like she took sides, we always felt like we were all on the same team because even during some tough conversations and conflicts, she was always grounding us in how we both there because we care about the marriage (which often gets lost in the heat of an argument or with an overly analytical approach). She was really compassionate towards us both and helped us grow our compassion for each other and ability to nurture one another. I can't say enough about her. The other great thing - in comparison to other therapists - she's reasonable! Give her a call at 510-464-4641 and feel free to email me directly with more questions about her style. Good luck. j

I would like to recommend Audrey Martin, MFT here in Rockridge (510 428 1505) to you. I have experienced her work and greatly benefited from it. Her style is warm and engaging, she is an excellent listener and a very clear thinker. She has a good sense of humor and will guide you competently towards achieving the goal of a loving relationship. You will find her skills and her array of tools with which to work and practice on your own impressive and helpful. Been there

Couples Therapist Who Takes Anthem Blue Cross?

Mar 2012

Can anyone recommend a good couples therapist in close proximity to N. Berkeley who takes Anthem Blue Cross (PPO)? I see lots of great recommendations on the BPN site, but none of the recommended therapists take my insurance. Thanks!

I know a fantastic couples therapist that takes all insurances, I believe. She is in north Oakland. Her name is Jenifer Dahlstrom and her number is 510-273-9261. We've had very good results quite early on with seeing her----after doing couples counseling in the past several times. She's great! See if it's a good fit for you! She uses a method called the ''Gottman Method'' and I think that might be the difference. There are very few Gottman trained therapists around. Reba Connell at the Center for Stress Reduction at 510-594-8224 is also a certified Gottman therapist. You could check with her and see if she accepts your insurance. Happy

Marriage therapist near campus, weekend hours?

Nov 2011

Our marriage may be over but since we have children we'd need to give therapy a try. Need a marriage therapist in Albany or Berkeley (biking distance from UC campus). Willing to drive further if weekend appointments available too. Anon

I really don't think you could find a better therapist than Lisa Lancaster. I got her name from a colleague and have found her to be so amazingly kind and effective. My marriage is in a much better spot now than it was this time last year, that is for sure! She is near the Claremont hotel in Berkeley. anon

Go see Heidi Berrin Shonkoff (510-849-4106). Having been referred to Heidi by several friends who have seen her, my husband and I landed at her office in what we felt was ''irreparable'' shape. Fighting, bad (and sometimes non- existent) sex, turmoil around the kids, etc. We are both amazed at what has transpired in such a short period of time in our couples therapy with Heidi. We are repairing and moving forward into a very different kind of relationship. Heidi is fair, very responsive and wise. More advice: If things feel this bad for you, don't wait. Been there

SHARON GREGORY 510-540-4870. We saw Sharon every week for 2 years as we hit the rockiest, scariest time of our marriage (surprise third kid.) She has the perfect blend of uber-professionalism with deep compassion and un-canny skill. Many therapists before her would ''hold'' my big scary revelations with what appeared to me as uncertainty, lots of heavy sighing and head nodding. But with Sharon, we both felt super safe and nothing scared her. She would package up what we had said and reflect back to us in a way that would amaze us. It was a 2 year course in interpersonal communication skills and a discovery of personal insight that I couldn't have imagined. We are doing great now, and we will always consider Sharon part of our team. I cannot recommend her enough. K.

My husband and I saw Deborah Joy Harger who was amazing! Deborah is insightful, smart and thoughtful, and helped us with communication and conflict resolution. We can't recommend her enough. Her number is (510) 524-8284. Anon

Pro-active couples therapist that takes Aetna ins?

Oct 2011

Looking for a couples therapist with a take charge, hands on approach that can assist us with some tangible issues we are facing (i.e., whether or not to have a third child). We want someone that can help us focus on the issues at hand and come up with some step-by-step action plans to address them. We are not looking for long-term exploration therapy. Less ''um-hmm'' and more ''I want you to do these three things.'' We need help from a third party to work through our issues and walk away with specific, tangible tools to put into place. Ideally the person would take Aetna insurance and is located in Oakland (or near to Oakland).

Call Jenifer Dahlstrom. She is a GREAT couple's therapist. I know she takes many, many different insurances, so I would imagine she would take yours. Without going into detail, I will just say that she makes a lot of difference for couples! Her phone number is: 510-273-9261 or you can check her website at ''Happy Camper''

Seeking therapist for marriage issues

Sept 2011

I am seeking recommendations for a therapist or psychologist who is oriented toward working through a specific problem in a limited, rather than open-ended, period of time. I have been struggling in my marriage for many years, and I need someone who can help me figure out how to think productively & concretely about what I can do to feel better. I would like someone smart, interactive, experienced, emotionally grounded, and located in the east bay. Thank you. anon

I'd recommend Dr. Barbara Swenson - her website is She's very practical and results-oriented. She gets to the crux of things very quickly. I'm sure she'd be happy to have a phone consult to you to see if it's a fit. She has an office in Rockridge, and one in Walnut Creek. Best of luck to you! Anon

I have a very good recommendation for a wonderful Marriage and Family therapist who prefers to help her clients in one or two counseling sessions (rather than the more conventional long-term, open-ended type of therapy). She is very smart, interactive, experienced, emotionally grounded and located in the east bay - just what you're looking for - ISADORA ALMAN, M.A. Psychotherapist/Writer/Speaker Communications/Relationships/Sexuality askisadora [at] or phone 510-521-2925 Good Luck! anon

I recommend Dan Quinn in Berkeley, 510-290-8297. He is smart, emotionally tuned in and can draw on vast amounts of knowledge and experience. He uses a skills-based approach when working with couples which helps keep focus on the issues and limit the time required. Good luck. Alan

I can wholeheartedly recommend Toni Ayres, MFT..she is also a nurse. She is calm and compassionate and an expert at couples counseling and sex therapy.. Toni Ayres is in Berkeley 510- 841-2553 Sara

Couples counselor for infidelity and communication issues

Aug 2011

I would love to get any recommendations for a therapist to help my husband and I work through some communication issues and a newly discovered infidelity. We are willing to try and repair the marriage and seek a therapist who is honest, open and not afraid to ''tell it like it is''. We feel the most successful match would be someone who can help us identify our issues and provide us with the tools to improve our communication in and out of the session. Someone who specializes in issues with the infidelity would be especially helpful. We are in the N. Berkeley area. Hoping to be happy again

Cindy Blackett is awesome. She's directed, calm, a good listener, and experienced. Good luck!

Hello, I would recommend Dena Anthony, Ph.D for couples counseling. She has an office right in Albany near the N. Berkeley border and has years of experience and a high success rate with couples. She's warm and compassionate, yet practical and direct, and extremely knowledgeable and committed to her work. You can learn more about her on her website: Best of luck finding the right therapist to work with you and your husband. Helena

I would like to recommend Dr. Michael Gray in Albany. His web site is here lifornia_82973 and he can be reached at 510/525-6620. My significant other and I have been seeing him for several months, and he has been very helpful. While infidelity is not an issue in our relationship, we definitely have been working thru communications issues, and really like him. It is hard work, and he is not cheap, but definitely worth it. If you have any questions, please get my email address from the moderator. Glad to help

Call Heidi Berrin Shonkoff (510-849-4106). Heidi--who is an extraordinarily warm, skilled and experienced therapist--helped my husband and I repair our connection after some very difficult times. She works in a no-nonsense, straight forward, deep and balanced manner. Over the years there have been a lot of recommendations for her on this site and many couples we know have seen her, some of whom have had to deal with infidelities. She is busy and sometimes it is hard to get into her practice but it is well worth the wait. RK

Run, don't walk, to see Sheila Rubin!! Last year, at this time, my marriage imploded and we separated, in part due to infidelity and trust issues. Another reason we decided to separate/divorce was because the therapist we had refused to hold my husband accountable for the hurtful activities. Instead, my husband's denials and lame excuses were given as much weight as my pain. After the separation, our good friend begged us to see Sheila three times before filing for divorce, and we agreed. It was the best decision we have ever made! She does Emotionally- Focused Therapy (EFT), which focuses on rebuilding the trust and emotional connections. This is not a long drawn- out process; she gets right into the muck! It's a process that works well for couples in stress, like infidelity. It was hard for my husband to do this work at first because it required him to listen to my pain and anger without making excuses until I felt like I had been heard and could START to trust him again. Fast forward one year: our relationship has never been better. We only go to see Sheila every few weeks now, and we communicate better than ever. Sheila is amazing! She is respectful to both parties, yet she doesn't let either of us get away with excuses or games. You can find info for her on her website: Big Sheila Fan

I highly recommend Ken Seider. He's located at 2920 Domingo Avenue Berkeley, CA 94705-2400. We've been seeing him for the past year, working on similar issues. He's caring, willing to help you confront issues, and excellent on helping with communication issues. anonymous

I would like to recommend Dan Quinn as an excellent couples counselor, especially for difficult issues such as infidelity. Dan is warm, empathic, really smart and has a great sense of humor. I think he could be of great assistance to you and your partner. Check out his website: www.DanQuinn.Info. He is in the North Berkeley area.

Looking for French couples therapist

Aug 2011

I am looking for a French or bilingual/bicultural American-French therapist for couples. Know any?

Hello Try Claude Delaubert in north Oakland. Her number is 510-594-6800. She is wonderful and very experienced. Anon

Communicative/Intuitive, Problem-Solving Therapist

June 2011

For couples' counseling. We need someone who can understand my need for a secure, communicative, intimate marriage, and how that conflicts with my husband's tendencies both to avoid intimacy and to feel insecure generally. He gets angry with me and finds fault with me unnecessarily in any situation that could lead to more intimacy (or which suggests his behavior has been less than stellar), and acts out passive-aggressively as his communications style (why ask me to do something when he could throw a tantrum instead?). This is so debilitating I've also been able to help him with things he'd probably appreciate (like fixing up our home-which he throws his hands up at, and feels like he can't or won't fix). We've been working on this on and off for years, but we really need some skillful intervention. We need experience, smarts, assertiveness, excellent communications, and the ability to nail down and work on our issues. Blue Cross/Blue shield is a plus! Thanks.

I really want to recommend Michael Gray, Ph.D. His web site is here: and his phone number is 510-525- 6620. We have been seeing him for couples therapy for several months now, and he has really helped us worked through several serious problems. We've seen many others over the past ten years, but Dr. Gray has been the most effective person so far. His focus is on teaching you tools to solve your disagreements so you don't have to see him every week. I don't believe he takes insurance, but the cost is worth it if you want to save your relationship. Ask the moderator for my email if you'd like to discuss this further. --Therapy can work wonders

Regarding your question about an excellent therapist referral as well as other recent similar requests: I highly recommend Albert Levy, Ph.D. He is a very experienced and seasoned clinical psychologist, smart, down to earth, responsive, and helps you get to the bottom of things. He works with adults individually and couples. He has a sliding scale and takes many insurance plans. He's located in the Berkeley/Albany border. 510-527-1455 Best wishes. Kim

2008 - 2010 Recommendations

Need Couples counselor for infidelity issues

Oct 2010

Hello, I'm currently 31 weeks pregnant and facing some serious infidelity issues with the father of my child. I am looking for recommendations for a counselor who can help me/us either move forward with trying to forgive my partner and start a happy and home for our son or to end the relationship in a way that it is best for my son. Time is obviously of the essence and any help would be so so appreciated!

First of all, I am so sorry this is happening to you. My husband and I have been seeing Alice Shusterman for a while now and we both really think she's wonderful. She's great about getting to the heart of this issue and not getting caught up in griping and other distractions.. Her office is on Solano in Berkeley and her number is 510-527-5930. We haven't been dealing with infidelity, but other really difficult communication issues. She has been a great mediator and has really helped us see more clearly and move forward out of destructive behaviors. Good luck! anon

I would send you right to Dr. Lancaster. She has helped my husband and me get through an the fallout from an affair. She is smart, warm, and most important, effective. She is in Berkeley near the Claremont hotel (510-841-2525) anon

Marriage counselor 4 older couple with grown kids

Oct 2010

I'm looking for names and contact info. for a counselor that might help me and my husband of two years to find compromises that work. We are an unusual 'blended' family: we're both 61 years old, and I have adult children and one grandson (2 years) with whom I am very close. My hubby has a step-child and step-grandson from a previous marriage who he is not close to; his previous wife died, but the relationship with his step-relatives is strained and he rarely sees them, though they live only an hour away. I babysit my grandson at our house once per week and my husband complains bitterly about it. I feel I should be allowed to use our house, which is also my house, as a base for family visits. His family-avoidance and my close-knit family are not compatible, and are the only strong and persistent problem between us. We need help. Any advice from people who've been through it, or suggestions for a therapist who is good in this area? thank you for sharing ideas.

Hi There, I would highly recommend Alice Shusterman. Her office is on Solano Ave. in North Berkeley. Her number is 510-527-5930. We, my husband and I, have spent a lot of time on similar issues around extended family and she has been really helpful! anon

Marriage Help - Therapist or Couples Classes ???

Oct 2010

My husband and I are in need of some help. We have been married for 15 years and have 2 beautiful kids; we have been through a difficult death of a parent & depression. My husband also has a job which involves him being away from the family a lot, meaning more often than not I am the primary one responsible for everything. (This does not bother me as I am used to it at this point). We do not have much time together as a family and very little alone time. Here lies our MAIN problem, we have communication issues and do not know how to disagree without arguing on different issues (mostly regarding the kids - discipline, behaviors, etc). Has anyone ever been to a (non-religious) weekend retreat that deals with couple related issues? I am open to any and all suggestions.

First - your post was most moving. I bet there are lots of us who read this and thought - 'been there...' Stay strong and striving during this time. Might I suggest two things:

Gottman - The Art and Science of Love. We went to Seattle for the initial reasonably priced weekend session and it changed the downward spiral we were in. There are books and follow-up program, more local coaches. We drove up once with the kids and had a local friend watch them. We flew back for the 'graduate' weekend alone. May go back again as it is clear to us that marriage is a practice and we could use more support. Really solid instructional design, sound content and excellent facilitation. Miraculous step-by-step tools for lots of things including one that we swear by on resolving fights and 'unfortunate incidents' Even if things don't work out, the shared approaches will support your family and life in many ways.

Love Dare - Seeing your note about non-religious, I almost did not recommend. EXCEPT the day by day, mutual approach to the marriage basics of respect, honor, acceptance, kindness and other elements of marriage are basicly superb and should be handed out to everyone prior to marriage. There is also a tell-it-like-it-is tone that is refreshing and basically calls marriage as it is hard and rewarding. IF, IF, IF you can read around the biblical references and more traditional Christian doctrine, AND instead read spiritual and higher source or self, then I suggest this. You may just want to get this as a reference book for you.

Best wishes for making this happen! happier in the hills

so sorry to hear that you're are not alone...being married and raising children is challenging, even in the best of circumstances. learning to communicate, sorting things out, and changing behavior without support is often impossible given the nonstop responsibilities of family life (especially if you're trying to do much of it on your own).

anyway, i don't know of classes in particular but i'm sure there are many. my husband and i have recently started working with a counselor and it's been really wonderful (and hard). she is here in berkeley so may not be accessible to you (Yvonne Mansel) but, i'm sure you can find someone who is closer by. basically, i just wanted to send you some encouragement and hope you find the support you need. good luck!!! jen

My partner and I were in a similar place and what really kicked us into gear was coaching. We saw a number of therapists with no change, and relationship coaching moved more in two sessions than a year of therapy. Try Natalie Thiel at She is amazing with couples with children. And she does one day intensives with couples. Best of luck to you and your family. anon

Since you are a Kaiser member, you could check with their health education depeartment about their course offerings. When I worked at Kaiser in San Rafael, there was a repeating 4-week Couples Communication class that was well- regarded, and I know the San Francisco Kaiser has a similar class, so perhaps Richmond or Oakland does too. This would be a good place to start while you look for a therapist.

You expressed an interest in a weekend workshop, and there are two upcoming couples workshops in the area, taught by Gottmann-trained couples therapists, on in Santa Rosa and one in the south bay. If you look on the Gottmann website you can find the info. Ilene Diamond, JD, PsyD (415) 820-1508

I would highly recommend that you go and see Dr. Lisa Lancaster. She helped my husband and me with some similar communication issues. She is warm, smart and compassionate. Better than any book I've found. She is in Berkeley--510-841-2525 anon

Alameda Couples Therapy?

Sept 2010

My husband and I are looking for a marriage therapist in Alameda to deal with some of the mundane issues of marriage - parenting, having another child, aging parents, anxiety, income, etc. Any recommendations would be great, thanks. anonymous

I highly recommend Elizabeth Dandenell, MFT. My husband and I have been seeing her as a couple, and individually when needed, for a year and a half. She has helped our marriage tremendously! She is located on Santa Clara between Broadway & Park. 748-0637 is her number. Best of luck to you and your husband. Another Alameda Mom

Marriage Counselor - - N. Oakland/Rockridge

Sept 2010

We are looking for a couples counselor in the N. Oakland/ Rockridge area. We would prefer someone who is rather directive, and works with anger & anxiety issues. It would be a huge plus if they took Blue Shield. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. anon

I have recommended her before, and I still think she is one of the best: Carol Jenkins is a top notch marriage counselor with a welcoming office in Russell House in Rockridge. Her number is 510-845-5178. Yes, she can be directive, also fair, intelligent and compassionate. Still Married

I would recommend a very compassionate and effective couples/marriage therapist I know well who is located right at the Berkeley-Oakland border on Telegraph (close to Rockridge), who I believe does take Blue Shield. She can be directive, especially if you ask for that -- she is very responsive to what works for you: Laura Goldberger, MFT 510-665-7755 Liz

I would send you to Dr. Lisa Lancaster. My husband and I have had great success with her. She listens, doesn't take sides, and has really helped us through a very difficult patch. She has an office on the Berkeley/Oakland boarder. Her number is 510-841-2525. anon

Colorado Kagan is an excellent couples therapist in Rockridge. Her number is 297-4937 happy client

Couples Counselor Who ''Says it Like it Is''

August 2010

My wife and I are looking for a couples counselor who specializes in dealing with issues of control and helping us develop better communications skills. Also very important is that we would be interested in identifying a counselor who is willing to ''say it like it is.'' We have been to couples counselors in the past and far too often they are hesitant to evaluate us as individuals. If I am being unreasonable in something, I would like to know about it. I would like validation in whether or not something my wife accuses me of like whether I'm being selfish, or unappreciative, or not listening to her, is true, or not. Likewise, it would be helpful to know if I'm crazy in thinking my wife is controlling or a hothead, or being selfish herself. Too often a counselor seems (out of fear of the perception of taking sides?) to want to not deal with these underlying issues and would rather create a collaborative environment without saying directly whether there is a specific underlying behavior exhibited by one person or the other that is harmful to the relationship as a whole. I am not looking for someone to take sides with me. I am looking for someone who is skilled at navigating these waters so that we can get some perspective at our individual idiosyncracies that prove harmful in our relationship. If you have any recommendations at couples counselors who are able to ''say it like it is'' in a professional manner that is non- threatening, I would greatly appreciate it. Grateful-for-Your-Thoughts

It sounds like you want a referee. I thought I did too when we started counseling. However, I discovered that it became more important to focus on being emotionally present for our partners in order to connect with each other. Once we got to that point, our differences got resolved more comfortably. We saw Bart Foley who at the time was an intern of Bonnie MacBride, M.F.T. 510-610-9807 2428 Dwight Way. anon

My husband and I would both strongly recommend Dr. Anne Bernstein, right here in Berkeley, for excellent, honest, caring, wise, and insightful couples work. I called a psychology professor at UCB whom I know to ask for a strong recommendation for a couples counselor, and received a strong endorsement for Anne. Long story short, she got to know us well, always treated both of us with care, yet honestly, always had incisive problem solving skills, which we needed, to get us off of being distraught with the other's idiosyncracies. In short, Anne was able to help us work through a veritable thicket of difficult issues, to find solutions that were good for both of us. We are a much happier, healthier couple for the time we spent working things out in her office. I cannot say enough good things about her. She combines wisdom, intelligence, lots of life experience, and has a wonderfully caring grandmotherly quality. Go figure. She's great. Anne Bernstein, Ph.D. 2955 Shattuck Ave # 12 Berkeley , CA - 94705 510-549-0598 grateful for wise counsel

I would recommend Dr. Lisa Lancaster. My partner and I saw her last year for a number of months and found her very helpful. She didn't take sides, but she also didn't keep her ideas and sense of where the problems were coming from to herself either. She did wonders for us. anon

My husband and I were stuck in a power struggle for some years after our children were born. We tried a few things like reading articles about couples therapy and non-violent communication. But what really helped us was working with a very direct and experienced therapist who didn't beat around the bush. Whereas it was hard and painful work (and sometimes funny) we both felt good because our marriage became much more the way we had originally envisioned it to be and we have a much greater understanding of each other now. So if you are looking for a ''tough love'' approach I can recommend Dr. Hans Stahlschmidt in North Berkeley. Phone Number 848 5347. Hope you will work it out with your wife.

I highly recommend Emily Epstein, MFT. She's a great couples therapist who is both kind and direct. She's very skillful. Emily practices in Berkeley, her number is 510-595-5565. Good luck.

I highly recommend Diane Donnelly: We are currently in couples therapy with her and she does tell it like it is, but in a kind and gentle way. Hard to describe, but she is compassionate and forthright at the same time. We are very pleased with her approach. good luck!

Strong, Smart Couples Therapist needed

May 2010

My husband and I no longer love each other but need to stay together to co-parent our sick child. It's a ridiculous and frustrating position to be in, but it seems to only solution right now. We need a good therapist to work with us to make the situation as civilized as possible. Someone near Berkeley, preferably but not necessarily who takes Health Net/UBH insurance.

I'm completely frustrated with the whole thing, but am terrified that our child's substantial medical needs would not be met appropriately if she were to spend time away (ie; he moved out and had joint custody), and the thought of not having her with me absolutely breaks my heart.

Something has got to change; I am confident that I can be civil and pleasant, and have been, but he is so depressed that he can't see past the misery he has enveloped himself in, which makes communication and civility very difficult.

So, someone to help with communication, teaching acceptance of personal responsibility, and help lift the cloud of hopeless depression would be fantastic; both for our child's sake and my sanity. Need Help.

What you are going through sounds so hard. I haven't been through anything like that, but my husband and I went to a therapist, Emily Epstein, to work through issues before we were even planning to get married. He only agreed to go because I was about to leave the relationship. I only went because I thought I could then leave with a clear conscience. After two years of therapy we had completely changed our relationship - we got married and now have an 8 mo old and are very happy. We both found Emily to be really wonderful and can highly recommend her as a couples therapist. I hope she can help you find something tenable. anon

Married 14 years, need to work out some issues

April 2010

Hi, Does anyone have current recommendations for Marriage Therapists. We have been married for 14 years and need to work out allot of long suppressed issues-intimacy, step children, substance abuse, grief. I need someone who is a a straight talker, good listener, will help us talk to each other without fear of hurting feelings. Trying to make it work.

Reba Connell is a very good therapist who would be worth considering. She's a straight talker and a very good listener. (510) 594-8224 L

My husband and I have found counseling with Marianne Regan (510-652-6600) to be tremendously helpful. She is sensitive, empathetic & intuitive; an excellent facilitator for exploring communications and connection (& where those are hampered). I continue to be more and more impressed with her skill and the positive impact her help is having on our relationship. all the best

I highly recommend Colorado Kagan for marriage counseling. My husband and I have found much greater intimacy and much better communication since we have been going to her. 510-297-4937 marriage counseling helped me

If you are looking for an excellent MFT, I would recommend Patricia McCaffrey (510)836-4432. Patricia has been in practice for 25 years, specializing in solving couple and family issues. She creates a safe environment, listens carefully, and is fair. She can be reached at (510)836-4432. A believer

I recommend both Taly Rutenberg (whom I saw for marriage counseling) and Anne Marshall (whom I saw for personal counseling, but she also works with couples). They are both empathetic, understanding, solution-oriented and able to hold your feet to the fire in a compassionate, supportive way. Back when I was seeing them (2006) Taly Rutenberg had an office on Ashby just below the Claremont, and Anne Marshall had an office on mid-Solano. Your Mileage May Vary

I highly recommend Cathy Cassel 510-540-0193. She's very experienced, warm and wise. Friends of mine have gone to her and swear she saved their relationship. Good luck! anonymous

Recommendation for Dr. Phil couples therapist

March 2010

My wife and I have been in couples therapy for years and have not had much success. We are oppositional and have different parenting styles. Can anyone recommend a counselor or family minister who implements a Dr. Phil approach in being able to set firm limits, is vocal, and is a strong advocate of family values? Our therapist's neutrality appears to get us nowhere and I am wondering if having someone with an opinion can help us progress. We appear to be in a revolving door with the same arguments. Sessions are draining and core issues unresolved. Is this a normal process most couples go through? How long should we expect this course to run? Our therapist schedules a series of appointments a week comprised of separate individual sessions for each of us in addition to couples sessions. I am wondering if this is common practice in couples work? We are in need of someone who can diffuse anger, frustration and pain (my wife has emotional abuse in her early history) and give us tools to improve communication in 1 appointment a week. Is this too much to ask? Anon

If you're looking for a great couple's therapist, you might call Dr. Richard Bush, in Berkeley. He has helped my husband and me immensely with his wisdom, good sense, warmth and kindness. We were struck right away by how tuned in he was to our issues and how thoughtful he was. His number is 845-1845. Anonymous

I don't know if she does therapy like Dr. Phil, but our therapist is very straight forward with lots of experience. Although she doesn't tell us what to do, she is very interactive and helps us figure out what we need. We didn't want someone to take months getting to know us and she went right to what we wanted and not what she thought we should work on. Her name is Fran Wickner, she's on Solano, 527-4011. BPN reader

United Behavioral Health therapist?

Nov 2009

My husband and I have been married for three years. We had only known each other for a few months before we got pregnant, and were married ( shotguns, here) when I was in my third trimester. We have both seen a lot of unplanned-for change (career changes, cross-country moves, parenthood) in the last few years, and have been trying to get to know each other in the process. It proves to be more and more difficult as time goes on. We seem to understand each other less now than we did a few years ago!

We tried therapy last year, but didn't love our therapist (a woman who did Imago therapy). We also felt stressed by the fact that we had to pay so much money for her services. We are covered under United Behavioral Health, but I have had a hard time sifting through the names of providers and trying to match them up with past recommendations on BPN. I would really appreciate some suggestions for someone who will call us on our BS, help us deal with communication, parenting, and sexual issues, and help us deepen our level of intimacy and connection. Thanks Troubled Wife

Our therapist is Nancy Oken. She introduced us to the ''Non-Violent Communication'' technique. It's not all she does but we've found that this technique worked for us the best, as it improved the way we communicated. I've also noticed that she doesn't ask that we dig deep into our past to see why we behave the way we do, but instead try to get us to take concrete steps to resolve our conflicts. I really like her style. anon

I love my therapist, Sheryl Coryell. I see her individually, but I imagine she would be equally great with couples. She's actually the best therapist I've ever seen, and I've seen many. She takes UBH. anon

My husband and I have been seeing Amy Abern (510) 486-0644 through my UBH coverage for years. We have periods where we see her weekly and periods where we don't see her for months depending on what we need and where we are. She is very focussed on solutions and helps you move forward with practical every day ideas that help partners communicate and relate better. Since the birth of our daughter 2 years ago, she's also been great at helping us navigate the tricks of co- parenting. Honestly there are weeks when I just can't wait to go see her--would be great if those didn't come around very often, but when they do, I'm relieved to have her there to support us. She's located at 1340 Ward Street, Berkeley, CA Happy to recommend Amy

Experience with Rebecca Epstein?

Oct 2009

I am seeking a marriage counselor and was given the names of Dr. Rebecca Epstein and Dr. Ken Seider, both of Berkeley. If anyone has information about them, I would appreciate it. Seeking help

We saw Dr. Rebecca Epstein for several years and she is excellent. She helped us save our marriage. She is very smart and professional. anonymous

Hit a rocky patch in our 10+ year marriage

Sept 2009

My spouse and I have hit a rocky patch in our 10+ year marriage. Major issues are husband's strong sex drive and wife's complete disinterest in sex. Additional issues are husband's alcoholism, compulsive hoarding, and procrastination. Seeking a marriage counselor, preferably in Montclair, Piedmont, or Piedmont Ave. Because of financial considerations, we can only afford 2 or 3 sessions with a counselor so he or she has got to be very good. Thanks. anon

My partner and I went to Rebecca Lueck ( in Rockridge and we found her very sensitive to our issues as lesbian parents. She helped us look at how we fight and we found calmer ways to do it. We felt comfortable exploring our differences in her room which was probably the most important aspect of how therapy helped us. Some things you just don't feel comfortable saying without a third person. Either way, remember that you don't want to enable an alcholic. I watched my mother do that for her entire life. Meghan

I just finished reading your posting and wanted to comment. I'm a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and I'm glad that you're taking the big step to seek therapy...that's not always an easy thing to do.

My concern is that you're hoping to find a ''great'' therapist so that you can deal with some very big issues in 2 to 3 sessions. I would caution you against wasting your money with anyone who tells you they can do this. The kinds of issues you're talking about are complex and took a long time to get that way. Good therapy will take some time and exploration. In that process, you and your husband can grow closer, feel more supported, and experience levels of intimacy that you hadn't had in your relationship before. It's all a very exciting and eye-opening process, but yes, it takes time.

I know that finances are a concern, which of course makes sense, but there are therapists out there who offer sliding scales, and there are MFT interns who are very well qualified to help you, at low and affordable rates.

My husband and I have seen Bruce Ecker in times of intense difficulty. He helped us improve our communication tremendously in just a few sessions. His focus is deep work, in a short amount of time. He is very good. He does not take insurance but does have somewhat of a sliding scale. His office is in Oakland and he can be reached at: 510-452-2820. Take good care

Moving from dating to the next stage

August 2009

Looking for a referral for a good couples therapist. I am a single mom who has been dating someone for the last 4+ years but we need help taking it to the next stage. :^D

Hi, I know of an amazing therapist that I highly recommend you contact. Jill Lebeau is a true master at relationships. She knows simply how to bring out the best in people. My wife and I can't say enough good things about her. Ok, it's true, my wife dragged me in to see her, but today I can say in complete honesty, I'm so glad she did because without her help we probably would have gone our own separate ways. You can call her at 510-849-1010 or her email is jilllebeau [at] Steve

I'm relatively new to this listserve and the East Bay, but I when I moved here I joined Berk.Parents Network and found a great therapist and wanted to post my recommendation. Dr. Fran Wickner is practical, down to earth and experienced. I feel as if I have grown more in the short time working with her than in all the years of therapy I had before. Her phone number is 510-527-4011. east bay mom

Counseling experience with Dan Wile or Billie Warden?

August 2009

HI, Has anyone had counseling experience with either Dan Wile or Billie Warden? How did they work for you? anon

Dan Wile is a masterful, amazing couples therapist. He was called ''a genius and the greatest living marital therapist'' by John Gottman (author- Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work quote is in the acknowledgment section).

I saw him with my husband and I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. We saw three couples therapists before seeing Dan Wile and the difference was night and day.

Dan Wile does not takes sides, is kind, dynamic and HE ANSWERS HIS PHONE. He actually picks up if he is not in session. Unlike many therapists, he allows open communication on both sides and helps both partners view the situation in a way that supports the relationship. Somehow both parties feel heard and understood, yet brought together, not torn apart, by the issues.

My husband and I saw Dan Wile every two weeks, for five sessions total. He literally saved our marriage. He is probably mid-range in terms of fees, but overall is economical because positive change can come about so quickly. (Two of the three we saw before were quacks and charged more than Dan Wile did.)

He is the creator of collaborative couples therapy, writes books and does alot of training, so he is not in practice full-time, and is very low key. I think that makes him more accessible and less likely to try to hold onto couples for long term work.

He is by far the best and really is the greatest living marital therapist. Very Satisfied Client

I've been helped by Dan Wile twice -- once about 10 years ago when my husband and I needed to work out where out relationship was headed, and more recently I went back to him with my young adult son because our arguments were getting scarily out of control. If your problem is faulty communication with someone you love, Dan is your man. He is very smart and he really knows his stuff - check his website. He does not do talk therapy -- he is more like a mediator. What he does is basically teach you both how to talk to each other. But it's not like a class where he teaches and you listen. He shows you (not tells you) how to resolve conflicts. He is so skilled that you take away a whole lot from just one session. My son and I only saw him for two sessions. My husband and I went to him for only 5 weeks. In both cases, we all felt satisfied that he had gotten us past the obstacle and moved on to a more peaceful co-existence. And we were all initially pretty doubtful about visiting a therapist.

I'll describe what a session is like: Dan asked me to give an example of something that happened recently where my son exploded and lost control. Then, he summarized back to me what happened and also why I was upset, making small changes until I agreed he had it right. Then, sitting next to me, he spoke to my son as if he were me, speaking in the first person, explaining my side, but a distilled, neutral, and more thoughtful version. He then asked my son what he thought about that, and he went through the same process with him, speaking to me as if he were my son. Let me tell you, this was eye-opening for me. And for my son. It's brilliant - both sides are heard, but there is no emotional charge because you are not addressing each other - he is doing the talking. Both parties understand that what he is saying really does reflect what is felt, because both have heard the summarizing and corrections. He's like a skilled diplomat -- very calm, completely non-judgm ental, and friendly, but keeps his own opinions to himself. By the way, his office is in his home, and so is very comfortable and homey yet private. So, yes, he's excellent and I can recommend him! Therapized

Couples therapy to help with resentment about depression

June 2009

I've been suffering PPD since the birth of our first child in January 2006. After another baby, and many changes of meds, I am finally coming out of the depression/negativity (albeit on Cymbalta and Abilify!). My husband has been very supportive but has been left with many feelings of anger, bitterness and disappointment which have inevitably seeped into our relationship. My pyschiatrist has recommended that we seek couples therapy (and possibly therapy for my husband separately also). Does anyone have a recommendation for a couples counsellor who is familiar with issues in marriages raised by one partner suffering depression? We really want to make this work. Ideally someone with flexible hours, since I work full time in SF, and in or close to Alameda, where we live. Seeking help

Run, don't walk, to Alisa Genovese. She helped save our marriage. I went to see her for PPD shortly after my daughter was born. She is still my therapist during times of strife. She is fabulous! 510-286-7599. feeling good

Couples counselor for SAHM issues

June 2009

I'm a stay at home mom. I've tried to explain to my husband how I feel unappreciated, unvalued, overwhelmed, unrespected. I've explained how he gets these things from his job via paychecks, perks, spa days, lunches on the boss etc. I don't get anything like that. I don't even get a guaranteed bathroom break without disruption. I have tried to explain how I need my family to act as my cheerleaders to provide me with a sense of respect. He doesn't get it at all and I'm at the limit of what I can tolerate. Angry, frustrated and resentful are not words that any of my friends would describe me as yet that is now how I would describe myself now. We decided to see a couple's counselor but I want some recommendations on a therapist with this focus. We have no other issues we keep getting stuck on. Just Doesn't Get It

Before you invest in therapists, try a weekly sitter and dinner/movie/show datenight. Schedule these datenights regularly. It is expensive, but not much more than couples therapy! And it works, you are a couple weekly. Try it you will like it. We do. Anon

I would recommend Dr. Lisa Lancaster. She has helped me and my husband so much. We have dealt with some of the issues you mention. I don't think you could go wrong with her. She is in Berkeley. 510-841-2525 anon

My wife and I saw Jennifer Lieberman who is a Marriage and Family Therapist for some similar issues related to childcare versus work. Having a family herself, she was very insightful and was a great guide for improving our communication and cooperation around parenting and being better partners for each other. Her website is, 415-998-5683. Thomas

Couples therapist for different cultural backgrounds

Feb 2009

Would like to find a couples therapist to work with us about some long-term issues with our different cultural backgrounds, some depression, computer gaming addiction and a general sense of not being responsible in the home. My husband is a pretty nice guy but at home expects me to take care of everything as his job pays our bills. We have a young child and I would like to make this work. Thanks for recommendations. Needing some real help

I have been very happy with Dr. Lancaster. Her approach is direct and kind; my wife and I have been able to find much more productive ways of communicating after seeing her. She is not in Oakland but in south Berkeley so not too far. Her number is 841-2525. anon

We have seen Ruth Cohn, MFT in Oakland for both couple's and family therapy. She is very skilled and also a lovely and warm person. 510 653-6256 - on College Ave near Broadway. My 17 year old daughter loves her as do we. M.

My husband and I recommend Rebecca Lueck, LCSW. She is located at College and Alcatraz in Rockridge. Her number is 415 235-1071. We've found her to be flexible, insightful, balanced and compassionate. We felt she didn't take sides. She did a great job understanding our intimacy issues as well as our parenting stresses. After we were done she gave us practical activities to continue our work together at home. Good luck, Laura

My husband and I have benefited enormously from our sessions with Carol Jenkins. Her ability to maintain balance while keeping us moving forward -- and productive -- is nothing short of amazing. We have grown, and, coincidentally, have stayed together, with her guidance. Most important, perhaps, is the fact that she makes her office a safe and fair place for both of us, despite our sometimes deeply seated differences and hurt feelings. Her number is 510-845-5178. grateful

Melissa Villanueva is an excellent multicultural therapist in the Piedmont area of Oakland. I believe she's still accepting clients. One of her specialties is working with multicultural family issues. Her style is very interactive and she has a strong background in meditation (spiritual) practice which I found to be particularly helpful. She also has very reasonable rates. Her contact information is 510-654-5407. Malia

Highly experienced very professional couple therapist?

Jan 2009

Can anyone recommend a highly experienced very professional couple therapist in Berkeley or Oakland? We have been married a long time and have worked with two well-recommended couple therapists in the past. Both efforts were disappointing; we did not find the depth of work we had hoped for. Jenn

I would send you to Dr. Lisa Lancaster without question. She has offered me a fabulous opportunity for me and my husband to understand each other better and figure out how to finally be happy. Go and see her. She has an office in Berkeley (841-2525) anon

My husband and I went to see Toni Ayres for about 1 year. She has a MFC license, and also has RN, EdD, and LMFT on her business card. We both thought she was excellent and very down to earth. She was very attentive to details, offered helpful ways for us to break destructive patterns of behavior, acknowledge each others' views, and listen better to each other. I didn't feel she ''favored'' one or the other of us. She spent time raising sensitivity about how each of our personal histories played out in our interactions. I would highly recommend her: 510-841-2553. She's at 2000 Dwight in Berkeley. Elisabeth

I highly recommend Jules Burstein off of Solano Ave. in Albany. My husband and I have struggled for years over a blended family, saw many other therapists, and finally Jules was able to break through and help us solve the problem. Without his help, we would have surely headed for divorce. His number is 510-527-1152. anon

I can't speak highly enough about Dr Dan Wile. He is close to Rockridge and is fabulous! We had tried another therapist and had a disastrous experience. With Dan Wile, we knew we were in the right place. He is the expert in couple's work. He literally wrote the book on collaborative couple's therapy. Google his name and collaborative therapy and you will find he is famous and right here in the Bay Area. He is warm, caring and gets things fixed and quick! After one session we went frpm completely estranged to sharing core issues in a healing way. I was pregnant and estranged from my husband and planning to be a single mom. We went for three sessions over a period of six weeks and were able to come together and stay together in a loving and healthy way. Our baby is a beautiful 2 year old and we are happily and solidly together.

Marriage counselor in Alameda/Oakland area

Jan 2009

I'm looking for recommendations of good marriage counselors and/or individual therapists, preferably in the Alameda/Oakland area. Since moving to Alameda in June, my husband & I have had a number of relationship problems arise, which have been perpetuated by being the parents of a child with Asperger's Syndrome. Whatever suggestions the BPN may have would be most welcome. S.

We've been seeing George Gardner. Since seeing him, I can honestly say that we are in a better place now than where we were six months ago. His office is in the Glenview area of Oakland and he can be reached at 510.482.1002. His rate is within line with others, hours are extremely flexible, and he will work with you as couple and individually as well, if needed. anon

Welcome to the area. I understand the stress you must be under. I recommend Dr. Marlene Winell for couples counseling. She listens well and she is also active, with teaching good communication in particular. She's also a parent. I saw her in Berkeley but she also has an office in Oakland. She's also flexible with times and fees, plus it won't take a long time. What else can I say? Call her at 510-292-0509

I would recommend Dr. Fran Wickner. She is experienced and has helped us in the past. Her style works well with couples, too, as she is interactive and gave us lots of things to work on between sessions. Her phone number is 510-527-4011. Anon

Therapist in the Lamorinda area

Oct 2008

We are looking for a therapist in the Lamorinda area. My husband and I are not on the same page and we would like to get there. Personally I think that a counselor who has experience with depression issues would be a great help!

I think very highly of Colette Bischer-Choate. She has a practice in lafayette. I've only seen her personally, but understand her to work with couples and children as well. She's very down-to-earth and really seems to be able to both empathize, and work on the hard stuff. You can find her here: K

Jody Bove is excellent! She is warm and insightful and gives you ''techniques'' to apply. Give her a call! She is in Lafayette. (925) 285-7458 anon

Therapists to work with couple in crisis

Sept 2008

We're seeing a great therapist, but not making progress (we probably waited too long to work on our marital issues.) We have a 14 month old child together and I'd like to give this marriage a shot. We need a new perspective and approach. Any recommendations for therapists working with couples in crisis? Our issues include: different attitudes about finances, different attitudes toward stepchildren, resentment toward each other, his ADD, and anger management issues. Since our financial situation is one of the chief causes of our issues, recommendations for therapists participating in the Blue Shield United Behavioral Health Network would be highly appreciated! Trying to make it work

Winifred Reilly is a superbly talented couples therapist. My husband and I were confronting a very difficult and stubborn sexual issue, and had been told in the past that there was really very little hope that it could ever change. With a unique blend of insight, impartial and careful listening, humor, and persistence, she has brought us further than we thought was possible--and still progressing. If you are both ready to work on your problems, and are both ready to accept responsibility for changing, you should definitely give her a call. (510-528-0802) She is located in Berkeley. believing in change

Josh Gressel, PhD is an Imago therapist who has helped a number of people we know get at the root of the issues in their relationships. (You know it's not really about the toothpaste cap). He teaches techniques that will allow you to understand why these issues are hot spots for you as well as developing a deeper understanding of why you were drawn to each other initially. He is compassionate, intelligent and believes in marriage. I don't know what his insurance setup is, but he can tell you. His e-mail is adirhu [at] Good Luck! Naomi

My husband and I have benefited hugely from working with Marianne Regan, 510-652-6600. That you are wanting to make your marriage work is what's important. Don't worry or be hard on yourself for waiting to get help. You are reaching out now and that's the important thing. A year ago I felt really stuck and pretty hopeless about my relationship; working with Marianne has moved things around immensely, improving our communication as a couple and vastly improving our sense of connection and working together as a team to resolve issues that arise. Best wishes. glad we found her

Good male couples counselor in Oakland

Sept 2008

I want to find a good male couples counselor in Oakland for my husband and myself. Ideally I would like to find someone who works on Saturdays, but am open to week day appointments if this is not possible. I feel like we need a tune up after being together for 9 years. I want to figure out a way to achieve better balance in our relationship around the responsibilities of managing a household, taking care of our 5 year old son, working out, spending quality time with my husband and family, and trying to have more fun when both of us work FT and I have a pretty demanding job. If anyone has any recommendations, I would be extremely grateful. M

Hi, This is not in Oakland, but in Albany, but I highly recommend Jason Saffer, MFCC or Daniel Lesney, MFCC at the Center for Creative Growth. The number is (510) 527-2100. Good Luck~ Diana

Bill Arigi has offices in SF & Marin. He is AMAZING. He lets you know up front he does not want to see you more than 6-7 times. He is not there to solve your problems, he is going to help you develope tools, so you can solve your own problems. I have had 2 seperate sets of friends see him. One of those couples was on thier way to divorce. They now have a marriage that is a model for many friends (they are 6-7 years post therapy) anon

For couples counseling, I urge you to call Richard Beery, Ph.D., 921 Solano Ave., Berkeley. Phone: 510-525-4480. Email: rbeery [at] I strongly suggest you to speak with him by phone to decide if he's a terrific match for you. Both of you need to feel comfortable with him, of course. He works 11 to 7 week-days, tries to be accommodating with times, but doesn't work Saturdays. If you need a Saturday person,you might try someone newer to the profession who is building a practice. Dr. Beery's credentials and experience put him at the top of his field, so you will not be paying a beginning counselor's low fees. But if you can afford him, do try him. Again, Richard Beery, 510-525-4480. He sees many BPN couples. For couples counseling you might also check under couples therapy in the archives. (He is listed there, too.) A believer in marriage counseling

Someone who is good at mediating conflict

August 2008

For the most part, my husband and I get along great. However (and this is a big however), we are struggling to communicate over one key issue. I feel like I'm trying to communicate to him about how I feel in a calm and non confrontational way, but clearly I'm not, because he gets defensive and I end up getting more upset and we both end up angry with each other. I'm really looking for someone who can serve as more of a mediator between us as we talk about this issue, because I am getting more and more frustrated and I really need for us to make a substantive change and we can't seem to break through this communication block. Any recommendations for someone who is good at mediating conflict, at getting both people in the relationship to hear one another, preferably someone knowledgeable with non-violent communication techniques, would be greatly appreciated. I really need to get this resolved.

I have just the guy for you. His name his Robert Terris and he did wonders for our relationship. He calls his practice transformative mediation and after 2 or 3 meetings with him our communication really transformed. He uses NVC and is really talented in finding ways for you to use it on a daily basis. His e-mail is rterris [at] Good luck! anon

Jacob Ofman, PhD. 510-339-3090; on College Ave near Broadway, Oakland. Great at calmly helping partners see the other's point of view.

Couples therapist in San Francisco

June 2008

Can anyone recommend a competent, affordable therapist in San Francisco? I am looking for someone who deals with all the typical issues that couples with young children experience (e.g. lack of connection and intimacy, parenting challenges, balancing conflicting needs)?

She's expensive, but my husband and I had a great experience working with Deborah Caust, both before and after our kiddo arrived. Our insurance company reimburses us 80%, so we're lucky there. Her number is 415.567.6541 and her office is located just off Union Street. --good luck!

I recommend Susan Bernstein, MFT. We've found her to be insightful, creative, and compassionate. She's very responsive to parents' concerns, and does an excellent job connecting with children. (She sees adults, too.) Based on what I can tell from who I've seen going in and out of her office, she works with children and families from all walks of life. Her office is in Noe Valley, easily accessible by public transportation. You can reach her at (415) 282-7447. another anon

can't say enough good stuff about this woman - best i can do is to refer you to her website to see if you're on the same page and go from there. she is incredibly present and knowledgeable, entirely interactive in her sessions and open in her approach. treo

Couples therapist who has evening hours

May 2008

I'd love some updated recommendations for someone who has appointments in the evenings since I only saw one therapist listed who has evening availability. And if they take Blue Shield, that would be an even bigger bonus! Our issues are the standard ''married with children'' issues: lack of communication, loss of closeness and intimacy, etc. So any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Anon.

I know SF may be a hassle, but we worked with Deborah Caust whose office is near Union Street, and she was terrific. She has background both in couples therapy and in sex therapy. She has evening appointments and she is out of network but we had no problems getting reimbursed for a hefty portion of her fee through Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO. She is expensive, but after seeing her I was totally satisfied with how much we were paying - and I'm in the mental health field, so I'm picky about my providers...

We started seeing her to deal with issues that sound similar to yours - you might also check out David Snarch's The Passionate Marriage (book and audiobook) or consider jumpstarting things with something from the Gottman Institute. They are located in Seattle and have weekend workshops but also books, DVDs, etc. They have terrific exercises that encourage good communication and helped me and my husband to feel closer and better connected very quickly. Good luck! --been there too

I am not sure what insurance either of these woman accept but I can tell you that they are both excellent. I have seen Maggie Nemirow,PHD (510-524-2082 on The Alameda @ Solano) for individual counceling for many years and she specializes in working with couples. I have sent couple friends of mine to her before as well. My husband and I are seeing Mary Toth Granick, MFT (415-273-1310 she has an office in SF and one on Solano). Every time we leave we both feel like she has helped so much. I think either would be a wonderful choice and worth a call. LW

My partner and I really liked our psychotherapist in Rockridge. Her name is Rebecca Lueck and she is honest and compassionate. She encouraged us to take our relationship to a deeper level of intimacy and trust. And we also learned strategies for better arguing and conflict resolution. She had evening hours on Wednesdays but that might have changed. Good luck and stick it out if you can. We are in a much better place now. Holly

Taryn Thomas is a great therapist for couples. I really like her approach and she is very insightful. She is available for evening appointments. She doesn't take insurance at this time, but she can fill out forms for clients to submit to their insurance company. Her phone number is 510-496-6070. anon

I highly recommend Robert Terris as a couples/family mediator and counsler. Robert has greatly supported me and my husband in our our new role as parents. He uses active listening and non-violent communocation approach that truly transformed the way we communicate with each other. What I really liked about him is that he can be very insightful and compassionate and at the same time very practical and offer small gestures that make a huge difference - these are things that we could do daily and worked immediately to east tensions or frustrations. His e-mail is rterris at Good Luck!

Couples therapist that is trained in Imago therapy

Feb 2008

I am looking for an couples therapist that is trained in Imago therapy. preferably that is covered by the UC Berkeley therapist/mental health UHS insurance. Anon

We went to Zona Gregory. She is Imago based and has 2 offices; Berkeley, by Berkeley Bowl, and San Francisco. She was good and came to us well recommended.

Personally, I think the whole re-phraseing for clarification thing is irritating and instead of paying a fortune to wank in a therapist's office, we started using our time for an expensive lunch with wine & immediately started having laughs...after years of not enjoying much about each other.

The Harvelle Hendricks book: 'Getting the love you want' seems to be the Imago bible and is again; irritating, in that self help 'let's fill a book with wordy scenarios' way. However, the point is great and it is worth a read because rephraseing & checking for comprehension is a good technique if you have gotten into the terrible habit of blowing each other off like we had. Still, a nice long lunch or several nice long lunches with out kids or other friends, goes a long way toward improving the quality of any long term friendship / marriage... Wishing you a happy life together!

Couples counselor with weekend hours

Feb 2008

My husband and I are in desperate need of couples counseling, but he's so busy and his work schedule is so unpredictable that we need to find someone with weekend hours, maybe Saturday mornings or so. I've called almost a dozen people listed on the BPN to no avail. Can anyone recommend someone wonderful who has weekend hours? Thanks so much.

I highly recommend Gaile Roberts Nunez as a couples' counselor. She does have weekend hours and is very insightful about couples. My husband and I worked with her for about a year and both felt that she helped us communicate better overall, as well as resolve some major issues. She is insightful, smart, and tough. She works out of her home in Berkeley. 510.841.6303 anon

I know a wonderful therapist that works on Saturdays. She has really helped me and is super focused on current issues at hand (vs. talking about childhood stuff). She also helped a friend of mine with couples counseling -- Her and her husband have thanked me a thousand times for the referral and credit her for saving their marriage. Definitely give her a call -- Her name is Jill Lebeau -- Her number is 849-1010.

Hi, I am seeing a great therapist for individual therapy, but she also does couples therapy. She does have weekend appointments available. Her name is Jennifer Lieberman and her office is in Oakland near Lake Merritt. Her number is 415-998-5683.

i would highly recommend a couples mediator who has been extremely helpful in working through issues at therapy. he is above all a compassionate listener and a very wise facilitator. robert terris sees clients on weekends. you can reach him at rterris at or 510-6657718 good luck! working through it all as well.

Good counselor who works on weekday evenings

Jan 2008

My husband has finally agreed to go to counseling but we need a good, understanding counselor that works on weekday evenings. Anyone out there? -Help at last.

Several people have asked for a great couples therapist, so I decided to share ours. Paul Minsky, PhD 524-0700 in Berkeley. He really helped us alot. I know he works evenings and takes insurance, don't know about the weekends though. Good luck! anon

Seeking Couples therapist in Marin

Jan 2008

Hello - I am looking for recommendations for a couples therapist in Marin. My husband and I have seen two different people and neither one has been a fit for us. I looked through the archives and could only find recommendations for 2005. I would appreciate any recommendations you have for a great couples therapist in Marin. We have Kaiser and can\xc2\x92t commit to the couples workshop at this time due to my husband\xc2\x92s travel schedule but are more than willing to go outside Kaiser to find a good therapist. Thank you! anon

Check out Paula Love, relationship coach, @ 415-464-1171. I don't think she is a licensed therapist, but she has a deep background in working with couples. We have used her and it was helpful to make some big decisions with a man I am now happily married to. I've also been through the somatic coach training program she incorporates into her work and it's very effective. If you want to check out her bio first, then go to where you'll find her (and other skillful coaches who do deep work). A third party is worth it!

2005 - 2007 Recommendations

Dec 2007

A friend of mine is looking for a good marriage counsler in the east bay (she lives in Oakland near Piedmont). Eva

Richard Beery, Ph.D. is an excellent couples therapist. He is a brilliant, caring, and very experienced clinical psychologist. His office is on The Alameda near the corner of Solano Ave. in North Berkeley. He can be reached at 510-525-1376. His email address is rbeery [at] If one of you is in a technical or computer field, he can speak your language. But I also know a lawyer and a writer who think he's the best there is. His fees are commensurate with his expertise and experience, although I think he's less expensive ($125/hr.) for those who can come before 4 PM. anon

Bonnie MacBride is a wonderful MFT (on Dwight Way) who really taught my husband and I how to communicate with each other. She's interested in seeing you make progress and teaching you how to develop skills to become more intimate, honest and communicative with each other, so that you can ''graduate'' from therapy (my term, not her's). She's amazing and I actually miss her! Now, my husband and I will say we need ''Bonnie'' time as a way to say, ''I need to talk to you about how I'm feeling.'' She's had a huge impact on us as a couple and as individuals. Her contact info: Bonnie MacBride, M.F.T. 510-610-9807 2428 Dwight Way anon

I would send you to Dr. Lisa Lancaster (841-2525). She is in Berkeley and is a wonderul therapist who has done much work with couples (including me and my husband)! She has been extremely helpful to us. anon

Nov 2007

There are many recommendations for counselors but are there any psychologist at the PhD level? Either they're hard to find or I'm just not reading all the listings right? Can anyone recommend one for marriage and individual counseling? I'm desperate and want someone as qualified as I can get without going to a psychiatrist and dealing with the urge to prescribe meds. anon

Valory Mitchell in Berkeley is wonderful. I saw her for individual therapy, but she does a lot of couple's therapy as well. I can't recommend her enough. --Anon

I would recommend Dr. Lisa Lancaster Ph.D. My work with her has been extremely valuable. She is smart, kind and effective. She is in Berkeley (510-841-2525). anon

Some friends of mine have raved about their therapist, Dr. Jim Sparks, who has a PhD. I think that he does see both individuals and couples. His phone is 510-433-7477. KC

I can recommend a great PhD psychologist - Hans Stahlschmidt. He has helped to save our marriage. He is warm and tough. The therapy with him was a total different experience than the one we had with our former therapist. Our relationship started to change right away. He has an office in Berkeley on The Alameda. Phone 510-848 5347. Good luck. Wendy

Hi: Dr. Geraldine Alpert (PhD Harvard) in San Rafael is awesome! She helped to save my sister and brother-in-law's marriage and is great for individual counseling as well. She works in both San Rafael and SF. Good luck!

just fyi- psychologists have the exact same training as therapists in regard to the counseling services that you are seeking. the only further education that psychologists receive that MFT's (marriage and family therapists) do not is in the realm of psychological testing. furthermore, if you decide that your counselor must have a doctorate degree, a PhD's education is focused more on research and a PsyD's educational focus is more on actual counseling. just so you know

I would recommend Dr. Jill Rodgers-Quaye, Ph.D. She is a psychologist with a practice on Piedmont Avenue. I have worked with her and found her to be knowledgable, approachable, warm yet direct and very much focused on finding solutions to problems (rather than using therapy as a forum to talk endlessly). She does both individual and couples therapy and she can be reached at her website: or her phone: 510 282-2197. Good luck! Therapized

Oct 2007

I believe that people have posted recommendations recently for couples therapists in Lamorinda, but I can't seem to track them down. My husband and I have been going through some tough times for about three years now. I've brought up the idea of therapy to him, and he has already resisted. But I'm now at the point that if we don't seek some outside help, it may mean the end of the marriage. I'd appreciate any recommendations of couples/marriage therapists in Walnut Creek or Lamorinda.

Dianne Donnelly in Lafayette is great. She is objective, reasonable - and gives good ''techniques''. She can be a little tough love, but she is very pragmatic too. Good luck! anon

Lynne Harr in Lafayette was helpful, balanced, and skilled. 3468 Mt. Diablo Blvd, Lafayette. Tel. (925) 284-2298. Take your time to talk to potential therapists and see if they are a right fit for both you and your spouse. Since it's already difficult to bring an unwilling spouse to therapy, you might want a few sessions one-on-one first. This helps lay the groundwork for an effective session with your spouse. Good luck. find the best therapist, don't settle

I've had tremendous success working with Denny Reynolds in Lafayette, who is fabulous at couples counseling because she helps improve communications in ways that continue to improve the relationship outside her office doors. The co-author of wonderful books, Denny's style embodies the best practices available to counseling that include a spiritual perspective... so anyone wishing to learn to listen and be truly heard by their mate will benefit. She teaches workshops with her husband on the Art of Relationship which are truly outstanding, and I can't recommend her work highly enough, having been to many couples counselors in the past... so I now know the difference between someone who's OK and someone whose work is truly excpetional, like Denny Reynolds. Denny can be reached at (925) 283-1719 Cynthia

Sept 2007

I'm looking for a therapist for myself, and hopefully my husband with consent to come. We have a 12 year old, lots of issues are marital, but surely impacted by our child. I think a man would be the best, in case my husband agrees to therapy, but I would love your best recommendation (male or female). So far, my insurance has given me these names: Richard Bush, Charles King, Joseph Saah, Bruce Linton. Thank you!! Marital woes

I can *really* recommend Priscilla Johnson as a very kind, intelligent, and intuitive therapist. Her experience with Mindfulness Practice coupled with deep and compassionate understanding is a boon in working on difficult issues. Her ability to hold the space, invite curiosity, and facilitate in plumbing the depths with kindness, sensitivity, and wisdom makes me recommend her for either Couples or Individual therapy. You can reach Priscilla at 510.427.5401 Jessica B

Here is a recommendation for a great couples counselor. Matthew Van Lokeren, Jungian Analyst mvanlokeren[at] 415 203 7293 hope it helps ana

Sept 2007

My husband and I saw a great therapist named April Miller she is a marriage family therapist and really helped us find new ways to communicate with each other. Her number is 415 520 9311 and she is terrific! She also has a practice for eating disorders but we didn't see her for that issues. Annie

Hello, I recommend Marenka Cerny, MFA in San Francisco. Marenka is a compassionate, highly sensitive and greatly intuitive therapist who works with couples exclusively at this time. She also has a sliding scale. You can access her website at AS a testimonial, I can say personally that Marenka has been very helpful to me in being able to focus on my own particular family problem areas. She is considerate and took the time to understand my needs in a specific situation. Call 415-717-9365 for a consultation. Suzanne

Sept 2007

I am nearly 8 months pregnant with our first baby and just learned that my partner has been unfaithful for the past three months. We need some help and thought this group could give us some updated recommendations of good counselors/therapists. Neither of us have family in the area and finding support has been very difficult. He's determined to earn back my trust and be a part of our new family. I'm honestly not sure it's possible but despite my pain I'm wanting to give that a fighting chance. I'm a native English speaker and he's a native Spanish speaker so any recommendations of someone specializing in cross-cultural couples or who can conduct sessions in either language would be especially welcome (we're both bi-lingual, but it could help each of us to be able to express ourselves in our native tongues to be fully understood by each other and the therapist). Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. Rebecca

Please consider trying Mary Ciofalo in San Francisco: she is a fantastic therapist who specializes in cross cultural communication. She has helped me SO much both in individual sessions as well as when both my husband and I go together. Two people I have recommended have both established an ongoing collaboration with her and have told me how great she is. Her number is 415 929 8200 and she is located in SF at 1801 Bush St. A

Our marriage was in bad shape too when I was pregnant. My husband and I had many arguments. Luckily we went to see a couples therapist. Friends of ours recommended Dr. Hans Stahlschmidt. We both liked him very much. He understood the issues very well and addressed some real painful stuff we didn't want to deal with. He is direct and challenging but also very supportive and doesn't make you feel like you're abnormal or crazy. He might also be helpful with your bi-cultural issues because he is originally from Europe. Wendy

I know of a great therapist named April Miller MFT who helped my husband and I really work through some issues, including infidelity. She is amazing and has a sliding scale! 415 520 9311 is her number Annie

June 2007

My husband and I would like to start couples counseling. We are trying to find a therapist that will work for us. We are looking for a therapist who is familiar with the discourses of EST or The Landmark Forum, and Flores. If you know of someone who fits this profile, please let us know. Thanks, anonymous

I've been working with Dr. Marlene Winell for a while now and have come to admire her skills greatly. She has a wealth of knowledge about human development and communication skills and provides therapy in a proactive, interactive fashion. She is insightful, intelligent and caring. She consults in person and over the phone. I would highly recommend her to anyone seeking help in a relationship!! Feel free to contact her with questions - mwinell[at] Hope this helps! Helen

Couples therapist in Pinole Hercules El Sobrante

May 2007

I would appreciate any recommendations on a couples/family therapist in the Pinole/Hercules/El Sorbrante area. Needs Help in Pinole

Hi, WE live in the same area and I haven't found anyone around here. I drive to Berkeley and I have a wonderful therapist, her name is Monica Simms and you can reach her at 510-848-3633 Hope it helps you

May 2007

Have you had a couples therapist who brought you from the brink of splitting up back to a workable pleasant relationship?? We are pretty desperate with two small kids and need some help. Ideally I would love maybe an older, motherly type as we are older and I could use some gentle compassion these days in this process. I think we also need someone who can help us develop tangible plans and weekly goals so that we feel we are making some progress, or not! Anon.

We have been seeing a wonderful couples therapist, located in Berkeley--although we were not ''on the brink'', we recognized that there are some things we could improve. If you are looking for someone who is extremely smart and compassionate, with a gentle sense of humor but who keeps everyone honest (with themselves and with each other), then this is the person to call: Winifred Reilly (510 -528-0802).

To the couple seeking help in preventing a break up. I can recommend Mary Yabroff in Berkeley on Woolsey. I was on the verge of leaving my marriage and basically only stayed because of our child. After seeing our therapist for a few months, we both learned to listen better to each other, be more empathetitc with each other, and to take the sting out of difficult discussions. She is excellent in mediating potentially confrontational discussions, and stopping us when the communication gets inflammatory and getting us back on track. She is very understanding about outside stress factors affecting family life and shows compassion for both parties without taking sides. Our sessions are mostly covered by Blue Shield/HMO, but I will always make sure to save enough for eventual thereapy sessions to keep our marriage strong and alive. Learned to love my spouse again

May 2007

My husband and I are looking for an affordable couples couselor in Alameda or Oakland (we live in East Oakland). We are dealing with the usual(?!) stresses of being older new parents with an 18 month old, complete with financial challenges and having a relatively short history together before the conception of our daughter. Thanks for any referrals. Anon

There is a counseling center called A Safe Place to Heal in Oakland. You can check out the therapists there on their website Mey Saephan one of the licensed therapists there specializes in couples counseling and she does have a sliding scale fee. Or you may call them at 510-628-0740 All the best to you. A Friend who understands

Dr. Hilde Clark is an incredibly skilled, compassionate and warm clinical psychologist who has helped us through a major crisis in our marriage. She also provides counseling for children and adolescents, and should the need arise, I would not hesitate to work with her again. She is near Piedmont Ave. and her number is 510 420-1866. Anon.

May 2007

Can anyone recommend a couples' therapist at Kaiser Oakland? Looking for a savvy therapist with experience helping couples with post-partum/first baby challenges. Thanks. New Mom and Dad

i know you were looking for a kaiser rec but i just wanted to let you know about an upcoming workshop that i think would be perfect for what you described. the therapist who is facilating this helped me immensely with postpartum issues and she is a smart and compassionate person with lots of experience. this workshop is based on research done on what happens to couples' relationships after a baby is born. good luck! anon

April 2007

My Husband and I have to recommend our wonderful family/marriage therapist from San francisco, she just currently opened up an office off of Telegraph. She has been amazing and instrumental in helping my husband and I get through the pre birth to having a new child and adjusting to being in new roles, and communicating effectively in our marriage. We can not say enough good things about her. She is pretty reasonable in price. Her name is Alice Knutson 6355 Telegraph suite 307 Liscense MFC33030 Number 415.775.4995 alexandra

April 2007

I am seeing a male couples counselor who takes Blue SHield HMO or UBH (a lot of therapists take UBH even if they are not registered directly with Blue Shield). UBH has a website where they list their therapists but we would much rather go to someone who is recommended. My husband and I are looking for someone who can help us work on our communication, someone who can act as an ''interpretor'' for us. There are some areas in our relationship where we just can't hear each other. We keep having the same arguments over and over again and we drive each other a little crazy. I would like to find someone who can help us hear what the other is REALLY saying and to get out of this habit of bickering and non-listening. But the therapist doesn't have to have this ''specialty''. I would love to get the names of ANY therapists out there with whom people have had success. Thanks!

My husband and I have been seeing Stephen Flannes in Montclair. I don't know if he takes UBH, but he has been so helpful to us and I highly recommend him. anon

Try Paul Minsky, PhD. He's great and is on UBH panel. He's in Berkeley (510) 524-0700 Good Luck! anon

Alan Stein, MFCC, MPH is a great couples therapist. His office is N. Berkeley on Solano. He is supportive, understanding and his questions help cut through to the deeper stuff. His background and counseling technique is varied and practical and informed by his twenty years of the practice of Aikido. Give him a call @ 925.325.9767. lp

Feb 2007

Has anybody been to Lillie Brum, Karen Rose, or Katrina Hughes for couples counseling? Any info about any of them would be helpful. Anon

I can't speak to her couples therapy, but I have been seeing Lillie Brum for over two years. I find her to be very empathetic and understanding, and very attentive. She remains positive and never passes judgement (at least not outwardly) on the people in my life that drove me to see her in the first place (my husband, primarily!;-)) She offers positive insight and helps me to see what my and my husband's needs are (based on the info I give her, as my husband doesn't go with me). She's readily available in case of emergency therapy as well... a good therapist is hard to find...

Dec 2006

We are in search of a couples counselor to help boost our communication, but due to long commutes in opposite directions, we are looking for someone compassionate who has weekend hours, preferably on a Saturday morning. We live in Oakland. Does anyone know of a good counselor that fits this description, who is skilled at non-judgementally helping couples talk with and listen to each other? A bonus would be if this counselor would do the ocasional one-on-one session with each of us, too. Thanks in advance wants to hear, wants to be heard

I recently posted a recommendation for a couples mediator/counslor. He is open to meet evenings/weekends, so I am replying to your post. Here is what I wrote, please write to me if you have any questions.

We are a couple who have been together for over a decade and always considered ourselves completely open with each other and had very little disagreements throughout the years. This actually made it harder to deal with big issues that came about, as our life was taking new directions. With Robert\xc2\x92s help, we managed to deepen our relationship in ways we didn\xc2\x92t think were still possible. We struggled with two major issues: when to get pregnant and how to provide for the family. We found ourselves colliding frequently and the more we engaged in discussion, our frustration grew and our attempts to find common grounds were in vain. After a few painful months we decided to seek professional help. We needed someone to help us understand how to solve these specific issues and to create a space where both of us are heard and appreciated.

Applying techniques of active listening and non-violent communication, Robert helped us understand the core of our individual hurt and how it is manifested in this specific case. In the mediation process we learned to be better listeners of ourselves and our own needs and then express our needs and feelings in a way that gives full legitimization to the other\xc2\x92s needs and feelings. Robert emphasized the need to apply the new insights to our daily practices as a couple and he offered concrete ways to do so, and by that preventing further misunderstandings. After each mediation session we felt uplifted, relieved and happy and this is why we want to recommend Robert. We think his skill is beyond description \xc2\x96 you need to experience it yourself to understand, and we hope you would. He is a compassionate person and a truly dedicated mediator, with a mission to use his talent to heal and deepen relationships. Among his credentials are a masters degree in peace and conflict studies, a law degree, conflict resolution training and an extensive community mediation experience. Please contact him directly: rterris[at]

Nov 2006

I have to let everyone know that I found the most wonderful couples therapist. She is warm, a great listener, creates a safe environment, and doesn't take sides. Her counsel is from 25 plus years of experience and she regularly writes and speaks on topics related to couples all around the country. Here's her contact info:elayne[at] 510-540-6230, 2607 Alcatraz Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94708 Happy Guy

Oct 2006

I am seeking a recommendation for a counselor for a couple who have been together a long time (almost 30 years) and like each other, but have real issues concerning parenting older kids, constructively dealing with conflict, and overcoming ingrained bad patterns. Therapist must be practical (please no one full of jargon or touchy-feely) and smart. Also very discrete, as one member of couple is in high-profile job. concerned for a friend

Naomi Baran is an excellent couples counselor and her communication is very straightforward (maybe a little jargon occasionally, but not offputting). She has impressed me and my husband as being extremely smart. Licensed therapists in general are ethically bound not to discuss or name their patients, but I'm sure Naomi in particular would be completely discreet. She is at 652-2618 Good luck

My husband and I saw Fran Wickner, Ph.D, who is also a licensed marriage and couples counselor. My husband was very anti-psychotherapy, so I knew I had to find someone who wasn't going to make him go into feelings all the time (I've been to a lot of therapy and didn't care, but I didn't want him to quit). Fran was great. My husband actually showed up to all the sessions the whole six months we went and liked that she was concrete and gave us lots of things to work on during the week. Fran has been a therapist for a long time and was very helpful. She's on Solano Avenue, phone number 527-4011 anonymous

Sept 2006

i'm looking for more recent reccomendations for a couples counselor.(the latest one i could find on BPN dates back to Feb. '05). my husband and i had a 6 years long wonderful, loving and fulfilling relationship before we had children. though we are both crazy about our kids, we're also dealing with feeling of loss and longing for what our relationship used to be. we feel disconnected from eachother, emotionally and physically and have lost the humor and lightness that used to be so present in our lives. we used to be able to talk very openly, but don't seem to be able to find that open space for dialogue anymore. other issues have piled up on top of all that, one of which is my longing to return to my roots (europe) and raise our children there. we are both eager to work with someone to help us back on track and regain some of the magic that used to be our couple. thanx for your advice. former lovebirds in crisis

My husband and I started seeing Jean Shimozaki, a licensed family therapist for similar reasons. After having a child, our communication with one another changed; added to that, we were both tired and stressed out about finances. Jean was wonderful in not only helping improve our communication, but infusing fun and intimacy back into our marriage. She creates a very comfortable space for open and productive dialogue. She has offices in Berkeley and Pinole: (510) 547-8830 Good luck! anon

When my husband and I were trying to decide about whether or not to have kids we saw a couples therapist I really liked. Her name is Johanna Murphy, Ph.D. (510-459-6037). We talked about how fighting about cleaning (a frequent fight at the time) was often about deeper resentments that we weren't addressing. This has been helpful in that we can now spot doing this more quickly. I also found talking about how family of origin dynamics affect our relationship particularly helpful. I now feel I am better about identifying what may be issues with a parent versus issues with my partner and this helps diffuse some of our fights. I think talking about some of our family history with someone objective also helped us to really hear the other's experience and to be more sympathetic to the other as well. I would definetly suggest couples therapy, we are now a happy family of three! anonymous

August 2006

Anyone know of a good marriage therapist in east bay, preferably walnut creek. My husband and I are in our mid thirties, married less than 2 years and having a lot of problems w/communication. We have been arguing a lot and is has recently escalated w/alot of verbal abuse by the both of us. Any advice, suggestions are greatly appreciated.

If communication is a major issue, I strongly recommend Marlene Winell in Berkeley. She has worked with couples for many years and can teach you some things that are immediately very helpful. My husband and I were stuck in a vicious cycle and fighting a lot. Dr. Winell helped us with some key concepts and actual skills that broke the cycle and basically saved our marriage. I know you are in Walnut Creek but the travel time would be well worth it. You can reach her at 510-292-0509 Helen

I recommend Cinnamon Daniel. She is a Unitarian Universalist minister who recently left church ministry (at my church, First Unitarian in Oakland) to devote herself to her therapy/ pastoral counseling practice. I know she does couples counseling as well as individuals. She is smart, funny, wise, and gifted in her work with people. Her number is 510-910-6941 Peggy

June 2006

I'm looking for a therapist in the Martinez/Pleasant Hill/Walnut Creek area to help with some personal and marriage issues. I'm going to go alone without my husband. Any recommendations for someone on ''the other'' side of the tunnel? I would prefer a female, and they must accept MHN Need to unload baggage and revive marriage

I highly recommend Marc Berke of the Diablo Counseling Associates. 925-838-2558 He is a great guy, a good listener, fun...and very ''real''. He is a bit expensive at $135 an husband and I were headed toward divorce a year ago...and he helped us to save our marriage. Good luck! Deanna

March 2006

I was wondering if anyone could possibly recommend a warm, friendly therapist for couples' counseling? My fiance and I have some specific issues that need addressing before we get married.

I can highly recommend Winifred Reilly as a couple's therapist. My husband and I saw her for about a year and she really helped work miracles in our marriage. She works with you for 2 hours every other week. It's intense, but you get stuff done. I have no idea if she takes insurance or not. Her number is:528- 0802. Her office is on Milvia in north Bkly. anon

I would recommend our couples therapist-- Susan Stoeffler. She is thoughtful and gives us both time to express ourselves while also asking good questions that prompt us to get into root causes rather than fixating on the argument du jour. She takes Blue Cross PPO and has been great working thru the payment system with us. She's in Berkeley and her number is 510-287- 8715. good for you guys for recognizing the need to communicate well early! anon

My husband and I have been seeing Jean Shimozaki (LCSW) in her Berkeley practice since last Fall, and we couldn't recommend her more. She's helped us both finally ''hear'' some of the issues we've been voicing to one another for years, and we feel we've made great progress with her. She's very warm, creates a comfortable space, and can definitely help with cognitive/behavioral work. Unfortunately, not sure what insurance she accepts. Good luck! Anon

Feb 2006

My husband and I neeed a marriage therapist very urgently otherwise we are going to divorce pretty soon. We live in San Ramon and someone in the area would be very helpful since we have a 2 month old son. Please help, I don't know what to do rigth now. Susan

Try Susana Charm at (925) 934-4744. Her office is in Walnut Creek. I have never seen her as a therapist. She is my neighbor. However, I know that she is very qualified, teaches at JFK, has been in private practice many years and has also worked as the counselor at The Athenian School for many years. Good luck. Andrea

Dec 2005

My husband and I need recommendations for a good New Parents counsiling. We find ourselves arguing all the time about who is more sleep deprived and so on and we can't seem to find a solution on our own and my doctor says if I don't get any rest she will have to put me on Meds and I don't want that because I don't want to give up nursing our 6 month baby. We are both feeling really helpless and our communication has gone bye bye. We can't communicate without arguing anymore. We despirately need help. We live in El Cerrito so if anyone can recommend a good counselor it would be greatly appreciated. emily

Oh, boy - I really feel for you. Having a new baby has got to be one of the hardest times for a couple. We went through exactly the same thing of arguing about who was getting more sleep, more free time, etc, leading to really degenerating communication. We ended up seeing a couples counselor, and I went to individual counseling as well. Both were extremely helpful. I credit our couples counselor with saving our marriage. Her name is Marion Pastor - I don't have her number handy, sorry. She is very, very experienced and skillful, and she will not let either partner get away with laziness in communication.

My individual therapist may also take couples - she was also great. Her name is Kirsten Miley (415-567-9194), and she works in the east bay and San Francisco. Her big strength for me was in recognizing patterns that I couldn't see, and gently pushing me to figure out why they were there. She really helped me get through postpartum depression, and helped me communicate more effectively as well. Pregnant again and hoping it's easier the 2nd time around!

You can call your health plan and ask for referals in your area. After that you just have to call each one and ask a few pointed questions (tell them a little about what's happening with you and ask their approach, etc.), find out if they are available at a convenient time for both you and your husband. In my opinion that's the hard part, sorting through the lists of people. I also have said to myself I'll see someone for 1 -2 visits before I decide if they are a good match for me. You will not always hit it off right away. But you will know if it's right!

If you do get a list of therpists, you can also look up on the Parents Network website to see of anyone else has had an experience with that person. It is VERY personal, so what might be right for someone else might or might not be right for you.

I assume that you have health insurance since you have a UC email. If you don't, however, I wonder if the Tang Center has any referrals to low-cost therapists?

I also think that you shouldn't be scared of being ''put on meds'' by your doctor, that is YOUR choice, not hers. Sounds like you and your husband need some nurturing yourselves! Do you have someone who can watch the baby for a few hours, you could pump some milk and take a nap on a regualr basis? You will also need some chilcare for when you go to counselling.

Good luck! I was there once and am through that hard stage. You will get there too. once-tired mom

Oct 2005

I moved to Marin and I can't find a resource there for recommendations like BPN. Has anyone lived there (or not) who can recommend a good couple's therapist, preferably in the San Rafael, Fairfax, Ross area?

My friend is a great therapist, Stephanie Berglund, in San Raphael. Steph has been a therapist for over 20 years and is a wonderful, caring and very perceptive gal. Her number is :415 454-4478. Please tell her that June sent you. Good luck, June

Martha Lawlor, MFT is an excellent couples therapist located in San Rafael. 415-459-1345. Experienced, fair to each member of the couple, and depth-oriented. She is also a Jungian analyst. Highly recommended. anonymous

I recommend Susan Quigley, Marriage and Family Therapist in San Rafael. Office # 415 455 4998. She has been licensed for about 14 years and has worked many years with chidren and their parents. She is also a parent. Sheila Longerbeam

I recommend Lou Dangles. I don't have his number on hand, but he has a wonderful home office in San Anselmo. He sometimes co-counsels with his wife. prema

Sept 2005

My husband revealed an affair to me three weeks ago and we are now trying to pick up the pieces. We are both interested in pursuing individual therapy in addition to the couples counseling we are doing. We are having a tough time finding recommendations for therapists who accept our insurance (Cigna/Blue Cross HMOs), which we really need to make use of. We'd love to find recommendations for therapists on either Blue Cross or Cigna HMOs. Alameda, Oakland, Berkeley or Lamorina areas would work for us. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. hurt but hopeful

I'd like to recommend Erik Grabow as a therapist. He has a gift for helping couples deal with issues like yours. He is supportive and yet able to confront the hard issues without making anyone feel blamed or picked on. I don't know what type of insurance he accepts, but it would be worth your time to call him. 549-3797 Patty

Sept 2005

I already posted to the advice newsletter; here I am looking for a specific referral. Here's the situation: Hubby and I have different discpline approaches with our two young chilren -- his tends to be authoritarian; mine is more of a ''loving boundaries'' style. On weekends, conflicts about our different styles flare up into bickering and anger. I want to find a way to agree on discipline. In my opinion, his ''method'' -- yelling at them and threatening them -- doesn't work, and makes our home an unhappy place to be. I want to see a couples counselor to work this issue out. He says it costs too much and he thinks it wouldn't help, although he did concede that if counseling does actually help, he would consider it. But he wants proof before he pays. I am looking for stories from others who have had sucess with counseling for this problem, and in particular I would like referrals to counselors who are particularly good with this issue. Thanks! seeking backup

Sheri Glucoft Wong is an amazing family therapist. I have worked with her as a patient (in family therapy with similar issues) and as a colleague and she is very skilled and has a sense of humor.

Sept 2005

Can anyone recommend a good marriage counselor/therapist who will accept MHN?

I'm not sure what insurance he accepts, but I think Erik Grabow is a wonderful therapit. He is located in south Berkeley. His number is 549-3797. Good luck!

My husband and I were very happy with Jeanne Menary, who takes MHN. I don't have her # offhand, but you can find it by googling her. She made us both feel comfortable and had a smart, perceptive way of framing our issues. anon

Aug 2005

Can anyone recommend the name and contact information for a good marriage counselor? We'd prefer someone in Contra Costa or Alameda County. After many years of marriage, my husband and I seem to have experienced a major breakdown in communication due to a lot of pressure on us both. We love each other very much but have lost the ability to communicate. Sad Wife

Dear Sad Wife, You might want to try Dr. Joanne Chao in Oakland (near the Berkeley border). She is warm, fair, and helped our communication greatly. She is an active therapist who is not afraid to call us you on your ''stuff,'' but does so in way that you can hear it. Her contact information is: 510-594-4003 6536 Telegraph Avenue Oakland anon

Sorry to hear you're going through rough times. I'd like to recommend Susan J. Kahn (she goes by S.J.). She's located on College Ave. in Rockridge. I can't find her number at the moment, but she's really great. -been there in Berkeley

I highly recommend Marion Pastor. She helped my husband and I get through a major communication barrier last year, and I feel like we're stronger than ever now. She lives and works in the Berkeley hills. She is a very, very skilled therapist, and not terribly touchy-feely - i.e., she has no problem cutting through the bull**** and getting to the feelings behind what you are saying. anon

My husband and I have been seeing Winifred Reilly (in N. Bkly). She's really great and has helped us tremendously with our communication difficulties. One thing I really love is that she doesn't take sides but really pins us to the wall appropriately. We've learned a lot from her and our marriage is getting back on track. Her number is: 528-0802. Good luck. anon

I am familiar with both Jodie Berke and Gayle Peterson. Both are highly qualified, nurturing therapists, who have been working with individuals and couples for many years. I saw Gayle Peterson for couples counseling back in 1986. She was very helpful for us-we did split up, but she was able to help us get the clarity we needed to make the break as pain free as possible. Jodie Berke, I saw individually, but think she would also make an excellent couples counselor. Patty

June 2005

My husband and I have been married for 5 years with virtually no problems. Since the birth of our son 1.5 year ago we have been having a very difficult time adjusting and have been fighting more than the first 5 years combined. We'd like to get the marriage back on track and are looking for a compassionate, reasonable counselor in the Rockridge/Montclair area. Thanks. new parents

I wish to recommend an amazing couples therapist who has worked with both my husband and me since the birth of our daughter. He has had offices in Emeryville, Albany, and El Cerrito, and his name is Larry Stone; office number 510 964 1200. He is quite popular (deservedly so) but his schedule is also somewhat flexible. Because I have often had a sneaky feeling in past therapy sessions with others that I was able to outsmart the therapist, I have really appreciated Larry's humanism, intelligence, depth of insight, and ability to work really well with both men and women. This is a deep person who is able to get right to the core of an issue quite quickly. If something big is happening in your session, he will sometimes add a few minutes to your session to make sure you feel complete. I really thought my husband and I were on the brink of collapse, with so many issues surfacing after the birth of our daughter, and I was resistant to working with a man, but Larry far surpasses any other therapist I have ever encountered. If you are at the end of your rope, just give him a call. His cell is 510 815 1600, but it is more for emergency situations. He accepts many forms of health insurance. Wanting to Help

Susan Schreier Williams and Sola Williams are married and have a 4 year old. They have helped my partner and I so much not only with understanding our relationship, but how our relationship effects our children (4 & 7). What we like most about working with Susan and Sola is that they are extremely direct and humorous and their work includes simple body games that encourage relaxation. With their help, we have been able to see, feel and be responsible for our habitual ways of relating that don't feel good. I'd be happy to talk to you about them some more if you want or you could call them directly. Susan Schreier Williams and Sola Williams 482-2276. They are right off Park Blvd. Galen

We went through a similar face after we had our baby and had a lot of success after getting therapy with Denise Forte, she's in Berkeley and is great. I highly recommend her. Her number is 510-286-7615. Anon

May 2005

My marriage is in urgent need of counseling about many issues, including almost inexistent sex life. We would like a counselor that follows the approach of David Schnarch (author of ''Passionate Marriage'') and is located in the East Bay. Sliding scale or reasonable fee would be a plus. I have looked through the archives and I have not seen any therapist that responds to this description. Any recommendations would be highly appreciated. Anon

Try Heidi Berrin Shonkoff at 849-4106. She had us each read the book and I believe she studied with David Schnarch as well. All around, we think she is great. Good luck!

May 2005

Sensitive topic, but here goes: I am thinking about looking for a new couples counselor and am wondering if anyone has good or bad feedback on their couples counseling experience that they would be willing to share with me - including a particular psychologist who they felt was effective. Also interested in what to look for when choosing someone, how much to pay, timeline to anticipate progress etc. We are a busy family, with lots of things to address. We've been paying appx. $320 an hour, have done one year plus one intensive and are still feeling somewhat stuck. Any feedback would be appreciated, and if you would like to email me directly, your input would be kept completely private. Many thanks for whatever anyone is able to share.

I highly recommend Dr. Allen Kanner in Berkeley -- 510-558- 7210. He's experienced, insightful, patient and kind. My personal opinion is that you're paying way too much currently; and that you should discontinue if you feel like things aren't improving. You may just need a fresh approach, and it sounds like you've given your current therapist a chance. Try someone new, and after a given amount of sessions, ask yourself if it's helping. If not, don't be afraid to move on. anon

My husband and I have been seeing Winifred Reilly and she has REALLY helped us tremendously. It's been since about Dec. and our relationship is SOOOO much better. We were in pretty bad shape, always angry and nattering, not listening, irritated with each other, no sex in months. We now are communicating, listening to each other, genuinely enjoying each others company, working as a team as parents and learning about helpful ways to communicate and express our feelings and needs.

Winifred is great...she doesn't take sides except to prove a point. Pins us to the wall at various times (equal opportunity wall pinner). We have both really benefited and my husband is not one to readily agree to go for counselling. Her number is 528-0802. She's in north berkeley near Shattuck Commons. She sees couples only, as far as I know and she sees them every other week for 2 hours. This is a really effective way to time it, I can be agony if you're wanting it to end, but it really is plenty of time to get into things without being told your 50 minutes is up. We pay her $240.00 for 2 hours. Good luck, happier wife

March 2005

Hi, I am looking for a couples counselor who can address the possibility that my husband and I may not be able to work out our marital problems. We have been in couples counseling for years, but recently as I have become increasingly unhappy, it seems like our counselor has difficulty really addressing the fact that we might not be able to give each other what we both want and need. I am looking for a smart, straight-shooter who isn't afraid to challenge each of us, and who doesn't assume that we can work everything out because we love each other. I hope we don't have to split, but I'm tired of the difficult stuff being swept under the carpet for fear it will be too much for us to manage. Maybe a counselor who has been through a divorce him/herself? And ideally, $100 or less per session. Oh, and in your recommendations, please refrain from advising me about what I should do in my marriage. Thanks! ready to face the worst

Hi, I have to applaud your bravery at wanting to really figure out if your marriage can work or not. My partner and I spent thousands of dollars going to several different couples therapists over 3 years, and we both feel that we did more important and effective work in our first 2 hour meeting with Heidi Berrin Shonkoff (849-4106) than we had in all those 3 years. She's brilliant at cutting through BS and getting to the heart of matters quickly. She's challenging and she's compassionate. She's worth every penny (not cheap!). We saw her for a year and a half, and have just recently returned to her for a post-baby overhaul. I don't believe it's easy to get in to her practice, but worth a wait in my opinion. Heidi Fan

Hi - we have the best couples therapist of all time and literally over 9 other couple friends agree. She is concrete, VERY perceptive (intuitive), pragmatic, goal oriented, to the point and wise. Also, she lets you go when she thinks you are done - we and others have literally been told we were done and to come back when we needed a tune-up (which we periodically do). Two of the nine couples I know who have gone to her have gotten divorced and she (and her husband Phil who is a great therapist esp. for men and is in the same building) were very supportive of the divorce. Her # is 510-658-6282 - her name is Tobey Hiller and she is Oakland near Piedmont. Sarah

My husband and I are heading towards a ''good'' divorce with the excellent and insightful help of Dr. Richard Bush in Berkeley. He's on the MHN network. We are much better co-parents as a result and I anticipate we'll even continue to be good friends when all is said and done. Good luck. Anonymous

I have a great counselor!! Her name is Margaret Thompson, She is based in Oakland near Kaiser Hospital. Good Luck!! Anon

I highly recommend Isadora Alman in San Francisco, near Laurel Village. She is non-judgemental and specializes in Couples Counseling. 415 386-5090. anon

A great couples' therapist is Austin Hurst, Ph.D. in Lafayette-- 945 Risa Road, Ste. A Lafayette, CA 94549(925) 283-5740. anon

I know of an excellent psychologist in Rockridge. He is very straight to the point. He also can help without taking years to intervene. His name is David Krause, Ph.d. I believe his fee $130, but will probably slide to $100. His number is 510-287-5898. Good Luck! nicole

We work with Susan Schreier Williams and Sola Williams. One of the first things they say is that we have to be willing to let go of the relationship in it's present form. They speak really directly, sometimes shockingly so, and it's been an incredible help for my partner and I to be met in places we have never been met before. Their approach goes well beyond traditional talk therapy and we have made progress quickly and profoundly. I love having a man and woman combo, because then we get both perspectives. They have been married for around 6 years. I highly recommend them. Their sessions are $125 for an hour and a half, but we go every other week and that's plenty. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Galen

Nancy-Levine Jordano is a counselor who will tell a couple that their differences are irreconcilable, if that is indeed the case. She bore this sad but true news to me and my ex-wife, and there has no never been any doubt to my mind that 1) she did everything she could as a therapist to bring us together and 2) that her eventual recommendation that we separate was the correct one. She has an office in Oakland by Lake Merritt; her number is (925) 944-5699. Anonymous

You may want to try Dr. Michael Smith in Oakland. His number is 510-530-7900. I'm not sure how much he charges. I saw him individually a few years ago and was paying less than $100. Good luck. pebbles

I can't recommend Leslie Kirby highly enough. She has absolutely been instrumental in saving our marriage - BUT never once showed any signs of being afraid to take us wherever we needed to go - including splitting up - which we came very close to doing. She is the best therapist I've ever worked with - she is experienced, articulate, kind and direct, and approachable. In the hardest times, I felt safe with her and always felt she had my best interest at heart. The only thing is that she may not be taking more clients right now, but you should still contact her because that changes all the time. 510-843-7555. Her office is near Berkeley Bowl. All the best with your journey. Cari

I highly recommend Dr. Winston Valois (510-849-3211) in Berkeley. I have been to several couples therapists, most of whom were not helful and some were even detrimental to my marriage. He is the very best, right to the point and is everything you are looking for. That being said, I would also add that although it is quite a financial and emotional investment, I have always been happier with therapists when I have taken the time to shop around, going to 2-3 before making my final decision.

March 2005

I am looking for an exceptional marriage & family therapist to help me heal & help my husband face some issues about his infidelity in our marriage. We have young kids so I am committed to trying to make the marriage work, and am looking for someone who has been successful in making marriages thrive after an affair. Berkeley or Montclair areas preferable. anonymous

Please try Gail Alter in Berkeley. Her number is 510/433- 2972. We saw her for several years, and she was patient, nurturing and validating. This must be a tough time for you, and I applaud you for wanting to make your marriage work. Gail helped us through some difficult times - I hope she is able to help you as well.

My husband and I went to see Dr. Bruce Cribley in Oakland, off of Grand Ave. I don't know that this is his area of expertese (sp?) but my husband had been unfaithful before we got married and Bruce helped us work through it. We've been very happy now for 2 and a 1/2 years. If you're interested his number is 510- 530-4112. Good luck.

I think that Cheryl Jones, 510-653-7374, has a good grasp on the issues surrounding marital stress and families, and what it takes to maintain a union. She certainly doesn't believe that relationships are doomed if infidelity has occurred. Anonymous

Hi Anon 'Trying to Heal'...
I first want to offer you my support and praise your effort to try and heal your relationship after an affair.

Although I had no children at the time, I experienced a similar 'violation' of my marriage many years ago. After picking myself up off the floor from the shock of it, I underwent individual as well as couples counseling (my husband had 1:1 counseling, too) to try and save our marriage. It is a painful road, and much comes out that might take you by surprise, but if you are both committed to making it work, chances are it will.

Both my husband and I are eternally grateful to Dr. Mary Herget who practices in SF. She used to teach grad classes to student therapists in Berkeley and I believe she used to practice in Berkeley, but may no longer. Her number is 415-221-9973. To this day, I send a holiday card to her updating her on our family life.

At one of our last sessions with her all those years ago, she asked us what she could tell her students that, in our experience, helped us begin to rebuild our relationship. We both agreed that we had to take responsibility for our part in the relationship and that both of us had a role to play in its breakdown. Now, 11 years and 3 children later, I still believe that.

Lastly, there's a couple of very important things I want to tell you; Don't offer your forgiveness to your husband until you are ready and really feel matter how much he needs to hear it. Secondly, heal in your own time, not in the timeframe that your husband, therapist, friends, parents or siblings wants you to. You can't force yourself to close the wound. It can only happen over time.

I rarely think about what happened all those years ago--I thought at the time not a day would go by without my crying about it. But time does heal; and odd as it may sound, you will be stronger for this experience in some way, some day.

I am sending you a hug and support from...
Someone who's been there

Feb 2005

Can anyone recommend a smart and insightful marriage counselor? Thank you for any leads. anon

My partner and I had a great experience with Lor Fjerkenstad. She is definetly a smart, insightful couples therapist. She really helped us with some difficult communication issues. What we liked about her was that she was very warm and down-to- earth. I do believe that she offers a sliding fee, but you'd have to check with her as to the fee range. Her office is located in Rockridge , about a 3 minute walk from BART. anon

My husband and I have gone to see Gene Kennedy in Oakland. I don't have his number on me right now, but he is in the yellow pages. His office is on Telegraph near Alcatraz. He really helps us to communicate with each other, and he's funny, too! anon

Dr Bruce Linton in Berkeley has helped make my marriage positively enjoyable! Plus, he takes our insurance. I don't have his number offhand, because my husband does the appointment duties (a testament to Dr Linton's therapy in itself), but he's in the phonebook. Good Luck!
happily married again

We can't recommend Mary Ann Regan highly enough. She is in Berkeley, 510-652-6600. She is amazingly talanted, able to navigate the most sensitive, charged, seemingly unsolvable situations with candor, humor and grace. My husband and I both think the world of her and credit her for our happy marriage. We still go back occassionaly with a problem we aren't able to solve alone, and we are always impressed and see results. Rebecca

I want to recommend Dr. Marlene Winell in Berkeley. I gave a general reference for her a while back but I haven't seen it on the website and I forgot to mention the work she does with couples. She is great at teaching communication skills. My partner and I did a 10-week program with her which was a huge benefit to us. She also works with individual couples to help you get clear on what the real issues are and take some steps to make changes. I don't think she takes Kaiser but she will work with you on finances, plus she works fast, especially if you do the ''homework.''
I found Dr. Winell to be a fantastic therapist. She is empathetic and deeply interested in her clients--when you work with Marlene, you are working with an understanding ally. Beyond that, she brings an impressive assortment of therapeutic tools to the session--she is NOT a one-size-fits-all therapist--different people and different challenges require different strategies, and Marlene's skill and creativity match her empathy. I found her use of clinical guided imagery to be especially helpful and in some instances, transforming. Her goals are both practical--she shares problem-solving methods with her clients--and profound-- her ultimate emphasis is on personal integrity and building the awareness and strength that we need to reflect who we are in the world. Marlene helped me discover new ways of seeing the world that have served me well and that I expect will support me for the rest of my life. I recommend her without reservation--and with gratitude and enthusiasm! Jan

2004 and Earlier

Dec 2004

Hi, Apart from the fact that this has been a specially stressful year (new baby, and some financial problems), I do feel that I'm having problems in my marriage. But we're willing to fight for it. Anyone out there knows a good and compassionate counselor? (affordable too!) It is very important for us that he or she is open to other cultures. Both my husband and I are not from the U.S. and were raised by non-American parents. Thank you for any insight you may have. New mommy in trouble

Dr. Marlene Winell in Berkeley (510-649-1256) - she is understanding, and great with couples and is a parent herself; she has also lived around the world and sensitive to cultural differences. See my unsolicited review of her below. Financially, I believe she has a sliding scale but just call her - she'll discuss your situation with you at no obligation. Also keep in mind, she helps people pretty quickly so it doesn't take long and it's worth it. Jan

I have an excellent recommendation for help with adjusting to the many changes of becoming new parents, particularly the stresses placed on the marriage, (including familiarity with different cultures): Donna Rothert, Ph.D. She has offices in both Albany and Oakland. Her number is 510-273-9548. Pamela

Susan Schreier Williams and her husband, Sola Williams, specialize in working with new parents. They have a three year old, and know the ins and outs of relating when it comes to new parenting. They are a very conscious couple and speak directly to the truth in a simple and relieving way. My partner and I are a lesbian couple, with two children, and Susan and Sola have been a godsend in helping us relate more happily and easefully with each other and the children. Sola is from Jamaica and Susan is from the US. I think they would be sensitive to your cultures, as well. Their number is 510-482- 2276 and you can email bodywisdom at Feel free to contact me if you want more info. Galen

Oct 2004

Looking for a good therapist in SF to help explore what separation/divorce might look like for us and our 3 year old. We've been to 3 different couples' therapists and have not been able to get 'unstuck' in our 5 year marriage. My husband can talk rings around me, so a sharp, assertive therapist might be our best bet. Any ideas? We've been given the following names: Alzak Amlan, Shira Shore, and Sheri Raley...anyone had any experience with either of them? Thanks. Stuck and Scared in SF

I would highly recommend Kirsten Beuthin. She is a very warm therapist, but also very practical and has an office in San Francisco. Best of luck. anonymous

My husband and I went to Peter Howard in SF in Pacific Heights. He is a behavioral guy, and really good. I wish I had his contact info, but don't right now. He was very insightful, and good at forcing ''balance'' between us (in our relationship, I am actually the faster talker, etc. Peter was ON me, and didn't let me zip around things). He is a *very* smart guy (not to sound like a jerk, but my husband is an attorney and I am a PhD and we have had therapists who just didn't keep up). Only downside is that he is pretty expensive (which I guess comes with the territory of being really good).
Need a smart therapist to keep me in line!

Marcia Rafinski is an excellent couples therapist. She's really effective, everyone feels understood, and your ability to communicate and work through blocks is greatly facilitated. She has moved to Marin but still sees lots of clients in SF. 415-485-6722 Ann

September 2004

It's not easy after a baby! My husband and I are looking for a great couples therapist. Probably would prefer an MFT in or close to our area - Lincoln Heights near Mormon Temple - and someone who had Blue Shield as a provider.

I would like to recommend Kellie Carbone, MFT at 510-594-8262. She does individual, couples, and group therapy. I have only had experience with her as an individual therapist but I am absolutely sure she would be great as a couples therapist as well. She is extremely kind, dedicated, and insightful. I have had experiences with other therapists and have never found someone so caring and committed to her clients' growth. Good luck!

I would recommend Carl Eggers, MFT for couples counseling. He has a website at that describes his approach, including some out of the (sand) box ways of helping people begin to express themselves when words fail. He's in the North Bay, but I believe he also sees clients in the East Bay.

I highly recommend Matthew Marzell for couples counseling and couples communications issues. He is going to be doing some couples workshops and he also has expertise working with entire families and individuals. My husband and I were recommended to him by a trusted friend who has had many experiences with various therapists over the years. My friend said that Matthew was the most effective counselor he had ever come across and that with Matthew's tools he and his wife had been able to deal with issues faster than he ever had with other therapists. I found my friend's comments to be completely true. Matthew is aggressive, but in a really good way. He helps you identify commitments that you want to make in your life and helps you stick to them. My husband and I went to him when our relationship was truly falling apart and infidelity had become an issue. Matthew has an approach that worked wonders for us. He's a fantastic relationship coach and if it wasn't for him, I don't know if I'd still be married. Matthew is not a licensed therapist; he's a counselor with many years of experience. I was a little hesitant about going to someone who isn't licensed, but he's completely professional and I think he whipped us into shape faster than months and months of slow therapy ever would. He's great! Both my husband and I were both doing our own individual therapy when we started seeing Matthew (because we were in such crisis), but we actually stopped seeing our individual therapists because we thought Matthew was so effective. He's in Martinez - an easy drive from Berkeley. You can give Matthew a call at 925-229-3260. I'm also happy to talk to anyone and give more detail about him.

Related page: Therapists for depression

Sept 2004

Can anyone recommend a couples counselor with experience and/or expertise in working with couples where one partner suffers from depression? My husband & I have been seeing a counselor for a while, but it just doesn't seem to be working. He suffers from sometimes serious depression (and is in treatment), but our current counselor seems uncomfortable addressing the effect of his depression on our relationship (she doesn't think it's about ''us''). I believe that the depression is the REASON we've been having problems, not a side issue. I'm trying to find a new person who is willing to tackle this issue head-on. I've looked at previous recommendations, but no one seems to mention depression as a particular issue for couples counselors. Since I've been burned once, I don't want to take the chance that any ''good'' counselor will intuitively know how to handle a depressive partner situation. East Bay or SF is fine. Someone in Kaiser would be great, but not necessary.

went through the same exact issue with my husband. Joyce Lindenbaum was our savior. on college near Diesel Books. Ph: (510) 601-9171 Anon

Dana Locke is a thoughtful, warm, insightful individual and couples'psychotherapist with an interactive style. She will definitely address the impact of your husband's depression on the marriage. She leaves no stones unturned. Her office is conveniently located at the corner of Claremont and College. Her number is 510-655-2823.

May 2004

My husband and I are considering couples therapy with Jay Earley and Bonnie Weiss. While there is a favorable recommendation in the archives regarding life coaching, I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with them in couples therapy specifically? thanks.

I have been working with Bonnie Weiss as my coach/therapist for over a year and a half and think she is super. While I do not have direct experience with her and Jay as a couples therapist, we have certainly covered a number of relationship issues. I think her background in gestalt therapy, coaching, and more recently family sytems theories would make her an excellent choice for a couples therapist. I also think Jay is highly qualified. JC (Editor note: Contact info as of Sept 2007: Bonnie Weiss LCSW 415 924-5200 bonnieweiss [at]

I don't know about the therapists you mentioned, but we have been to several different ones and can say that we have never found anyone close to the effectiveness of Denah Joseph. She doesn't beat around the bush, is fair, and pushes both members of the couple to grow individually and as a couple. She is located in Oakland on Peidmont mc

May 2004

I am looking for updated recommendations on a good marriage counselor. No touchy feely stuff, but rather someone who can help my husband and me communicate effectively, help us articulate difficult feelings in a safe place, and really hear each other. We have a 2 year old and have been trying unsuccessfully for the past 9 months to have a second child. Now my husband is having second thoughts about expanding our family. Our marriage really went south after we had our first child and it was a tremendously stressful time for both of us. (I ended up in therapy, he ended up in anger management counseling). We pulled our marriage back together without marriage counseling and things are better now, but we are both scarred from the experience and he, especially, is afraid that the stress of a second child will cause things to fall apart again and that we won't be able to survive it. I think we never really tackled the underlying issues that led to the bad times and they are resurfacing again in this dilemma. Recommendations for therapists who have dealt with this kind of thing would be helpful. Trying to find our way

My recommendation for someone to help with communication between two people would be Winifred Reilly. She works out of her home in Berkeley. I don't have her phone number any more, but if you can find her, and she has time for you, she's great. She has a good sense of humor, too. A Poor Communicator

My husband & I are seeing Howard Hamburger (653-6393) He's in Oakland off Piedmont Ave. We had seen two other couples counselors before (from the ucb recommendations) and while they were nice their approach didn't work for us. We are dealing with many issues - children (yes the relationship went downhill after our child was born), depression and financial stress in our life. We view life completely differently and can hardly have a conversation without arguing. With Howard's help we are slowly getting through this. He's very intuitive, does not get emotionally involved (which the others did) and knows how to keep you on track. Feel free to email me with any questions. Good luck. Until seeing Howard I had lost faith in couples counseling.

I'd recommend Dr. Deborah Joy (phone: 524-8284, practice is on Solano in Albany). She's very smart and compassionate, and good at helping couples work on practical communication skills and reestablishing loving feelings. The emphasis is building the positive in your relationship, and working through problems without getting mired in blame-throwing and anger. She's helped us with some of the exact issues you mention: making a decision about a second child when the first (though deeply loved) stressed our marriage, dealing with a period of infertility (which she herself struggled with, having a child fairly late in life), and anger management. We were in bad shape when we started with her, and are on much more solid ground now...and happily expecting our second child. Good luck to you!

September 2003

any recommendations for a good, affordable couples counselor in lamorinda?

Dr. Beth Ferree in Lafayette (925-284-3665) has helped us a lot. She is a great listener but quickly helps you get to the root of the problem (in a gentle, supportive way) and then gives you easy suggestions (make some time to talk, go out more as a couple, etc.) for improving your everyday relationship. She was not covered by my insurance but was worth every out-of-pocket penny. Anonymous

August 2003
My husband and I have been seeing Naomi Baran in Rockridge for about two years and we love her. I'm a new mom as well and though we are in couples therapy, I think she'd be great on an individual basis as well, especially for dealing with coping with parenthood. She's not a PhD but is an excellent therapist and has helped us tremendously. She's in the offices over Market Hall. anon

August 2003
I would like to recommend Eileen Crean, MFT. We are currently seeing her right now for marriage counseling and we both like her! She accepts UCB's PacifiCare insurance. She is in Berkeley at 2340 Ward Street, Suite 204. Her phone number is 549-3404. Anon

July 2003

My marriage is on the brink and we need help. My doctor recommended Dr. Rebecca Epstein for marriage counseling. Has anyone been treated by her? Did you like her? Was it effective? Thanks, anon

Dr. Rebecca Epstein is fabulous! She is so smart and a wonderful resource. Our marriage was on the brink too and she helped us find a different, better path. Our marriage is now better than it ever was. Good luck to you. anon

I went through a hard time with my marriage recently. I went to several therapists and was sorely disappointed... and then I found Rebecca. She is wonderful and I can not say enough great things about her services. My husband and I went to her and I have continued to work with her. Everytime I leave her office I have greater clarity. I highly recommend her to anyone with marital concerns and / or personal concerns. She is a true professional! kc

We had a somewhat disappointing experience with Rebecca Epstein a few years ago. It seemed to us that she was not as careful or thoughtful a listener as we had hoped for. We ended up going to Barbara Vivino, also in Berkeley, and found her to be attentive and caring, and she helped us through a difficult period. anonymous

July 2003

I am in need of a recommendation for a couples therapist who specializes in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) in the Bay Area. Thank you for any responses. anonymous

I can strongly recommend Mary Bradford, PhD. Her office is in central Berkeley. She works with couples from the EFT perspective. Very experienced, very knowledgeable, very good therapist. Her office number is: 510-843-5508. Carol-Ann

May 2003

We are looking for a marriage counselor in the Lamorinda area. We may be considering Cindy Hill-Ford or Colette Bischer-Choate. Any thoughts about these or other therapists in this area? Anon

Collette Bischer-Choate is a friend and collegue of mine. She is very good with couples and families, fair, professional, and practical. I suggest meeting with her a few times and then deciding if she's a good match for you. susan

April 2003

Can anyone recommend an affordable couples counselor that's very well versed in cross-cultural relationships (american woman with a latino man. i've looked in web site and find nothing for latino/american couples)? anon

Mai Le is a fantastic couples counselor, although I don't know if she has specifically addressed Latina/American issues. However, she is Vietnamese, and her husband American, so I am sure she is familiar with cross-cultural issues. I cannot say enough good things about Mai, I adore her! She has 2 offices, one in SF, and one in Berkeley. Here is her number: (415) 928- 6736. Good luck! kelly

March 2003

Regarding Kaiser couples counseling in the most recent newsletter. I can understand your frustration if this is your first baby. I wish I had gone to counseling for my first one too. However, we did not start couple counseling until our second baby. My counselor is great. Her name is Vicky Marlow in Lafayette and her phone # is (925) 254-4807. If you or your husband are working, ask your personnel office if you qualify for the Employee Assistance Program. This is a program that allows you to seek counseling for your kids, marriage or individual for free. It is completly confidential. Vicky accepts this program. ESP bills her and I do not pay anything or deal with any paperwork. IT'S GREAT!!! My husband and I work at the same place so we each get 6 session every 6 month. That means we have 12 free counseling sections every 6 months. I strongly recommend this program because you do not want to add any more financial burden to your problems. Hang in there. It gets easier with time. Good Luck!!! anon

February 2003

I am looking for recommendations for a couples counselor who is down to earth. Pref near campus. Thanks. Lynn

I highly recommend Kirsten Beuthin, LMFT 510/652-0990. Her office is in Berkeley. She helped my husband and I get through some tough times, and she is down to earth and pragmatic.

I highly recommend Anthony Carpentieri (M.A., MFC). My husband and I have found him very ''down to earth,'' sensitive yet non-judgmental, sensible and balanced, available. Both of us feel we have benefited from his gentle but focused interventions. His office is 2315 Price Street in Berkeley; phone is 849-1626.

Hi There, Jeremy Gordon with the Berkeley Therapy Institute (BTI) is the most amazing wise and wonderful therapist. The practice is close to campus on MLK. The number is : (510) 841-8484. Good luck Stephanie

My husband and I loved our couples counselor. She is down to earth and close to campus (Carlton and Telegraph). Her name is Gail Lindsay and her number is 433-9785. Danielle

My spouse and I have gone to see Dr. David Miller on Fruitvale ave. (up in the hills) in Oakland for several years. We first went with some real issues but lately only go as sort of insurance. He is good, solid in his analysis and has young children so can really relate to some of the ''family'' issues. Tel: 530.4195

I highly recommend Michael Simon, MFT. He is a wise, down to earth therapist who sees things very clearly and is really kind. He brought our own marriage back from the ''brink'' so to speak and we both thought he was fantastic. I've referred several friends to him but the down side is that his practice is often full and can be difficult to get an appointment. Try anyway, though--it's worth it. You can reach him at 510 433-2959. Anon

I know of an excellent Marriage and Family Therapist not far from Campus on Piedmont near 51st. Julie Tenenberg at 654-7017 is down-to-earth, wise, and practices with integrity. I regularly refer people to her and get glowing reports back. Dana

Sara Wood-Kraft, PhD. is a great down to earth couple's counselor. She is located near the Rockridge BART station. Her number is 510/652-6572. I highly recommend he Mary

February 2003

Has anyone had any experience with Imago Relationship Therapy, know any therapists and would you recommend them? Thanks. Not getting the love I want

I don't know any of the therapists you listed, but our couples therapist, Sam Tabachnik, is wonderful. I don't think he is trained in Imago therapy officially, but he is the one who recommended the book to us (Getting the Love you Want), so it is at least a part of his philosophy. I think the book is really great too, and I can't say enough good things about Sam. He is on Shattuck in Berkeley (just past Ashby) and his # is 845-3525. Good luck! anonymous

July 2002

Hi, My husband and I have been having the same couple of fights over and over for the last year or so, and are thinking that a counselor would help us work them out. Also, since we had kids our relationship is seriously lacking in intimacy, affection, and romance. I've looked through the counseling postings, but I'm having a hard time figuring out how to find a counselor. The counselors near us, in Montclair, aren't mentioned. Can anyone recommend someone in or near Montclair that has helped with similar problems? We are looking for a shorter-term, solution-oriented counselor rather than on-going therapy as we are not in crisis or considering divorce. Thanks! anon

We have been very happy with Marjorie Cusick, MFT. She is warm and straightforward, communicative and both of us felt heard and understood by her. Her office is not in Montclair but pretty close...on College and Alcatraz.She may also have a second office. She can be reached at 510.428.2309.

Jacob Ofman is very good - very active, smart, good ideas. 339-3090. Amazing how helpful someone good can be. Good luck

Virginia VandenBergh isn't in Montclair, but a short ride to College Avenue near Rockridge Bart. Her # is 654-6096. I work as a family therpist and would be happy to give other recommendations in the surrounding area. Susan

Not Montclair but just a short drive away: Dan Wile is in Upper Rockridge/ Hiller Highlands and I recommend him. We only went to him 4-5 times and he got us back on track. He is not therapy, more like mediation. In our case, we both were motivated to get things going but neither of us could figure out how to move forward. He helped us pinpoint what the main ''issues'' were and then focus our discussion on solving those rather than the free-form go-nowhere bickering/talking that we had been doing. He is mild-mannered, somewhat reticent, which I liked. Anon

March 2002

I am wondering if anyone could recommend a good couples therapist in the East Bay Area (Walnut Creek/Lafayette)? Unfortunately, due to work, we can only meet on the weekends, so if anyone knows a someone that has weekend/Saturday hours, that would be helpful. Thanks very much for any recommendations you can give.

Ellen Case has an office in Concord. If she doesnt work on the weekends, perhaps she could refer you to somebody who does. Her telephone # is 510-530-5797

We use Dr. Elizabeth Ferree in Lafayette, (925) 284-3665. She has made my husband comfortable with the idea of therapy, no small task! No idea if she has openings, but you may want to give her a call.

I know an excellent couple's therapist that I saw with my then partner and have many friends who also went to him. His name is Andrew Michaels and he has an office in Lafayette. I can't say enough good things about him. I have been to a few therapists and he is by far the best couple's therapist I have ever seen. Give him a call and I'm not sure if he sees clients on Saturdays, but he might. Good luck. Nancy

There is an excellent couples therapist in Orinda named Barbara Mintzer-McMahon. I saw her a few years ago and she was absolutely great. I am pretty sure she works weekends. Her number is 925-254-8510. Email me if you have any specific questions. Dinah

As for couples therapists I want to recommend Sarah Ashton. Her number is 433-7984 and is located next to Oliveto's on College Ave. in Oakland. I know her because I am also a psychotherapist (I'd recommend myself except I guess that would be a conflict of interests). I highly respect her as a therapist. She is very smart, very compassionate but not squishy. Melanie

Here's one from friends who went to this guy before they had kids to get help with communicating - they liked him - they have a pretty ideal marriage as far as I can tell so it must have helped: Richard Bloom 3120 Telegraph Ave. 848-2695

I would like to suggest Sheri Glucoft Wong on Solano Ave. Last I checked, her number was 526-5085, but that was from a while ago. She is very smart, pragmatic and sensible and was quite helpful for both me and my husband. She specializes in family issues and is well worth making an appointment with and seeing if she is the right person for you and yours.

I realize that you are looking for someone in the South Bay, however, if for any reason South Berkeley would work out for you I would like to recommend Adria Blum. I cannot praise her highly enough. She just simply has a wonderful way of communicating and dealing with both persons in the situation, and is highly compassionate about the problems you are discussing with her. You can reach her at: (510) 486-8146. Good Luck.

My husband and I have a wonderful couple counselor to recommend. We have been seeing Judith Cohen, LCSW, for 2 years and she is one of the most impressive therapists I have ever met. I mention this here because she is building her practice and it occurred to me that someone (family, couples) might be grateful for the recommendation! Judith is warm, intuitive, empathic and generally a life saver. She charges $95 an hour but reduces her fee for those in need. Her offices are near the corner of San Pablo & Marin in Albany and she can be reached at 510-527-3132. Stacie

I can strongly recommend Howard Hamburger, MFCC, as a marriage counsellor. I believe he's been at it for 20+ years and he brings a wealth of caring and insights. I don't know if he has any openings, but I expect my partner & I will be wrapping up our own sessions in the not too distant future. Unfortunately, he's neither inexpensive nor particularly close to UC: Our sessions are $90. His office is at 19 Gleneden Ave in Oakland, which is just off Piedmont Ave. near Pleasant Valley Ave. His work number is 653-6393.

I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Deborah Joy, PhD, in North Berkeley, at 524-8284. She helped put my 15 year relationship and 9 year marriage back together so that we're much better together than we had ever been before. One less divorce, one more in-tact family, and one more satisfying and hope-filled love affair later, I don't think we could have done it without her. Deborah is highly intelligent, highly intuitive, and I can't recommend her enough. Best of luck.

We love our counselor, Dean Lobovits. He has an office at 5th and Cedar. Great guy, very perceptive. He might be a bit too much of a SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) for you, though. I'd schedule a trial visit/interview, and see what you think. Dean has rehabilitated the whole species of couple's counselors for me! I can't recommend him highly enough.

Regarding coverage, Dean is NOT on Health Net, but he does take Blue Cross Prudent Buyer, and many other PPO's. Usually, HMO's provide very limited Mental Health benefits. Often, it's something like 5 to 20 visits per year, with a co-pay of $20 to $30, and you have to use THEIR therapists (which are very few in number). And you have to have your Personal Care Physician recommend that you do it. Very complex, and almost never worth it, in my opinion.

David Max is an excellent couples counselor. He has this canny ability to teach you how to hear what the other person is saying and at the same time to feel that he has supported both of you. I believe his telephone number is (510) 428-1671.

I understand your situation and can greatly empathize. My husband and I have had a long, rocky road. We started seeing a therapist together about 2 years ago before we were even married. I highly recommend our therapist, Dr. Donald McKillop. He is an excellant, compassionate therapist and a wonderful human being. And, he practices here in Berkeley on Channing so he's walking distance to the campus. In the mean time, hang in there. I know what its like to be pregnant and contemplating a divorce. I was there not too long ago. There are services around to help. It just might take a little research to find more info about them.

Dr. Gilbert Neuman, PhD. He is excellent, active listener, remembers details and provides very candid feedback. Not at all just a chat session. He can be reached at 841-9230.

My husband and I have the most amazing couple's counselor. Her name is Heidi Berrin-Shankoff (849-4106), and I swear, if anyone can rehabilitate your marriage, she can. We've been seeing her for going on three years now, and it's a rare session that doesn't leave me impressed with her insight and skill. She cuts through the crap in no time, and is good at making each person feel heard and supported. I couldn't recommend her higher - if you go to her and stick it out for a while, either your relationship will heal or together you'll decide to part with a sense of resolution.

This is in response to the couple seeking a marriage counselor. There's a very wise, down-to-earth therapist on Park Blvd. in Oakland (she may also have an office in Albany area.) Her name is Sandra Stark (482-1003.) She does individual and couples counseling. I can't say enough nice things about her. I've known several people who have seen her over the years and everybody seems to value her advice. She is definitely not a touchy feely type.

Judith Tabb, 527-9645. She lives in Berkeley and has an office in her home. I believe she also has an office in Marin, but we saw her in the evening at her Berkeley location. Best of luck.

Try Dan Wile, 510 654 7390. He has been tremendously helpful - very smart, very perceptive. He's a PhD in upper Rockridge. On the high end, at $100/hr, but worth it if you can afford it.


July 1998


re Therapist for abusive husband/possible divorce ... I recommend Dr. William Smith (Oakland) from personal experience of this nature. He was terrific and had ways of reaching both of us via metaphors targeted at each that were perfect for us to understand, internalize, and implement.


For the woman looking for a therapist in the domestic violence situation: I can recommend two people who are very good couples and individual therapist and have experience with domestic abuse: Ruth Paris LCSW PhD 526-5232 and Audrey Nulman PhD 594-2204