Seeking a Therapist for Divorce & Separation

Parent Q&A

  • I am looking for recommendations for a therapist and divorce lawyer who are familiar with narcissistic personality disorder.  I have been with my husband for 10 years and am ready to move on but I would love to get some support from a therapist and talk to an attorney before starting the process.  Also would love to connect with any moms who have been through this.  We have 2 young kids, 5 and 7 so my first priority is to support them and create a safe environment.  Thanks Anon

    Greg Silva was my divorce lawyer. I think he was quite good. They are all expensive. YOU need to first learn how to manage an attorney--or manage yourself using the attorney--use attorney as if you were running a business. Otherwise your bill will run up so fast to a huge one. There's a book you should read asap about divorcing a narcissist. I forget the title, but divorce and narcissist is in title so you can find it online.

    Lawyer recommendation- hannah sims in oakland. Wicked smart and understands personality disorders

     I don’t know any divorce attorneys but I suggest Cindy Blackett as a therapist. I saw her with my narcissistic ex. She definitely gets how they are and what you go through when you’re married to one. Her office is on Solano. (510) 540-5409.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions More Therapists & Groups: Related pages:

Therapist for escalating marital conflict

Jan 2012

My husband and I have been having escalating marital conflict; although we intermittently see a counselor for the two of us, I would like to start seeing someone just for myself, to help me think clearly about how to handle what is becoming an increasingly difficult situation. I really don't want to end my marriage, but I'm starting to feel hopeless about it. I would like to see someone with quite a bit of experience (both as therapist and spouse/parent), who can see the big picture, but who can also help me get clear on appropriate boundaries and a way forward. Recommendations for smart, intuitive therapists in Berkeley/Albany/Oakland area gratefully accepted. sad wife

I would recomment Dr. Barbara Swenson - her website is She focuses on couple issues, and is wonderful. She's skilled and compassionate, and has helped with a lot of related parenting issues. She has offices in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, and Rockridge. Good luck! Anon

I can recommend Audrey Martin to help you sort out your marital situation. She is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist here in Oakland (Rockridge) and fits the profile: she is smart, intuitive and a clear communicator. She has years of experience helping people navigate relationships with self and other in her profession. Having had her on my side myself, I can attest to her skills and wisdom. Her phone number is 510 428 1505. Best wishes to you. Been there

Jane Weisbin, now at the Oakland/Berkeley border on College Ave at Alcatraz, is smart, funny, kind, challenging, nonjudgmental, engaged and supportive. I interviewed a half dozen therapists on the phone when I needed relationship help, and chose her without hesitation when she mentioned my right to be, in her words, ''ambitious for my own happiness.'' She makes it clear that you can't change anyone's behavior but your own, and helps you think through what you're afraid of, what would happen if you made different choices, and supports you through the scary parts. She has a middle school aged daughter and is married. You'll love her. Jane's client

I have been where you are. Rozelle Vogelman helped me tremendously. (510) 910-3537 anon

I would give a hugely enthusiastic recommendation to Dr. Lisa Lancaster. I have been seeing her regarding marriage issues and have found her to be incredibly thoughtful and effective. She is in Berkeley. Her number is 510-841-2525. anon

Marital separation counselor needed

Dec 2011

My spouse and I are looking for an experienced counselor who can discuss with us frankly and realistically the long-term advantages and disadvantages of staying married versus separating in our present situation. We have been married for over 10 years, and have two elementary-school aged children. We have seen traditional couple therapists in the past, and at this stage are more interested in speaking with someone (counselor, mediator,...?) who has worked with families going through separation/divorce and can wisely advise how to minimize impact on children, develop co-parenting plans, legal considerations, etc -- as opposed to aiming strictly to help us stay together. We are approaching this problem in a collaborative manner. Please send recommendations for specific professionals in Berkeley/Oakland/Albany. anon

I highly recommend Mary Duryee, PhD. She is a psychologist and mediator for divorcing parents. She is extremely compassionate and helpful in navigating what is best for everyone and how to make the difficult decisions involved. She is in Oakland and can be reached at 510.839.7080 and you can learn more about her at Best Wishes, Marie

Gene Seltzer of Duane & Seltzer in Berkeley did a wonderful job mediating our difficult legal separation. At the time we had two elementary-school aged children. He was extremely sensitive to their needs, and the general well-being of the family. We're legally separated rather than divorced so we can continue to share health insurance benefits - we are not going to reconcile. On the lawyer-ing side, he took remarkable notes and distributed them promptly. He filed all the paperwork on time and correctly. He went to bat for us when the court didn't understand that we really did want a legal separation (apparently everyone gets divorced these days). He did everything he could for us to reach an amicable agreement - and we pretty much did. His support and expertise were invaluable. I highly recommend having a conversation with him. You'll know whether he's a good emotional fit for you. (510) 841-8575 signed, mother of two

Need help deciding whether to stay in marriage

July 2011

I'm looking for a therapist who can help me work through deciding if I should stay in my marriage in the face of a long term affair and lack of sexual intimacy. Not sur how much of this is midlife crisis or if depression is a factor; I guess that is more to explore. Ideally the person would be:inexpensive, thoughtful, nonjudgemental, and in a location where there is parking. Any suggestons? About to burst

I sympathize with your situation and have gone through a similar experience. There is a great therapist who specializes in couples and family therapy. Her name is Debra Milinsky. She is in Berkeley and her office number is in the Berkeley directory. She is thoughtful and non-judgmental. Best to you. PD

You are not alone, my friend. I was recently there (so similar) and with the help of an excellent therapist have moved into a place of hope and new possibility for my marriage that I didn't think I could muster again. You take an essential and brave step in seeking help. Don't stop til you get it - until you feel your decisions resounding with joy through your whole being. My therapist is Roslyn Whitney, Graceful Transitions - She is in SF. But DON'T stop there! Check her out. Visit once a month and do the rest by phone. Whatever it takes. She's had practice with me and many others; she's ready for you! ; ) anon

I highly recommend Molly Merson for therapy. She is warm, direct and non-judgmental. She has a sliding fee scale and her office is located at Shattuck and Ashby. Her number is 510-594-4035. Anon

Helping couple through divorce


It was nice to read about marriage counselors saving relationships, but my needs are a bit different. I want a divorce and my husband doesn't. It would be nice to see someone, alone or together, who could help my husband understand that a divorce will be a reality, and that an amicable one would be better for all parties, including our 2-1/2 year old.

To the person that wants a divorce. Judith Tabb (the name I submitted a few days ago) did just that for us. We started seeing her when our marriage was too far gone and she ended up helping us through the moving out, telling the kids, etc. 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.

Your situation sounds similar to what I went through two years ago. Although we were not married, a five year relationship was coming to an end with a two year old child involved. I wanted to leave and he wanted me to stay. Unfortunately the relationship had reached a point where I felt that me leaving was the only feasible possibility. I did agree to go to a counselor, however, who simply told my x that she could not tell me to stay if leaving is what I wanted. She did, however, help us get through some of the emotions and help each of understand why the relationship was coming to an end. I also learned quite a bit about how we project our emotions onto to others. That remains to be helpful to me.

The number one reason that I recommend this counselor (listed below) so highly is because she was straightforward with us. She was not looking for repeat business, but simply told us that if we chose to get back together than she would work with us at that time. Otherwise, she was not looking to have someone stay in a relationship just for the sake of the child. And especially, for the well being of the child if there is continual arguing and unhappiness in the home.

I wish you well. I know that it is a really hard situation to be going through.

Sydney Buice
419 Kearney St.
El Cerrito

(She has a sliding scale. When we went to her we were not covered by our insurance)

Other Resources

Tim (1/00)


Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996

As it happens, I just completed a family law mediation training and have quite a few excellent resources for families to deal with this painful process.

One of the most interesting things I learned was about the most up to date research on divorced families - which is not that readily available because it is very hard to read. It turns out that some of the more recent and more sophisticated studies show that there are differences between children of divorce and children in intact families, but not that much. It turns out that the single most important factor was the level of conflict in the marriage and post-marriage communications. Children of high conflict families are less well adjusted that those not in those situations. Simple, huh. Children also do far better adjusting to divorce when the parents do not embroil the children in conflict - like asking the child to carry hostile messages to the other parent or asking the child to hide info from the other parent, etc.

Anyway, below are some resources I have discovered which I think are quite helpful. Kids' Turn: This is an EXCELLENT organization which has workshops for parents and kids to learn to help kids deal with divorce. They have 6 week workshops and I have talked with several parents who rave about it. The phone number is 415/437-0700. They hold workshops all around the Bay Area now.


_Healing Hearts: Helping Children and Adults Recover From Divorce_, Hickey, E. and Dalton, E. (1994). Carson City, NV: Gold Leaf Press.

_Parent vs. Parent: How you and your child can survive the custody battle_, Herman, S. (1990). New York: Patheon Books.

_Surviving the Breakup: How Children & Parents Cope with Divorce_, Wallerstein, J & Kelly, J. (1980). New York: BAsic Books.

There are also books for kids: I don't know anything about these books:

_Boy & Girl Book About Divorce_, Gardner, R. (1970). New York: Bantan Books.

_Two Homes to LIve In, A Child's-Eye View of Divorce_, Hazen, B. (1983). New York: Human Sciences Press/Plenum.

I found the following URL helpful when I led a Single Parents' Group at the French-American School in SF. Some of these things are great; some are a little weak from my professional perspective. In any case, here it is: