Therapist for Divorce & Separation

Parent Q&A

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  • Seeking Divorce Coach/ child therapist

    (1 reply)

    I am looking for support both for my 5 year old daughter as well as my husband and I in moving thru a separation.  I think we would all benefit from help in how to best talk to our daughter through all the changes.

    Emily Weaver, LMFT in Oakland may be able to help with this. She was my coach through my collaborative divorce (different than mediation and requires professionals trained in the process). I found Emily's manner very comforting through a very difficult situation. She's professional, compassionate, and experienced. If you are separating as part of considering a divorce, I recommend attending a collaborative divorce workshop whether or not you pursue the process. The workshops cover fundamentals anyone considering divorce should be aware of. Most counties around here have a collaborative divorce practice group that offers the free workshops.

  • I am considering leaving my husband. I would like to see a therapist individually and perhaps bring my husband in for couples therapy as well. I know that regardless of our marital status we have a young child we need to coparent. I feel that many of the issues that are causing me to want to leave will later affect our child and our ability to coparent (lack of accountability, impulsiveness, meanness, etc). I am hoping to find someone who can help me/ us navigate how we can get to the best place for our child.  Ideally someone who isn't set on us either working it out or separating but someone who will help us figure out which path is best.

    Part of me still has a fantasy that things will work out. But odds are they won't.  Partner has historically not believed in therapy but has gone when I have forced the issue.  I am doubtful that he is willing to do the work. But I am hopeful to find someone who can perhaps give him some perspective on how his actions will affect his child. 

    Or at least I would like to talk to someone who can help me find ways for us to move forward as coparents without constantly having the same fights we are currently having. 

    We have kaiser and their mental health is slow and awful. Ideally looking for someone who isn't terribly expensive outside of Kaiser.

    I haven't worked in years. Get insurance through my husband. Have no idea what I will do for work. Hate the idea of missing so much of my child's life if we split custody. I would want to make it work if I thought it was workable but right now I do not. Has anyone been this far gone and worked it out? Any advise or things to consider? I know separating / divorce will cause a whole new set of stressors and am trying to weigh everything.  

    Lastly, if anyone has a divorce lawyer they recommend. I have one very specific question I would like to get answered before I make a decision.  Hopefully a very quick consult could get me an answer regarding property and long terms marriage. 

    I’ve been there. Happy to advise you directly. I used Stefan Spielman for my divorce. He’s great and very affordable. Stefan [at]

    Hi, I'm so sorry you're going through this.

    I recommend Fran Wickner, PhD, MFT (510-527-4011). She is a supportive and compassionate therapist, who helped me resolve some individual issues, and I wish that my partner and I had gone to her for couples therapy to better coparent (we're now in divorce mediation after a year-long separation).

    Hi there!- 

    There is a great community mental health organization based in SF (sees clients virtually as well), called Liberation Institute.  It is full sliding scale (so very affordable) with therapists in various levels of training. They also have several free drop in groups. 

    You are wise to go slow and do research while you think this through. I recently completed my divorce process after a several years of living together and seeing a marriage therapist, then two and a half years of living separately (one full-time with each teenager), and eventually divorcing. I did everything I could to work on the relationship. But it takes two, and my former spouse could not engage. He eventually met someone else and asked for a divorce. After a hellish several years, I am stable, healthy, and thriving and have a good relationship with each of my children.

    Here are some things that helped me through the process:

    Work with an individual therapist to get yourself to a stable and healthy place.

    Get away by yourself and with your children without your spouse. These kinds of breaks give relief from unhealthy patterns and help to gain perspective.

    Participate in free divorce workshops to educate yourself on what to consider if you are contemplating a divorce, including the different ways of divorcing. Here are two that I found quite helpful: Second Saturday and Divorce Options. I participated and both and found them both helpful for different reasons. If I were to participate in only one, I would participate in Divorce Options.

    We have Kaiser through Univ of CA employment. If you are the same, you actually do have another program that you can access that UC pays for. You also may have access to a therapist through your husband’s employee health/benefits program - usually called an “EAP” program. They can see you and help you navigate to find an affordable therapist. 

    We love Kelly Sharp, LMFT. She has helped us and we have referred a few other couples as well who also really loved her. She is great for individual therapy as well.

    I highly recommend coach Nicole Halpern (  I found her name on BPN when I wrote a similar post to yours, and she helped me immensely through a very difficult time.  She started out really helping me look at whether it was possible to stay together, and I appreciated that.  In the end, I decided it wasn't, but every step of the way she helped me stay grounded, asked me hard questions and pointed me to really good resources (both for personal growth and also for support in the divorce process).  She was better than any therapist I've had for really getting me somewhere with my thinking around divorce.  But she wouldn't be someone who would provide any couples therapy.   For that, I really loved the couples work we did with Lisa Kully (

  • Recommendations for a divorce & life coach

    (6 replies)


    I'm going through a very hard divorce and I don't want to burden my friends or family with my divorce-related frustrations. I already have a therapist I go to, but I feel like she's ineffective for me because she focusses on coping. I've been in survival mode for a few months now, and I feel guilty trying to meditate when I could be doing more beneficial things like tending to my kid, working out, divorce research digging, or working.
    I'm looking for a coach that has experience with women going through divorces, and how to guide them through it to take the anxiety edge off with an action plan. I have a family law lawyer, so I'm not looking for legal advice, but rather guidance from someone with experience. 

    Thanks for reading and I'm looking forward to your recommendations! 

    I'm sorry you are going through a hard divorce. What a difficult situation. I'm glad you are lining up adequate support for yourself.

    My spouse and I are just beginning the divorce process. We intend to use a Collaborative Divorce ( process. This is not something I am suggesting for you (you're already going down a different path). However, the coaches that are part of the professional team in a collaborative divorce are mental health professionals with experience in divorce. My understanding is that the professionals involved in collaborative divorce practice also have independent professional practices. I wonder if you might find the type of coach you're looking for through the collaborative divorce practice group in your area.

    I wish you support and care in moving forward through this difficult time.

    I worked with Emily Weaver, MFT., in Oakland, 510-869-4170, as my divorce coach a few years ago and she was fantastic at helping me through the emotional upheaval, figuring out how to support my kids and how co-parent and communicate effectively with my ex, and managing the divorce process. She was kind, smart, compassionate, and really really experienced at working with people in divorce. She gave me guidance and reality-checking as well as lots of support when I really needed it. I highly recommend her. I also know someone who worked with Melanie Belmont, also in Oakland, in a similar capacity and they found her very helpful. You may also want to check out for other therapist/coaches with divorce-centered practices. Good luck and hang in there. It really does get better.

    Hi Nassaraf, I worked with Nicole Halpern through my divorce and have a friend that is working with her now through her divorce. Nicole is supportive and empathetic while giving practical guidance on how to get through the day-to-day while making this transition. I've continued to work with her following my divorce and find her guidance really valuable. Here's a link to her website and her Yelp reviews. She's excellent.

    I had coaching for 2+ years with Susan Champagne and found her really helpful. She helps with exactly the kind of thing you are looking for. I made a lot of progress on my goals in multiple areas in the time I saw her. She will also tailor it to the kind of help you are specifically looking for, and she will definitely give straightforward advice if that's part of what you want. Wishing you all the best.

    Hi, sorry to hear you’re going through such a hard time. In all honesty I’m not sure how much my therapist focuses on divorce, but she is so good (and an MFT) and has helped me so much I wanted to suggest her. I have seen other therapists and psychologists and she by far exceeds their skills. As she has the MFT qualification I would expect her to have relevant training for your situation. Also she focuses on so much more than just coping and solutions. She is working through video appts

    Hi Nassaraf - I would love to recommend coach Jasmine Lipscomb whom I've had experience working with in the recent past!  She is an excellent and experienced life coach specializing in relationships and has gone through divorce personally only to end up even happier and more confident on the other side! She is based in Tiburon but very frequently in the East Bay/Albany visiting her daughter and family and open to Zoom, phone, or in person coaching. She is also a newly retired RN so bring a unique perspective from that lens. Please feel free to email her at coachjasminel [at] or let me know if you’d like a personal intro. 

  • 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.

    I so feel your pain. Divorcing someone that has a personality disorder means you're in for a long fight.  ITA with Altavistamom.  Try to do some ground work yourself.  There are so many resources, but I found that the Nolo Press website and their books were very helpful. 

    Some personal advice to take care of you:  realize you're in for a long battle.  I finally woke up one day and realized that if I just outlasted Mr. BPD, and didn't emotionally react to his crap, I'd be ultimately win.  Best advice I got:  Just let them talk for themselves.  Don't interject, interrupt or add color commentary.  The crazy will display itself, trust me.  

    There is a website called ChumpLady dot com that has a not so common take on divorce and narcissists.  Even if your situation does not involve infidelity (and I'll bet the $13.52 in my purse that it does), it still has useful advice and support for going through a high conflict divorce.

    One last thing:  the mandatory mediators that are part of the Alameda County divorce process are hit and miss.  I got one that couldn't even spell my name correctly as his personal appearance was soooo much more important dontchaknow (sorry, sarcasm off).  If you are uncomfortable or feel that soon-to-be-ex is pulling one over on a weak mediator, stop the process and ask for another.  

    Hoping that your divorce is fast, your settlement satisfactory and you find peace.


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: