Therapist for Divorce Counseling for Children & Teens

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 left my children's father in early June 2021. I moved out of the house we shared together as a family and our kids now move between their old home and mine on a 2-2-3 schedule. Ours was a terribly distressing marriage. They saw their father push me, curse/scold me, stop the car on a road trip and refuse to get back in the car, and witness numerous turbulent arguments between us. It's no surprise our marriage didn't sustain the pandemic. Divorce was imminent.

    My ex-husband and I have 2 kids --  a 7 year old son and a 10 year old daughter. He's white. I am Asian. We have 50/50 custody and are committed to a civil and constructive co-parenting relationship. The separation has been mostly amicable.Though they're adjusting, and see their parents much happier apart, the effects of the fallout of the marriage are apparent. My daughter suffers from anxiety and has developed a habit of pulling hair from her scalp. My son is filled with rage and acts out much more with me than with his father -- hitting me and wanting to destroy things in my house. Coupled with the pandemic, it's all too much.

    We need a seasoned child/family therapist, preferably with a somatic practice. If the BPN community has recommendations for child therapists specializing in some of the issues outlined above, I'd be deeply grateful. My experience has been that most therapists aren't accepting new patients, given the rise in mental illness among kids. Some have even closed their wait lists. Even so, any resources, recommendations or advice for the health of our newly formed family are welcome.

    Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, Pinole offices all welcome

    Thank you much!

    This may sound weird, but I found a great therapist for my teenage daughter through the Psychology Today website. Her pediatrician recommended we try it. You can narrow your search to specific issues, such as anxiety, type of therapy, and also find out if the practitioner takes your insurance. You may have to contact several therapists before you find one who is a good fit and is accepting patients. Best of luck to you!

  • Hi Community. I am trying to find a child therapist with significant experience working through divorce. I want to ensure my little ones have a resource to support them, along with their mother and I, during this process. I appreciate any recommendations. (Please, note that I have looked through previous threads on this topic and have reached out to some of those recommended. Many therapists are either completely booked and/or no longer working with children or families. Hoping someone here may have a one that works out. tia ) 

    This is not a therapist, but a very helpful organization:  Kid's Turn.  The parents and the kids get training in different workshops at the same time/place or on Zoom.  The parents are split up into different groups so they don't have to process together.  And the kids are in their own group.  I think it's a 6-wk program.  It was extremely helpful to me & my 6 year old at the time. I wish you the best of luck.

  • Child Advocate for Mediation/Divorce

    (2 replies)

    Hi - looking back through the posts from 2013, I found this description from a woman named Sheri. Hello."I am also in the process of working out details of a split from my husband and have a 3 year old and 9 year old. We have a mediator, but are also seeing an amazing woman who specializes in couples in this situation (separation or divorce) but her position is to advocate for the children. She focuses on what your child is developmentally ready for and guides you how to handle her recommendations - what to say, how to logistically go about what you will do, etc. She also is helping us with the custody and visitation...what our little one can manage vs. our older child as their ages dictate different needs. Honestly i feel she has been a godsend to us in this situation and highly recommend speaking to her. Another benefit is if you have a PPO you can submit for partial reimbursement because she is a LCSW. Google her, there's a bit of info on her. Good luck!! Sheri" Unfortunately Sheri never posted the woman's name. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to find someone like this? We are in criss and I need someone who can help our kids. Thank you.

    Fortunee Kayra-Stuart is a Berkeley psychologist that also works with children and as a mediator for the courts. She's a wonderful therapist and also worked with my daughter who suffered from anxiety when she was 5. She may be on vacation for a couple of weeks but she may still respond to email. Good luck.

    Fortunee [at]

    2550 Ninth St., #115, Berkeley, 94710

    I have no idea who Sheri is, but I can recommend Chandler Hoffman ( as a possible alternative. 

    when my husband and I divorced, we saw him a couple times to discuss child custody issues and found him very helpful. He was definitely focused on what was best for the kids. If you look at his website you'll see he has a lot of experience working with courts as custody evaluator, but he prefers to help parents avoid court process when possible. He is also a licensed clinical psychologist working with kids and families. Really a kind person with a lot of experience and good advice. 

    Good luck to all of you. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Family therapist for divorce and pre-teen

Dec 2011

I am hoping to get some current recommendations for family therapists in the Berkeley/Albany area. After much consideration, I have decided to separate from my pre-teen son's dad. As a child of parents that probably should have divorced but stayed together for the kids, I haven't experienced divorce. However, I did experience how unhealthy it can be to stay together when the relationship isn't working. I tried everything to make my relationship work. But, it's clear we aren't successful. My ex doesn't agree and thinks I'm crazy for wanting to put effort into going to therapy to learn how to separate/co-parent instead of wanting to try and make our relationship work. My son, an only child, has very few friends whose parents are divorced. He feels he has no one to talk to. He is wary, but open to therapy. I would appreciate your recommendations for therapists in the Berkeley/Albany area that are experienced helping families navigate divorce, co-parenting, and supporting pre-teens through divorce. We are on a limited income, so sliding scale or low cost fees are appreciated - although I would pay full cost/expensive fees for the right person. The best fit for our needs takes priority over cost. Many thanks. Family in transition

Yes! My parents SHOULD be divorced, but thrive on their misery(insanity). I didn't want to mess up my kids the same way, and also chose to leave their father.

We have been having incredible success with Holly Forman at Bay Area Children First (BACF) (on Rose & Shattuck) in Berkeley. The whole process has really helped the whole family. Working with her has helped me put myself aside and really do what's right for my kids. It's hard, but helps to have someone like Holly who is completely concerned with the welfare of my sons! I highly recommend Bay Area Children First. Holly is so amazing, I'm sure other counselors there are, too!

Whatever you and your husband decide, couples counseling would probably be beneficial for the two of you. If you go to counseling and work things out, great; if you go to counseling and decide to separate, great - because you will still have to deal with each other either way. Actually being civil after an unhappy marriage is the hard part.

If nothing else, perhaps you could seek therapy/counseling for yourself. I've been going to personal counseling since my separation, and my oldest son has been in play-therapy for a year. I just started couple's counseling with my current partner - and it's really amazing. Amazingly difficult, but wonderful.

We don't have a lot of money, but have found great counselors on a budget (after one fail) at BACF and SafeStart/TALK Line Family Support Center (in SF, I've been going there for individual for 3 years).
Be patient with yourself. It will get better. getting better every day

Play Therapist for 4.5 yr old coping with divorce

Oct 2011

My daughter is 4.5, almost 5 years old. Her father and I recently told her we were moving to new homes. She took it well initially, but recently has been experiencing rather extreme tantrums. She cries easily and quickly escalates to tantrums. I want a play therapist with experience with young children to help her deal with all her emotions. I know that this will pass in time, and we are all adjusting, but want to insure she gets all the love and support she needs. anon

Try Dr. Simone Taylor on Telegraph in Oakland. She helped us a lot. She has a background with child trauma, conflict, etc. Parent

Kid's Turn is a great organization with a very useful 6-week program for families going through divorce ( And I also recommend Betty Tharpe, a wonderful play therapist who helped my daughter through a difficult transition. One entire wall of her office is chock full of play figures--very compelling for kids and adults alike. My daughter was resistant to therapy after several not-so- good experiences with therapists at Kaiser but Betty's warmth and patience created an atmosphere of safety and respect. Her number is 549-2092 and her office is on Ashby near Domingo. Janet

Therapist for teen whose parents are divorcing

April 2009

Does anybody have a recommendation for a child psychologist to counsel a teen in the setting of divorce? Any recommendations will be appreciated. anon

I can highly recommend Deborah Raphael, LCSW as a therapist for your teen. Her office is on the Arlington in Kensington and her phone # is 849-4495. One of my teens has been seeing her for about a year and likes her very much. I can also recommend Kent Grelling, PhD in Orinda (he has a website). Very personable and specializes in kids. Thank you for finding someone for your kid to talk to... mom

I have two wonderful therapists to recommend who both work warmly and competently with teens. I have known both of the therapists for years, and they are very experienced with divorce issues. One is Judy Elkin, Ph.D. on Piedmont in Oakland, tel.654-0245. The other is Connie Philipp, Ph.D., on Solano in Berkeley, tel. 526-0999. They are equally great, but this gives you two geographical options! Good luck. lynn

I would try Shira Gallagher, LCSW. She is a great psychotherapist who has a lot of experience working with adults and adolescents. She is smart, effective, and caring. Her office is near Berkeley High. You can check out her website at or call her at 510-594-4008. anon

Help for 12-year-old son dealing with divorce

May 2008

I'm helping a friend look for a therapist for her 12-year-old son. The parents are divorced and their son now seems ''ready to talk'' about that and various other family and school issues. They have a short list of therapists who are covered by their insurance plan and considered ''good'' by their behavioral pediatrician: Mary C. Heller (Piedmont Ave. in Oakland), Lenora Poe (Blake St. in Berkeley), Joan Wenters (Solano in Albany)
Do any of you know anything about any of these three? Can you make a recommendation one way or another? Any info would be appreciated! Dana

Dana, Consider an appointment for a brief interview to get a feel for the therapist, before you pick one. Also, I noticed that your choices were three women. You might add to your list Stephen Wright (Berkeley office, 925-284-8280/work). He helped a young musician (13) very successfully overcome some restrictive social issues. Good luck. Nathan

Therapist for high school senior dealing with our divorce

Feb 2008

My husband and I are in the process of dissolving our marriage. We are still living together but are essentially separated. It is amicable at this point. My daughter is about to leave for college in the fall and is clearly struggling with her feelings. I am trying to be supportive but she needs more than her parents to talk to. Anyone have recommendations for a therapist good with teen girls and divorcing families. anon

My daughter saw Kirsten Beuthin 510-652-0990 last year when she was a high school senior. Definitely good with teen girls in an important transition year and with divorcing families. grateful mom

2004 - 2007 Discussions

Therapist to help children, 8 and 5, transition through divorce

March 2007

Six months ago i separated from my husband of 15 years. I would like to find a therapist to help my daughters, ages 8 and 5, through this period. Does anybody have recommendations for a good child therapist in the Berkeley/Oakland area? I have strong preference for therapists who take MHN. anon

I highly recommend Rikki Sudikoff who has worked with kids and families for years. She is smart, warm and experienced. Her number is 558-8450 and she is on San Pablo near Marin. lynn

If you are willing to go to San Francisco, Marenka Cerny is a family therapist who is working with kids and she is excellent. You can reach her at 510-717-9365 and the website is Her fees are reasonable. Suzanne

Seeking help for 7 and 9 year old coping with divorce

April 2006

I think that my 7- and 9-year olds could benefit from a trained person to help them cope with the divorce of their parents. I know about TURN. Looking for recommendations.

I know a Psychotherapist who specializes in working with Adolescents and their families. She is really warm, caring and professional. Alexandra Howells, Oakland. Julie

Support group for 11 yr. boy going through family divorce

August 2005

My family is going through a terrible divorce. My 11 year old son has had his father walk out and break up the family, his sister leave for college, is entering a new middle school and is adopted and has learning issues. I'm looking for a supportive group with an experienced therapist to help him work through his anger and saddness and help him to develop coping skills. I believe it would be extremely helpful for him to be part of a childrens group and to understand that he isn't alone in his experience and that he will get through this and be OK. He is a great kid and I want to help him any way that I can. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. S.

You might want to contact Kids Turn. . They are an organization devoted to helping kids and their parents through the divorce process. They offer a 6-week (1 night per week) class and it features a specific curriculum that's designed to assist children with the emotions they are encountering through divorce/separation. I have run groups for Kids Turn and it's a truly wonderful organization. Linda E.

Therapist with divorce expertise for 4 year old

May 2005

I am looking for a referral for a child therapist/psychologist who has expertise with children of divorce. I would like to work with someone to evaluate custody plans, advice on issues if arise with child, communications about divorce with child and if necessary to see child. Has anyone had experience with Dr. Ellen Singer or Dr. Marie Claire Hefron? Anonymous

Dr. Mary Clare Hefron is an amazing woman. She's intelligent, extremely skilled, gentle, and warm. You and your child will be in good hands if your have the opportunity to work with her. Sincerely, DS

You asked about Dr. Mary Claire Heffron -- I would highly recommend her. I'm a Psychologist who's worked with Dr. Heffron through her position heading the Early Childhood Mental Health Program at Children's Hospital. (I believe she's also in private practice.) Dr. Heffron is lovely to work with -- she's very knowledgeable, bright, compassionate and experienced. I would say she's one of the most highly respected Psychologists in this county who works with young children and their parents/caregivers. TG

Hi there, my son is now 6 and has been seeing a wonderful play therapist since he was 4 to work on issues with divorce, living in 2 households, etc. I cannot recommend her highly enough--Laurie e. Werbner, MFT, I hope this helps! Kathy

16-year-old whose parents are going through a messy divorce

Feb. 2004

Can anyone wholeheartedly recommend a therapist for my 16 year old niece? She has expressed the desire to see one (I'm thrilled). She is *very* smart and, on the whole, very well adjusted. She moved here this past August and her parents are going through a messy divorce - the culmination of her whole life of watching her parents be horribly dysfunctional. Her father is seriously awful.

My daughter saw Kirsten Beuthin, and she really liked her. Kirsten was able to develop a solid relationship with her, which I believe helped her deal more effectively with the various issues of being a teenage girl and family stress. It's wonderful that your 16 year old niece is asking for a therapist. Kirsten's number is 652-0990.

2003 & Earlier

Therapist who will advise me on kids and divorce


I would like recommendation of psychologist who specializes in giving good info to adults who are considering/in throes of divorce, especially ones who know child psychology and can give advice on childrens issues. I want someone who will give me good facts more than anything.

About the psychologist who deals with divorce and child issues. I would recommend Jan Ruchlis. She's an MFCC in Oakland who advertises in the Neighborhood Parents Network newsletter and in the Parents Press. I went to her for a while for support in between having both my kids. My issues were not the same as yours are now, but she was very insightful, compassionate, and had lots of good ideas. She specializes in divorce and parenting, among other things. She was really great at providing me with just the kind of help I asked her for, and I loved that. I wanted support and practical ideas, not to be psychoanalyzed. And I got the former, not the latter. You can get her number from the phone book (business pages of the white pages).

I would recommend the following therapist for Adults and Children moving through divorce: Terry D. Trotter,MA 510 433-7371 Her office is on Solano Avenue in Berkeley. Regards, Meghan

Seeking help for 4-year-old

Feb 1998

My husband and I are going through a divorce and I'm seeking help for our 4 year old child.

Kaiser Oakland Psychiatric Dept. runs a kids divorce group -- led by a very good, kind therapist Dr. Mary Haake. Quite low key but a nice, safe experience for the kids to discuss weighty issues w/peers. Groups are divided by age, not by gender. Both my kids (age 4 and 8) loved Dr. Haake (the feeling doctor)

Milton Kalish, LCSW, holds class sessions for children of divorce at the Lafayette Orinda Pres. Church (classes have nothing to do with the church). They are held simultaneously with the parenting group which meets every Monday evening at 6:30. (These meetings are great, by the way, with childcare provided, all for $3.00!) So you're both learning and receiving support!

He has about three 8-week sessions per year at a cost of I believe $60. He is extremely compassionate and loving, uses art and games to draw out the children's feelings. My 7 year old daughter likes it a lot and always begs to go. He MAY have an Oakland location, too. His number in Lafayette is 925/299-0924. Mari

A friend in social work was generous enough to pass on the following regarding _counseling for a 4yo_:

... tell her that she should sign herself and her child up for Kid's Turn , which does psychoeducational groups for divorced and separating families (415-437-0700). She can also call Kaiser to find out what her mental health benefits are and then ask her pediatrician for referrals to a Kaiser therapist that works with kids. If that doesn't work then she can call WestCoast Children's Center (527-7249) and if they can't see them they can refer out. Hope this is helpful.

Sounds like you are asking about a group called Kid's Turn . I have been a workshop leader for them. It is a six-week workshop, meeting once a week, either on Saturdays during the day, or a weekday evening. Because of vacation schedules, they usually don't conduct workshops during the summer, but you should call them to check on that. Ideally, both of the parents attend, but it is a requirement that at least one attends. For each workshop, there are two parents' groups, so that former spouses are not in the same group. They work on parenting and communication skills for divorced/separated parents. Kids' groups are divided by age: 5-7, 8-10, and 10-14. (A support group for teens was being discussed, but I'm not sure whether that got off the ground or not). The kids' workshops focus on communication skills and peer support. The entire workshop is focused on kids, and is not a group therapy opportunity for the parents. Fees are on a sliding scale, based on income. The Oakland sessions are at the Presbyterian Church on College Ave , near Dreyers. There are workshops in Alameda, SF, Marin, and Walnut Creek, as well. I don't know what the full price is exactly, but would guess around $200 or so per family. 835-8445 is the East Bay # for the organization. Their main office is in SF.(I don't have that # handy). They don't make millions off of anyone. Good luck. Jeffrey

I participated in a program for families going through separation/divorce called Kids Turn . It is excellent. I believe it is based in San Francisco and has workshops throughout the Bay Area. I don't have a current phone #. Phyllis

I don't know the names of good books for you and your kids re:divorce, but I do know of a good workshop for you and your kids to attend: A Kids Turn 510.835.8445. This is a terrific resource for families during a difficult transition. Good luck. jhelwig

Bananas would probably know about support services in relation to divorce. Their Warmline number is 658-6046. Here are a few other resources: Bay Area Children First 415-751-1086/ 415-643-4863 Support Groups Single and two parent families/ Divorce program Divorce Program workshops (create a healthy co-parenting plan and relationship) Kids Turn 415-512-4760 (there may be an Oakland office as well) Support Groups: Kids and Divorce Touchstone Counseling Services Pleasant Hill 932-0150 Single Parents/ Children of Divorce Groups