Seeking a Therapist for a Senior

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Counseling for my depressed 80-y-o mother

March 2010

I am looking for recommendations for individual counseling/psychotherapy for my 80 year old mother. She has been dealing with depression for the last several years, and now that my father has had a stroke it is clear she needs more help than I feel qualified to give. Does anyone know of someone who specializes in counseling for the elderly, who she might feel comfortable with? Appreciate any names or resources where I might start my search. Concerned Daughter

There is a very experienced counselor in Albany: Allan Grill, MFT. He is a colleague of mine. He works with seniors and with their adult children. His number is 510.232.1630. Good luck. anon

I would highly recommend Dr. Melinda Ginne, a psychologist with a geriatric specialty, in Oakland - (510) 717-2012, She is very knowledgeable about elderly psychological issues and is a great resource. Mirjana

My elderly mother-in-law saw Peter Opperman (925) 937-9707 for several years. He's very patient and kind. He was helpful to us, as well, in dealing with her dementia and other difficulties. He has a lot of experience with the elderly, is based in Walnut Creek but also has an office in Montclair.

Help with Mom's recent dementia diagnosis

Feb 2010

My mom, who is in her mid-eighties, was recently diagnosed with mild dementia or Altzheimers. She's had an MRI and is working with a Neurologist. She has become very sad about the diagnosis, worried, and depressed. It might be a normal reaction, but I am worried about the depression and of course don't want her to be hurting. I'm thinking some talk therapy might help. Does anyone have a counselor they could recommend who would be good with this sort of issue? Thank you. Sad

Family Caregiver Alliance offers recommendations for Elder Issues Counselor. It is a non-profit based in SF but serves surrounding counties.- Monica

I'm sorry to hear your mother has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's, but rest assured, her reaction of feeling depressed is quite normal and appropriate. To be told you will lose your memory, at some point not know those close to you, and not be able to care for yourself can be very devastating and send one right into depression. I've been a geriatric SW for several years and think having your mother see a therapist could be a good idea - if she is open to it. It could really help her process all the emotions and feelings that are swirling around in her and may help her feel have some control over her future. In addition, I think you should contact the Alzheimer's Assoc. to find early stage Alz. groups for your mother and caregiver support groups for yourself and maybe other family members. I don't know where your mother lives, but some local resources for eldercare support include:

1) San Francisco - Institute on Aging (IOA): they are an umbrella organiz. that have many different programs for older adults

2) Oakland / Berk. - Center for Elders Independence (CEI) - the IOA of the East Bay

3) Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) - helps w/support & respite of the caregivers/families

As for therapists, I would recommend Carol Nabori, LCSW w/Elder Care Consultants. She is in Oakland (near Summit Hospital) and has a very gentle, sweet approach. I don't know how much she charges or what insurance she takes, but just a thought. Good luck and kudos to you for reaching out for support early on....... anon

Roberta Tracy is director of program for seniors in Oakland and contact for family support- 601-1074. She will have referrals for you as will Alta Bates Psychiatry 204- 4405 and Family Caregiver Alliance -1-415-434-3388. Monica

Therapy for my 60ish Mom

Oct 2006

My mom has asked for a referral to therapy. She is in her 60s and ready to deal with the following issues: aging parents, continued grief for first husband who died at age 43 leaving her (at that time a stay at home mom) with kids to raise and pretty much no money. Ten years later (at 53) she had a stroke. She recovered well but now must wear a foot brace and has limited mobility. It's been hard. Over the ensuring 10 years, she gained weight and I think this has caused additional epression. Mom remarried in 2000. He's a nice guy but he's a bit dopey and, the kicker: he is obese. She's worried about him but also, I think, disgusted by his lack of physical activity and his secret eating. He wants to retire soon and she is worried that she will lose her mind with him at home doing basically nothing but watch movies and eat.

This is a big, very complex job and will require the right person. Somebody who can show compassion for my mom but, when the time is right, constructively help her realize how letting go of her judgments of herself and others is the best gift she can give to herself.

She's a Kaiser member but, since last I checked, Kaiser only approves 20 sessions a year and I think she'll need to go more regularly than that thus she's willing to pay out of pocket. But Kaiser would be great economically. Thank you in advance for your ideas and suggestions. anon

I recommend Dr. Laurie Campbell in Walnut Creek. She is wise and patient and has a great sense of humor which can be exceedingly helpful in dealing with a painful past. She has 30 years of experience (much of it in the field of body image--sounds like this could help your mom) and you can feel it as she helps you. I agree, she should not get a Kaiser therapist and limit herself to a set number of sessions and a therapist who is likely to be biased towards drug therapy. Mental health is an area where it is really worth it to get someone fabulous.

Good for your mom for taking this on! Therapy certainly has changed my life. Feel free to email with questions.
Dr. Laurie Campbell 2910 Camino Diablo, Suite 200 Walnut Creek, 94596 (925) 947-2922

I think Yvonne Mansell would be perfect for your mom. She specializes in grief, family relationships and parenting. She has helped me through several deaths including my fathers, and now dealing with my aging mother. She has also helped me dealing with my own disabilities and my own aging. She works from a very compassionate and nonjudgemental heart while firm, professional and always at the right time is able to lighten up our work with humor. Her phone is (510) 528-9551, email is ymansell [at] and web-site is Best of luck to your mom autumn

Suzanne Pregerson is a mature and experienced couples counselor. She is a professional colleague whose work I respect. Diana