Family Therapists

Parent Q&A

Family counseling to address marriage + child's behavior Sep 22, 2019 (4 responses below)
Family therapist for whole family? Jun 7, 2019 (1 responses below)
  • Our family needs help! We are a married couple of an only child in elementary school. Child does not listen to directions well and is constantly finding trouble at school. Always testing boundaries and causing teachers to call home frustrated. As parents, we have also been struggling at home. Marriage has become more or less "co-parenting" rather than a romantic relationship. I feel as though we are growing apart. I'm not sure if the marriage has taken a toll on our child, or if the stress of parenting has taken a toll on the marriage. In any case, our family feels broken to me, and I feel as though we have a lot to work on. Are there therapists who can address the marital issues with couples counseling and also work with us on our child's behavior? I feel as though we, as parents need to attend alone much of the time, but we'd like to attend as a family every once in a while, and even send our child for 1:1 sessions if that would be of benefit. Does it make sense for us to group our needs under one therapist? Or is is best to work with one for our marriage and one for our child? I welcome any and all referrals. Anthem blue cross would be a huge benefit! Thank you in advance. 

    Not family-therapy related but have you considered having your child evaluated for Special Education services? It's possible there is a receptive language or some executive functioning deficits.

    When my very young daughter suffered from anxiety her preschool teacher agreed that she could benefit from therapy. Dr. Fortunee Kayra-Stuart works with children and adults and after 18 months my daughter's separation anxiety was resolved. Dr. Stuart saw my child, us as a couple and all of us as a family. So yes it makes sense to group your issues with one therapist as long as you and your husband are in agreement. She's very experienced, extremely knowledgeable, practical, humorous when appropriate and ultimately was positively helpful. She gets it and she's quite hip for her age. I'm unsure if she takes your insurance but she does do the billing. Best wishes for a positive outcome.

    Question, have you had your child tested to ensure he/she is not suffering from ADHD?  That could be a simple answer to not paying attention.  If you have done the testing and all is clear and I would recommend parenting classes so that both of you are on track.  As for counseling you could try with Bay Area Clinical Associates in Oakland.  They deal with both children and family issues.  All marriages go through issues, not one of them is perfect.  I have been married for 25 years and together for 27.  We had our issues and have worked hard to be together.  We are an only child family and when she was younger, we carved out time for us to be with just ourselves.  You can work this out.  Be kind to one another.  

  • Family therapist for whole family?

    (1 reply)


    Our family really needs help!  There is much love but lots of communication breakdowns.  We are a married mother/father with three kids aged 13, 11 and 8.  We would like to find a therapist that can work with us all, sometimes as a couple, sometimes with the kids one-on-one or together (lots of sibling issues!), sometimes all together.  Is there any therapist or counselor that works with the entire family unit?  I really can't seem to find someone.  We live in Berkeley but are willing to travel a bit for the right person!

    I've been seeing Susan Champagne for about a year and really like her.  She's technically a life coach, not a therapist.  I know she does couples - I am not sure if she would do the whole-family but since you haven't found anyone yet I thought it was worth recommending her as she's pretty flexible.  She's mindfulness focused and great on communication/mindset issues.  Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Co Parenting Blended Family Therapy

March 2008

I am looking for a therapist who specializes in blended families and co parenting issues. Any referrals would be appreciated. A Desperate Step Mother

Hello, I have two names to suggest, but have to add the caveat that I haven't met with either one in my own search because my schedule does not match with their openings. The first is Anthony Carpentieri - we spoke for a while on the telephone and he stated that he specializes in step/blended families and has for some time. Before speaking with him, I also googled him and saw his name associated with Bananas (East Bay parenting resource) as a step-family resource. I was very disappointed that I couldn't make a meeting with him. His office is close to North Oakland/South Berkeley border. The other is Patricia Hart. Like Mr. Carpentieri, she stated that she specializes in step/blended family issues. I think her office may be in N. Berkeley, but I am less sure of that. Both seemed very down-to-earth on the telephone. You can google their numbers - I'm always conflicted about publishing on the list w/o permission. Good luck! anon

Family Crisis therapist for 1 long session

Sept 2005

My husband and my mom are not speaking, and it's time to air differences and repair! My husband and I just spent the last year contemplating separation - and we've made it through, strong and happy (yay!). But, now I/we have to deal with my mom. My thought is to find a family crisis counselor who would be willing to:

1) Interview each party (me, mom, hubby) separately, 2) Meet with us for a few hours to do a crisis intervention session and, 3) Give us some tools to repair this some on our own.

We and the kids have moved to LA for the year because of work, but my mom is still in the Bay Area, so we'll fly up for this intervention.

Anyone have any ideas of who might be good at something like this??? I don't care how much it might cost, but I'd really like someone into the idea that it would be some prep time and 1 long session. Grateful!!!

I highly recommend Dr. Susan Fair. She is patient, smart, kind and very easy to talk to, even when you are very angry. She projects such a powerful sense of strength, gentleness and fairness that even the most difficult conversations move forward productively. Her Oakland office number is 510-452- 5636. She has been an important part of my family's healing. Good luck!

Have you thought about using a mediator? There are a lot of recommendations on the BPN site on this page .

Family therapist in Lamorinda

March 2002

Can anyone recommend a family therapist in the Orinda, Lafayette area? Sue

I would like to recommend a wonderful therapist for children and adults. Her name is Annie Bailey, MFT and she is located at 2920 Domingo Suite 205- the phone number is 510-548-3700. Karen

Grace Manning Orenstein is a fabulous therapist who works in Orinda part of the week, the rest of the week in Albany. She sure saved our family life. She is wonderful with our daughter, now a teen, and also able to get the whole family involved in problem solving. Phone: 528-0200

Family therapist who accepts MHN

December 2002

We are looking for a family therapist in the Albany/Berkeley area who will accept MHN. It would be a plus if the therapist had any specialty in dealing with education/school performance issues. Thanks.

My husband and I have been seeing a good family therapist called Sandra Bryson through MHN. She's just over the border of Berkeley in Oakland, on College near Claremont. She's been very helpful to us in marriage counselling and also issues that have come up with our son. Her phone number is (510)653-6353 -- Satisfied Client

Jim Sparks is an excellent therapist (who does take MHN) with an office right next to El Cerrito Plaza. His phone is 510-433-7477.

Therapist to help with sibling rivalry

May 2002

Does anyone have recommendations for an East Bay therapist who has expertise helping families with sibling rivalry issues with very young (preschool and toddler age) children? Thanks in advance.

I would suggest Melissa Rapp, MFT. She has offices in Oakland and Lafayette and the number is (510) 595-4618. She has alot of insight, and understands the developmental stages each child is going through, and can help with an appropriate, age appropriate response. Her areas of specialization include childhood and adolescence; families experiencing loss as a result of death, illness or divorce; individuals, couples and families coping with chronic illness; parenting and step- parenting concerns; and women's issues. Pamela

Therapist to help with conflict with father

Feb 2000

I'm looking for a therapist/counselor to help me deal with a recurring pattern of conflict with my father. Without going into too much detail, we are at a crisis point where for my own sanity I have told him to stay away from my family, but this breaks my heart as my 2yo adores him. I'd like to see someone both individually and with my father, if possible.

We found a most wonderful therapist, Eike Diebold, at the Redwood Center at 2428 Dwight Way, Berkeley. Her number is 843-1396 x47. She has seen me individually and with my husband and child. Stefanie

A great marriage/family counselor is Pamela Fox Hargrove. She has offices on Piedmont Ave and in San Ramon and is really good. I don't have her number handy, but she's listed.

A therapist I'd recommend is Heidi Harrison, MFT. She specializes in children and families and is very down to earth and direct. She also has a sense of humor, which I find very helpful in therapy work. Her number is (510)869-2342. Her office is in Montclair. I think she also has an office in albany.

I highly recommend Michael Simon, MFTI whose office is in Rockridge. His phone is 510/433-2959.

In reply to the person looking for a therapist/counselor to help deal with a recurring conflict with their father, I would recommend, as I have in the past, Michael Simon, who is in the Rockridge area of Oakland. He's an outstanding therapist, very compassionate and knowledgeable and really easy to work with; he helps you feel comfortable and safe right away. The telephone number is 510 433-2959, but from what I understand his practice is sometimes full. He's really worth a try, though. I think there are lots of therapists but not always a lot of good ones.

More Recommendations

Aug 2005

Has anyone had experience pos or neg with therapist Mari Loria? Epecially interested in how she is working with kids and parents. Thanks. anonymous

We did some family counseling with Mari about 2 years ago b/c my 4 year old son was having trouble in preschool. I thought Mari was warm, down to earth and had uncommon abilities to form a meaningful connection with my son in a short amount of time. She seemed very quick to pick up on the issues we needed to focus on. Her office is also wonderfully appealing for a child -- with lots of fun things to explore. I would recommend her highly. anonymous please

Mari is absolutely fabulous! You will not be disappointed. Mari is very intuitive, consistent and maintains her objectivity at ALL times. She has been a Godsend to me and my daughter throughout an ongoing visitation struggle. She is a wonderful advocate. anon

Although I have no experience with Mari Loria in a therapy setting, she is a neighbor and someone around whom I have spent quite a bit of time. She is an incredibly sensitive and thoughtful individual with incredibly bright, much-loved children of her own. I can't imagine she would be anything but wonderful as a therapeutic resource for your family. Anonymous

Jan 2005

Hi I am looking for a family therapist in the East Bay with experience on parenting issues, especially dealing with family stress and helping our children grow in self-esteem. Someone recommended Allison Ehara Brown, on Solano. I don't find any recommendations in the website. Does anyone have experience with her? Thanks a lot! Anon

I can definitely recommend Alison Ehara Brown although my experience with her has to do with child therapy, not family therapy. She has been seeing my child for the past three years, for a number of issues including very painful, lasting low self-esteem. Alison is a very caring, warm and attentive therapist and her help and guidance have been invaluable. While she fully respects my child's privacy, she also communicates with us parents very openly. I am very grateful for the work she has been able to accomplish with my child. L.

Oct 2003

We're considering using Bruce Ecker to help mediate a family feud regarding aggression, in children as well as their parents. There is only one recommendation from 2001. New recommendations would be appreciated, as well as comments regarding his Depth Oriented Brief Therapy. Thanks in advance.

My husband and I saw Bruce Ecker to work out stress in our relationship after we had a baby. We thought he was simply wonderful. Aside from helping us to understand the issues and eachother better, he offered very practical approaches to use in every day life. We both recommend him highly. Bruce Ecker Fan

March 2002

Re: Female family therapist in Albany?
I would very much like to recommend Margaret Dodson (526-0474) in Albany (Carmel Ave.). She is good with both children and adults. Dawn

June 1999

Therapy for a child or teenager is no substitute for FAMILY THERAPY. If you think only your child needs it, think again. Disfunction is a family affair: often the person that's acting out is trying (consciously or unconsciously) to call attention to a significant problem in the family. Everyone needs to participate in understanding and resolving it, or it doesn't get resolved.

Often there is a person in the family who won't fully participate in family recovery - look closely - that person is invested in continuing the family problem, and is probably benefiting from its existence in some strange (or awful) way. Don't let this person stop you from learning the truth about what is going on with your child and with your family, and then take the steps necessary to deal with the problem.

Jan 1999

There are two really great therapists on Solano Blvd. in Albany who are good with family issues. The other therapist is Andrew Condey, Ph.D.. He is also very good, but I don't believe that he is on the Pacificare list yet.

We were very pleased with the family therapy we received from Dean Lobovits. He is an MFCC, and his office is in Berkeley, not far from the 4th Street Shopping area. His phone number is 527-4569. We saw him in many configurations: As a couple's counselor; as a family counselor with my stepdaughter; with various important people in our lives for a single session (such as my mother, for instance). He has experience with kids and teens, and he's not attached to any particular structure for a family: whatever works for you is OK. I cannot recommend him highly enough. Dawn

I would strongly recommend Dee Tivenan, in Orinda. Her phone number is (925) 631-7975. We found her very helpful in resolving a conflict we had. Good luck.