Therapist for Coping with Child's Illness

Related Pages: Cancer Support ... Circle of Care terminal illness counseling

Parent Q&A

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  •  Hello everyone.  I’m posting this for my sister-in-law who lives in Menlo Park. My niece was diagnosed with stage III brain tumor last year, and needless to say, it has been very long road. Although she is  stable right now,  the issues related to the illness and the dramatic change that has happened in their home, is finally taking a toll on the parents.  Although they have families that are very close knit and incredibly supportive, the truth is we have all struggled to find words that can sound meaningful in the situation.  I think she will truly benefit from finding a therapist who has experience in this kind of a family situation and perhaps someone who’s care can be extended to the other members of the family. I have tried to look in the Peninsula area but the data is overwhelming. I was hoping somebody in this incredibly resourceful community can point me in the right direction. Any help is much appreciated.



    I know that Children's Hospital Oakland has POP (Psychology Oncology Program, I believe), so I wonder if there is something similar at Lucile Packard or wherever your niece was treated?  POP was created for families (any maybe patients too) who need support during their child's cancer treatment.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Parenting a child with a terminal illness

Jan 2011

I was wondering if anyone could recommend a therapist who not only is good with issues that have to do with the usual crap(adult child of alcoholic and drug using parents, divorces, remarriages, trust issues, verbal abuse, etc.)plus might have some insight into parenting a child with what is basically a terminal illness and requires a lot of care and causes a lot of stress for individual, the parents and perhaps even the other''healthy'' sibling. I know I have a lot of personal issues that I really want to work on this year, but I also have this rather extenuating circumstance with my child that I know might be causing me and my family more stress and grief than I can always acknowledge.It would help to find someone who ''gets'' it through a deep sense of compassion or through experience...I would really like to find someone in or near Alameda who might be available in the evenings. I believe my plan is through ''Value Options''. Thanks for any suggestions, I am new to the area. looking for a better way to be.

You might call Circle of Care in Oakland near the Diamond district. They specialize in counseling, both support groups and individual and family, for families where someone who has a life threatening illness or the family has had a death. They don't take insurance but are sliding scale down to even nothing if you can't afford anything. A sick kid highly impacts the whole family in many ways and they were very helpful in supporting us. 510-531-7551 best of luck

Therapist for Adolescent with Chronic Illness

Oct 2010

My 16 year old son was diagnosed recently with an a rare autoimmune disease that had caused acute kidney failure. We are looking for a therapist in the Berkeley,Albany, El Cerrito area that specializes in both adolescents and chronic illness. He is on several medications to treat the illness that can cause depression. He was a talented athlete but is having trouble with fatigue, getting back in shape, etc. He feels socially isolated and depressed. The disease can be life threatening, is incurable and has a high reoccurance rate. He is in remission right now but will need to remain on immunosuppressant drugs and prednisone for a long time. He misses a lot of school for doctor appointments and sometimes illness and/or fatigue. Thanks for you suggestions!

I highly recommend Dr. Rachel Levi. She is young, energetic, and very caring. The daughter of a friend once described her as ''someone who works with young people who are concerned about their health.'' She is on College avenue in Oakland and her phone number is (510) 287-2625. Good luck. Catherine

Psychotherapist for dealing with chronic disease

Sept 2009

My rheumatologist has recommended that I see a therapist to help deal with a chronic auto immune disorder. I'm in Berkeley. Thanks. Worried Mama

I heard of a really good therapist from a friend of mine who had some big medical problems and needed therapy. She said he really helped her alot. His name is Paul Minsky, PHD and has an office in Berkeley. Don't have his number but I'm sure he's in phone book. Good luck. Friend of someone who definitely feels better emotionally

I suggest a trusted colleague, Larry Yabroff, PhD. Larry is a warm, seasoned and bright therapist who works with people with chronic illness and pain. His office is on Ward St. in Berkeley and his # is 510-649-0640. I highly recommend him. lynn

I was suffering with some chronic health issues and took a Mind-Body Skills class. The class is once a week for 8 weeks and teaches you many different techniques to relieve symptoms and lessen stress in your life. I found it incredibly helpful and life changing. The classes are taught by Sarah Ackerman and you can email her at sarahackermanmft [at] or 510-649-8870. Sarah is also a therapist so she would be ideal for your situation. Feeling Healthy

Helge Osterhold (male therapist from Germany) has experience in this area and is an excellent therapist. helge.osterhold [at] Anonymous

I want to suggest Sarah Ackerman as a therapist to deal with chronic pain. And also to suggest that you look into her group on mind/body techniques to relieve stress and increase well being. One woman in our group had chronic pain and she found the process extremely helpful. Our 7-week group took home methods to visualize, meditate and relax, and the women in the group were so great and supportive that we decided to continue to meet on our own. Whether you do therapy or a group, I'd check her out. She's in Berkeley and her number is (510) 649-8870. Stefanie

Seeking support of other parents

August 2008

My child (who is preschool age) was born with a somewhat rare chronic disease. Although it is not likely to be fatal, dealing with it is a burden for both me and my child. I am not really scared or worried about my kid's medical situation - I am totally burned out on going to the doctor, figuring out how to manage my child's situation and battling with my kid to do things necessary to stay healthy. I am in therapy and love my therapist, so I am not looking for therapy recommendations. I get to take breaks and get respite from the situation, so I don't need that kind of help. I want to be around other people who can relate and offer support. Any suggestions for support groups for kids with chronic diseases or something like that? thanks!

Hi, my kid is in a similar situation, and I hear what you're saying. A number of years ago I used the support group at the Parent Infant Program, which is through Children's Hospital Oakland. I believe the therapist/facilitator there was named Lucille. She ran support groups in addition to the PIP group. The parents in the group(s) had kids with varying dx. Otherwise, I'd suggest asking your pediatrician/specialist and/or calling the developmental pediatricians at CHO for a recommendation. I also like Patricia Yeaton, a (kids') psychologist at CHO. She's the kind of person who would return your phone call if you left her a message seeking resources. Finally, you might try googling for online support/listserves for your kid's specific dx. Good luck, and hang in there. anon

Coping with grief about child's illness

Jan 2005

Our pediatrician thinks our child may have an illness that is incurable and, ultimately, fatal. We are waiting for diagnostic tests (and then will wait again for their results). It looks as if it may be weeks before the picture is clear. I don't feel it would be a good idea to confide in my colleagues or even my other children at this point. Perhaps the diagnosis will turn out to be something less serious, and even if it doesn't, I'm not sure when is the right time to disclose something like this. I would like my child's life to stay normal for as long as it can, and he is too young to grasp something this awful. But living with this anxiety and dread is making it hard to fulfill my responsibilities at work and maintain a semblance of normality at home for my children. My husband is unwilling to discuss the situation, and says he won't even think about it until the diagnosis is certain, which leaves me feeling even more alone. I am sure many of you have lived with fear, and coped with bad news, and I would be very grateful for any advice about how to get through this. Barely managing

Our situation was a little different than yours b/c our child died as an infant, and we knew that her death was inevitable. Still, the shock, knowledge, anxiety and grief were tremendous and often excruciating.

I think that it is important -- even now -- to find a therapist or counselor who has experience w/ such things b/c you NEED to have someone to express your fears and feelings to. Also, if your child does eventually die as a child, you will need the support and understanding of someone outside your family. Our challenge was to find a way to live with the knowledge that our child was dying yet give our child our utmost love and affection as long as she was with us. It is a strange paradox to be in and it is an exhausting and isolating experience (among many other things).

Find someone with experience as a counselor to confide in. The stress and fear will eat you up otherwise when you need most to love and care for your child and family. I know a superb woman (she's in Marin and San Francisco) who saved my life during my child's death. Her name is Nancy Langley and she should be in the phone book. If not, post another message and I will find her # for you. My warmest wishes and hopes for you and your family. Mother of a child who died.

I reccomend brief counseling -- call Circle of Care - they are in Oakland and specialize in working with families facing illness, loss & grief (groups & individual counseling for children & parents). Maybe just have a few sessions with a counselor there to get you through this time. Their phone: 531- 7551. take care

My heart goes out to you and your child and husband. I can imagine that your husband might be responding in that way if it is the only way he feels he can hold himself together. I encourage you to find a nearby close friend or family member who you can pour out your heart to, on a regular basis, for the near term. Some one you can cry with and get hugs from. Someone you can go for walks with (as exercise may help to some degree). You can also seek out a counselor or therapist (i'm! sure many are recommended on this web site). Hopefully, your husband can take on some of those roles in the future. Hopefully your child will not have the diagnosis you fear. I wish you peace. - another mom