Therapists for Teens

Parent Q&A

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  • Teen Therapist

    (1 reply)

    Berkeley teens have a lot to process. Looking for therapists (esp female) who work well with teen girls. Main issue: perfectionism, family dynamics.  Mindfulness practice would be a bonus.

    Many thanks.

    I don’t know if she’s taking new clients, but we really like Taryn Thomas. 510-496-6070. She’s smart, warm, capable, and very experienced with teens. Her office is close to BHS in downtown Berkeley.

  • Therapist for Tween

    (1 reply)

    I'm looking for an experienced therapist for my 12 year old son who has some ADHD/OCD/ASD like behaviors. Looking for someone on Beacon Health.

    If you are looking for someone on Beacon Health I'd suggest getting a list of names of therapists in the area and doing a search on Yelp and Psychology Today.  Many therapists also have their own websites- if you google their name + their city you might be able to find out more about them.  Psychology Today will often include the website.  I suggest interviewing/having a free consultation with at least two therapists before making a decision as fit is critical. Best wishes!

  • I am looking for a therapist to help my neurotypical, sporty, 15 yr old son. He seems angry all the time, which I think is from depression, but he doesn't like to talk about anything emotional or personal with me or his father, so I am trying to find a way for him to open up to someone else. Does anyone have a therapist that would work for someone like him? He would describe himself as an alpha male, and he plays sports and hangs out with other alpha males. I would need to find a therapist that can appeal to someone resistant to talk therapy. Any suggestions? I am also open to support groups for teenage boys. Thanks!

    Hi -- I can't say enough good things about how Jonathan Wolfrum, LMFT supported our teen son. He used to be a high school teacher, presents to private schools in the area on teen issues, does parent and co-parent counseling when the kid won't go to therapy, and is just an incredible counselor. Our son is what you would call "Alpha" too and definitely "therapy averse" (not fully resistant, though(. Feel free to message me if you want more details. Jonathan [at]

  • Son had a psychiatric eval for depression and some anxiety (parents recently divorced, intense school schedule), but was actually not diagnosed with either.  Psychiatrist recommended therapy.  Any really great ones in Berkeley, El Cerrito, or other, or even better, via Zoom, taking new patients?  We have Blue Shield PPO / Magellan. 

    I have found - repeatedly - that's it's impossible to get the kind of mental health support through healthcare payers that we need.  It's super frustrating but unless you have some fabulous PPO or supplement, you just need to pay out of pocket.  If you have an HSA or similar that helps.  It's not cheap but what is...?  That said, my daughter has struggled with anxiety and depression for about a year and a half (probably much longer but it became acute around the start of the pandemic).  We started seeing therapists (3 different ones) which didn't really move the needle.  Finally one of the therapists suggested we engage a psychiatrist out of network and that has been transformative.  We started working with Dr. Larry Diller in Walnut Creek ( last fall.  He set up a series of meetings (combo of online and in person) - some involved our whole family and some with just our daughter.  She was already on medication but he didn't push that; he was interested in lifting the hood and understanding what troubled her, examining the family dynamic, teaching us some important communication and listening skills through exercises and activities, and...ultimately finding the RIGHT medication for her. I highly recommend him and his approach. 

  • Therapist for Teen Boy

    (4 replies)

    I'm in search of a therapist for my almost 18-year-old who has been struggling with anxiety, depression, and perhaps some other things he'd rather keep private from his mom. I'm most interested in finding someone with whom he can begin to build the foundation of what I imagine will be the lifelong, complicated work of prioritizing his mental health. I've been perusing the archives and have found that many of the therapists listed have moved out of the area or are no longer practicing.

    Do you have anyone your kid has worked recently with that you recommend? We have no preference for a particular gender/age/sexual orientation/ethnicity of therapist at this point. Just someone authentic with integrity who can work with young people and not make it weird.  


    My heart goes out to you. We have been helped by therapist Jennifer Rooney in Berkeley.

    With the caveat that I am not sure if she is taking new patients -- our son sees Jennifer Polse Payne.  She has an office near the Ashby BART.  She has extensive experience working with teenagers (she's the clinical director at Holden High School) and is just such a gifted therapist.  Our son has seen many therapists over the years.  When he recently returned home from residential treatment, he specifically requested to work with her.  My husband and I occasionally join our son for his sessions when it makes sense therapeutically.  As someone who has seen many therapists over the years, I can personally attest that she is one of the best I have ever worked with.  Good luck to you and your son.  

    Hi, it is good that you’re taking the initiative to seek help.  My first question is if your son is fully on board to seek help too.  If he is, I am confident that Dr. Dan Barrett would be able to help him.   My son started seeing Dr. Barrett when he was in Junior HS for anxiety and depression as well.  There was some hesitation prior to the 1st session but after that, my son never missed a session.  My son is not the type to talk a lot but he seems to look forward to their weekly session.  It won’t be cheap and might take a couple of years for your son to overcome his anxiety and depression but Dr. Barrett was able to help ours.  This year, we’ve seen a major turnaround.  He’s generally happier and engaged, doing well in school again, making new friends in college and connecting with old HS friends.  I encourage you to reach out to Dr. Dan Barrett at 510-323-3344.   Good luck!  

    We really liked Talia at Clearwater. She's young enough to relate to kids. Our son enjoyed working with her.

  • My son has always struggled socially.  He's talkative and goofy and has kids that he calls friends, but they often aren't nice to him,  and he's on the outside of his peer group being teased or deserted. An after school teacher spotted it years ago and mentioned that he struggles with his emotions and with reading social cues, She suggested a therapist and I didn't listen at the time. Now I wish I had. He just started middle school and already has been targeted by some bullies, and instead of navigating, he seems to be digging a deeper hole. He most prefers to be home alone playing video games. We've tried the kaiser groups, and boy scouts, and karate classes, through the years but he has always lost interest and asked to stop. I'm looking for a therapist that he can meet with and talk to.  It's hard to put my finger on the exact problem. I thought it was ADHD, another therapist said it was anxiety... help.

    We left it until freshman year.  My son's video game playing and staying home had by then gotten worse: anxiety about leaving the house and extreme social anxiety.  If I could do it over again, I would do anything that gets him out of the house and/or off the computer regularly, or else on the computer together.  He must be lonely.  If you can find an activity that is 1:1 with a grownup :  Chess?  Drums?  Therapist was hard to find, but was key to getting better.

    Hello. I relate to many parts of your post. My 8th grader also has real troubles with (but is getting better at) reading facial expressions, body language and social cues. I credit the improvement to weekly group (zoom) sessions w Susan Diamond (sue at diamondlanguage dot com). We had a couple of long and helpful talks/interviews w her before our child started working with her (and 3-4 other same-gendered peers each week) so that she had a sense of their needs. It’s been a long road, and our son doesn’t enjoy the sessions, but our family feels our child has finally (hopefully) turned a corner which is an amazing relief. 
    I suggest reaching out to Susan and, in addition,  perhaps consider getting an (expensive, sorry) assessment. That was how we learned our child has not only social challenges but confirmed, and gave a name to, a math deficiency we had long suspected. It also told us that our child did not have some challenges we had suspected, which was a relief. If interested, we worked with Clearwater Communication in Oakland. 
    Wishing you luck and answers and an easier time for your child w their peers. I know it’s hard. Sending hugs. 

    Hello, It is always difficult to see your child struggle.  

    Have you considered having him assessed by a neuropsychologist to see if he is on the Spectrum?  Many parents that I've met have found relief in finally understanding their child's differences.  I learned so much once I had the Neuropsych Eval report for my son.  It contained many recommendations that I have found useful over the years.  

    Instead of a therapist, I’d suggest a social skills group! That will help him with the skills for making and keeping friends, conversations, dealing with bullies or teasing.

    This is so hard. We have been in the same spot with our younger son-trying to pinpoint why he seems to struggle to make real friends. There are some great recommendations here already. I wanted to also suggest looking into a small school with more social supports. You didn't mention what kind of school he is in but in our search to help our son we found that he was struggling at a large public school with almost no caring adults on the playground to guide better social behaviors. We ended up switching our son to a smaller private school and have had some early success that we hope continues. 

    Since you are having trouble putting your finger on the issue, and not sure where to go next and how to navigate the care landscape, consider talking to Annette Hess. She provides parental guidance to parents and families to determine whether, and what kind, of therapy your child would benefit from, and provide referrals to services and therapists from there. I was in a similar situation with my child and she advised me on assessments (to ascertain what kind of help and support we might need) and gave me recommendations for who to go to next.


    I don't have a solution, but I, too, have a 12 (almost 13 year old) and I have been searching for social skills groups.  I would be happy to connect and collaborate sometime if interested.  Thanks! :)

    Scott Weber LCSW is located in Albany and is a wonderful therapist for both Individuals and families. He has helped us immeasurably. He can be reached at (510) 926-9852 scottaweberlcsw [at]

    This sounds very much like my 13-year-old son. We recently completed a neuropsych evaluation and learned that a lot of these things (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, OCD, autism) can be interrelated. My son struggles with peer relationships and feeling like people don't understand him, which can then lead to isolation, anxiety, and OCD-like behaviors. He also doesn't recognize the signs of anxiety until they are at a 10 so just started working with a therapist to help him identify the signs and practice anxiety-reducing strategies. Where he has the most fun and success is playing online video games with his friends. It's a safer environment where the expectations are clear, no physical contact, and he's admired for his skills. Next, we want to get him into a social skills group with peers. We are at the very beginning stages and recently learned that he's on the spectrum so are fairly new to all of this, but happy to chat if helpful. Please feel free to reach out.

  • Trying to find the right therapist for my 13 year old gifted 2E kid. He's suddenly gone from optimistic, to depressed, although I suspect the anxiety has been around for a while.

    He would prefer a male therapist who can work intensively on these issues. I think CBT would helpful, He's started putting on the front he believes everyone wants from him, and so straight talk therapist is unlikely to help.


    Check out Doug at TheraThrive in Lafayette. My 15 year old son has been getting therapy here for the past few years. Since Covid started everything is on-line.  Katie is his regular therapist, but also really likes Doug, who leads the games group. Doug is also a regular therapist.

    Home TheraThrive Counseling, Assessment & Consultation for Gifted & Highly Sensitive - TheraThrive Counseling & Assessment | Gifted, HSP, HF Autism | Lafayette and San Rafael, CA, in San Francisco East Bay Area

  • My son was diagnosed with ASD at age 14 and has completely rejected the label, will not talk to any therapist who presents as working with spectrum kids. That said, he has been perpetually misunderstood by family and friends because of his ways of thinking, speaking, reacting and behaving — which align closely with “high functioning” ASD. 

    He has worked with a therapist for 3 years now but has found her to be “useless”, “she doesn’t understand me”. That said, I have noticed that he has learned to slow down his reactions and he seems to have learned more useful language for talking about his feelings. He has only remained with her for this long because of the inertia around finding a new therapist. 

    He says he is “ready to bite the bullet” now and find a new therapist because he is angry, down, frustrated with how people continue to misunderstand him and vice-versa. He insists on having a male therapist — and as above, he will refuse to talk to anyone who wants to help him in the context of his diagnosis with ASD. We have tried to find some leeway with him on this — it would be so helpful — but there’s none. 
    that said — any recs for a male therapist? We are in Oakland but would travel and would be willing to pay a lot for someone who is wise and talented. 
    Feeling grim but determined,


    Peter August, MFT, on Piedmont Avenue, helped us when our son was a teen. He does know ASD but his style is not diagnosis-based. He definitely tries to connect with and understand his clients. Our son liked him a lot, and my partner and I found him more helpful than many other therapists/specialists we saw during those rough years. 

    My son is also 17 and has had remarkably similar issues. He saw Dr. Alex Klein at Kaiser in Oakland for years and that helped him tremendously. He attended Dr. Kein's group for ASD kids/teens and also saw Dr. Klein one on one. We also did some group therapy at Communication Works. Feel free to message me if you like. My son may be a good resource for your son as he has similar issues and is now doing pretty well 

    Hi - Almost 6 years ago my then 17 year old son had escalating issues with anxieties.  A counselor at his school recommended Jon Frankel, who I assume still practices in the East Bay. My son's experience with Jon was excellent - seems as though Jon was thoughtful, intelligent and well practiced at navigating through the shoals of my very intelligent son's frightening (to us both) escalating issues. At the very least, perhaps he can give you some guidance in finding someone to help your son.

    We are in a very similar situation with our teen including the resistance to the "label." The inflexibility can be so hard to work with and so exhausting. We are reaching our limit with the help we can get from Kaiser so I'm going to follow regarding recommendations for a therapist. Solidarity.

  • Therapist for teen with social anxiety

    (1 reply)


    I am looking for a therapist for my 14-year-old daughter that can offer tools and support for social anxiety. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!


    My daughter saw Neil Howell, neil [at], 510-898-6345, when she was 13 and suffering from social anxiety. He helped her so much. At the time he was located in Berkeley, but he might be in SF now. Of course it is probably all on Zoom anyway. My daughter went from being terrified to place an order at a food counter to now actually working in retail. Neil is very kind, and gave her some really useful tools using CBT. 

  • Teen therapist - Tri Valley area

    (2 replies)

    I'm looking for therapist recommendations for a male teen. Preferably in the Tri Valley area, but open to virtual therapy. Looking for someone who can engage easily with teens who aren't that verbose, but feeling intensely. Feelings of sadness probably related to pandemic isolation, but also suspect there's underlying/unaddressed/unexplored issues related to LGBTQ+. Basically looking for someone who can help navigate during this trying and confusing time. TIA

    Hi, please do be careful.  If "T" is involved, can lead to a rush to medicalize your kid.

    Many kids and young adults are now developing gender dysphoria (the shocking rise is shown in this Economist article, about 1/4 are boys). It seems to "spread" between friend groups, online, within families (not like being gay does!), perhaps due to social contagion (see also here). There is an online rabbit hole ready to grab them-severe distress from something else sometimes then morphs into intensely strong gender dysphoria (my son was groomed online).  Gender dysphoria can be caused by OCD, ASD (e.g, Gender dysphoria in Asperger’s syndrome: A caution, Autistic girls seeking answers ‘are seizing on sex change) issues, trauma, separation anxiety from parents, many things.  If these are the root cause, doing medical transition or surgical transition will not heal the distress.  See, e.g.,  One Size Does Not Fit All: In Support of Psychotherapy for Gender Dysphoria, here, and an essay by a former governor of the main UK child/adolescent gender clinic. 

    When you get recommendations, be aware that there is no licensing or training to become a gender therapist.  Some people who claim to be expert are crusaders and will in fact only affirm and encourage drugs, rather than explore your child's situation, an approach with no justification (the AAP 2018 policy is based on falsely quoting studies, see this published criticism by a world sexology expert).If anyone does say your kid needs hormones, ask them for the 5 and 10 year outcomes of everyone they have started on this off-label lifetime treatment.  Ask them for studies, and look to see whether those studies have withstood criticism ( and both have articles by professionals addressing studies).  Medicalization is of course attractive to adolescents and young people--they have been given a simple solution to a terrible mental condition: take pills/get shots. And even more, they get popularity, praise, community of peers.  They can believe strongly they have "the answer". The down side is that if anything else was causing their gender distress, it may become clear that changing their body for a problem in their mind was an (irreversible) young person mistake. There are many detransitioners (over 17,000 members on reddit/detrans), although there is considerable stigma in detransitioning.  (There is an inaccurate belief that gender identity is permanent and set before birth-it's not known when/if gender identity stabilizes; about 80% of young kids with strong prepubertal gender dysphoria, not late onset,have it disappear as they grow up.) Many detransitioners are physically permanently altered (some will need to be on hormones forever, are sterilized, and/or have bone damage), and traumatized because they made such a public mistake about what they needed (e.g., Keira Bell's recent legal win).   For these kids, gender issues weren't similar to being gay, but to being, for example, anorexic. Research isn't keeping up.There are lots of calls for studies, and a lot of alarm among professionals. Your young adult might want answers quickly, but the quick answer of drugs does not have support (UCSF is doing a 5 year study right now, but it is a lifelong treatment, and many people who detransition or commit suicide do so after 5 years).  

    I would recommend Discovery Counseling Center in Danville (Tri-Valley Area).  They have therapist that specialize in teens.  My daughter went there and it helped her with pandemic isolation and high school stress. Right now they are doing most sessions virtually because of Covid.  I would highly recommend them and eventually your son could transition to in person therapy with them.  Here is the website:   Email them at: DISCOVERYCOUNSELING [at] DISCOVERYCTR.NET  Phone (925) 837-0505    Monday – Friday: 10AM – 5PM

  • My teenage, almost young adult, daughter recently shared with me some anxiety and stress issues she's been having that manifests in GI issues.  We'll go see her doctor to investigate any potential IBS or other intestinal diseases that might be exacerbated by stress, but she'd also like to see a therapist to talk about the stress and anxiety she's been having.  Would love recommendations for therapists in Walnut Creek or Lamorinda area that have experience working with older teens. Thanks so much!

    Hi I’m a mom and I have suffered from IBS and though I have no therapist recommendation I do like this hypnotherapy app called Nerva which is really helpful on a daily level. I am not suggesting this in place of a good therapist but rather just something to do daily in conjunction with other help for your daughter. Warmly, Maureen 


    We just had 2 very successful tele visits with Dr F. Raph Berberich. He specializes in hypnotherapy for kids. My 12-year-old son with IBS felt better immediately after his first hypno session and did not have pain for 2 days. I think Dr Berberich is very observant and I like that he makes sure the kid feels in charge and "owning" the process. He takes insurance and seems to have plenty of open spots (a miracle, I know!!) Good luck!

  • Therapist for young teen

    (1 reply)

    My 15 year old son is struggling. The isolation and loneliness of the pandemic was bad enough, but then he suffered an injury a couple of months ago that is greatly limiting his activities until this fall. His 2 closest friends have gradually stopped spending time with him and are just hanging out together. He is heartbroken and incredibly lonely. He is usually a happy and upbeat person, very high energy and social. But months of pandemic, lack of sports and friends, being excluded because he physically can’t do many activities right now - is really causing significant emotional pain. I am truly concerned about the next few months - none of these background issues are going to disappear quickly. I think he most needs a chance with new friends, but how can I make that happen? I have tried to reconnect him with his old friends but very unfortunately this is barely working. There are other background stresses too. He acts sad all the time now, or angry and irritable. I know he’s 15 but I’m worried. I’ll take any advice, but I’d most like recommendations for a therapist who works with teens and is within maybe 30 mins from the Rockridge area if possible. Thank you.

    Hello. My son is 19 now. 15 was a very difficult age. I can only imagine adding a pandemic and an injury to it.  I wonder if music (guitar or piano lessons...they have zoom ones at the Community Music Center in San Francisco) may provide some solace and direction.  Regarding a therapist, my son liked Govinda Bader. He is in Berkeley. Best of luck. 

  • Hello,

    Do you have a great therapist recommendation for indiv. teen (and one for family therapy)?  Must be virtual now, of course, but prefer Berk/Oakland or nearby, but would consider WC, etc.

    This is a younger teen (13 yo) girl preferring female (though open to male for family therapy).  Should be experienced with ADHD, as well as anxiety and mild depression.   Must have at least 5 years experience with teens or pre-teens


    Sheila Rubin MFT in Berkeley - she changed my way of filtering life and interacting with challenging situations

    highly recommend 

  • Looking to the BPNverse for thoughts - our DD is a freshman in high school, great grades, extra-curriculars, is really kind to people, loving and caring and creative. She has a group of friends at school, and is constantly making new ones, yet doesn't seem connected to any of them to the point of hanging out outside of school (granted, time is a total premium). She's also dyslexic and I think that the way her brain is wired she just doesn't naturally 'get' the whole girl dynamic, meaning most of the bad stuff (trash talking, manipulating, excluding) and SUPER SUBTLE stuff that girls do as they navigate HS.

    I've never felt like she needed therapy, her social skills are totally acceptable, she's not shy or overbearing, great with adults and kids, and she has plenty of people she talks to, texts with etc. But today was kind of a tough day at school for her, feeling like she's surrounded by people but not really connecting, and I said to her "since you were a baby, you've been so openhearted and just want to connect, and the problem is, that's really rare, and sometimes other kids just suck."

    So will time help? Maybe freshman year is just tough socially, lots of the kids at her school know each other but she came in not knowing anyone. Or maybe she needs a moderated group of girls? I don't think she'd do individual counseling and like I said, I don't think she really needs it. But I do think she needs to connect with people on a deeper level and is not getting that - too much to expect of 15 year olds? Something that comes with age? Any other really open-hearted teens' parents out there? Any and all advice, especially from parents of HS or college aged openhearted kids (or beyond) is greatly appreciated.

    I have a daughter who is now a college student, and I would suggest your daughter find a variety friends outside of school and/or a small group in school, to balance out the main friend group. Maybe a music or theater or recreational sport, something low-pressure that meets maybe weekly. My daughter had the large pool of friends and acquaintances in school, but also did a sport outside of school, and a small club in school. Having this variety was really valuable.

    Dear Parent of a Freshman,

    As I understand it, your daughter doesn't see any friends outside of school?  No overnights at either your house or theirs? 

    This is, actually, a serious problem.  Girls need private time with girls their age.  (Boys, too.)  Our child had *very* few friends in high school, but she always had a couple of very close friends with whom she shared overnights, and that made all the difference in her level of happiness.  She's now a junior in college, still with a small circle of friends, but she is very fulfilled by those she does have.

    You also say that you "don't think she'd do therapy" -- I'm sorry, but a fourteen-year old girl should not have enough power to make such a decision.  She is still a child, with a child's brain, and you are the parent.  (We don't get our true "adult brains" until we're in our early twenties, and those whose brains are wired differently [ADHD, etc.] in our LATE twenties.)

    Perhaps you're right that she doesn't need therapy, but I beg you not to let your daughter be the boss of her own life at this point.  Kids this age believe they know what they want (and they are "SURE" they know what they don't want), but they do not yet have the maturity or life experiences to truly make the best decisions for themselves.   

    I'm sorry your daughter had a tough day and is having a hard time connecting with peers. The high school years are hard! 

    The description of your daughter is similar to how I would describe mine, less the dyslexia. My daughter is quite gifted in certain academic areas and cares deeply about school which adds to her feeling different. My daughter is now a junior in a large public HS, having come from a small, private K-8 as the only one in her class to attend the HS. Freshman year was difficult. In retrospect, I would call the entire year a transition year. She was eventually able to connect with a very small group of 3 other kind-hearted girls. They ended up eating lunch together every day, and did very little (if anything that year) outside of school. That was enough for her. She needed lots of time by herself.

    During the summer, my daughter attended an academic camp where she lived in a dorm for 2 weeks with like-minded people (kind, creative, academically focused). It was the first time she was ever in a group with so many people so much like her. She liked it so much, she returned the following summer. This experience gave her a sense that there is a community of like-minded people out there with whom she can connect, she just has to seek it out. It's focusing her college search while she makes the best of her remaining high school years.

    Fast forward to junior year, friendship groups have shifted, 2 of the original 3 remain, while others have been recently added. She has more social opportunities offered than she cares to accept - things like making gingerbread houses while watching "Rudolf"! Gotta love these kind-hearted girls. She's learned to be true to herself and surrounds herself with the small number of people with whom she feels comfortable and safe. She's even attended a couple of the high school dances. She's learned to be quick to distance herself from people who make her feel uncomfortable in a no-drama, respectful way.

    I'd encourage you to follow your gut in supporting her. Let her lead, and let her know you're there to listen and help when she asks. It's really hard, but avoid giving suggestions or advice unless she asks for it (you can say, "may I offer a suggestion? and drop it if she says no.) Let her figure out her friendships on her own terms with confidence that she will find her people (unless you notice something potentially damaging or abusive, then step in). Mostly, let her know it's healthy to feel ups and downs, happiness and sadness, joy and frustration. Celebrate all that is wonderful in her, and if she'll let you, hold her when she needs to cry, and give her space if she needs to explode in frustration.

    Your daughter may be interested in a teen girls group through My daughter has been part of one of the groups for nearly three years and it has been an incredibly meaningful experience for her. Emily Frost and Quetzal Francois lead the groups and are fabulous with teen girls!


    Looking back at my own teenager son ( now 28) he would had totally benefitted from therapy at that age. Maybe therapy is not the right word but counseling, support. We could all use this specific time with a caring but objective person who can give us insight on our live.

    I can recommend Dr Frank Davis in Berkeley, he was great for all our family. You are smart and are seeing a situation that is not a crisis yet, but could turn into one... Just tell your daughter to give it a try for 3 sessions and if she does not like it she does not have to keep going. Probably at that moment she would realized how great it is to have a support at this strange moment in her life.

    I have a daughter who is a junior in high school. From what you describe I don't think that your daughter needs therapy. High school is hard, freshman year is a huge transition. You will be amazed how much your daughter changes in the next few years. She is becoming a young adult and the growing pains can be intense. My daughter has always had lots of friends and is very active and outgoing and she has had LOTS of ups and downs the last few years. But she is getting better at weathering the storms and moving on. Kids don't hang out like they used to. Part of it is geography, kids live all over the place so it makes it more difficult when you can't just walk over to your friend's house. Kids are also so busy with school work and activities. My daughter and I were just talking this morning about how high school isn't that fun anymore because of the stress and competition to get into college is so intense that it trickles down, but that is another topic. It sounds like your daughter is going through normal stuff and the best thing you can do for her is to be there for her and just listen and be encouraging, as you are already doing.

    I have been in your shoes -- our daughter is similar, and did not know a soul in Berkeley High when she started in her freshman year. I understand your anxiety, and the pain you feel for your child. The good news -- she will be fine. Time definitely does help. My daughter drifted in and out of friendships and groups her freshman year, some painful and some just fizzled. She got more confident, understood the dynamics of the school, teachers and students better, and found her way -- slowly but surely. I don't advise trying to interfere with her socially -- but be there for her. Ask about her day, all her classes, teachers, get to know the kids' names. Let her hang out after school with friends, especially on Fridays. Trust her judgement. Let her make mistakes. Be prepared to pick her up from downtown when she hangs with some kids for Boba some afternoons. The school social environment is relaxed and casual. Not all the kids suck. Many, many kids do not -- and would make great friends for her. My kid made a lot of friends on the same bus route. If she can, let her take the bus with her peers. Just be a loving aware parent and she will be fine. My daughter has great friends now, and is a Junior. Good luck. You sound like a caring parent.

    I want to offer another perspective from that of the parent who said "You also say that you "don't think she'd do therapy" -- I'm sorry, but a fourteen-year old girl should not have enough power to make such a decision." Yes, you are the parent, but that doesn't mean much in this context. When our child was in middle school we got them a therapist. They didn't especially want to do therapy (though now, at 22, they see the value of it), and told us "you can make me go, but beyond a certain point I just won't tell the therapist anything private." Even when we explained that discussions with the therapist would not make their way back to us, our kid stood firm. When our child and the therapist reached the boundaries of what our kid felt was too private to share, they stopped sharing. Period. We talked to the therapist, who felt that continuing with our child would not benefit them and would simply be an expense for us, so we stopped asking them to go. With our kids, all we can do is provide opportunity; we can't make them become active participants. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.

  • Need a Therapist for teenager self harm

    (2 replies)

    We needed help please for any juvenile therapists or therapist who specialize in youth cutting.  

    Try Clearwater Clinic in Oakland. They have DBT programs for teens that are designed to work with self-harming behaviors. My teen has been really helped by their program. I'm sorry you are dealing with this. It's so hard. 

    I also recommend Clearwater Clinic in Oakland, but they likely have a waiting list. But don't be discouraged! You may need to get on several waiting lists and do intake appointments with many therapists before finding just the right one. This can be extremely exhausting.

    Some "cutting" can be just a phase, but it can also be indictative of larger underlying mental health issues. A good therapist will be able to help you figure that out.

    We have been very happy (after seeing many, many practitioners) with Pacific Coast Psychiatry Associates. They have both MDs and therapists, and have several Bay Area locations. We see Dr. Martin in Walnut Creek, whose demeanor is very appealing to our teen, and whose expertise in psychiatry were immediately apparent. I hope that your child is one for whom cutting is just a phase. If not, you have a very tough road ahead of you. The "good" news is that there is a large community of parents of teens with mental health issues and many resources in the Bay Area.

  • My daughter is a sophomore in high school, and very unhappy. She went out of district for middle school, and hasn't yet found a group of friends at high school.  She is quite shy and cautious and reluctant to try new things so refuses to join a club or a sport.  The longer this goes on, the more unhappy she is. Today she stayed in bed and refused to go to school, though eventually got herself up and went late. I'm worried about this getting worse. I'd love recommendations on a therapist for her to talk to.  She won't want to see anyone, I'll have to force it.

    I have the same situation. Would you like to talk. message me.

    Cathy Carr is a warm, amazing therapist who has helped my shy, anxious girl navigate middle and high school. So sorry your daughter is going through this..... it’s so hard! If she is at Berkeley high, do keep encouraging her to try a club..... there are some nice smaller ones that are very welcoming. Another idea is see if she’d like to volunteer at an animal shelter? The City of Berkeley shelter has a wonderful program for teen volunteers and there are lots of nice kids there. The sweet dogs and cats can provide a good social buffer ;)

    Hi, Sorry your teen is struggling! We have worked with both Emily & Quetzal at Love Your Nature in Berkeley. We love them and can't speak highly enough of their presence and skillfulness. Check out their girls groups in Berkeley. They also do a retreat in Spring and Summer, and offer 1:1's. Best of luck.

    My child has had a good experience in therapy with Amy Walthall, Psy.D. You can reach her at

    amywalthall510 [at]

    Sounds a little like my daughter. She is a sophomore at Berkeley High and saw Neil Howell neil [at] He is a really wonderful and kind therapist who uses CBT. He has an office in Berkeley and SF. He got my daughter back on track and feeling much better within about 6 months of going to therapy weekly. She was struggling with depression and anxiety, and also lacked a friend group when she started high school. Now she has a lot of individual friends and she feels much better. Neil helped her enormously. 

  • Therapist for teen with anxiety

    (7 replies)

    A couple of years ago, my 14 year old daughter developed anxiety about being home alone (after previously being totally comfortable staying home by herself). She’s afraid that something will happen to me or her dad while we’re out and she’ll be left by herself and be in danger. It’s not rational and she knows that but it’s gotten increasingly worse over time, not better. Just tonight she was in tears thinking about how hard it is and how scared it makes her feel, even when only one of us is away now. This morning her dad was out early and she was awake and she said she had to look into my room several times to reassure herself that I was still there. And even seeing I was there, she still felt overwhelming anxiety. So I’m looking for a therapist, preferably in or near Berkeley, who specializes in anxiety and may be taking new teen patients. 

    Thanks so much!

    We see Anatasia Kim at the Wright Institute. She specializes in anxiety. She is knowledgeable, warm, has a great sense of humor, patient, puts kids at ease and has been so, so helpful.

    We have had good luck with Reyna Cowan, PhD in Rockridge. She helped my son with his anxiety and he really enjoyed talking with her. 

    I heartily recommend Kendra Dunlap as a therapist for teens. She is kind, approachable, makes teens feel heard, and also gives helpful guidance to parents (while respecting therapist/patient confidentiality.) We tried out about 3-4 different therapists while trying to find a good match for my child, and I'm so glad we found Kendra. She has an office not far from downtown Berkeley BART.

    This sounds very much what my daughter when through for several years.  It has lessened over time with therapy and meds.  We also have had a long standing policy in our house that any time she is afraid, she knows she can come into our room and crawl into bed with us or wake us if she needs support.  This is not going to be easy on any of you.  And...our job as parents is to give our children support and comfort at all times.  I am sure you and your husband are great parents, but even with great parents, what your child is going through requires more hand holding than with other kids.  It took years for our girl to be relaxed at being home alone.  We put an alarm on the house and she can track us from her cell phone, just like we can track her movements.  You need to share with her what is the family plan should something happen to you both.  We put one in place so that our daughter knew what she should do in such a situation.  Even through our daughter is 21, she still knows who she can count on to call both in our town and out of town should anything happen to us.  A very strong support system needs to be in place.  Our daughter is an only child and I am not sure that is your situation.  If not, have her siblings provide some support to her, if you are like us, get a support system in place for her asap. As for therapist, we went to Bay Area Clinical Associates in Oakland.  They really helped all of us.  We highly recommend them.

    We've had good results working with Amanda Urena (510-473-5795) on similar issues. Not sure if she's taking new patients, but recommend her highly. Her office is near Piedmont Ave, a short drive from Berkeley.

    My daughter starting having pretty severe separation anxiety as a child. At 5-1/2 she began seeing Dr. Fortunee Kayra-Stuart and after 18 months of therapy she overcame this particular anxiety. Dr. Stuart practices in Berkeley and she's quite excellent! 

    A therapist sounds like the place to start and I'm sorry I don't have a recommendation. But in tandem with that, and only if it fits your family's lifestyle, have you considered getting a dog? This really helped my daughter's anxiety about being home alone and as an added benefit, we have ALL grown to LOVE our dog. They are a huge commitment – daily long walks, training, feeding, vet visits and the responsibility will largely fall on the parents – but even as first time pet owners, we have not regretted it at all. She knows when any of us are feeling anxious, upset or down and will snuggle up immediately. Lots of local rescues with wonderful potential family pets.

  • Therapist for teen girl

    (5 replies)

    Looking for a great therapist for a teenage girl struggling with anxiety, school stress, and general overwhelm. There may be some depression as well. She has asked us to find her a therapist, so she is motivated, and I think she would prefer a female. Looking for someone warm, relatable, with a good sense of humor, not too "out there." It seems like most people I call are not taking new patients, which is very frustrating, and many will not even return my phone call.  Thanks for your recommendations!

    Try Rockridge Wellness Center. I spoke with a few therapists there and liked their overall approach. I ultimately went with someone closer to me, but with RWC, you have several therapists you can choose from. Good luck!

    My teenage daughter struggles with these same issues and we were lucky to find Jen Valera of Piedmont Psychotherapy. She has been wonderful. She met with my husband and me separately before seeing my daughter and we have had regular check ins with her throughout. I highly recommend her. 510-292-6358, jreigg [at],

    Hi,  I'd like to recommend Shira Luft.  She's a great therapist, and very relatable for teens.  Young-ish but not green - she came highly recommended to us and has been an invaluable resource for our kid.  Her office is on Blake and Milvia, close to BHS.  510-594-4008.  

    If you have Kaiser, I highly recommend Mario Raya at Kaiser Oakland.  My daughter has had both group and one-on-one (with parent there) sessions with him and she loves him.

    I recommend Joanna Self in Oakland near Piedmont Ave.  She’d be great with the issues you describe.  She treated my daughter for anxiety a few years ago and I can’t describe how helpful it was.  She spent part of the time talking to me, which helped me fix some things that were making the problem worse.  At 10, daughter was younger than yours but I think she’d be good with teens, too.

  • Therapist for my Son

    (1 reply)

    I am seeking to help my son, who is 21 years old and is receptive to having therapy.  He is showing signs of anxiety and depression.  Unfortunately, his recent actions are causing him to lose his friends as he has made some poor choices in his actions.  He doesn't seem to understand that what he puts in a text can have serious ramifications. My husband and I want to do everything we can to help him.  We prefer the Walnut Creek location, but we are open to other areas, too.  Thank you!

    Richard Platt "teen solutions" is really amazing with young men.boys---has in a very short time had a true impact on both of my sons---he knows how to connect with boys/men-- and also to challenge them with compassion and empathy--he's great at getting on their level--but also pushing them. He also uses a brain tool called brain spotting which can have some impact on trauma and difficult memories that get in the way. He's in mill valley which may not be convenient--but I highly reccommmend him!

  • Therapist for teen boy

    (3 replies)

    I am looking for a therapist in Berkeley for my 15 year old son who is having some emotional struggles in and out of school and has a hard time talking about his feelings. I think a male therapist would be a good fit.
    Please include a phone number  or email with any recommendations. I sorted through the old suggestions, but wasn’t able to get contact info for many of the therapists people recommended. 

    My 15-year-old son sees Anthony Granieri in Berkeley.   He as a realistic approach to therapy without all the psycho babble.   He also has a realistic understanding of parenting and family issues.   He has about 40 years experience and even though you may feel he's on the older side for your son to relate to,  I think he's pretty cool and my son likes him.

    Anthony - 510-703-1084

    My 17-yr old son is working with a male therapist named Scott Fischer, who is very relatable with teens, and this is the first therapist (out of three) that my son has "clicked with". Scott specializes in working with teens/young adults with anxiety, ADD, etc. His methods work for my son, because they talk while walking or moving around rather than sitting face-to-face in an office (which my son found intimidating). Scott is very laid back and has helped my son really express himself and get to the "core" of his feelings, rather than focusing on quick behavioral fixes. We have tried CBT in the past to treat anxiety and my son will be the first to report that the behavioral habit reversal techniques only addressed his symptoms but not the cause. You can learn more about Scott at or at scott.fischer81 [at]

    We love and recommend enthusiastically Dr John Prosise, therapist in Berkeley, (510)-244-3833. See his website: He is brilliant and kind, and hones in so quickly to the places where work is needed. He works with ages 14 and up, through to the elderly.

  • My early-20s daughter is ready to try therapy again to try to get to the underlying causes of her anxiety and depression, which she has been self-medicating with drugs, primarily marijuana.  In many ways, she is more of an adolescent than her chronological age would suggest.  She's four years out of high school, lives at home, and during that time, she has only had one job, from which she was fired for chronic tardiness.  My health insurance is United Healthcare (UHC), which I understand is unpopular with therapists.  I've asked my therapist friends for recommendations, but none of those recommended accepts UHC.  I have a 90-page list of UHC preferred providers, but the names mean nothing to us.  So this is a longshot, but if you know of a good therapist (preferably a woman, woman of color a plus) whom you know takes UHC insurance, I'd be grateful.  Thank you.

    My heart goes out to you and your family. It is very hard to have a child with depression and anxiety. I have been struggling with my 16 year old for more than 3 years. We did a lot of different therapies with no avail, recently I took the leap and brought him to a psychiatrist. He prescribed him Lexapro 10mg and it made a big difference. The psychiatrist mentioned that for anxiety, he needs cognitive behavioral therapy and for depression dialect behavioral therapy. I don’t have a referral for therapists covering your insurance but I wanted to point out you would want a specific therapist for each condition. I came to understanding that you need both medication and therapy to have a good effect. My son will go to a therapeutic boarding school because he is refusing therapy here. I think change of environment will also help individuals. Maybe you could consider an insitutions like that for young adults! Hang in there and keep breathing!

    I took a shorter list to the doctor.  She checked off the ones she thought were okay, and I started calling.  I got a couple more random names from a psychiatrist (who I found via BPN but had to pay out of pocket for) and both names were on my insurance list.  The psychiatrist gave me names of therapists he thought would be a good fit.  Though I think some psychiatrists actually do therapy.  I think it would be fine to filter the list by sex, by location, and then take a shorter list (not 90 pages!) to an appointment with your daughter's doctor.  Maybe if you call CAPS at Cal (counseling and psychological services) they might be able to give you some names of therapists who work well with younger clients?  I hope some of these ideas may help. 

  • Therapist for a 15 y/o boy with Asperger's

    (5 replies)


    Our 15-year-old son was just diagnosed with mild, high functioning autism which is practically indiscernible, especially by his teachers that only see a kid that has never gotten in any trouble, typically earns A's and B's, and is respectful and easy to deal with.  And, while all this is true, they don't see how he struggles to keep up especially with being able to self-advocate and self-regulate, struggles with class debate/participation despite having far higher than average articulation and verbal skills yet due to lack of dynamic social skills, struggles to even speak at all in a classroom with his selective mutism which is a symptom of the HFA. they simply ding him for "class participation."  The ECHS merely put him on a 504Plan, but after the HFA diagnosis I will push for an IEP, as the 504Plan does nothing for him, especially since the teachers often fail to follow it or are hard-working, well-meaning yet simply don't understand his  "lack of speaking up" is beyond his control and not a behavioral thing. 
    The diagnosis was just received, but what I'm looking for now is advice on therapist good with teens to help with foremost social communications and HFA. The pediatric specialist that diagnosed him referred me to Katherine McCarthy (and Helmit Relanger team) in Berkeley but I called days ago with NO response, so I'm already not impressed.  Another referral she gave was for Lenord Levis. If anyone has experience with these doctors or has recommendations for others please let me know. 

    I already tried to work with Seven Bridges. Got as far as spending hours with paperwork and bringing our son to the first 20-minute appointment but fear we've wasted our time since they never even gave us a quote for out-of-pocket cost after claiming our (very good) insurance won't cover the cost. (this was b4 the diagnosis) They simply put him on a time that "works." Sorry, I'm not looking for someone merely wanting to make money. I'm interested in a doctor and/or team that truly cares. Thank you. 

    My son has a similar profile as your son, but he was diagnosed earlier, at age 11. There are two schools in the Bay Area (and maybe more) that serve middle and high school age children with HFA. The Springstone School in Lafayette has a middle and high school program and there is also Orion Academy high school in Moraga. For years, I tried to get him help in the public school system by way of the 504/IEP system. Even with legal help, you are in for a long, exhausting, and probably fruitless struggle. Like your son, my child was getting good grades in public school. As far as BUSD was concerned, my child's other issues were not their concern. I realize that is not true, legally and otherwise, but that is the way my son was treated. My son was bullied relentlessly, by students and teachers. The best decision I ever made for him was to remove him from BUSD. He is now thriving at Orion high school. He has wonderful friends, he is learning an array of skills to help him with his social anxiety, selective mutism and sensory processing issues. He is surrounded by people who understand him, push him to grow and believe in him. The academics are challenging and interesting. 

    Unfortunately, Orion and Springstone are expensive. I wish you and your son the best of luck and I am hoping you find the right resources for him.  

    My daughter has recently started therapy with this practice in Lafayette.  She's only had two sessions thus far, but it might be worth checking out.  They work with children/adults with high functioning autism, highly gifted, and sensitive indiiduals.  You might give them a call to see if it would be a good fit for you son.

    Anatasia Kim Phd works with teens on the spectrum. She is at The Wright Institute in Berkeley. She is likely to be helpful. Our child with autism, adhd and anxiety has been seeing her for 6 months and it has made a remarkable difference.

    We have had  great experience with Dave Macarchick - who comes right to the house (no more driving to an appointment) and works directly with your child in the home environment. Dave has tremendous experience but is not technically a therapist (see his website) He has a unique ability to meet kids (and their issues) right where they are at.  He worked with my Asperger's son  from 2nd grade through high school,  progressing from basic behavioral challenges and impulse control to navigatng the finer nuances of social challenges. My son is now on the President's list at a univeristy in the midwest (and still loves to check in with Dave when he is home on break). We are a long way from where things started. He also got my son through all sorts of phobias  as well as behavioral and social challenges - and they had fun in the process (!). I highly recommend him.   My son has 2 younger siblings at home and Dave was able to work on the family relationships and dynamics as well as support my husband and I in our parenting of the situation.

    This is his info:

    Dave Macarchick 415-828-0864 (415 number but he is based in East Bay)  

    Here's a page from his website:

    Feel free to contact me with questions.

    Thank you to all that have responded to my message! I forgot to mention that my family pays into UnitedHealth quite deeply, and so I am only interested in therapist/services that accept UnitedHealth or are within that network. Many of the doctors referred to me sound great, yet very expensive. Again, we are looking for therapist and social skills groups for our 15-year-old son diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.  Location is also key, we live in El Cerrito so Berkeley, Albany, EC, Richmond and surrounding area best. Thank you!

  • Seeking Therapist for Oppositional Teen

    (1 reply)

    My lovely, funny, smart 14yr old has had escalating anger during conflict at home--toxic name calling, destroying property, walking out and leaving the house, making physical threats and intimidation. He has not responded to negative consequences or rewards, he just digs in. We've worked with a therapist and they've been helpful but I really need someone who won't just listen but can provide hands-on parenting techniques and coaching that works specifically with oppositional kids. I'd prefer a male and someone in the Oakland/Berkeley area but would be flexible if they are great with teen boys (and their parents!) on issues around impulse control, anger and conflict. Thank you!

    I highly recommend the Parenting Strong Willed Kids class that Kaiser offers, I believe you don't have to be a member to take it. I know several families that have taken the class and we have been using the class manual to guide us in parenting our oppositional, strong willed teen. It has been extremely helpful with concrete advice on setting the appropriate boundries for a teen with this sort of temperament as well as giving him more space in certain areas so that he doesn't feel the need to power trip via rebellion. The book is called "Changing Destructive Adolescent Behavior." Strong willed kids are more likely to engage in destructive behavior and less likely to accept parental input or use the mistakes of others as learning experiences for the themselves. There's a stubbornness, curiosity, lack of fear and desire to experience things first hand. One key to becoming a more effective parent is realizing that you don't have "control" over your child, but you do have "influence." Trying to control will lead to rebellion when strong willed teens want to show they can't be controlled. 

  • I would like to find a caring, experienced therapist for my mid-teen child who is trying to figure out how to best deal with a narcissistic parent, with whom I share custody.  

    I think it's important to have a therapist who has specific experience helping kids learn to cope with parents with personality disorders; I don't want my teen to think treating your child as an object in your life is normal behavior. Also it would be helpful to learn some communication strategies. 

    As far as communication goes, the gray rock method can be very useful. Another possibility is a family meeting. Put together some ground rules and have a meeting once a week. It is better to deal talk on schedule than to be surprised. Another useful resource is Pinterest. Look up "narcissist" there for insight. 

  • Hi I’d appreciate any recommendations for a female therapist or counselor for my teen daughter who’s entering high school and has some anxiety around that and other issues. Prefer someone who takes Blue Shield.

    Hi there,

    I highly recommend Alexis Miller (no relation). I have referred her professionally (through Classroom Matters) and we have used her personally, both with great satisfaction. Working with anxious teen girls is one of her super powers. Reach her at amiller [at] If her practice is full, I would ask for a referral.

    Hang in there!

    Lisa Miller

  • I desperately need to find a way to help my 15 years old daughter for depression, anxiety, ADD, insomnia and possible selective eating disorder. 

    Looking for the recommendations for:

    -great Psychiatrist

    -psychiatry center (UCSF vs Stanford vs UC Davis)

    -great therapist who can works with those issues by Skype. 

    -did anyone use Amen clinic?

    2.5 years ago after the sudden death of a close friend she became very depressed, anxious and stopped sleeping at nights. When she sleeps she has nightmares. Then sleeps during the day, unable to function. Previously active and happy girl now doesn’t want to leave home and stopped all her usual activities. She is under the care of Psychiatrist and on meds. After partial improvement on Lexapro and vitamin D for 2 years her condition worsened again last fall after the minor stress at school to the point that she is mostly housebound, except doctor’s appointments. 

    She did therapy with 3 therapists without improvement. Now she refuses to leave home to go to therapist office, so the only option for weekly therapy would be by skype. This semester she takes classes online, plus 1 tutor comes to our home and 1 helps by Skype. She still struggles to complete schoolwork due to inability to focus, low energy and profound sadness and it is getting worse!!! Used to have mostly As. Now unable to tolerate schoolwork for more then 2hours a day. She eats only few meals that she likes, and is underweight. Tried multiple meds for sleep and 3 ADD meds that helped with focus but all caused severe side effects so were stopped. Extensive medical workup and labs are all normal, including thyroid. 

    She refuses to change diet or to try essential oils (extra sensitive to smells) or to exercise. Or in bed. I am a single mom, no family nearby. We have a dog, who she loves to snuggle with but doesn’t walk him. All day she spends coloring or listening to quiet music or reading. 

    What should I do??? 

    Your recommendations will be greatly appreciated!!!

    Some possibilities

    Medical Cannabis. Try CBD. No high, but can help with many problems. 

    Forest Bathing. Even just getting out to the backyard or neighborhood park can help.

    Try coloring, reading and listening to music with her. Do anything you can to make her feel supported. I get the impression that you are spending a lot of time pressuring her to be different. Which is understandable. But you also need to make her feel loved and accepted. 

    Maybe gentle yoga. Try doing it yourself and maybe she will join in. 

    Touch. Will she cuddle with you? Can you give her a shoulder rub? Can you take her for a massage?

    Try CBD, which is a part of cannabis that isn’t psychoactive. It helps to regulate GABA  neurotransmitters and addresses neurological issues including anxiety. ADD, and insomnia. Alleviating the anxiety can help with the anorexia. Many psychiatrists are ignorant about the medical uses of cannabis and freak out about it. But we found it to be much more effective addressing these same problems than anything western medicine had to offer. Antidepressants can worsen anxiety and depression symptoms in teens. The anti anxiety meds made my daughter dopey, sleepy  and not functional. The CBD we used was a. Sublingual spray made by CARE BY DESIGN. I was not into weed my entire life by I researched the hell out of CBD and saw how much it helped my kid. Check out website for the CBD project. I’m sorry you and your daughter are going through this!

    First, I wanted to say that my heart goes out to you. We have spent years dealing with our teen who has been dealing with many of the issues you wrote about in your post and others...My kid ended up taking the CHSPE (the CA high school equivilency exam) instead of graduating from high school. They were too anxious for high school classes, and then had trouble with anxiety around doing class work and trouble concentrating, and ended up with a home/hospital tutor during their junior year. I am very proud of them for actually passing their CHSPE--since they took it while simultaneously dealing with all the above issues. A couple things lately have helped a great deal: one is it seems like they've finally found meds that actually work and don't cause too many awful side effects. For a psychiatrist, I recommend Dr. Eric Arnold at Bay Psychiatric Associates. He has been very kind and patient with my teen. (ps Lexapro didn't work with my kid and it was HORRIBLE to come off of.) Another was that we got our kid a neuropsych exam and they were diagnosed with high-functioning Autism. Which was an incredible relief--for all of us. Our kid finally had a diagnosis that they could work with and that explain many of the issues they'd been having for years. And, they've been accepted to college and actually have hope again--and are working hard to get there. You probably can't even see that as a possibility for your kid at this point, I know I didn't when my kid was in the depths of their symptoms.  

    So, some things we tried--BACA, in Oakland. Did not work for our kid or us, frankly. It was too cookie cutter and was not able to flex for a kid with physical illness as well as emotional issues. Other people seemed to like it. UCSF has been a good resource for us. Dr. Brittany Blockman leads a group for teens with chronic illness; which also has a parents group--which both my kid and I found really helpful. They also have groups for kids with mental illness as well. Edgewood, in SF, has a short term residential program for teens. It is an exceptional program and very helpful for our kid and us. When our kid was not feeling safe and we couldn't provide 24/7 safety for them, Edgewood really provided a safe haven. I realize I could go on... 

    I know you need to find help for your kid, but also, find support for yourself. This is a really hard and painful road and most people do not understand--even other parents. I realized that people thought I was a great parent until my kid was sick and then suddenly I wasn't. And I learned that of course I've made mistakes as a parent, but no more than any other parent, I just have a (insert sick, autistic, etc) kid. Take care and hang in there!

    I am so sorry your daughter is in crisis.  When a child/teen is in crisis the whole family is in crisis. You might consider attending a Willows in the Wind meeting for support and ideas for next steps, including therapeutic wilderness or residential programs.  Each situation is unique, but you will find that you are not alone, hear others's stories, and gain some references and resources for further support and treatment.  These meetings are fee (donations accepted), confidential, nurturing, and professionally run.

    A little over a year ago, my (ADHD, anxious, depressed) teen was medically unstable and on hospital watch with weekly pediatric weight checks for six weeks while waiting for intake at Stanford Eating Disorders Clinic.  My teen managed to avoid hospitalization (mostly by getting off the ADHD med), and was diagnosed with an eating disorder (ARFID, very different than anorexia or bulimia).  The whole process was traumatic.  The care at Stanford did not feel supportive or nurturing; it felt very one-dimensional and not dual- or multi-diagnostic appropriate.  The treatment offered at Stanford is considered the gold standard in eating disorder treatment and requires treating the whole family with a minimum of 16-20 week, weekly family therapy appointments.  My family would not agree to this.  I won't go into details (too many to briefly summarize), but we're (barely) managing while I continue to work toward long term teen and family stability and health.  It's a long process, but support is out there.  There is a caring community here to support you.  I am sending supportive thoughts your way.

    Have you tried any grief counseling?  It sounds very much like she is still in the depths of the loss of her close friend.  Does she have friends now and is she willing to see them?  Is she willing to leave the house at all to go for a walk or a drive?  What are her interests?  While counseling can help, she also has to be willing to do the work to get better.  My daughter goes to BACA in Oakland and they may be able to assist.  I would recommend counseling for both of you.  You also need the help to assist her.  Her medication may need to change as my daughter's did three times before we found the combination that worked for her.  So the medication she is on may not be working.  Do not worry about the food at this time, just let her eat what she wants.  Remember to let her know that she is loved.  But get her some grief counseling.  This may have also woken up fears of her own death, this can happen within her age group.  I know my own had this happen when her grandmother died.  It was the first person in her life that passed and they were very close.  

    Apologies for the random suggestion, but I have just read two accounts of Lyme disease being misdiagnosed for many years. I resolved that if either of my kids were to suddenly exhibit unusual behavior, I would get them tested. Maybe worth a try? 

    So sorry to hear about your teen struggling. I am a therapist and also have a teen daughter. All these recommendations sound good but I just wanted to add that you might consider a trauma therapist because it sounds like besides the grief and depression, she has PTSD. The effects of trauma can include anxiety, depression, insomnia and self harming behaviors. 

    Wishing you all the best.

    A couple of additional tips.  When you have her evaluated by a psychiatrist, make certain they screen for bipolar or other mood disorder.   If she has a mood disorder depression medication won’t help and can be dangerous.   Also a weighted blanket (can order on Amazon) can help reduce anxiety at night and improve sleeping.    We have been through very similar issues with our own daughter, now 19.   Sending you strength and hope!

    Like others, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. There have been some great suggestions--including attending Willows in the Wind. They'll have a speaker on May 19th at Kaiser, Oakland (in the basement of the hospital) who will be speaking about how to get your insurance company to fund treatment. You might want to contact the speaker, Karen Fessel at karen [at]  Parents can't do all of this alone. You'll need some assistance, either from your school district, your health insurance, or the Regional Center if your daughter has already graduated from high school:   Since your daughter is already refusing school (I think), the school district should be a part of the solution. Does she have an IEP yet? An IEP will cover either a learning difference or an emotional disturbance (if she qualifies). If the school district helps you, you should consider giving their solution a try even if you think your daughter will refuse to cooperate. They will then have to come up with another solution. There are many resources out there--you're not alone. Consider attending a Willows in the Wind meeting this weekend--May 19th in Oakland and May 20th in San Rafael at the Center for Families on Lincoln Ave. You'll need support for yourself--to be in the company of other parents who are traveling the same path. Good luck to you...

  • My daughter has some issues that have escalated recently. Although she has a therapist we recently had a crisis appointment with a cognitive behavioral psychiatrist and she responded very well to the direct and concrete approach.  Her therapist is great but really focuses more on younger kids and I think my daughter has outgrown her.  My daughter is struggling with abandonment issues as an adopted child, emotional regulation difficulties particularly with anger, has some learning differences (and a moderate 504 plan though she’s doing well in school now) and has recently talked of self harm and suicide (hence the crisis intervention).  Given the timing of her most difficult times there is definitely a hormonal component but before treating her for that her doctor recommends an evaluation and treatment plan from a psychiatrist to treat her more holisticly rather than just symptom by symptom. Which I wholeheartedly agree with. So now I need the psychiatrist.  We have Kaiser and because she’s from foster care she also has MediCal.  While of course a covered doctor is ideal, we’re mostly interested in getting her the best care possible and I have family who can likely help with the cost.  We’re in North Berkeley. 

    Her issues are private struggles at home—her school, friends and after school programs would be shocked to know of what happens at home sometimes.  So I feel we are at a good point to get her help before things spiral more out of control.  I am a solo mom with a long term, live out boyfriend who is incredibly supportive of both me and my daughter.  And I have my own therapist so I can focus on my daughter during her sessions.  Even with all this support, and everyone telling me I am doing everything right it is so hard and so scary to see my little girl suffer so much and to carry this emotional baggage. So even if you don’t have a recommendation—any encouragement, words of wisdom and especially thoughts from those who have made it to the other side are appreciated.  

    I'm having very similar issues with my son. We had a neuropsych exam done at Clearwater Counselling in Oakland and are now doing therapy there with Talia Kurland. My son really likes her and looks forward to going. He has not that reaction to other therapists that we've seen. Talia is young and has developed a very nice, trusting relationship with my son. We tried the therapist who is known locally as the leading adoption therapist and there was no connection at all. I've found that my son relates much better to younger therapists than to baby boomers at the end of their careers.

    We pay out of pocket for this. Unfortunately we have never had any luck with therapists covered by our insurance. In my opinion, you can do a lot of damage by trying to force a relationship with the wrong therapist. You don't want your child to hate therapy and be reluctant to attend. If you can get help to pay for this out of pocket, I'd recommend that. We also told our son that he would have input into the therapist and that our goal was to find someone who he liked. Talia has been great. I've not heard good things about Kaiser mental health services. And the Medi-Cal resources that we've tried to use haven't been great either. Unfortunately the age of the therapist is one of the most important things for the fit with my son and the older the therapist, the less likely there is to be a good fit.

    I wanted to write you to tell you I get it. I too am a mom of a tween who was adopted. Have been exactly where you are. So much anger, despair, threats of suicide and running away—and all of it completely invisible to the world outside our home. He behaves like a completely different kid in public. Saves all of his attachment/abandonment rage for his parents. It’s exhausting but I guess, also, maybe encouraging that he has learned how to be socially appropriate and so does not alienate teachers and potential friends. 

    I can can recommend Dr Wymes at Kaiser for a psych evaluation. He doesn’t do cognitive behavioral stuff and he’s not a therapist but he did do a great job for us of assessing danger and figuring out diagnosis and meds. Also—he seems to have a lot of experience with adopted kids. He told us things tend to get even worse through the teenage years (sigh...) before they get better, as the normal teenage search for one’s identity re-ignites all the abandonment stuff. 

    Best of of luck to you mom. We will get through these years eventually. 

    I think I have a pretty good idea of how you are feeling and what it's like to be the parent of a child who is suffering emotionally. Our son entered into a deep depression w/ social anxiety and was suicidal a lot of the time. We found a CBT therapist about a year ago. The CBT person recommended he do the CBT work but also see a psychiatrist. Its been a little less that a year and WHAT A DIFFERENCE it has made. He had to make an effort do the CBT work (visualization, meditation writing, etc) but it paid off. The psychiatrist recommended he should try Fluoxetine, (which we were not in favor of in the beginning) but it REALLY helped. It gave him a break from the depression so he could actually do the CBT work.  By the way Fluoxetine (Prozac) is often recommend for premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which your daughter may or may not have.  I don't mean to imply our son is "happy all the time", but he is himself again, doing well in school, having fun with friends, fighting with his siblings, etc. In his darkest hour (a few weeks into treatment) I did talk to him about my experience with faith, not faith in any particular god or anything, but that sometimes when people are in their darkest hour, faith is the only thing left. We also cried together a few times just hugging and not saying anything. I have faith that you will see your daughter smiling again, brighter than ever!

    My child is a little older and will not commit to the work she was recommended to do through her CBT. DBT is another level you might look into.  Exercise is really all she relies on for calmness. While she is the one experiencing all the confusion of this newly diagnosed condition, if I don't remember to take the time to take care of myself and let myself go I can be of no help to anyone.  So my advice is to be good to yourself,  continue to be a great role model and utilize a spa day once in a while. 

    Yup, the tween, early teen years have been super hard for my younger adopted daughter, the older one seems to be cruising through though. We tried and are having success with 1000mg of omega fatty acids for mood (recommended by a friend who is a child psychiatrist) and also Sam-e which is sold as a supplement in the US, but prescribed for depression in Europe almost as frequently as Prozac. The other suggestion which Kaiser discouraged was having genomic testing to see what antidepressants would be a good match for her. She had a bad reaction to Adderal for ADHD and I didn’t want to put her through anything like that. She’s been attending a girls’ adoption group and will be going to a small high school with a strong mentoring component. Good luck, pick your battles and love your kid unconditionally.

    I am sorry to hear your daughter is struggling.  She has a great support group with you, your boyfriend and the professionals you have ensured she has access to. It is hard to go through this, but know you are doing great. You have support for yourself as well as for her. It's a long haul sometimes, but with continued support for both of you, things will get better. If you think there is a hormonal component, I recommend using the app me v pmdd.Your daughter can easily choose moods, etc to track each month and there is an area to type in a daily journal. The creator of the app encourages positive self talk in the journal to help during the tough times each month. We believe our daughter is suffering from PMDD from 2.5-3 weeks out of the month - anxiety, exhaustion, withdrawal --- each month is a bit different --- some months more mild than others, but way more than PMS. By tracking these moods/emoitions/physical symptoms on the app, we will be able to have a better picture over a few months of what is going on (or not going on if that ends up being the case). The app has helped our daughter track her emotions/physical ailments and thoughts of the day easily. We tried other journaling and it never really got to a point where she would do it every day. The app is simple and helps her remember what to rate each day.  Hopefully, it can help  your daughter too.  Hang in there Mom, you are doing well and all of this hard work and support you are providing her will pay off.  Remember to celebrate the small things, the small wins, when you see them.  Lots of celebration along the way to larger goals helps a lot.  Take care.

    First of all I want to say that I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. There is nothing worse than when your child is struggling - you just want to do whatever it takes to make sure she's okay. Second of all, I want you to know that you're not alone. So many of us on here have been through similar things with our kids. It's just that nobody really talks about it because there's so much shame and guilt (did I do something wrong? Did I mess up as a mom?) and so much fear (is she going to be okay? What do I need to do to protect her?). We had a hard time finding a therapist who was a good fit for our family. We wanted someone our daughter liked, but also someone we could work with as parents. We finally chose Dr Rachel Zoffness in Berkeley. Our daughter at the time was also struggling with chronic migraines that were triggered by stress, and Dr Z was a perfect fit. We loved her. I cannot say enough about how much she changed our lives. There are a bunch of good CBT therapists in this area so you can't go wrong. We did a Google search and interviewed a few until we found one we loved. Don't give up and hang in there. This too shall pass!!!

  • Therapist for anxious teen

    (1 reply)

    I am looking for a therapist in the Berkeley area for a teen suffering from ADHD and social anxiety. We have HealthNet via UC Berkeley and would love to find someone in network. Thank you for any references. 

    NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Therapists, please do not recommend yourselves or a colleague. We can only accept recommendations from clients (or parents of clients). Thank you!

    I highly recommend Jody Roberts, on The Alameda near Solano in Berkeley. She is older, very experienced, and connects really well with teens. She was incredibly helpful for our anxious teen.

  • Male therapist for 17 y.o. son

    (2 replies)

    I am looking for a male therapist for my 17 y.o. son. Has anyone heard of Alex Hoeplinger? Or could you recommend another male therapist in Berkeley or North Oakland?

    NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Therapists, we cannot accept self-recommendations or recommendations of friends/colleagues. Just recommendations from patients or former patients. Thanks!

    Anthony Guarneri in Berkeley.  My 14 yr old son sees him.  He is straightforward, relates well to my son.  My son looks forward to seeing him.  He is realistic about life and parenting.  I highly recommend him.  My son has seen other therapists but this is the first one I have felt comfortable with.

    I would recommend Eliot Schain.. he has done wonders for my son and our whole family. 510-604-2311.

  • My 12-year-old daughter is struggling at school. She has never liked it, and, now that she's 12, she *hates* it. She has no friends at school, and has adopted an extremely cynical, misanthropic attitude. Her dad and I (divorced) struggle with her over screen time, as many parents these days do, but our biggest concern is her lack of motivation at school, rigidity, difficulty with transition and change and general negativity. She lost her grandpa a couple of years ago, and I think she would benefit from grief counseling as well as general therapy. We want to find some one who will be her ally-who she feels is on her side. Some one young and hip who is really into helping kids, but also affordable, as both her dad and I have very limited resources. If anyone has any recommendations, particularly some one that helped their daughter, I'd really love to hear about it. Thank you, BPN community!

    NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Therapist members, we do not allow self-recommendations or recommendations of colleagues.  We can only publish recommendations from patients (or parents of patients). Thanks!

    In addition to seeking counseling, I would strongly suggest that you start with a thorough neuropsychological evaluation. This will enable you to determine if your daughter has any learning or neurological issues that are contributing to her dislike of school and difficulties connecting socially. You can either request an evaluation through the school district, or you can have one completed on your own; there are a number of recommendations/advice postings on BPN about this. 

    HI, I have a just turned 13 yr old who has been seen for the past year or so by Rikki at JFCS (we are not Jewish, JFCS is open to families of all backgrounds). My daughter had coped with divorce, illness, school stuff and then lost her grandfather and that was the tipping point that led to us seeking out services. I am a therapist myself and so very picky and have high standards for therapists. Regular sessions with Rikki have completely turned things around for her and she is so much more comfortable in herself, so much better able to communicate her needs, and overall is flourishing. Rikki is older but that was important for my daughter I think to have that kind of support, especially after losing her grandad. I wouldn't let age or "hipness" be a barrier if you or your daughter feel a fit with a therapist.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapist for Teen

    (3 replies)

    Dear BPN, I am looking for a good CBT therapist for my 15 year-old daughter.  We live in Oakland.  She's struggling with generalized anxiety which has spiked over the past three months after an extended physical illness.  She has missed many weeks of school and returning is a tremendous struggle. I am hoping to find a good therapist that she could get in to see soon.  She needs some tools she can use to helps calm down the panic and waves of nausea that come with her spike in anxiety.  Many thanks.

    NOTE FROM MODERATOR: Therapists, please don't recommend yourself or a colleague.  We only accept recommendations from patients (or parents of patients). See  Thanks!

    My daughter had/has similar issues. She saw Heidi Ronfeldt on College Ave. and she helped quite a bit. My daughter is now attending school regularly and has panic attacks every few months instead of a few per week. Heidi is easy to talk to and included me in many sessions, for part of the time, so that I could be on the same page. She also helped interface with school and spoke with the school counselor.  My daughter saw her frequently for a year and now sees her for check-ins monthly or so. We did decide to have my daughter take medication a few months into the therapy and that has also made a big difference. I highly recommend Heidi. She's down to earth and my daughter felt comfortable with her right away. Sometimes she would even take her out for a walk in the neighborhood. I know how hard it is to watch your child suffer with anxiety. Wishing you calmer days ahead. 

    My daughter (experiencing severe anxiety) recently started working with Dr. Laura Rainville. I really like her. I feel like she is really tuned into kids/teens and can really understand things from their perspective and is relatable. She is on Alcatraz @ College Ave (just moved from Market Hall address listed on the website). You might want to see if she is a fit.

    My son also suffered from anxiety. After seeing a few therapists, the individual he connected with best was Scott Fischer. Scott has a unique approach that worked well for my son. Rather than sitting in an office, Scott likes to get out in nature and take walks with his patients. Doing so helped ease my son's anxiety and allow him to talk more openly about his feelings.
    He has also gone to people's homes if that works better for them.

    Scott.fischer81 [at]
    (919) 371-5930

    It's important to find someone with whom your child feels most comfortable.

    Good luck


  • I am looking for someone to help my son manage himself over a broad range of situations. Im not looking for a quick fix but rather a therapist who can help him generalize problem solving skills over a myriad of experiences. Nothing ABA related, but rather a therapist who understands the neurocogntive challenges of Anxiety Disorder, ADHD and ASD combined and can help him learn to assess each individual situation and gain skills that he can apply to allow him to come through each one appropriately and safely.

    Hi, this is my field, though am responding as a parent. There are therapists out there who specialize in ASD. If do not have word-of-mouth referrals, perhaps you can do a thorough internet search (including Psychology Today or similar) and then contact a number of therapists, and talk with them directly (not just admin/staff). Follow your gut instincts, and perhaps even try out a few sessions with your top choices. When you have a high needs child, a good fit is important.

    Unfortunately, I have no recommendations. However, we moved to the area from the east coast recently, have a teen boy with the exact same profile and are also in the market for a therapist.  We had recently started with someone new in Maryland who was very good and we really need a replacement. Let me know if you’d like to compare notes sometime or just connect. Heather 


    I too have a teen boy in this category. I was recently given the name of Kent Grelling with a glowing recommendation. We haven't pursued it yet but he might be someone to check out to see if he would be a fit for your family.

  • Therapist for teen - doctor Kelley Gin

    (1 reply)

    Hello, has anyone worked with Doctor Gin?  He has an office on Alcatraz Street in Berkeley.  My depressed 16 year old boy needs a therapist, and I wonder if he'd be a good fit.

    I absolutely recommend Dr Noah Bach Bar-Tura. She is in Berkeley and can help you immensely! 
    Phone # 773-852-6627
    Here is her website:

  • Depressed and suicidal teen

    (3 replies)

    After catching my 14 yo daughter smoking pot in her bedroom, I went through her text messages and discovered she has been getting high regularly for several months, and was also raped recently. I've known she was depressed but not how bad it was. She has been doing poorly in school but not totally failing- she is very smart but insists she is stupid. She is basically refusing to discuss anything with me, outside of expressing that she is angry and wants to kill herself.  What have you done that actually helped your teen recover from a similar situation? Forced therapy seems unlikely to be helpful. Keeping her at home will just increase her isolation as she refuses to engage in any activities or consider online school.  Seems like a lot of people try a lot of things most of which don't work.  I don't want to over react but the suicide talk makes me feel drastic and immediate action is needed, this isn't run of the mill experimentation. 

    I work with families of children and teens who have attempted suicide. This is every parents worst nightmare and I am sorry you're going through this. Your daughter urgently needs mental health support. Please find her a good therapist, or a support group if she prefers. If insurance allows contact the psychiatry department at Children's Hospital Oakland, or at least ask them for guidance.  If she is actively suicidal call the mental health crisis services or go to the ED. Encourage her not to isolate but also give hr space when she needs it. Make sure your home is free of any obvious risks (hiding medications, razors, etc for example). Be there for her, listen, empathize. Make sure other adults in her life are there for her too. Monitor her online activity. You say she was raped; has she talked with you about this? has this been reported? to police? school? doctor? Is her rapist someone she still has to face every day? Have you or she been in touch with a local rape crisis center or rape crisis hotline? Also you may also want to get mental health support or yourself, this is a huge amount to be dealing with. Please take good care.

    I'm so sorry you and your daughter are going through this. My daughter and I have been in a similar situation and it was devastating. If she is in immanent danger of hurting herself (especially if she talks about a specific plan to hurt herself) take her to the hospital so she can get hospitalized for 72 hours (5150).  Lock away any pills (advil, Tylenol, and prescriptions), knives, etc at home and take out anything from her room that could be harmful to her . We even put a sound alarm on my daughter's door at night so we could sleep and know if she left her room to venture around the house so we could hang out with her.  I didn't trust what was going on with my daughter at all.

    Work with a psychiatrist to determine if she needs medication and where she is at in terms of depression and any plans to commit suicide. Dr. Ray Hearey in Orinda was helpful for us. He also called Alta Bates and gave them a heads up that we were coming to the hospital when she needed a 51/50.  When she is stable enough,  DBT therapy might be helpful -- this sort of thing is geared specifically for people like your daughter.  I would check out Clearwater DBT in Oakland.  They have group and individual help for teens and adults suffering in this way. My daughter refused to go to the group (only individual therapy) at Clearwater but we all (especially parents) learned skills that could carry us through everything.   I would say DBT and meds for my daughter helped us most.  My biggest revelation from DBT was that I had to work on a continuum of acceptance and change.  If we were struggling with 5 issues I had to pick one or two issues to change and accept the other 3 or 4 issues as is until we had more capacity to deal with it. It is insanely hard to wait and see what happens when your child is suffering. There was no cure all answer. I thought about sending her to a wilderness or art based camp and or a therapeutic boarding school (we used Shayna Abraham, from Prepare to Bloom therapeutic educational consulting to research good choices) and each time I got close to doing so I got scared off by thinking about how I would lose my daughter for a significant period of time (18 months on average) and how unregulated most of those places are and how many many kids don't get much better from attending these pricy places (they sometimes get worse). My daughter also refused to go to school so we sent her to Tilden Prep (Walnut Creek and Albany) which was a great decision. It really helped give us some time to deal with getting her stable (and boost her academic confidence). We did that for a year and then sent her back to public school.  And we got through it.  My daughter is in high school and is relatively happy and adjusted. She still has ups and downs and still takes meds but is doing really well. There is hope for change.

    I am a Holistic Health and Wellness Coach and have helped a few teens with their depression and anxiety with CBD Hemp Oil. It is not considered cannabis because it comes from Hemp and there is no THC in the oil. It is an excellent anxiolytic and CBD has been used for PTSD as well. The only down side/side effect is that it will not work well. Teens feel grounded and the anxiety moves out of their body, they can focus and function better. CBD is also a huge detoxifier, as I am sure with the stress she has endured, she has what they call neurotoxicity- which makes it hard to concentrate. CBD is a great detoxifier. You definitely do not want her smoking cannabis, as most likely it has high amounts of THC which can exacerbate the depression.

  • Therapist for teen sleep anxiety?

    (1 reply)

    My 17 year old has suffered from anxiety and severe insomnia for nearly a year now.  We are seeking a therapist who can help her fall asleep and stay asleep.  

    My daughter does not have insomnia but she does have anxiety. She sees Heidi Ronfeldt on College Ave. She really likes her. I don't know about her experience with insomnia but you could call or email her and ask. Also has she tried acupuncture? I use sleep with me podcast to fall asleep but my insomnia is not severe. Good luck! Insomnia is awful. 

  • My 17 year old son has ADHD and anxiety. He is now "self-medicating" with marijuana. I would like to find a good therapist for him in Marin County. Any suggestions?

    Start with checking out Parents Education Network and NorCalCHADD meetings.

  • Counselor or therapist for angry 13yo son

    (2 replies)

    My 13 year old boy is showing a lack of impulse control when he is angry or annoyed and he gets physical. He is getting big and strong and I hope he can learn to control himself before he really ruins his relationships with people, like my father did. 

    He is a a very smart and talented kid and school seems easy for him. This seems to translate for him into perfection, but he is far from perfect. So when he is reprimanded for something, rather than trying to do things differently, his reaction is to make it someone else's fault, to play the victim or become angry. 

    I'm hoping for a good male therapist in the Richmond/ El Cerrito/ Albany area to help him sort out these issues and get some new tools for relating to the world. If you know of anyone, I would appreciate recommendations.

    -I recommend Jason Brand, whose office is at 5th & Cedar in West Berkeley.  He did a great job of connecting with my son during a 3-4 month gig following my divorce with my wife, just to give him his own connection and resource to someone outside the family.  His phone is 488-3093/

    Recently we met with several therapists, trying to choose one for our 13 year old daughter.  One that we met with a couple of times was David Frankel in Berkeley.  He was amazing, and we all liked him a lot.  In the end, our daughter chose someone else (a female) and we have been meeting with her instead. 

    I would heartily recommend David Frankel.  He is wonderful. Google David J Frankel, PhD for his number.

  • Hi. Can anyone recommend an anger management class for a teen boy, age 17? We could get to Oakland, Berkeley, Lamorinda area, Walnut Creek, Concord. He's having scary angry outbursts -- swearing, breaking furniture, punching holes in the wall, etc. -- every few weeks. He's on meds and monitored by a psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente, but they have been of little to no help in this situation. My son refuses to see anyone there for 1-1 therapy because the therapists come and go so quickly. They have no anger classes for teens, only adults. Please let me know if you can recommend anything! Thanks.

    My recommendation would be to find a good 1 on 1 therapist who your son can relate too. My experience with two sons who had the same behaviors (one worse than the other) is that they were embarrassed by their behavior and wouldn't disclose what they did in a group setting. So having him connect with an experienced therapist gives you a much better chance of success. I highly recommend David Borof, whose office is in Walnut Creek on the west side of I-680. He totally "gets it" and can offer concrete help to teenager and parents. His phone number is 510-701-0427. If you still feel that group therapy is the right way to go, I can suggest Coyote Coast in Orinda. Ask for Alex 925-258-5400. They screen their groups very carefully to ensure that the boys mesh together, have similar "issues" and also make it fun with a Saturday outing once per month. And hang in there, I've known several boys in addition to our own who went through this anger phase and they all turned out okay. Make sure the consequences of his behavior naturally follow his blowups - patch and paint the plaster, buy a new chair, etc. 

  • Therapist for pre-teen

    (2 replies)

    I am seeking an excellent therapist for my (almost) 10 year old daughter.  I am seeking a female therapist who is experienced with this age group, warm, smart and healing.  I can't find any recent recommendations.  Someone in Berkeley area or near by would be best.

    Thanks so much.

    Taryn Thomas is excellent therapist and has a specialty working with children and teens. Her office is in downtown Berkeley and the phone is 510-496-6070. She's very warm, funny, and supportive. Betting your daughter will like her.

    Dear MT, 

    I highly recommend you contact Rebecah Freeling.   We met Rebecca at our daughter's preschool and worked with her first with our preschooler last year as we were going through some rough times with her and were lost, needing professional advice to learn and to better support our daughter. Rebecca worked magic!  Within 3 weeks our daughter had become so much more manageable and we felt so empowered. We continued that program for 12 weeks and we still use the tools and the wisdom learned during that time. 

    As we became so comfortable and confident with Rebecah, we asked her for help with our pre-teen daughter with whom we had different needs, but not easier to handle as parents.  In that case too, Rebecah was extremely helpful, supportive and successful. She taught our daughter new tools to address situations assertively, she managed to build a  very close relationship to our daughter in record time, getting her to express feelings and emotions, putting words on them, or drawing about them, helping her to communicate and get help to manage these. 

    What I really appreciate working with Rebecah is that she works with the whole family.  The child is not stigmatized, the parents are not blamed. Rebecah is there to help, and adapts to what you are open to as a family. She always proposed ways and came with several options if we were not open to them at first.  She is amazing with kids, gets down to their level, obviously loves them deeply, has fun with them, and loves helping them and their family finding ways to better communicate, better handle challenging situation, better understand their emotions, and become savvy at navigating life challenges that come at any age (from tantrums to school start to pre-teen dramas, to teenage conflicts, etc...) . 

    Give her a try, you won't be disappointed. You and your child will get out of there empowered.  That is how we felt and still feel to this day. And I know that Rebecah is always there to help if we need her advice again.

  • Hello, 

    We are seeking a low-key therapist for our young teen daughter.  There is nothing wrong, per se, but she has an older sister with bipolar disorder who causes a lot of stress in the family and we thought it would be beneficial for the younger one to have someone to talk with about her feelings who is from outside the family.  We are seeking someone who will give her an outlet, maybe advice about what to so when her sister acts out, etc..  We want to make sure she does not feel like she "needs help" because something is "wrong" with her, or how she moves through life, but, rather we want her to see that this is just an additional support resource.  We desire a counselor who will support that vision of the therapy process.  We prefer someone from Lamorinda, but thanks to the fourth bore, could go to Berkeley or Oakland.

    Please send recommendations.  Thank you.

    Try Georgia Maslowski in orinda and Oakland. Low key and gentle. 

    My teen daughter did really well with Virginia Keeler-Wolf, in Oakland. She was a great support, and after some regular sessions she switched to an as needed basis.
    Kathleen P

    Andrea Weiker is pretty amazing. She specializes in adolescent CBT. In her private practice she does Sunday appointments. She is in Oakland.

    I want to second the post for Virginia Keeler-Wolf.  We were in the same position as you with my son and she was very helpful.  He still stops in for the occasional session 2 years later when new issues come up

    Hi - I highly recommend Susan Regan, MFT. She is in Berkeley. Susan worked with my step daughter for the last 3 years. My older SD has an eating disorder and struggles with depression, cutting and anxiety disorders. So we too thought the younger daughter needed extra help  

    We found Susan to be an amazing support and is definitely low key. 

    Susan Regan- (510) 520-2924

    I hope this helps- Allison

    In Lamorinda area I can recommend Colette Bischer-Choate, MFT at 925-974-9029.  She has much experience with the (more functional) siblings of those with severe issues.  Definitely "low-key."   Marlies Rosmark, MFT is another great resource.  Her number is 925-257-4071.  She is great with young teens who need support.

    Good luck!

    If you choose to use Susan Regan, keep a close watch on your bank account. She requires you to keep a card on file with her and she'll charge it without talking to you about it first. She charged me for reading emails (had I known I would have just talked to her about the emails during a session). She also charged me for an extended session when she was 10 minutes late starting it (when I raised that point with her she refunded part of the extra charge very graciously. The issue is that I never would have known that she charged me extra had I not been keeping watch over my bank account and I would expect a professional not to charge a client for time that client spends in the waiting room.). She'll tell you that she has a two day cancellation policy but what she enforces is a 48-hour and two BUSINESS day cancellation policy. So an appointment on Tuesday at 6:00 pm has to be cancelled by Friday at 6:00 pm or she'll charge the card on file. I found this out when I attempted to cancel a Tuesday evening appt at 7:00 am Monday morning. Even though she had the exact same amount of business hours to fill the cancellation that she would have had if I had cancelled on Friday after the end of business hours, she wouldn't budge. It was the first time that I had cancelled an appointment and didn't understand the policy but she wouldn't cut me a break. I finally reached the point where I felt like a walking bank account instead of a patient and severed the relationship. She was a decent therapist but the money issues were just too much for me.

    Deb McManus, in Lafayette, is an excellent therapist for teens.  She is amazing about supporting the teen as well as the whole family.  Pretty close to Lafayette BART, too.

  • Hello,

    My 17- year old son is a generally well-adjusted teen, very personable, does well in school, and seems overall happy and content. He has one particular area of concern: he worries excessively that something is going to happen to his sister, his father or me. If he knows we will be out of the our general area, he constantly tracks us with his phone, and if he cannot get a hold of us or does not know where we are, he gets terribly anxious and worried. I suffer from this a little bit too, and kind of live with this. Today he told me that he wants to see someone about this because it is interfering with his life too much. Do you have any recommendation for a therapist? What kind of therapy would you recommend for this? He has had this anxiety for as long as he can remember. He will be going to college in a year, and I really would like him to get a handle on this. Thanks!

    I would like to suggest CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), which helps people work directly with negative/anxious thoughts. There are some recommendations for specific therapists in the archives, and for lower-fee therapy there is the Wright Instutite:

    Your son's difficulties remind me of my own (which I also began to struggle with at a young age).  I've found somatic therapy really helpful for finding a way through anxiety.  Jane Lazar is a wonderful practitioner in Berkeley (  I highly recommend her.

    A close friend has had great experience with hypnotherapy.. she says it helped her get over writer's block and other friends who have a variety of fears

    have been able to resolve using hypnotherapy.. I heard the most effective is when they give you a CD to take home and listen while you fall asleep and it

    reinforces the session and can resolve issues in just a few sessions.. much faster than other therapies.  I don't know of any but you can probably look on yelp for

    your area.  My friend's hypnotherapist was Larry Garrett in Chicago, Ill.

    My 17-yr old son is working with a male therapist named Scott Fischer, who is very relatable with teens, and this is the first therapist (out of three) that my son has "clicked with". Scott specializes in working with teens/young adults with anxiety, ADD, etc. His methods work for my son, because they talk while walking or moving around rather than sitting face-to-face in an office (which my son found intimidating). Scott is very laid back and has helped my son really express himself and get to the "core" of his feelings, rather than focusing on quick behavioral fixes. We have tried CBT in the past to treat anxiety and my son will be the first to report that the behavioral habit reversal techniques only addressed his symptoms but not the cause. You can learn more about Scott at or at scott.fischer81 [at]                                                 I also echo Jane Lazar for somatic therapy, having worked with her myself. Key is to find someone your son can relate to.  Good luck!      

    My 16 year old son has experienced similar issues (along with other anxiety) and has been helped tremendously by Eliyahu Sills, MFTI in Berkeley.  You can find him online.   He's immensely calm, specialized in working with men and boys, does mindfulness...all of which has helped my son get to a much better place.

    Good luck!

    I recommend that you also consider Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is an offshoot of CBT.  The skills based approach has been very helpful for me to manage my pervasive anxiety and I use the tools I learned at least every day.  DBT is not for those interested in long-term therapy as most DBT therapy lasts for only a year or so at the most.   I've both taken classes and had therapy at the Oakland DBT Center.  I've worked with Lauren Gonzalez but they are all well-trained in DBT.


  • Hi Neighbors,

    We're looking for a therapist to work with our bright, creative, 15 year old who is having a difficult time with the typical teen issues and her physical health. We are looking for a counselor who is open to listening and providing support to a teen with a chronic health condition and the limitations it places on day to day teen life and relationships with family and friends. We look forward to your suggestions.


    mom and caretaker

    You might try Korie Leigh. Here is her website and contact information: In addition to being a therapist, Korie is also a certified child life specialists with extensive experience working in medical settings and with families who have faced hospitalization and chronic illness. She is warm, kind and very easy to speak to. If you have any questions, let me know. Take care.

    You may want to contact Rachel Zoffness, 510-852-9772, She specializes in working with teens with chronic pain and illness. Best wishes.

    I would recommend Dr. Patricia Zurita Ona.  She's in Walnut Creek at the East Bay Behavior Therapy Center. 925-956-4636.

    I think Lisa Lancaster in Berkeley would be an ideal fit.  

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Seeking a teen therapist in Marin

March 2016

My 14yo daughter has always been introverted and sensitive, but these days it seems like there's more going on than sensitivity+introversion+teenage angst. Since I went through high school wearing black and exuding angst from every pore and have ended up a reasonably well-balanced adult (albeit with some tendencies towards depression), it's hard for me to gauge what she'll grow out of vs what might be lifelong patterns. So it's time to get someone else's perspective.

I'd like her to have a space to talk through what's on her mind and -- mostly -- an emotional toolkit that will help her be less socially anxious and more engaged with the world around her. I'm looking for a therapist -- preferably female -- who can work well with a sensitive, funny, articulate, sometimes feisty, sometimes monosyllabically withdrawn kid. My daughter goes to high school in San Anselmo with her dad, who works long hours and has limited ability to drive her to appointments, so the ideal fit would be someone with an office in San Anselmo / Fairfax / San Rafael. A Berkeley therapist with Saturday hours could also work. Mom

I highly recommend Jessica Sherman, whose office is in San Rafael. She is warm, approachable, and very experienced. I really think the most important thing for finding a therapist for teens is finding the right ''fit'' personality-wise. Good luck to you. 415-485-1120 d

I would highly recommend Anneli Richards LMFT, She is very highly skilled and relates well to teens. She is in San Rafael. jk

Stephanie Diagre is a terrific, brilliant and empathetic therapist in San Rafael. 415-516-4090 is her number. We love her! Jeanette

Therapist Referral for Cal Senior

Jan 2016

I hope you can refer a great therapist for my 21-year-old daughter, a Cal senior who experiences intense mood swings and anxiety. She's an overachiever who has taken on too much this year and needs help coping not only with Spring semester, but life after graduation. My daughter is outgoing, fun, a great student (working extra hard for her grades) and also active on campus. She puts a tremendous amount of pressure on herself creating anxiety, self doubt and fear of failure. These feelings are linked to low self esteem which end up leading to episodes of depression. She compares herself to other Cal Students who seem to “effortlessly do it all” and to her older brother and sister both Cal grads. My daughter realizes that she needs someone to help guide her in coping strategies and get to the root of her anxiety. Time to get help so she can enjoy her senior year! Your suggestions for Berkeley/Oakland therapists who are accessible by bus are much appreciated. Thank you! Cal Mom

In case you end up considering SF, look into Sally Sharrock and Debora Fletcher. Sally is very close to a Bart station. Good luck! Sarah

Your phrase: ''She compares herself to other Cal Students who seem to “effortlessly do it all,” is almost exactly the phrase I just read in an article about a suicide cluster at the University of Pennsylvania and one student who found help. Of course now I can't find the article, and I don't have a therapist referral either, but I did want to say that this comparison is common. Those ''effortless'' students are probably feeling the same thing. Best to You and your daughter

Therapist Dean Lobovits

July 2013

We are looking for a therapist for our son and one recommendation was Dean Lobovits. Has anyone had experience with this therapist and how was it? anon

My son saw Dean Lobovitz for several years, and still does occasionally. We highly recommend him. He specializes in adolescent issues and was truly a life saver for us. As a family, we trust him completely. Schedule for morning appointments if you can, and prepare discussion points. All the best of luck

We used Dean as a couples therapist a few years ago and did not have a good experience. He took sides, was unprofessional, had his own agenda, and completely wasted our time. There are many skilled therapists in the area, but he is not one of them. Anon

Tried Somatic Psychotherapy for your teen?

June 2013

Hello, has anyone tried somatic psychotherapy for a pre-teen? My son and his father are having difficulty communicating. I've suggested therapy but neither are interested. A friend mentioned somatic psychotherapy as an alternative because its less formal and maybe more fun. Does anyone know about this? worried mom

Yes, I have tried somatic psychotherapy and found that it helped me resolve something very difficult in a quicker, more direct way than talk therapy. It seemed to open things up, lighten things up right away, get rid of the tension around what I needed to resolve. I was able to overcome some heavy stuff in one session. I would highly recommend the practitioner I went to, she is really insightful, fun, creative, and great with communication skills. I think she would be an ideal practitioner for a teenager and his Dad. She is really experienced at working with men and younger men. She won an award for her work in the East Bay this year. Her web: and her email: jessicaengle [at] Rose

We had a similar problem in our family. We went to see Monika Broecker and had good success with her alternative approach. Her website is here: A Better Listener

Therapist for mother & daughter

May 2013

I am in desperate need of a therapist who would be willing to work with myself and my daughter. It may be helpful to see someone who is Indian or who is aware of the cultural differences. We live in Hercules. Thanks in advance. Concerned Mom

I want to recommend a therapist who has changed our family's lives for the BETTER!! Her name is Cara Zeisloft, LCSW, 2001 Blake Street, Berkeley, CA (510) 594-4331 and her website is I am not sure about cultural awareness, so please check with Cara directly. I can only say we were at the end of the rope emotionally until we found Cara who has worked miracles with our teenager. Our teen is a person of color and has connected wonderfully with Cara, so that is a good indicator, but talk to her as she may have a referral if she is not right for your family. Btw she is not inexpensive, but she is worth every penny to us. Teen family saved by therapy

Therapist for depressed 16 year old daughter

May 2013

My daughter, who is 16 and a sophomore in high school is suffering from several disappointments that have affected her grades and have made her very depressed. She has had injuries that caused her to have to quit her favorite sport, soccer, and prevented her from pursuing lacrosse. She has tried the swim team, but does not like it that much. Also, since she cannot run due to her injuries, she has gained weight, and that also depresses her. She is also having problems with friends, her best friend is moving away at the end of the year, and other friends are not there for her. Her grades have plummeted this year, and she is having problems with motivation in school. Could anyone recommend a therapist for her? Thanks, Concerned Mom

I would highly recommend Regina Shields, Ph.D. for your teen. She is warm, very smart, very experienced and ''gets it'' about teens. Her office is in Rockridge. Her number is 510-839-1740. Best of Luck

Need therapist recomendation in san francisco for female SFSU student

April 2013

Hi, My daughter is now is a college student at San Francisco State and called me to help her find a therapist in San Francisco to help her with issues of perfectionism ( she is so very hard on herself-body image, performance, wants to make good impression on others ), relationship issues--trust, and help clarifying her future direction. She has blue cross insurance and was raised by lesbian mom and feels that lack of father figure was a big problem. Any suggestions for sensitive, empathic therapist? Thanks!

I highly recommend calling Dr. Annie DeJong. She is a thoughtful, warm and experienced psychologist, who definitely has experience with all the issues you mentioned. She also tries to work with insurance whenever she can. She can be reached at (415) 346-8144. anon

Need Therapist who Does House Call for Teen w/ Depression

Feb 2013

My son, who is really bright and always had gotten great grades, has gotten so depressed in last year he often refuses to go to school. He's up in middle of night using computer, then goes to bed at 7:30am. The days he does go he won't do homework and has mostly Fs. He has VOC insurance and I got therapy appt. but he wouldn't go. I finally found one who agreed to come here, but now he won't talk to her, tho' at first he liked her & agreed to see her again. I can't even get him to go to store to try on jackets or to dentist. Last time I removed computers, he sat all day on couch refusing to go to school or anything. By 2nd day he was cutting his jeans into pieces (bored). I can't get rid of my computer (needed for work) & if it's here he has it, only letting me use it when he's sleeping. Trying to take it results in power struggle and could break it. He only speaks to 1 friend, boycotting me & everyone else. Friend tried to get him to go to martial arts show, which he loves, but he refused. He hardly eats & is lethargic. He goes from bed to couch & back. He was victim of violent crime and seems to not want to leave house now. He's getting worse. Homeschool won't work. He needs to socialize w/ others & be out at BHS to get over PTSD, not be more isolated. He won't do HW here; he'll just use cmpt. all day. My son really loves reading, swimming, playing instrument, martial arts, making food, playing games etc. but now all he does is sleep and use computer. He no longer smiles or chats w/ me. He only eats when i leave or go to bed unless his friend is here. I'd like recommendation of therapist who deals w/ computer addiction but s/he'd have to make house calls & take VOC insurance. I'd try a curandera/herbalist if I can find good one. (Curanderos who spit rum don't work. Tried it--he hated it.) Homeopathy costs arm & leg & didn't work. Other helpful suggestions welcome.

Your son is depressed and needs therapy. But your family is being run by your kid, you feel powerless, and trust and affection has been seriously eroded. You are in need of a skilled family therapist, who can help you re-establish your authority and help you get your kid the help he needs. Most therapists in private practice will not make housecalls. It is not clear that having the therapist come to you is the best way forward. However, it may be a useful first step. a psychologist

Dear Seeking Solutions, Your situation is very worrisome and I understand. I have some names of therapists I think are good or may have advice. 1.) Dean Lobovits in Berkeley tel. 510 527 4569 (He knows a guy for computer addition also) 2.) Bob Heavner Berkeley tel. 510 843 4377 3.) Dr. Lawrence Diller tel. 925 945 6060

There are few Therapists who understand this new predicament with our gaming addicted sons and daughters who will get you to where you want to be...having your kid back. I write here @ BPN often & it may be time to establish a separate BPN forum devoted to this contemporary condition, and I truly feel for you and your family. Can you save up money for an intervention, or wilderness camp? I had a friend who did this with a son into drugs & violence. It's a bit of an ambush -the camp counselor literally picked him up, no warning, and off to a well staffed wilderness camp experience. There are myriad choices listed, and there's hope for a placement covered by insurance. Eventually he will thank you for saving his life. You are experiencing a very difficult situation. I have been there and you are doing great, so far. Stay strong!

Try Dr. Simone Taylor, based in Oakland. Registered with victims of crime (VOC) program in Alameda. Not sure if she does house calls though. Dad

Therapist for Depressed College Drop-out

Dec 2012

Re: Son feels like a failure after dropping out of college
Sorry to tell you, you are not alone. A lot of my son's friends came back after 2 years in college. I have no idea what is going on.We read all around that there is a problem with boys, etc but I don't hear a totally different story with girls.. My son is seen Dr Frank Davis in Berkeley (510) 496-3470. I think he is great with young man and pretty helpful to the whole family. I know how you feel, hopefully our boys will be able to figure it out. good luck! mgr

Hey There, We too have a bright son who dropped out of college in Jan 2012 after failing classes, came out feeling like a total failure and slipped into a deep depression. While we still are not on the other side of this hard journey, we have made progress. He started seeing a therapist 2 x week, had an neuropsy eval and ended up with a dx of ADHD, depression and anxiety. He has continued with therapy, meds and started taking classes at Laney. We also do weekly family therapy. I suggest Samuel Tabachnik, PHD who does a lot of work with young men. There is also a parents group for this specific issue run by a woman named April Wise. I think a new group will start in January. I have felt very alone and at a loss how to help him and ourselves at times. My advice to you is therapy, patience with yourself as you struggle with the stress this brings and with him as well. Good luck. anon

Therapist for 16 yo girl on Saturday?

Dec 2012

I am seeking a therapist recommendation for my 16 yo girl who seems to be struggling socially, with her perfectionist ways and general growing up issues. I am hoping to find someone in Berkeley who has Saturday hours. Thoughts? anon

Try Dr. Simone Taylor. Her office is right on the boarder of Berkeley/Oakland on Telegraph.

My teenage daughter saw Nina Shilling, a therapist in Berkeley, for a number of years. She is a wonderfully warm, witty, and creative older woman who was an excellent mentor for my daughter. She came back from each session stronger and more clear. I highly recommend her- she was such a great support and guide. I do believe she has Saturday appointments available. Nina Shilling 540-0813. Judy

Therapist for 16 yo son struggling with school, drugs, behavior

Dec 2012

I am looking for a therapist for my teen (turning 16 soon). He is a great kid, loving and friendly, but he has had some struggles with school, illicit drug use, and behavioral issues. Most of this has cleared up recently due to significant efforts from kid and parents. His Dad and I divorced six years ago, and he lives 50% with Dad and 50% with me. I have supported his relationship with his Dad despite many storms -- on numerous occasions our son has argued intensely with his Dad, suffered verbal abuse (and an occasional shaking when he was younger) from his Dad, refused to move to Dad's when the time came, walked out of his Dad's house and spent the night elsewhere a couple of times (when I was out of town -- he's also come to my place for refuge), etc. His Dad turns to me for back-up, asking me to persuade our son to move back, apologize, etc. I have tried to mediate arguments between the two of them where I was shocked at the level of disrespect both of them expressed. Our son, who is polite and respectful to me, gives back as good/bad as he gets from his Dad. Now they had a blow-up and son moved back with me, saying he doesn't want to return to Dad ''for a long time.'' Dad claims he felt physically threatened in the arguments they had, son claims that Dad lacks all empathy. I hope to persuade son to move back in with Dad on 50% basis, but I can't control Dad's behavior. Now son has confided that he has violent intrusive thoughts that bother him. I need to find a therapist for son, but he has resisted therapy steadfastly in the past. If I could find a male therapist who has worked with kids of divorce, who has some experience in working with kids who have experimented with drugs and have some symptoms of depression, that would be great. My son has expressed willingness to talk to a therapist if the focus could be on self-exploration and understanding rather than ''curing,'' and if there could be concrete things accomplished rather than just talk. Finally -- we have to have a therapist who takes our insurance: United Behavioral Health. I would be grateful for any leads. divorced mom

You raise a host of complicated issues here. On your son's concern about ''cure'' vs. ''self-exploration,'' tell your son right off the bat that therapy is indeed about self-exploration, finding useful tools for coping, understanding self-damaging behaviors, navigating difficult relationships, etc., NOT curing.

On the issue of finding a therapist, ask your insurance for a list of providers in their network. Go online and look at their websites (most therapists have them now). Don't be discouraged if they all sort of say the same thing, e.g., ''I work on issues of loss, self-esteem, divorce,'' etc. You can tease out the differences fairly easily. Look at their gender, training, areas of interest, the way they describe themselves, years in practice, work with teens, etc. Then call them and ask for a (free) 15-minute phone interview to see if you like them and if you think they'd be a good match for your son. Don't ask them for advice during this time; just describe your situation very briefly and ask if they'd be a good match, what their experience and approach are, etc. Anyone unwilling to do this can be crossed off your list. Ask the best prospects (you will have only 1-2) if your son could meet them in person for 15 minutes to see if they're a good match. This is how I got a very good therapist for my very disturbed foster son. And BTW, even if someone else on this list gives you the name of the world's best therapist, you should still do pre-meetings to see if they are a good match for your family. That's what matters. Referrals only get you so far.

And you didn't ask for this advice, but I urge you to reconsider being the mediator between your husband and son. It's not your job to convince your son to go see his father. It's their relationship. If things are very tense between them, and it sounds like it, maybe it's better that he be with you nearly 100% of the time. Because it sounds like they're going to come to blows at this rate. Don't make your son keep going through this. Put your energy into getting a good therapist, and ask the therapist to be the mediator, not you. hang in there; I know it's hard

Our son (now 20) has seen Dr. Ken Seider on Domingo St. in Berkeley, both for family therapy and, at his own request, for individual counseling. He saw him perhaps 20 times from the ages of 16-19. Our issues were probably less serious than those you describe. We have been very happy with Dr. Seider, and the fact that our son has (more than once) requested meetings on his own with Dr. Seider suggests that our son also saw value in meeting with him. I have no idea what insurance he accepts. Anon

Michael Simon at Market Hall in Oakland specializes in teens and is amazing with teen boys~ and their parents. He is a gift to this community! Give him a call. anon

Looking for a therapist specializing in teens and anxiety

Aug 2012

I'm looking for a great female therapist experienced with teens and anxiety. My teen has been in therapy last year with very little improvement and feels bad about it, given that we all had hopes for more results... Your recommendations are much appreciated! Thanks. anon.

Hi, At age 14, my daughter, ''A'', developed a real anxiety disorder. Her original therapist was amazing but relocated to Chicago when A was about 16 and then on more of a ''maintenance-type'' schedule of therapy (only checking in maybe once a quarter or twice a year). On referral, A saw Dr. Rachel B. Levi, whose office is in Oakland in the Market Hall building. Her phone is (510) 287-2625 (All phones are online). A hasn't seen Rachel in a few years but did like her a great deal. However, along with Rachel, I would strongly recommend a psychiatrist named Robert Epstein MD, on Dana Street in Berkeley. (510) 848-0900, IF you think meds might be in the picture. I had A see him when she first started in therapy at 14 because I'd been told he was extremely conservative around teens and meds, yet I thought A might be a candidate for meds just to help her see a bit of daylight from the hole of her anxiety. While it took her a while to warm to him, he was just perfect understanding what she needed. 10 years later, she's a very well-adjusted college grad, though she does continue to see him periodically to tweak her meds with life's slings and arrows, and he continues to have a very moderate approach. He listens to her as to where she's at, what she wants to aim for and work with her on that basis. Susan

My then 12-year-old son was helped tremendously by Wendy Ritchey in Walnut Creek. He did a short course of therapy, learning helpful techniques for recognizing when the anxiety was beginning, and also more positive self-talk, and his anxiety and sleep difficulties reduced dramatically. That was 15 years ago, but I see that she is still practicing: Good Luck! anonymous

Interestingly, we just discovered Dr. Sheila Krystal and liked her right away after one visit. She has a natural approach worth looking into, and takes our insurance. I believe teen anxiety is very common and is often a physiological experience related to hormonal development. There are natural remedies. Pharmatherapy is not the only answer to teenage angst! The office is not a typical sterile environment, your child might enjoy the change. Good luck!

Looking for East Bay Therapist for Teen who accepts Medi-Cal

April 2012

We have a teenaged bi-racial daughter who needs to get back into therapy. We recently moved to the Bay Area and we need someone who is good with teenaged girls and who accepts Medi-Cal. Our daughter was in therapy for many years (she was adopted by my husband and myself within the family) but has not seen anyone in the last 4 years and she's in great need of help. Thanks. Concerned Mother

Center For Family Counseling 9925 International Blvd, Suite 6 Oakland, California 94603 Telephone: (510) 562 3731 cffc [at] they specialize in children, youth & families... Provide case management, and accept Medi-cal. Helpful Info

Therapist for teen son's anxiety

Feb 2012

Hi, I'm looking for a counselor in the San Ramon to Walnut Creek area for my teenage son who has self esteem/ anxiety issues. My insurance gave me a couple of choices...Mary R. Cross and Julie Scheinman. Has anybody had any experience with them that they could share? Also, is there anyone else you can recommend in the area who is good with teenage boys. Thanks. anonymous

If you and/or your son can commute to Oakland, I strongly recommend Dr. Callum Eastwood. He is intelligent, experienced, and effective. He sees clients for assessment/consultation or ongoing psychotherapy. His phone is (510)459- 4837. He also may be able to recommend someone in the Walnut Creek area if Oakland is too far of a trek. Anonymous

Therapist for middle school child who is hurting himself

Dec 2011

My 11 year old son is frustrated in a class in school and has been hurting himself (banging his head against the desk). I am looking for a therapist experienced with children who hurt themselves, are gifted, and have anxiety. Ideally the therapist would be located in Berkeley or Albany. Thank you. Want to help my child.

That's a tough situation. I recommend Dr. Ken Braslow. He's a child psychiatrist who works with kids/families and has been helping us with therapy for our child (and meds more recently). My husband & I appreciate the time he's taken to get to know us. Our son really likes him and is getting better. He's in Berkeley. Laura R.

Therapist for 15yo daughter in deep trouble

Oct 2011

I need recommendations for an excellent therapist for my daughter who is in deep trouble. Hates school, angry, depressed, doing drugs of all kinds, alcohol and doesn't seem to care about the consequences. Any recommendations on alternative schools/residential treatment centers/boarding schools all with an emotional component and not just academics. She is very artistic. I've heard the RTC's in Utah are dangerous and horrible to the kids and kids suffer PTSD after being dragged off in the night to these places. What alternatives are there out there to help her???? She is seeing a therapist now, Piera Piagentini but nothing is really happening that is positive. I appreciate any recommendations-thank you so much. Desperate mom

My advice for teens that are out of control is to find a good educational consultant. We used David heckenlively in Walnut Creek and were happy with him. For our son, we sent him to wilderness with Second Nature then to a therapeutic boarding school. Second nature is fantastic! Some kids do well with wilderness alone, and others need longer treatment. Been there

I'm sorry to hear about your daughter. Our daughter had a long list of very self destructive behaviors last year. We finally found a therapist that she connected with. Her name is J.J. Kelly and she is excellent with teens. Though we are not completely out of the woods yet, our daughter is doing so much better. J.J. has helped our daughter tremendously. She also runs a DBT group periodically. She is the reason we did not send our daughter to a therapeutic boarding school. I have heard good things about Montana Academy.It was started by some bay area therapists. Good luck with your daughter. been there

Therapist for 16 year old daughter

Oct 2011

Needs names of good therapist for teenager 16 year old female. Desperate for help

My 16 yo son sees Jason Brand in Berkeley. Jason is young-ish and seems great w/ teens. My son likes him a lot and my husband and I felt as if he ''knew his stuff''. His number is: 488-3093. Good luck anon mom

I highly recommend Mick Hausauer, 4281 Piedmont, Oakland, 654-2311. He is amazing with teens. A friend told me about him and he was wonderful with her child and mine. mother of teens

As a family we are seeing Robert Terris at the Family Mediation Center in Rockridge. Our 15yo son seems to like him and has made him feel comfortable and willing to talk. As we are in the fairly early stages of our 'therapy', so I can't say on what the long term results will be, but he has certainly come up with some good insights. Don't know about the insurance aspect if that matters to you. Good luck. -- 5665 College Avenue Suite 340D Oakland, CA 94618 tel. (510) 684-2172 email: famcmc [at] website: . T.

Therapist for depressed 19-year-old college student

July 2011

I would like a recommendation for a good therapist my 19 year old son, who just finished his first year of college and is home for the summer. He is struggling with several issues: depression, low self-esteem, video game addiction, difficulties in his relationship with his father. He sleeps a lot during the day, plays video games at night, seems unmotivated and confused about what he wants to do, exhibits a lot of anger. He has agreed to talk to a therapist/psychologist and I am hoping it will help him sort things out. Thanks. Concerned Mom

Len Levis, Ph.D. is the man for your son. He specialty is teens/young adults. My teen son, myself and my husband are recent clients of his and he is fabulous. He is very clear, non-judgemental, KNOWS the teen mind and the world we all live in. He is very easy to talk to and very practical too. Very sane and good advice/insight. Can't say enough positive about him. He is in Berkeley. 510-540-5052. dr

Dean Lobovits 527-4569 1530 5th St. corner of Cedar & 5th, Berkeley The Best!! He knows and works with male teens and older as well as families and couples. He has seen it all! Excellent communicator/educator, has great practical/hands-on suggestions. He bikes, plays guitar, flute, has friendships in multiple and diverse communities. All around man.Contact me directly for more info. Good luck! aurrea

I know some excellent therapists who work with children, teens, and adults. They understand the issues you are trying to help your son with.

Best of luck, it is always challenging to know how to help when they are in the ''almost adult stage'' and having trouble finding their way.

Jason Brand, LCSW, can be reached at 510-488-3093 Pay Rose, MFT, can be reached at 510-587-3234 Sandra Bryson, MFT at 510-653-6353

Karen Sprinkel karen_sprinkel [at] at Clearwater in Oakland saved my 19 year olds life. She is gentle, kind, cool, and he still see's her via skype from college. I could not recommend her more solidly. RR

I would recommend Dr. Lisa Lancaster. I think she is the best and most effective therapist I have come across. anon

Therapist Harmony Satre

June 2011

Looking for feedback on therapist Harmony Satre whose name was given to me in connection with working with teens.

I'm glad you got Dr. Satre's name. I am the mother of two girls and I have nothing but positive things to say about Dr. Satre. She is patient, understanding, and extremely professional. I was immediately struck by her deeply caring attitude towards her patients and her committment to the best interests of the child she is working with. Good luck! c.b. (mom of two)

Therapist for moody & depressed 16-year-old girl

May 2011

I am looking for a recommendation for a therapist for my daughter. She has been moody and depressed lately and now says she's willing to try therapy again. Over the past 3 years we've tried 3 times, but she was never willing to talk to anyone I chose. I'm not terribly optimistic, but I know she's in pain and she won't talk to us, her parents. We have insurance coverage (MHN), but very few people accept it, so that's not particularly important. Prefer Berkeley-Albany-N Oakland. concerned mother

Sara Biel 878-4130 on Adeline in Berkeley is excellent. My daughter sees her and has a fair amount of issues: adoption loss, ADD, school troubles, etc. She is compassionate, firm, & very experienced with teens. anon

We consider ourselves fortunate indeed to have found J.J. Kelly, my teenaged daughter's wonderful therapist. She has made a great difference in my daughter's life, and we are grateful. She is at the Berkeley Therapy Institute in Berkeley.510-841-8484 relieved parent of teenaged girl

Our therapist Fran Wickner works with teens and is in Albany, she takes our insurance, too. Honestly, we are so happy to write a recommendation for her, she's great with being supportive but also challanges us to figure out what we need to do. I'm sure she will do the same with your daughter, help with ways she can deal with her depression, etc. Fran's number is 527-4011. L.K.

If your daughter is open to therapy now, I say jump at the opportunity. Erica (Rikki) Sudikoff, LCSW, at the Jewish Family and Children's Services Center helped my 16 y.o. daughter deal with the same issues through weekly therapy sessions over several months. Rikki has some parent reviews in the BPN archives you can read. She is open and comfortable to talk to, even for shy/reserved teens. She's good at keeping the parent informed too. I highly recommend her. She accepted our insurance (UBH) with a $15 per session co-pay. The office is at 2484 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley (downtown), and the phone is 510-704-7475. I wish you and your daughter the best. mom to happier teen

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for 15-year-old

May 2011

My fifteen year old daughter's therapist is recommending a switch to Dialectical Behavior Therapy as an alternative to her current therapy. I've read about it on the web but I wonder if others have direct experience and impressions with it? Thanks. Anon

Boy, I don't often respond to these BPN questions because we're not a wealthy family prone to experiencing the same kinds of high-functioning issues that many BPN parents talk about, but...DBT therapy we know about!

My kid has been in therapy since she was 3 years old, after surviving two years of cancer treatment. She has been off and on with it since then. When she was about 14-15, she started harming herself, culminating is several serious attempts on her own life. After her first hospitalization, she was recommended for DBT. With some trepidation (due to our financial situation and not feeling like we could afford it), we applied to a program.

Since starting DBT, my daughter has had one last hospitalization, many months ago. She has a great relationship with her individual DBT therapist, and our family attends both groups skills training and family therapy on a weekly basis. It's been like therapy on steroids. It's a very serious commitment to cure a very serious problem in my daughter's behavior. We find it's working, and there is some relief (albeit no perfection, either). Hope this might be helpful DBT Mom

Teen therapist in LaMorinda area

March 2011

Looking for a therapist for a 15 year old girl in the LaMorinda area. Would like someone with expertise in teenage issues. concerned mom

My teen daughter just started with Michele Spitulnik in Lafayette, so I don't have much to say other than she seems very nice and was highly recommended by a counselor at the Lafayette middle school. Good luck. Lafayette mom

Recommendation for DBT Therapy?

March 2011

Does anyone have experience with their teen receiving Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? This has been recommended for my daughter who does not manage intense feelings well ( has used alcohol and cutting instead to cope.) One location recommended was the Clearwater Center in Oakland. Any comments on them? Thank you. Scared Mom

I highly recommend ClearWater clinic. My daughter has been seeing a therapist there for about a year now. I am taking one of the parenting classes. They are great! Karen

Having gone through a similar experience myself, my heart goes out to you and your daughter. I found Clearwater to be a very good DBT therapy center and I highly recommend Demi Rhine as a therapist, if you can get in with her. The classes they provide as part of the therapy are excellent and will be very helpful for you in living with and supporting your daughter through her emotional ups and downs. I also recommend the book ''Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life'' by Scott Spadlin. Sympathetic Mom

Good (great) UBH Therapist for 18 YO daughter

Jan 2011

Our depressed and troubled 18 year old daughter has finally agreed to go to counseling. We may have only one chance to get her straightened around and want to find an effective therapist to overcome her reluctant attitude. We need to use United Behrvorial Health but can't find any ''substantive'' recommendations for counselors that take that insurance. UBH only offers names and generic info, so hard to sort and guess etc. Can anyone recommend a ''great'' UBH teen\\young adult therapist? hopeful dad

Our 16 y.o. daughter is seeing Susan Bresee, who I'm almost sure is on the UBH list. She is right in central Berkeley. Her number is 843-1396. Our daughter finds her to be very caring and easy to talk to, and she (the kid) seems much happier and better able to cope with stresses and unhappy times since she has been going to Susan. Best of luck. I know how heartbreaking it is to see your daughter struggle. hopeful mom

I can recommend Elayne Savage in Berkeley (510-540-6230), who counsels adults and teenagers. She is warm and cuddly and talks to you (as opposed to sitting and listening and not expressing much). Elayne is a parent herself, and I think she has a good, sympathetic understanding of adolescent turmoil. My daughter likes Bobbi Schear in Oakland (Rockridge/Broadway Terrace area; 510-655-7240), who is a kind soul, but quieter, less bubbly. Both Elayne and Bobbi are skilled at drawing people out, and Bobbi does sandtray therapy as well, which fascinated my daughter.

I have been seeing Karen Hollinger Jackson for a few years now. She is wonderful and has a great ability to be caring and helpful and very professional at the same time. If you call her, you may want to ask how long she will continue to be in practice as she may not be for more than a year. Good luck to you and your daughter. anon

2010 - 2009 Reviews

DBT therapist for self-harming issues

Dec 2010

Does anyone have a recommendation for a DBT therapist that is good with adolescents? We are looking for someone who is very skilled at dealing with self-harming issues. Thank you. Worried

J.J. Kelly at Berkeley Therapy Institue is wonderful. She has truly helped my daughter grow and evolve through a difficult period;I don't know where we'd be without her. 510-841-8484 Anon

To the parent seeking a DBT therapist I can recommend Clearwater Counseling Services in Oakland. Their web address is and their phone number is 510.596.8137. A note of caution though, DBT is really only helpful if the person involved is committed to the program and practicing the exercises.

If your child isn't responsive to the DBT therapy s/he might get as much help from a therapist s/he connects with if s/he's open to therapy. If that's the case, you might want to look into DBT for yourself in helping you cope with your own and your child's emotions. The DBT Center of Marin offers monthly drop-in meetings for $20 and they cover a specific topic each month. Their web address is

As the parent of a struggling child myself, I find the book ''Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life'' by Scott Spradlin very helpful in getting me through the ups and downs of my child's struggle. He is a DBT therapist and the workbook goes through the principles and techniques of DBT in a very straight forward and friendly way.

Best of luck to you and your child. claire

Female therapist for teen who accepts MHN insurance

Dec 2010

My 16 year old daughter needs help dealing with self-esteem, depression, emotional volatility, anger, feeling overwhelmed by social rejection (real or imagined), etc. etc. She would prefer someone young and female and I would prefer someone in Oakland who accepts MHN (Managed Health Network). Thanks for any suggestions as there is no one posted in previous recommendations who fits the bill. Concerned Mom

While not in Oakland, the Berkeley Therapy Institute accepts MHN insurance and has several therapists on staff including a few who see adolescents. Our daughter is seeing Dr. Richard Levine for medication management. Dr. Bonnie Kahane works with adolescents. Anon

Therapist for my 16 year old son with mild depression

Oct 2010

I am looking for a therapist in the south bay area , who has experience with teens and depression, for my 16 year old son. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

I recommend Ilene Diamond, J.D.,PsyD. She is an intellegent and compassionate therapist who has expeience working with teenagers. I know she has an office in Menlo Park (as well as san francisco). Her phone # is (415)820-1508 and you can look her up on her website Diane

Low cost or free counseling for troubled 18-y-o

Sept 2010

My daughter's boyfriend (18) wants to see a counselor about some issues he is struggling with. He does not want his parents to know- and does not have much money. I have been told that JFK has interns that can counsel him for free. Does anyone have any other recommendations? Albany, El Cerrito or Berkeley areas preferred. thanks. anon

The Wright Institute and UC Berkeley Psychology both have sliding scale clinics. WestCoast Children's Clinic is another option, as is the Access Institute in SF. Intern (and licensed) therapists in private practice sometimes offer low fee.

At 18, the teen is no longer considered a minor and parents need not consent. As a practical matter, they might find out if the teen is covered by and chooses to use his parents' insurance, but it would be worth a phone call to member services to determine how his privacy might be maintained in this situation. Even if his parents knew he were seeing a therapist, they would not have any rights to receive information about the treatment without his consent. Use of parents' insurance, if a viable option, would provide more choices for him. Ilene D

He can call West Coast Children's Clinic in El Cerrito (510) 527-7249, Services are community-based and they serve children, adolescents and adults. If you would like more information you may leave a confidential message at any time by calling their intake desk at (510) 269-9043. All the best for your young friend. Barbara

CBT/Psychological testing to find a diagnosis for teen

July 2010

To any parent who struggles in finding therapeutic care for their children. I'm sure my story is not uncommon. For the past two years I have struggled with obtaining a diagnosis for my teenage son and have had drugs thrown at us from his psychiatrist who are treating him for either depression, OCD, a chemical inbalance, anxiety or possibly mild bipoloar disorder, which I don't agree with. At this point I don't believe they really know what my son has, which I find very sad and disappointing. This year at my son's urging, we admitted him into Herrick for 4 days and while there, that psychiatrist took him off the 3 medications his Dr.'s at Childrens had prescribed. He was on 5 medications! We have now been advised to obtain a psychological assessment and I'm wondering who out there has had success with this and if it did in fact help find a diagnosis? Also, I do believe my son has some OCD tendencies (which was diagnosed while at Herrick) but his rituals do not disrupt his life enough to really ''treat'' this. No matter what the diagnosis, I believe a capable CBT therapist could address his depression and/or anxiety and OCD, but can not for the life of me find anyone in the East Bay who willingly treats teenagers. I've already gone through the folks at the Center for Cognition and I can say, they weren't as helpful as I had expected. Long story short, I need current referrals for CBT therapist and information on the value of psychological testing. I feel as if I've turned every stone at this point and don't know what else to do.

I read your post and I definitely feel for your situation. We tried long and hard to get a diagnosis for our son, and went to a CBT therapist on College Ave that had been recommended. He would have seen our son, if our son was wanting to get help and was cooperative. But he wasn't at the time. We also went to Brad Berman, a medical doctor specializing in behavioral and learning issues. And we also tried about 7 different therapists over the years, some of whom were slightly helpful but none were very helpful except the therapist that I currently see myself.

Our son's social and learning issues seemed to have mostly resolved. We did a few years of EM Power Plus (a vitamin supplement that has shown results in studies for mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder) which was mentioned in the book ''Raising Your Moody Child.'' He takes lots of omega 3 fish oil (Ultimate Omega by Nordic Naturals). He takes acyetl L carnitine, recommeded by the pediatric behavioral M.D. Our son did not ever do medication, although we thought long and hard about it. He can still be a real difficult kid for us parents, but he is doing great in other areas of his life.

I wish you the best of luck finding what works for your son. anon

I know how bad this feels for you and your son as I've been through this with my son. I don't have an East Bay recommendation but have been happy with the care we've gotten at Stanford's Pediatric Mood Disorders Clinic. I know this is a long drive but wanted you to know they've just banded with 17 other universities to form the NNDC (National Network of Depression Centers modeled after the National Network of Cancer Centers that made such inroads in treating cancer in the past decades). It often feels to me as if we're still in dark ages in treating these kinds of issues but you do have parents in the same boat. Some organizations to look into: Parents Helping Parents, NAMI, and Wind in the Willows in Palo Alto. You could also contact Dr. Justine Forbes in Los Gatos and ask her for recommendations in the East Bay. She is extremely knowledgeable as well as very kind and competent. Wishing you and your family all the best. A.

In my opinion, Lynn Martin is one of the best (if not the best)CBT therapists around. Her information is: (925)377-0410. I know you have not had a good experience with psychiatrists, but if it is necessary for your son to see one, Dr. Jeanne Leventhal-Alexander is fantastic. Her information is: (510)377-0410. K.

I don't have any easy recommendations but we find ourselves in a similar situation. I would love to form a support group so that we could get together and share resources! We have a 16 year old with various diagnoses, including OCD, anxiety, and ADHD and have also tried many different medications and therapies. Any interest in getting a group of parents/caregivers together to share resources? L.

Please consider Rachel Levi, psychologist for CBT work. She is in Berkeley and does great CBT work for OCD and other anxieties. Her number is 510-287-2625. Good luck to you. C

Lynn Martin RN, MS, CS,NP,PMH is excellent and is in Orinda. I am not certain if she works with teens, but worth a call: (925)377-0410 Jill

Anastasia Kim at the Wright Institute in Berkeley works with teens and is excellent. vanessa

Male therapist for 14-year-old son

Feb 2010

I am looking for a male therapist for my 14 year old son, in either Berkeley or Oakland. He does well at school, has a good group of friends, drug free, etc. His problem is his relationship with me(the mother). His father encourages his dislike of me, as he wants our son to live with him. I have custody of our son and he is with me 75% of the time. A therapist that is familiar with this type of situation would be ideal. anonymous

Are you firm on a Male therapist? Unless there are uncompromising reasons you have not disclosed, I'd recommend being open to female therapists and would refer you to Dr. Lily Ly, PsyD, in Alameda near Park Street. Lily is very kind, gentle, yet firm in her approach, and she has a lot of experience working with children, children of divorced parents, children living with single mothers. She may be the good fit you're looking for. I personally saw Lily as a patient for nearly 2 years while I was becoming a single mom, and she gave me great insight, but in a hands-off approach. She guided me through the therapy, and let me discover on my own, what I was doing and believing about myself that was not healthy for myself or my child. At the same time, she helped me to see my strengths and ''wins'' that were worth recognizing. Seeing her was the best thing I think I did for myself and my son during that time. I felt comfortable with her and she came across as more of a friend than a therapist. Obviously, I am not a teenager, nor is my son, but I know that she had a lot of patients that she saw through high school until they graduated and moved away for college. What's also great is that she is a mother, herself. She's able to be objective and non-judgemental, while drawing from her experience with children, and as a mother. Good luck. Lily W. Ly 510-864-0135 Therapy Believer

I suggest you talk with Ivan Skolnikoff, MFT. He has a variety of specialties including adolescent therapy. He is talented, smart, resourceful, creative and caring. He is trustworthy. He is able to connect with his clients and make a difference. He accepts insurance. Here is his contact information: 2000 Hearst Avenue, Suite 202B, Berkeley, CA 94709, 510-647-9091, ivansmft [at], Anonymous

Fran Wickner on Solano Avenue worked with our family and our teenager. She's been a therapist for many years and we liked her style- very interactive which worked well for our teen and our family. I just went on her website, here's her information, franwickner [at] and her number: 510-527-4011. L

One of our sons needed help as a teenager and he saw Dr. Hans Stahlschmidt in Berkeley. We had a very good experience and were impressed how knowledgeable he was in regards to complicated parenting issues. My son liked him and we have recommended him since to friends who think also very highly of him. His office is in North Berkeley on The Alameda. Karen

I recommend talking with Aaron Huey of Firemountain Programs He has great insight into the needs of boys growing up. He may still be offering a free 1/2 hour consultation by phone. Call him at (303) 443-3343, tell him I referred you, and ask for the free 30 minute consultation. He recently did a joint call with my son's dad and myself, and it was very helpful. AD

Sliding-scale fee therapist for 14-y-o daughter

Feb 2010

My 14-year old daughter needs to see a therapist for once-a-week, preferably twice a week sessions (at least at first), preferably in Oakland. I am unemployed, so fees are a big concern. Looking for suggestions of female practitioners who are great with teens, who occasionally take on sliding-fee clients or a clinic with same. Open to interns and supervisees, but I'd like my daughter to establish a relationship with someone that will last past the current school term (i.e., not someone whose internship will end in June). I'm asking for a lot, I know, but my daughter needs the help.

The Women's Therapy Center in El Cerrito works with teen girls and offers a sliding fee scale. Most of the therapists there are interns but once they finish their internship many transition into private practice settings and so the relationship can be an ongoing one. I was an intern there for 3 years and would highly recommend the agency and the therapists are great Best of luck- Caroline

Seeking smart, compassionate therapist

Jan 2010

Hi - We're looking for a local therapist for our teenage daughter. We've begun to narrow down our search and - while I know this may be a little awkward and for that I'm sorry - I'm wondering if any parents can share their personal experience with any of the following therapists: Fran Wickner, Jill Shugart, Shira Gallagher, Gloria Lawrence. We're looking for someone smart, seasoned, compassionate, great with teens. I know this is an issue that comes up a lot among this community of parents and I've thoroughly read the archives on this subject. Thanks so much

Hi, My son goes to Katherine McCarthy in Berkeley on Regeant St. He goes once a week for teen boy group therapy and I have to say she is AMAZING! She took a long time to form the group only because she wanted to be sure that she got the ''right'' group of boys for my son. I hope you find someone that clicks with your daughter as I have found therapy to be so important for my son, he also see a Kaiser Therapist every other month. D.

Family therapist for father/son power struggles

Jan 2010

I'm looking for a recommendation for an aware and insightful family therapist who can help bring some level of peace and acceptance into our family. My son is 19 -- he's had issues with depression and anxiety and his grades have gone from average (in high school) to poor (first year of college). He also has a track record of doing some impulsive and immature things that have lost our trust. His dad is an achiever, goal-oriented, more of a ''decider'' than a ''compromiser''. We've struggled in our relationship with my own frustration about the lack of balance and mutual compromise in the relationship, so it is not exclusively an issue between the two of them. Also, my son recently came out to me, but not his dad, and wants to go back to school elsewhere with financial help from us. I need a therapist who has experience dealing with difficult father/son relationships, issues of power within a family, sexuality issues, and anxiety/depression. I think a younger, male therapist would work best. We're in the San Leandro area, but can certainly travel for the right person. Thank you! anon. mom

I can't say enough about Clearwater Counseling - they are excellent in working with teens and young adults especially with impulsivity issues. We were at the end of our rope with our teen daughter - and I have an MS in counseling - I did not know where to turn. Clearwater assess you and your family and works together as a group of counselors to solve your specific issues. They are very validating to all parties - you never feel like you are the mean parent or crazy for thinking anything. They are located in Oakland next to Oakland Kaiser. We drove there 2 times per week for almost 6 months (we are a little further than SL) and we would do it again for the amazing help our family received. They saved our family. Their website is It is worth a try to get the relationship back you once had. Mom in a similar boat

Seeking teen therapist in Lamorinda

Dec 2009

Would appreciate input and recommendations for a therapist in the Lamorinda area for high school teen (my son) with anxiety and depression challenges. Someone with a sense of humor is a real plus! Susie

I can reccomend two therapists in Lafayette. Dominic D'Ambrosio and Leslie Foge. My son has been seeing Dominic for about nine months. My son really likes him and has been making progress. My husband and I consulted Leslie Foge on a specific issue - and liked her a great deal as well. Teen Boy's Mom

A very good friend of mine lives in Moraga and she has a son who's a Jr at Campolindo. He was having drug-related problems so she took him to see Josh Wilson. I have not used Josh for my own family but my friend likes him alot for his ability to work with teens in both individual and group counseling. Apparently he is an MFT intern and has an office on Moraga Way in Orinda - his contact info is 925.813.0865 and his web site is Good luck! Howard

You might want to try one of the therapists at Coyote Coast in Orinda. More information on them is available at: 23 Orinda Way Orinda, CA 94563-2520 (925) 258-5400 All the best. Michael

My son has been seeing Paul Lewis in Walnut Creek for a while. He has a great sense of humor and really connects with teens. He is almost like an older brother, and less like from what I consider to be a typical therapist. He works mostly with teenage boys and their families. My son is very judgemental and it took us quite a while to find the right therapist so we are very happy with Paul. You can call him at 925-944-5523. anon

Male therapist for 15-y-o with depression, panic

Oct 2009

I am looking for a therapist who can work with my son who has had a wide variety of issues and concerns. We started the year with his disclosure that he felt like he was depressed; he was suffering from panic attacks, which he was managing in silence; he was severly sleep deprived and he had/has a preoccupation with suicide and death and refused to confide in either me or his Dad. Through quick intervention/ proper medication and his willingness to go to therapy, we have been on our road to recovery. The problem is, his last therapist was perfect for him but has left his practice in the Bay area to relocate back east. My son was upset, we were disappointed and are now struggling to find someone for him who lives up to his comparison of the last therapist. So far, we have visited, talked to two new therapists, but my son prefers not to work with them for a variety of reasons. My son needs someone who will challenge him, confront his issues head on, and will not be sucked into being alarmed by all his thoughts and experiences. My son is a big guy for his age (15) and is an African American. He's very bright, he's a poet, excellent student and a great athlete. He also enjoys the therapeutic process. My husband and I believe a male therapist/psychologist would be best, but who knows? Can anyone refer someone in Oakland/Berkely area?

I suggest that you and your son have a consultation with Mic Hausauer, LCSW. He has worked with teens--often boys--for many years with significant success. He is warm, sincere and insightful. Mr. Hausauer can be reached at 654.2311, and his office is located on Piedmont Avenue. Kathy

I would recommend Forrest Hamer, Phd, 510 652-2150 a wonderful male psychologist who does great work with kids and adolescents. I recommend him in many, many situations, but an extra bonus here might be that he is African-American. He is in Rockridge. lb

My 15 year old boy loves Dean Lobovitz on 5th st at Cedar in Berkeley. Sorry, I don't have his number handy, but he's listed... Anon

Steven Freemire MFT is an excellent therapist who works with teens in Berkeley. Experienced, smart, sensitive, athletic. Susan

Robert Terris has done amazing work with teens. Check him out at Good luck! seen the progress

Therapist for middle schooler who is lying & stealing

Sept 2009

I am seeking a therapist for my daughter. She is having trouble believing in herself, as well as adults. The result is that she is lying about a wide variety of issues and occassionally stealing. I am a single parent, and am looking for a good therapist who works on a sliding scale. Frustrated Mom

I can highly recommend 2 great therapists who work wonders with kids. Joanna Self, joannaself [at], and Laura Soble, laurasoblemft [at], Both work with kids of all ages, with all kinds of issues.They are hugely skilled and are wonderful people. They both have offices in Oakland. Hope this helps june

I know a really terrific therapist! Elisa Dumesnil. She is a parenting specialist, a former school counselor, and she especially loves working with teens. Her secret is that she is very, very real with kids, while remaining very grounded and practical. Her phone # is 510-338-4233 or email her at edumesnil [at] Laura

Some therapists that have been recommended to me in the past are: Heather Burns, LCSW 888-550-1211 Caroline McDowell, MFT 510-496-3457 Jen Wachter, LCSW 510-501-9860 Also, the Women's Therapy Center in El Cerrito may be worth checking out. Best of luck! Anon

Female therapist for teen daughter

Aug 2009

I am looking for a female therapist for my teenage daughter who takes our insurance (UBH) or has a sliding scale fee. Prefer El Cerrito, Albany or North Berkeley. Does anyone have any experience with the Womens Therapy Center in El Cerrito, or other practitioners? anon

I would highly recommend the Women's Therapy Center. I've had personal experience with the agency and have recommended it to many people. They don't take insurance but offer an affordable sliding fee scale. Good luck. anon

Family therapist experienced with teens

Aug 2009

We are looking for a really good family/couples therapist who takes UBH, has experience with teens and parenting. Any suggestions? a

Elayne Savage (510-540-6230) in the East Bay, who is recommended elsewhere on the BPN site, takes UBH. She does couples therapy, and has also counseled adolescents. I've found Elayne very kind and perceptive in working with me on my marriage and on family patterns from my mother's side (and how they have influenced my relationship with our teenage daughter). Anonymous

Ken Benau was great for our family. El Cerrito, at the circle. anon

CBT therapist who specialize in social anxiety

May 2009

My 15Y son has social anxiety. He is extremely anxious about going to the public places, especially school. I am in the process of choosing a new school. He is not able to get out of the car while we about to have a tour. Anxiety is interrupting his life. I am looking for a good therapist using cognitive behavior therapy to help him, and a group therapy that deal with this problem. I am living at south bay area, but willing to travel to east bay if there is any good therapist and group therapy. Thanks L

I suggest you contact the S.F. Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy , (510) 652-4455. If you aren't able to drive to Oakland for the visits, they will definitely have recommendations for folks in the South Bay. SFBACCT is basically the hub for all things CBT in Northern California. They have excellent clinicians and do work with teens and children. You can also find out more about them online at Good luck! Michael

Southbay. Try Center for Developing Minds in Los Gatos. The initial evaluation will be by a behavioral developmental pediatrician who looks at the whole child. Not cheap but insurance may cover. Check w/ insurance. Don't know what they offer for social anxiety. We are going for ADD/organizational issues. See their website. -Anon

Our 15 year old son also has social anxiety and has been working with a great therapist (MFT) in Lafayette, John Barakos. His practice seems to focus on adolescent boys with anxiety issues. I highly recommend him. His number is 925-451-5280. Anon

2008 - 2007 Reviews

Therapist to come to my home in Alameda

Dec 2008

I need help in finding a therapist who will come to my home (in Alameda)to help with my son who has Asperger's. Does anyone know of such a therapist?

You might try George Mutch, Psy.D., MSW. He has expertise with autism spectrum kids and prefers to work with families in their own homes. ghmutch [at]
a fellow traveler

Smart, compassionate therapist for 15-year-old daughter

Nov 2008

Given the challenges of high school and some old unfinished business, I think my 15-year-old daughter would benefit from therapy. At the risk of seeming very particular here, I think the best fit for her would be a Jewish woman, who needs to be both very smart and very compassionate, and seasoned in her field. Definitely looking for a PhD rather than an MD. An office in North Berkeley or close to Berkeley High would be the icing on the proverbial cake. Thanks for your recommendations.

Jill Shugart,MFT, helped my son immensely in a just a few months of therapy. She has lots of experience with children, teens, parents, and families. We love her! (I don't know if she is Jewish or not.) Her office address is 910 Tulare at Solano Ave, Berkeley. Phone 510-528-0309 website: Deb

Shula Stevens (916) 442-7315 is a PhD candidate with a therapy practice in Berkeley. She was our rabbi before she was our family, and our 15 year old daughter's therapist. I can't recommend her enough: she's warm, compassionate, smart AND is mother of an adolescent daughter. Niki

Hi,I would highly recommend Deborah Essex,MFT for your daughter. She is a very experienced therapist who specializes in working with teens and families. She is warm, thoughtful and also happens to be Jewish! Her office is on Shattuck near the Berkeley Bowl. Her telephone number is 548-8980. Catherine

Therapist for very emotional middle-school daughter

Oct 2008

I have a middle school daughter that is going through some emotional times. She seems to get upset very easy and is crying all the time. I want to help her and deal with the constant disrespectfulness she gives me. I usally get, ''I hate you and you're the worst mother in the world.'' I feel very torn between disciplining apauling disrespectful behavior and dealing with her crying breakdowns. I would like to find a good adolescent therapist in the Lamarinda/ Walnut Creek area. annomanous

We really liked Sandra Lessingden for therapy. She has lots of experience with teens and families. Her number is 925/933-3338. Karen

I would recommend Madeline Finegold (510) 540 8715--this is a Berkeley number but she also sees patients in WC (or at least she did). Our son went to her several years ago and she is great. If you want to try family therapy, I recommend Barbara Safran 925 927 8888 in WC--we are going to her now and it is helpful. best wishes

Hello, our daughter benefitted enormously from her work with Dr. Kristen Carey. She's located right next to the Rockridge BART station so it could work for you. Her middle school years and first year at BHS were very emotional and Dr. Carey helped her sort out what her issues were. She learned to articulate her feelings and be more assertive in general. Dr. Carey also helped me to be a better parent of a middle school girl. You can reach her at 587-3260 kathe

I highly recommend Alison Trules in Walnut Creek: (510) 654-5582. She is a talented seasoned therapist who is extremely caring, sensitive and insightful. She can be of help to both you and your daughter. another parent

17-year-old son is sad and depressed a lot of the time

April 2008

My 17 year old son is a wonderful, expressive, thoughtful young man who is sad and depressed a lot of the time. I love him very much but find that I become frustrated and probably make the situation worse (''what do you have to be depressed about!?) He is willing to talk to a therapist. I have looked over the archived therapists/counselors but didn't see much. We are looking for someone in the El Cerrito/Albany/Berkeley border area. Please let us know who has been helpful to your teen. I realize that we will probably end up having some family sessions as well. Thank you all!

My daughter and I have worked with Meira Salmon and find her to be outstanding. Gets right down to the feelings, no messing around with ''he said/she said.'' Very sensitive, intuitive and kind. Without a doubt the best therapist I've ever seen. She can be reached at (510) 548- 5160. Her office is in Berkeley near Herrick Hospital.

Jim Sparks is a wonderful therapist in El Cerrito. My son had other issues, not depression -- but Jim was insightful and engaging and very kind. A very significant plus was that he is also on the list of therapists for our health plan. His phone number is 433-7477. anonymous

Therapist to work with rebellious teen

Jan 2008

I'm looking for more recent recommendations for a family therapist used to working with families with teen rebellion issues. Also helpful would be a support group/empathetic moms/dads who might be willing to commiserate occasionally, since none of our friends are having such serious issues with their teens. desperate mom of rebellious teen

Our young adult son is struggling with mental illness that emerged in middle school as what we thought then was 'rebellion,' and we have a whole team assisting our son and us. Margaret Rossoff (658-0389 in Berkeley) is our family therapist, and Deborah Scott (925 256-6451 with offices in Walnut Creek and Berkeley) provides me individual support. They're colleagues, and both have expertise with troubled teens (including addiction) and family issues.

We're also working with the Bodin group of consultants who work with teens & young adults and their families - you can email them or call them (website has contact info.), and they'll put you in touch with an appropriate consultant; ours are Lexy Spett and Shayna Abraham, and they're both terrific. Bodin's speciality is placement in residential treatment (placement, monitoring, parent support, coordination with parents' therapists etc.), but they provide other services as well.

Finally, there are some resources on This group no longer meets or posts at this site, but the resources are still relevant. You might consider resurrecting this group, because there are so many parents and kids out there with a lot of challenges.

Warm wishes, mom of struggling son in residential treatment

Kirsten Beuthin is excellent with teens and families. Highly recommended. (510) 652-0990. teen mom

JFCS/East Bay in downtown Berkeley has an amazing parenting & youth department with therapists who specialize in just the issues you're facing with your teen. Rikki Sudikoff, LCSW, in particular has lots of teen-parent therapy experience. While the agency is inspired by Jewish values, the services are open to people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. Sliding-scale fees are offered and insurance is accepted. Call (510) 704-7475 x299 for Valerie Rosenfield, who does the initial intake. You can also find out more at Good luck! Holly

Don't have a therapist recommendation for you, but some friends of mine recommended Boudin Associates for help in putting together a plan for dealing with this issue. You might give them a call and see what services they offer. Good luck. anon

16-year-old daughter's angst and stress

Jan 2008

Hi. i'm looking for a therapist for my 16 year old daughter. nothing spectacular going on, the usual teenage angst and stress. she also has learning issues. i have to use someone on my insurance and don't know of any teen counselors. does anyone have any experience with any of the following therapists? someone warm and has experience with teens would be best. thanks

I saw Peggy Kelly first with my husband and then on my own. I have yet to find someone like her again. Thumbs up for PK

12-year-old is angry, sullen and withdrawn

Dec 2007

My daughter turned into a teenager all of a sudden this summer, and we've been having a really difficult time. She was doing well in school early in the year, in spite of her insistence that her classes were boring and her teachers were terrible, but her grades have slipped, partly because she can't seem to hand in her assignments. She says that she doesn't care, but it's clear that she is upset when she does poorly on a test or gets a bad grade. Her behavior toward us runs the gamut: she's angry, sullen, withdrawn or miserable much of the time. She has lost interest in many of her old friends, and although she admits to having made new friends at school, she seldom makes the effort to spend time with anyone outside of school. She's snotty and unpleasant, with occasional rare lapses into pleasant communication that remind us that she's human. In other words, she's a teenager; still, she reminds me of my own miserable youth and I worry when she collapses in misery or turns into an unresponsive but clearly unhappy lump. We've taken her to a therapist, but she refuses to engage, and has told me that she thinks the therapy is boring and that she would prefer to see someone younger.

I highly recommend Kirsten Beuthin at 510 652 0990. She worked with my 13 year old, awhile ago, who needed someone outside the family to talk with. It seemed like Kirsten really got my daughter. Good luck. parent of teen girl

2 suggestions for adolescent therapy resources that could offer a sliding fee scale and potentially younger therapists. **Womens Therapy Center in El Cerrito 510-524-8288 **Bay Area Psychotherapy Training Institute in Lafayette I am a Marriage Family Therapist Intern at both of these locations and work with adolescents and their families. Caroline

I can recommend a adolescent psychiatrist named Anthony DiGiovanni,MD. I don't have his phone number off hand, but look it up. I work with him at a hospital and he's wonderful, young, and great with teens!! Hope that you find some help! Anon

Our daughter was a depressed and bi-polar sophmore at Berkeley High Independent Study when, upon recommendation of a couple therapists, she started attending the Hyde School, a co-ed boarding school in Maine.This may seem like a long way to go, literally and figuratively, but she is now a thriving senior and looking forward to college. Hyde is truly a unique place that educates the whole family. Not enough space here to elucidate so check out if this seems appropriate. There are about 40 Bay Area families attending the campuses in Maine or Connecticut. There will be an informational tea in Berkeley in May '08. Hyde parent

Your daughter is right a normal therapeutic session is boring. But there is hope, I would suggest that you contact Berkeley Mental Health which has a child and adolescent section and ask about their services. Also know that when you do find a therapist you have the power to choose the gender and suggest the setting in which the therapy is conducted (going out to do an activity or have food etc.). Anita

7th grade daughter is a bit adrift socially

Nov 2007

I am looking for a female therapist for my 7th grade daughter. She is feeling a bit adrift socially and could use an ally. She is basically an optimistic gal, but does have a tendancy toward depression which she keeps under wraps. We are in the east bay.

I highly recommend Taryn Thomas. Her specialty is with teens. I think she is great for teens or young girls. She can really connect with them, and understand them in their own ways with compassion and without judgment. Her number is 510-496-6070. WEI

Teen daughter feels very sad and lonely

May 2007

My daughter often says she feels very sad and lonely, sometimes overwhelmingly so. Although I know such feelings are normal, particularly in adolescence, they bother my daughter a great deal and sometimes interfere with her ability to do normal things such as pay attention in class or enjoy hanging out with friends. She has seen a therapist before, briefly, but things were different then. We need to find someone new, preferably someone who is good with teenagers. Can anyone recommend someone? Even better if the person takes HealthNet insurance. My daughter will be leaving for college in August. Thanks. Worried

My daughter really liked Susan San Roman. She wanted someone she could relate to, youngish. Susan is in her thirtys. My daughter went to her for almost two years, and she helped her immensely. Susan was an intern when my daughter began, but has since begun a private practice. After interviewing many therapists on the phone, Susan seemed like the right choice. I don't know which insurance she takes now. She was on College Ave. in Oakland, phone number 510-452-6156. Mother of 17 year old girl

Mathilda St. John is a thoughtful, smart, hip, insightful, and well trained therapist. My daughter(now 19) has seen her off and on for several years and continues to find her a great support and resource. She is part of a group called Psyche that works with women of all ages. Their motto: ''Not your mother's therapist.'' I don't know if she accepts Health Net. anon

Angry 12-y-o refuses therapy

Jan 2007

I am seeking recommendations for a female therapist for my 12 year old daughter. We live in Lafayette but I'm willing to go to Berkeley or Oakland as well if there is someone who can really connect with her. She does not want to see a counselor but is becoming increasingly sullen, angry, resentful and disrespectful. mother seeking recommendations

Hello, I am a Marriage and Family Therapist with an office in Lafayette and Albany; I am also a mother of a pre-teen and a teenager. I support your desire in finding a therapist for your daughter to connect with. It is so important for the teen to feel like they have some ''say'' over the therapy; sometimes it is helpful for the parents to ''screen'' a few therapist for their teen while having a more informal first meeting so the teen can have a sense of the therapist before moving forward.

This can all be difficult when a teen is resistant to therapy in the first place. Saying something like We need to get some help, let's try to meet _______ and see what we think, or it has been a difficult time, it may be helpful to have someone to talk too. If there is someone close to your daughter who might have more luck in communicating the importance of getting help, that could work or asking the school counselor to talk with her.

19-year-old daughter needs guidance & direction

Oct 2006

Our 19 year old daughter has dropped out of community college and now works about 20+ hours week at a retail store, lives at home and pays us ''rent'' to cover some expenses. We would like to see her find more direction toward her future. We think we/she could use outside help, but we don't know if she would benefit from seeing a therapist, an educational psychologist (she is quite smart and capable when interested, but has had problems with depression and had some learning issues), a career counselor, a life coach. I know the parent's network has some of this advice archived, but I would be particularly appreciative recommendations of anyone who works specifically with young adults in this situation Concerned Mom

Try Kathryn Hirt. She is fantastic with young adults, and self- proclaims them as a specialty of hers and people she loves working with, and it is evident in her work. She is very real, down-to-earth, and also warm, and sometimes, funny, which really reaches kids that age. She was an incredible help to our son who is 21, helping him find direction in ways that were in tune with who he is. 510-220-3558 is her contact #. Good luck to you and your child! Paul

17-year-old has been stealing

Sept 2006

Re: 17-year-old daughter needs help with stealing
I understand how painful your situation is, and I recommend Margaret Rossoff 658 0389, a family therapist in S. Berkeley with extensive experience with troubled kids. I realize that you're requesting a therapist for your daughter, not a family therapist, but in our experience a kid's recovery is not possible without family therapy, and Margaret can help you find a separate therapist for your daughter. Your daughter's behavior sounds like compulsive (essentially addictive) behavior, and our son suffers from quite similar compulsions/addictions. Our son has seen several therapists (each briefly - he was not open to treatment), and no one was able to help. Now my husband and I see Margaret, and our son is in intensive residential rehab. Your daughter may not need such an intervention if she's open to treatment, but Margaret is very knowledgeable about programs if it becomes necessary. I've also found -Anon groups essential to my own recovery, and a 12 step program essential to your daughter's recovery. A theme in 12 step programs is (as you suggest) that the addict make amends to those they've hurt as a way of (re)building personal integrity and responsibility. Our son may wind up in jail even after rehab, but we have bailed him out of far too many situations, and doing so has not changed him one bit. It may feel loving in some ways, but, based on our experience, the outcome is no change or even worse behavior, so the best way to love a troubled kid is ensure that they address the situation and struggle with the consequences of their actions. Believe me, I understand the pain of all this, and I wish you and your daughter and your ex the very best. In much the same situation

Going through a hard time with 16 y.o. daughter

June 2006

Hello, Could someone recommend a therapist for a teenager? We are going through hard time with our 16 y.o. daughter. Thanks!

Kirsten Beuthin does exceptional work with teenagers. Her number is 652-0990. Good luck been there

My 16 year old was having a very hard time a few months ago and we decided together that we would find her a therapist. She was also very explicit that she wanted someone somewhat ''hip'' - meaning, explicitly, NOT someone who was as old as her mother. We found Kristin Beuthin 510-652-0990 through BPN. Her office is right across the street from Rockridge Bart so it is easy to get to both by bus or BART for a teenager. I had a very good conversation with Kristin when I called to make the initial appointment and then she did a great job at the first appointment making it really clear to my daughter that she was there for her and that really gave my daughter ownership of the therapy and great trust in the confidentiality. It has been a few months now and my daughter likes working with Kristin very much Anon.

Therapist and Psychiatrist for 18-y-o Borderline daughter

June 2006

Our 18 year old daughter is returning from a group home out of town and we need to find the best possible care for her. We are aware from much previous experience that this is a very difficult diagnosis to work with. We'd prefer the referral be in Berkeley or Oakland, but are not adverse to San Francisco or through the tunnel for the right people. She has tried DBT therapy and not found it particularly effective, but is willing to give it a go again. Thank you for any help! anon

Kirsten Beuthin is an excellent therapist to work with personality disorders. She helped my daughter and me tremendously through some very tough times. Her number is 652-0990. Good luck anon

Anxious 11-year-old wants a therapist

April 2006

Hi, My 11 year old son has recently asked me to see a therapist. He is insecure and and has learning difficulties. He is quite talkative but has had anxiety issues in the past. He is now complaining about fears he can't get out of his head when he is going to sleep and feels he needs ''to get alot talking out of hisself''. I am looking for a therapist in the oakland or south berkeley area who has experience with kids and anxiety issues. I am pretty anti medication and am looking for a wholistic approach as I do not trust giving SSRI's to children. Please don't debate me on this one. I just want recommendations for therapists.Thanks for any help. worried mom

My now 10 year old son, who is a very anxious person, has done very well in therapy with Rachel Levi (3120 Telegraph in Berkeley, (510) 287-2625). He has been very successful in learning to talk issues through with her and construct solutions that have worked for him. Not that he isn't still an anxious person, but he is starting to have strategies to use when faced with situations that make him anxious. H.

When my son was 11 (four years ago), he had panic attacks and we took him to see a therapist named Donna Parsons. She really helped him a lot. At that time, she had a satellite office on Hegenberger in Oakland. Here is info to her Fremont office which would have more info on where she sees patients. Parsons Donna MA (510) 796-3689 39355 California St Fremont, CA 94538

I wish you and your son the best. I have a daughter who also suffered from fear and anxiety. She was beginning to do some compulsive behaviors trying to eliminate it and was even more anxious at night than during the day. She saw Ellen Singer Phd at the reccomendation of a psychiatrist at Childrens. Ellen was able to help her (and us) feel much more secure. Her number is 525-1975. anonymous

Regarding your anxious 11 yr old son, I highly recommend the Cognitive Therapy group in Rockridge. Michael Tompkins would be terrific but if he is not available, you can trust the other members of the group. I know of several families who have successfully worked with a cognitive approach, It makes a lot of sense for teens and preteens. mom of teen boys

It's wonderful that your son is able to articulate his needs as you've described. That bodes well for him.

I strongly recommend Michelle Horton, Ph.D. (985-2958). She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with kids like yours, does great work in therapy with them and is an expert in learning and emotional issues -- which are often quite interconnected. She's located on College Ave. near Broadway, which fits your geographic desires. She also can recommend other options or therapists who may fit your needs.

I recommend you call John Sprinson, he has an office in Oakland on Glen Eden (off Piedmont Ave.). His number is in the white pages. He is kind, smart, has a wonderful calm presence and will give you and your son an honest assessment of your son's needs and a course of treatment. been there

13 year old son struggling academically & socially

Oct 2005

My 13 year old son has always been a challenging child, he has a very hard time ''going with the flow'' and makes life so much harder for himself than it needs to be. His (wonderful) third grade teacher told me that he's the kind of kid who continually bangs his head against the wall and then wonders where all that blood came from. I liken it to throwing rocks into his own path. He has always struggled in school, mostly academically. Now he is in his second year of middle school and is struggling socially as well. He says that life is too hard and overwhelming and that too much is expected of him (he's referring to school). He is fearful of growing up and thus has seen friends fall by the wayside as their interests move on. He is not savvy and therefore fearful of change. He says he has no friends and from what he tells me is fast becoming one of those fringe kids we all remember from school. There really isn't anything he likes to do except watch tv or play video games (sigh) so he has no avenue in which to connect with others. We've tried sports (soccer - refused to participate, and swimming - refuses to progress beyond the basics), music (drums, loved the teacher but wouldn't practice), drama (tried out for the school play but wasn't selected), fencing (the teacher couldn't deal with his lack of focus), etc. I believe him when he tells me that the other kids avoid him but I really and trully believe that it is his attitude rather than lack of prowess that keeps them away. He's unique but by no means the oddest duck in the pond.

We've tried a couple of therapists (one we liked but she INSISTED that he has ADD and that Ritalin was the answer: he isn't and it wasn't), but haven't been able to find a good fit. Of course my son feels like we are forever telling him what is wrong with him and that therapy is jjust another way to point that out. What I see is a really great, funny, attractive kid who is suffering needlessly. I'm not opposed to him living in my basement for the next 60 years but only if that is his conscious choice and not just due to lack of alternatives (get me?). There is a slight chance that we are looking at some Asperger's here - his paternal grandpa is really socially challenged and his paternal uncle is autistic. Any recommendations would be so greatly appreciated.

I was sad to read your posting about your son. While I'm not dealing with the same issues as you, I can say that there is help out there! I would start with your son's pediatrician, see what they say, maybe even get a recommendation to a specialist or two to have some tests done. Also, once you have pinpointed what's going on, you could try calling your insurance plan, assuming you have one, and ask for help. You are doing the right thing trying to get him some help because it sounds like your son is really suffering. I would get him some help right away. You can reassure him that you are not trying to point out what's wrong with him, but trying to find a way to help him feel better. I know my daughter felt relived that we were doing something to help her. We are doing whatever we can, that includes some medications for a while, with therapy. It's very hard when your child is suffering from something. For me it's best to know that I'm doing all I can to help her, and you are on that path. Good luck. anon

Hip therapist for shy, sensitive 17-y-o son

March 2005

I am looking for a therapist that my 17 year old son will feel comfortable with. My son is shy, sensitive & gets frustrated easily. We have been to three therapists all women and all over 45 and he said he didn't feel comfortable opening up to them. I thought they were all fine--patient and sensitive, but therapy won't work unless he feels ok talking. Can anyone reccomend a young hip therapist that can connect with teenagers. If possible we would prefer the Albany/Berkeley area. My son said it doesn't matter if they are male or female. concerned parent


My son has been very happy with his therapist Alf Johnson. He isn't young (50's) but he is very cool and totally able to relate to what my shy 15 year old son is going through. He was recommended to me by a therapist acquaintance who saw him with her son. His office is in Walnut Creek and his phone number is 925-952-4841. We also have seen various therapists over the years and Dr. Johnson is by far the best we've seen. best wishes

My husband and I have worked with Daniel Lesny at Center for Creative Growth, on Marin Ave in Albany, phone 527- 2100, for many years. It was a challenge for my husband to go in the first place, and now he is seeking help from Daniel when he needs it. I know Daniel has experience with teens. Call him; there are also several other therapists there, highly recommended. Diane

I recommend Leonard Levis, Ph.D. as a therapist for teenage boys. We have had a good experience with him. His office is in Berkeley on MLK Jr. Way and his phone number is: 510-540-5052. Joan

I have a therapist to suggest for your shy and sensitive son. His name is Pay Rose. He has worked with teenagers for over 10 years and is an MFT intern, about to get his licence. He can be reached at 510-587-3234. His office is on the El Cerrito/ Richmond boarder. The best of luck to you. The right ''fit'' is key for therapy.

Therapist familiar with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Jan 2005

Can anoyone recommend a children's therapist who's familiar with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)? Lacking that, perhaps you you could recommend someone who could help a young adolescent girl who has self-esteem-related problems, including difficulties forming relationships, and occasional ''explosive'' rages. Thanks. - Anon

I would highly recommend Kirsten Beuthin. She works extensively with teenager girls and with the problems you are describing regarding difficulty with relationships, low self-esteem and rages. Her office is in the Rockridge area of Oakland, and she can be reached at 652-0990. anonymous

I am a psychiatrist and would recommend a child psychologist who works in San Francisco named Devora Depper PhD. She's in the phone book. I think her office is on Divisadero. Call her and tell her about yourself. She'll let you know if she has openings. She is top, top flight. JM

Family therapist experienced with teens

Jan 2005

I am looking for a good family therapist in the Albany/Berkeley area. We want to find someone that has a lot of experience working with teens, especially with sensitive boys. I have already looked at the previous referrals and they were either in Oakland or several years old.
trying to put our family back together

I know of a wonderful family therapist in the Berkeley/Albany area. Her name is Monica Frame and she has lots of experience with kids, teens, and parents. You can reach her at 510/504-8168.
Mom of Teen and almost Tween

Jill Shugart is a Family Therapist working in Berkeley just off Solano Avenue. She has been very helpful to our family and while we have daughters, I know that she has worked very successfully with two young men I know,on of whom would be considered a very sensitive boy. I think she has a great rapport with teens-actually with everyone! She herself has two grown sons. Her number is: 528-0309. Good luck with your family and son. Recognizing that you need assistance and seeking it, is the first step to getting your family moving in a positive direction.

Our child has been guided and handheld through adolescence by Betty Tharp, MFT, in Albany and I couldn't be more grateful. Betty has a son and is great with young people--she has a light manner and is extremely intelligent so seems to get what's appropriate, always. She has the patience to wait for them to warm and come to her. She's A+. Her number: 549-2092.
A Proud and Satisfied Mom

2004 & Earlier

Help for impulsive teen who thinks he has ADD

Dec 2004

Our son has been struggling for years in school and in life, and we're looking for a therapist for him. We think he needs both medication and therapy, so we're looking for a psychiatrist who monitors medication and provides therapy, or a psychiatrist who works with a psychologist or MFCC as a duo. Over the past several years, he has seen two therapists in Berkeley who were not helpful, but he wasn't ready to be helped, and now he is maturing, identifying his challenges, and expressing interest in working on them. He believes he has ADD, which of course is widely over-diagnosed, but, as I read about it, is starting to make sense. He does poorly in school, doesn't follow through with almost anything, and is highly impulsive - buys things he shouldn't, and engages in all sorts of risk taking as well as addictive behavior that I can't comfortably describe here. He is quite immature -- many of his friends are still in high school. He is such a nice kid but struggling in so many ways, and we don't know where to turn. Advice and referrals will be so appreciated. Thanks.
Looking forward to your advice

Getting the right ''fit'' with a therapist is key for a 19 yr old, and as you said the timing is important.

I know an excellent therapist (MFT intern) who works very well with children, teens, young adults, and families. He has a terrific supervisor and will have his licence soon. He has worked with all of the issues you mention, and has many years of experience. His name is Pay Rose and his number is (510)-587-3234.

I also do a free class for parents of children or teens with (or wonder if they have) ADHD. The next series starts on Jan. 8th at 9:30Am at Kaiser in Richmond. Join us if you want to learn more. If you leave a message at 307-2539 with your address I will send you the class flyer. The best of luck to you and your son. Rona Renner

Marlene Winell has been working with my daughter and I've found her experienced, committed, sensible and knowledgeable. She's not a psychiatrist, but is familiar with advising people on how to find a good one. Fiona

Help for mom and teen son who are feuding big time

Sept 2004

My fifteen year old son and I are feuding big time. He has alot of repressed anger towards me and despite his looming 8 inch advantage over me, he says he is scared of me. I do admit to being a screamer, but hey, I feel I have mellowed out in my middle age. But we and especially ME needs help. We hope to find someone in North Berkeley, accessible from BHS. We are both quick thinkers and verbal and need someone who can challenge us. Also I'm looking for hopefully cognitive type of therapy rather than analysis. I'd appreciate any advise.
Harried Mother of 15 yearold

I highly recommend Michael (Mick) Hausauer (4281 Piedmont, Oakland 654-2311). Mick has helped my entire family at various times over the last few years, and recently saw my son and me to help us through our communication issues (it worked!). He has also seen my son individually to help him deal with a traumatic event. Initially our son was reluctant to go to him, but we insisted he go at least three times. He ended up continuing to see him voluntarily for several months...with impressive results. Mick has a kind, low-key style (without being touchy-feely) that kids respond to. I appreciate his practical/results-oriented approach. anonymous

Therapist who works with teen girls

Aug 2004 Does anyone have any recommendations for a therapist/counselor who works with teenagers, especially with females. Preferably references from people who have first hand experiences. Thanks.

I can highly recommend Gail Alter as a therapist for teenage girls and for their parents. Phone is 510-433-2972

I would recommend Kirsten Beuthin, who is highly praised on this website. Thanks. Michael Simon

I can't say enough good things about my daughter's therapist, Yvonne Beyer. She is warm, funny, relaxed, straight forward, and very practical. She has two grown daughter's of her own (she told me when I asked-many therapists don't). She is open to talking with me anytime, and has really been there for my daughter in crisis times. And she takes my insurance, Pacificare. My daughter feels very comfortable with her and comes out from her session a relaxed and happy kid (even at 13!!). Yvonne is in Oakland and her number is 601-0132.

I highly recommend Dr. Valata Jenkins-Monroe, whose office is in Rockridge. She helped my 13-year-old daughter through a rough time. Her number is 510-547-7792.
been there

Therapist for 14 year old daughter whose parents disagree

May 2004 My 14 year old daughter has dropped in her grades in school and is just acting pretty nasty. Her dad and I are divorced for 12 years and have done ok with the coparenting thing but are now at a huge impass at what to do. I feel that I want to direct my daughter toward feeling better about herself and find herself in the context of highschool and what interests her. Her dad feels that he wants to strong arm her and do things like show up at her school and walk her to her classes so she will be so embarrassed that she will straighten up so he won't come again. He has done this already which only made her dig her heels in even more. She has always wanted to spend time equally between homes but now will only stay with me. Now I am getting constant emails from dad about what I have to do with my kid and how to do it. I am totally stressed out and so is everyone else invloved. Any suggestions on a class, mediation, anything we can go to to help us out. The main focus, for me, is the support my kid, but with all of the turmoil - I think she is flying below the radar and just existing. Thanks for any referrals.

Regarding thirteen-year-old with problems: We recommend Dr. Kristen Carey at 587-3260. She saw our thirteen-year- old for six months of wonderful meetings.Our daughter would come home, full of new confidence and enthusiasm, where before, she'd felt disconnected and somewhat frightened of growing up. Our family has grown as a result of Dr. Carey's intuitive and caring approach. Our daughter is now speaking up for herself at school and at home; she's looking forward to eighth grade and a summer full of new experiences.

Dear Mother of the 14 Year Old Girl,
Mediation Services, 22227 Redwood Rd. Castro Valley, offers FREE Parent-Teen Mediation. Mediation is a safe space for both parents and youth to express thier point of view and work towards a mutually satifying solution. We will team up a youth and adult mediator for Parent-Teen Mediations. Issues such as respect, trust, expectations, and independence are issues that we see arise in Parent- Teen Mediations. Please call Shana Subelsky,Youth Services Director, at 510-733-4940 x 224. Thanks and Good Luck! Mediation Services

Teen daughter is showing the signs of stress!

April 2004

My teen is showing the signs of stress! We are in the Hayward area and I would like some referrals to East Bay counselors with an expertise in Teens. FYI, I already tried Girls Inc, they are backed up a few months. Also, we have Kaiser but she is afraid that her stepmom (Kaiser employee) will have access to her records. Thank you! anonymous

The Women's Therapy Center in El Cerrito has an adolescent girls clinic 527-3562. Rebecca Palley (848-7764) and Cynthia Ferari (581-1274) both work in Castro Valley. You might also try calling the Community Counseling Center at Cal State, Hayward. Mary Ann

Therapist for 13-y-o with destructive behaviors

Sept 2003

Does anybody know of a therapist who specializes in 13 year old girls with problems of the sort depicted in the movie ''THIRTEEN''? The film is a dead on look at what it's like to be a 13 yr old girl in school today. The lead, Tracy, is obcessed with social status and dependent on peer acceptance leading to fast track recklessness with drugs, sex, clothes, money, and getting in trouble. The film depicts the plight of one girls alienation from her parents and her free fall into self destructive behaviors that are not survivable without intervention. Is there a therapy or discipline of psychiatry that specializes in 13 yr old teen girls of the sort described above? george

For counseling for the preteen-- Janet Long is a wonderful art therapist who works with adolescent and pre-adolescent children. She has been doing art therapy and teaching it for a long time. She is smart and easy to be with and talk to. Her phone number is 531-3267. Christine

I highly recommend Kirsten Beuthin, MFT @ 652-0990. She works extensively with teenage girls and is great at establishing a relationship with teens so that they feel comfortable talking about their problems. She also works with the parents and families when indicated. Monica

Peter August MFT is a gentle, caring, intelligent, forthright, honest, compassionate therapist. He has helped my daughter (now 13) navigate the difficult territory from her anorexia (which surfaced during the aftermath of a divorce) to a state of recovery where she expresses her feelings, and preferences like any other persistently annoyed young teen.

One very important piece of information about the work Peter has done/is doing with my daughter is that he has created and maintains a sense of safety where any combination of parents/ex's/step-parents feel safe enough to walk into a room together to discuss the things we can't work out alone. Somehow this great guy can support each of us, simultaneously, until we get through whatever we can/must to continue the important work of helping the child survive and grow.

Peter's office is on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland and his # is 510-654-4282. Sim

My daughter was very similar to the children portayed in the movie ''Thirteen,'' so I know what you're going through. Unfortunately once or even 2x weekly therapy may not be enough. One of our therapists told us that this area is just toxic to some kids. Our daughter was one of them, and your daughter sounds like another. We tried all kinds of therapy with all kids of therapists without success. What worked was getting her into a therapeutic boarding school out of state (in California, BTW, any kid 16 or older can walk out the door of any program and there is nothing you can do about it, which is why a lot of these places are located in states where you have to be 18 to do that). Special schools/programs are not an area into which to venture armed only with an Internet browser. If you elect to go that route, you need to work with an educational consultant. There are a lot of good therapeutic schools with committed staff out there, but there are also lots of charlatans and problem schools & camps and the consultants know which are which. We used Elizabeth McGhee at Viginia Reiss Associates in Larkspur (phone 415-461-4788)if you want to talk with her. A lot of people reporting to this site have good things to say about the Hyde School in Maine, which has an excellent reputation. Our daughter is at Island View-RTC in Utah, which also has an excellent progam, and makes the kids resonsible both to themselves and a team, so their behavior deoesn't affect just themselves, which helps drive home important points very quickly. These places are quite expensive, although if you carry mental health insurance, it can cover some of the costs (and there are educational loans that can be arranged; use the college money now if you need to). Also, there was a law on the books for a while (can't recall if it had a sunset date or not) that required medical insurers in California to cover the costs of such schools for children who were formally medically diagnosed with bi- polar disease. If that law is still applicable and if your daughter is bi-polar, that could help, cost-wise. The therapeutic schools have the kids in all kinds of therapy (individual, group, substance abuse, etc.)constantly and the people there have seen it all, so most kids learn pretty fast that they can't progress by BS-ing or finessing their way out. Therapy-wise, you need to look for someone who has didactic therapeutic training, but the results are much better if you get your kid out of this environment into a controlled one, because as long as it's an option, kids can just elect not to participate in the therapy (that was one of the things that happened to us). It's only when the element of choice gets removed that you can start making headway. My heart goes out to you. It's just a wrenching situation to be in.

My daughter has been through the Amen Clinic brain scan diagnostics (see book ''Your Brain or Your Life'' Daniel Amen) and pronounced ADD/ADHD and was exceedingly unhappy and cutting herself, using alcohol and drugs as a 14 y/o. Amazingly enough, at 15 she's completely turned around and getting the best grades possible at her high school. She is drug free (prescription drugs) and possibly trying pot on weekends. I attribute this to the most smart, compassionate and skilled therapist around: Betty Tharpe in Albany. Her number is: 510-549-2092. I've tried many therapists for myself and for my daughter: Betty is one sharp cookie and I couldn't recommend her more highly for guidance with your suffering adolescents.

12 year old daughter wants counseling

April 2003

My 12 year old daughter approached me about getting counseling. I have gone over the website and got a few names, and have two names from the school couselor, but I am looking for a few more. I think she is more comfortable talking with a woman, and probably a younger woman (not to be age-ist!). My daughter is not that talkative or open with new people. A counseler that she saw in the past did some playing, but mostly talked. I think that my daughter would benefit from someone who works with writing and art as therapy, and someone who can also discuss different philosophys/ religions (buddhism, for instance) as tools for understanding and dealing the world and its stresses. She is a very thoughful, deep, and philosophical child and has been since she could talk! My daughter is pretty in tune with herself and her feelings most of the time, but is struggling right now. She told me she wants to discuss how she's feeling in general, not something specific. If someone can recommend a young woman therapist that they have had a direct relationship with (or rather their kids have), I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks, listening mom

You might try Kirsten Beuthin (female therapist). She works extensively with teens and pre-teens, and is especially good at connecting with young people. She will also work with parents. I highly recommend her. Her number is 652-0990. M. M.

13 year old daughter is continually in conflict

Feb. 2003

Any recommendations for local therapists Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, North Berkeley for a 13 year old girl? She is continually in conflict either with us the parents or her sisters. She pushes all the wrong buttons, provokes, demands, screams and cries every day. Everything we say is an attack on her, she can't stand her family, most of the people of authority (teachers, coaches) are idiots. She would just like to move out and live on her own without all the stupid rules and regulations. Or at least send me to an expensive boarding school. She feels she should have a lot of rights but is not willing to give anything in return. Even when we set the rules together and contracts are drawn she breaks them right away. She is very smart, does pretty well at school though puts in minimal work, has some friends. She has a high sense of justice (for herself) and entitlement.

We are willing to participate in some sort of family therapy though having two other daughters with whom we have a very positive relationship we know we are not such lousy parents as she would make us to be. At the end of my rope

I understand that Kirsten Beuthin, MFT works very well with difficult teenagers. She specializes in at-risk adolescent girls, and always includes the family if possible. Her office is in Berkeley at 510-652-0990. anon

The first step you should take is to read, ''The Explosive Child.'' Even if your 13-year old is not explosive, this book helps with understanding and coping with intense kids. We also found a therapist who works based on the same principles as the book, and the combination has been great. These kids are intense for good reasons, and once you get a handle on what's going on, it's much easier to cope. Everyone benefits. Good luck. Parent of another intense teen

Therapist for teen son

Aug. 2002

Looking for a counselor or therapist for our son who is good natured, well behaved, but has a very poor time expressing himself verbally or in writing. Although he is bright, he is falling behind academically because of his weaknesses. He is also becoming socially isolated. Any suggestions for someone in or around Berkeley? Thanks.

Therapist for teen -- Dr. Kenneth Benau, on Telegraph Ave., Berkeley (510) 704-0116. He is excellent with teens as well as with families. Debra

Within the Kaiser system, I just received a recommendation from another mom, whose 16 year old daughter is working with this therapist with positive results. Her name is Alicia Barrett-Singer, and she's located in the Pediatrics Department in the Mosswood Building at Kaiser Oakland. Please look at the Kaiser directory for the phone number.

About 15 years ago, Kaiser had a pilot program in Lafyette that was only for teens. It was run by a psychiatrist. There were group sessions as well as individual sessions. The young person I knew who was in therapy was in the program for about 6 months, did get some medication and emerged fine. FR, Berkeley High School

15 year old girl who has run away four times

April 2002

Hello Parents, If you know any good adolescent therapy for a 15 years girls in San Jose area, please recommend. My daughter has run away 4 times, and my family is falling apart because of her. She was a straight A student until last year when she got in boy/girl friends relationship then things changed. I am apprecitate any recommendations from you. Thanks.

A recommendation on a therapist for teens is: Karen Hollinger Jackson. Our peditricians's office recommended her and we used her for a short term issue. A slight drawback for you is that she practices in Alameda. When I asked our doctor replied that she specializes in adolescents and they have had very good feedback about her. Realizing that it takes a very special person to work with adolescents, we went to her and were impressed! Cathy

Helping teen cope with learning differences

April 2002

I am looking for recommendations of a woman therapist who is experienced/skilled at dealing with a teen's feelings around coping with learning differences, and experienced with helping a teen develop a self-knowing, positive coping strategy for the long term. It wouldn't hurt if the same therapist is experienced with/recommended by adoptive and multi-racial families, though these are not major issues on the table at this time. My daughter says she is not interested in any kind of group therapy. Our insurance is Kaiser, but we realize we will probably need to go outside of Kaiser. It would be helpful to know the basic session cost, if you know. Thanks. Anonymous

Our daughter (16, a Junior in High School), has been working with a wonderful young woman therapist, who is an intern at Berkeley Therapy Institute in North Berkeley. Her name is Christa Hogan. Phone at BTI: 841-8484.

Within the Kaiser system, I just received a recommendation from another mom, whose 16 year old daughter is working with this therapist with positive results. Her name is Alicia Barrett-Singer , and she's located in the Pediatrics Department in the Mosswood Building at Kaiser Oakland. Please look at the Kaiser directory for the phone number.

Therapist for daughter at Cal

March 2002

Anyone know any of these therapists well enough to recommend one? This is for my daughter at Cal. These are on my insurance plan (HealthNet). Nancy

I had several sessions with Jeanne Menary and liked her very much. I chose her specifically for her expertise in helping people cope with pregnancy loss, but our work spilled into many other areas as well. I highly recommend her, if your daughter feels comfortable with her, and would consider going back to her for general counseling in the future.

I can whole-heartedly recommend Ruth Fallenbaum. (Unfortunately, she is not taking any new HealthNet/MHN clients.) Ruth is very professional and non-judgmental. She has a down to earth style that has allowed me to work to my own solutions with the advantage of her skills, perspective and insights. I don't have a lot of experience with therapists but the difference between a negative experience with one (on the MHN list but not on your list)and Ruth Fallenbaum has been like night and day. Ruth's office is at Telegraph and Woolsey in Berkeley, 835-2368.

Diane Cohen, Ph.D. on College Ave. in Rockridge (653-1464) is also very good with young women but I think she's in the same situation---that she's not accepting any new MHN clients.

Good luck. Keep asking everyone you know. I also asked the professionals who were recommended to me if they could recommend someone else. And, keep asking MHN for names. They're very stingy about handing them out. Sally

Ruth Fallenbaum had been recommended to me by a colleague who was really happy with the work that he had done with her. I interviewed her and liked her quite a bit, but she didn't have room in her schedule at the time. This seems to change over time, so I would definitely talk to her. She seems quite bright and compassionate, and was willing to offer referrals which I thought was really helpful.

I saw Ruth Hill as a therapist on a couple of different occasions when I was in college, then graduate school. I thought she was wonderful for me at that juncture in life; supportive, reinforcing, somewhat holistic, and she helped me grapple with a couple harsh crises. She is very Jungian, and a lot of her work deals in rather abstract concepts.

Kathleen Ranlett Mock, MA wasn't on your list. I know she is on Healthnet and she is a very good, easy-going therapist.

Therapist who works with teens & their families

April 2000

Does anyone have any recommendations for a therapist/counselor who works with teenagers, especially with females. I only want references if people have first hand experiences. Thanks.

I would like to recommend the therapist that my 15 year old daughter has been seeing. For the first time she actually wants to go to therapy and I've been very impressed with the way she has been able to speak to me about what's going on inside of her. I know this therapist's expertise is with teens and that she consults for treatment programs, but I'm pretty sure she also works with grown-ups. I got her name from a friend of mine who saw her. Her name is Betty Tharpe and her office is on Solano Ave. in Albany. Her phone number is 549-2092.

A great therapist for teens is Lenny Levis, Ph.D. (540-5052). My son saw him during a crisis for just 6 sessions, was very comforable sharing his feelings, felt very supported and acquired useful coping skills. Lenny is located on MLK near Hearst, so he's very accessible both to King Middle School and Berkeley High.

Re: Therapist who works with teenagers (June 1999)
My son saw a therapist who has been very helpful. His name is Leonard Levis, he's on MLK, and his number is 540-5052. I don't think it's necessarily true that a troubled child is an indicator of deeper trouble in the family. Anybody can have difficulties with a developmental stage, or a particular situation, and therapy can bring about better insights and coping strategies than mom or dad can come up with.

Re: good therapist for teens: David Akullian, North Berkeley, Shattuck at Cedar Street, 848-4203. Worked well with both my 11 year-old son and 15 year-old daughter.

It mattered a lot for our teen to like and feel accepted by a therapist--even more important than for an adult--because acceptance is the stuff of teen identity. It was also important for our teen to build a trusting relationship with an adult, and bridge the generations for a source of advice in addition to peers. From this experience, I would suggest interviewing several therapists to find the right fit, and not be afraid to change the therapist if that right fit, for whatever reason, isn't there. I can recommend , for one, Dr. Anna Berger, who is warm, savvy, and wise. 848-3050.

High on my list is Bob Heavner (843-4377). Bob deals almost exclusively with adolescents and their many issues, including drugs/alcohol, family issues, video/computer addictions, etc.

Colorado Kagan (297-4937) has a softer, nurturing style for a teen who needs to be drawn out.

Phyllis Mace (704-8455) has been effective in getting our teen daughter through a turbulent, defiant adolescence.

A personal recommendation: We moved here from Washington the summer before my daughter's 7th grade year. There was so much to adjust to -new home,new neighborhood, new peer pressure expectations, plus a new family (we lost her dad 2 years before). I found my daughter needed help to make the transition. We tried talk therapists, but I found that it was easy for her to talk, but not work at adjusting, growing, or taking the steps necessary. What she related to was hands-on things, doing something. In the end, the person who is still a great lady in her life is a physical/art therapist named Pepper Sbarbaro. She listens and really cares about your child. They find ways to play together, doing clay, collage and free-form stuff while a great deal of talk is going on, and also some fantastic body massage to just help the child relax. It's all of a piece. Pepper reads whats going on from all of it and while she respects the privacy between them, she keeps you in the loop so you are a part of the solution. She's having hand surgery soon, but try calling if you're interested and speak with her: (510)525-0474. Tell her Loni sent you.

For the folks looking for a therapist for a teen, I would strongly reccommend Michael Simon, in Rockridge (510) 433-2959. He's wonderful with teens (adults and couples, too) and my experience is that people feel very comfortable with him immediately--that's an important part of any therapy experience. He's fairly inexpensive, too, as therapists go. Thanks! Kirsten

Glad to see postings of good therapists for teens. To me, this seems an underexplored avenue for many teens and so benefitial when the right therapist and teen can match up. In our case, we were lucky to find a therapist that our teen hit it off with right away.

It mattered a lot for our teen to like and feel accepted by a therapist--even more important than for an adult--because acceptance is the stuff of teen identity. It was also important for our teen to build a trusting relationship with an adult, and bridge the generations for a source of advice in addition to peers. From this experience, I would suggest interviewing several therapists to find the right fit, and not be afraid to change the therapist if that right fit, for whatever reason, isn't there. I can recommend , for one, Dr. Anna Berger, who is warm, savvy, and wise. 848-3050.

More Recommendations

Aug 2002

Re: Counselor/therapist for 13-year-old

I highly recommend Phyllis Mace as a wonderful therapist to work with on teen issues. She knows a lot about the schools in the area, and the different issues at different schools. Also excellent at working with parents and/or students to help figure out what will motivate a student, what type of support he/she may need, etc... Her phone number is 704-8455, and she is located at 5435 College Ave. in Oakland, in the Rockridge Area. It's a bit of a trek from Berkeley, but I think she's great.

June 1999

Re: Therapist who works with teenagers

I recommend:
Jennifer Freeman
5th & Cedar, Berkeley
Jenny has worked with our daughter from age 10 to present (13). She does child and teen therapy. She's a warm and non-threatening woman with a pleasant Austrailian accent. She's going to visit relatives in Australia for a month or so, starting next week (I think), so you might want to call right away if the situation is urgent. Good luck!

Gail Alter, LCSW may also work with boys, but I recommend her for girls: 433-2972

My 17-year-old daughter has been seeing a wonderful therapist named Preston Parsons Alvarez (College Avenue/Oakland). She has seen her for 9 months and the whole family is very impressed with her -- we have all been in for visits with our daughter for family history reasons, but my daughter is her patient. Preston is very clear about patient confidentiality and has kept our daughter's trust accordingly. My daughter also attends a peer group (teenage girls) that is attended by a facilitator who interns with Preston, and she is very happy with the group as well. I have had much experience with therapists of all license/education backgrounds, and am very critical of the whole thing -- I think Preston is very good at what she does. She is also very kind and supportive. Very skilled. Good luck.

In response to the request for Teen Counselors I personally recommend:
Jan Dombrower,M.S.
Liscensed Marriage, Family & Child Counselor
1345 B Street
Hayward, CA 94541
I'm not sure where you are located, which is a concern, because if its too far to travel then you tend to not go, so get someone close to your home. I took my daughter to Jan for almost two years and the results were great. My daughter was a victim of a crime and so the state paid for our counseling (mine too!) so I don't know how much it runs. She is excellent with kids and is more than willing to give references for someone in your area.

Both of the counselors that we have seen in the past few years have experience with adolescents. Dean Lobovits and Jenny Freeman. They both practice in a building on the corner of 5th and Cedar in Berkeley. It's my impression that Dean mostly does Marriage & family counseling now, though he used to work in Teen Centers. And Jenny mostly does kids now. She saw my stepdaughter from age 10 through age 13. They are the authors of a book called Playful Solutions to Serious Problems (I think), which gives you an idea of their philosophy. Good luck! Dawn

This is in response to needing a recommendation for a therapist or counselor for teenagers. We found Candice Kunz in Concord to be extremely helpful and insightful. Her telephone number is (510) 687-2132.

My daughter (the 16-year-old going to MacGregor) sees Elayne Savage in Berkeley. She is a Healthnet therapist. She herself had a teenage daughter who was a handful but turned out great. My daughter and I both like her -- I think she's good with mother-daughter issues. She recently wrote a book, Don't Take It Personally, about dealing with all kinds of rejection in life. (Also, I'd like to thank those who responded for their encouraging advice!)

Therapist for teens: Though his office is in Rockridge, I recommend psychotherapist Michael Simon 510/433-2959 who has extensive experience with adolescents and children (as well as adults) and also works on a sliding scale. It's been my experience that male teens prefer to work with a male therapist.

In response to the parents looking for family therapy with their 17 year-old in the Berkeley/Albany area, I would reccommend contacting Michael Simon , M.S. at 510 433-2959. He is a wonderful family, couples, child and adolescent therapist and while he doesn't take insurance (I think the people who wanted a referral have Pacific Care), he works on a sliding-fee basis(from about $30 to $60 per session), so you can end up paying about the same as you might if you had insurance, without having to go through the insurance hassles around confidentiality, getting sessions approved a few at a time, etc.

West Coast Childrens Center runs some groups for teens. Their number is 527-7249. They have a racially diverse population and have some groups called Senior Coed Groups for 15-18 year olds, meaning high school. They also have some social skills building groups for younger kids. Best to call and get a bit more information.

Jan 1999

Both of the counselors that we have seen in the past few years have experience with adolescents. Dean Lobovits and Jenny Freeman. They both practice in a building on the corner of 5th and Cedar in Berkeley. It's my impression that Dean mostly does Marriage & family counseling now, though he used to work in Teen Centers. And Jenny mostly does kids now. She saw my stepdaughter from age 10 through age 13. They are the authors of a book called Playful Solutions to Serious Problems (I think), which gives you an idea of their philosophy. Good luck! Dawn

Jan 1999

Re: adolescent therapy

For the person looking for a counselor for a child/young adult I highly recommend Mario LaMort. He is in San Anselmo and well worth the drive. He is very direct and can zone in on what the problem is and how to work with it. Although we have not had occasion to take our child to him two close friends have taken their children and been very pleased. He is involved with the schools there, working with kids in group settings and also has a private practice. His # is 415-457-8547.


I have recommendations for two therapists that my family has used and were very pleased with:
Matthew Mock Ph.D.
2714 Telegraph Av

Matthew Mock has a private practice and is also the director of Family Youth and Children Services for Berkeley Mental Health. He is on the faculty at JFK University and is a nationally recognized expert on multicultural mental health issues and services. He has been very helpful to us with both our very complicated children (a niece and nephew.) (By-the-way, Berkeley is one of the few cities in the country to have its own Mental Health Department.)

Scott Lines Ph.D.
5435 College Av

Scott Lines was very helpful to my husband, our children, and me when he was doing a post-doc at Kaiser Oakland in 1993. We consulted with him for a second-opinion and were very impressed with him for the few months we saw him. Circumstances with 10 visit limit at Kaiser neccessitated that we go elswhere for long-term therapy. Scott was very perceptive. It seems that his advice and diagnosis certainly were on target. He really knew what he was talking about! The kids liked him too, though they weren't with him too long. Good luck! H.


Re: angry adolescent

Dear Parent: I have two daughters, both of whom have experienced anger and depression resulting from divorce, etc. My older daughter is in therapy with a fantastic clinical psychologist who, in turn, recommended a wonderful family therapist who specializes in individual and group/family therapy. His name is John DiMartini, located just off College Avenue in Oakland near the BART. I don't have his phone number with me at the moment, but if you are interested in pursuing this, please feel free to e-mail me. The reason I like him so much is that he absolutely protects the rights of children while helping every member of the family to feel whatever is going on for them and he is extremely fair. He is excellent at enabling everyone involved to listen to everyone else -- quite a remarkable task. He is also open to suggestions if something goes off, and I think this is critical to any group situation. I don't know if he would see an individual and that individual's family at the same time -- usually therapists just do one or the other. However, I am confident that he could recommend someone else if you eventually felt the need for individual and family therapy. Obviously, since both of my children are female, I don't know first-hand about how John would do with a male child. However, I would guess he would be wonderful with your son and/or you and your husband. Good luck. Just this past weekend I was at Emerson School's playground with my younger daughter who was playing basketball, and we witnessed a 5-year-old boy who was screaming, hitting and biting his mother and sister -- his parents were also nearing the point of a therapist. My thoughts are with you. Take care, Tamara

My son went through some similar issues and we found it VERY helpful for him to see a psychologist. We took him to Madeline Finegold (Feingold?), who has an office in Berkeley and in Walnut Creek, and we really liked her (and so did our son!). He only went for about 5 times (and one visit for parents only), but we saw a marked improvement. Also, there was a somewhat superficial, but interesting, article in Working Mother magazine this month or last on how boys are socialized to ONLY express anger, no other emotions. Also, you may want to check out the website Six Seconds is a non-profit that does emotional intelligence trainings for parents and teachers. FYI it takes 6 seconds for the chemical reaction of anger in the brain to dissipate, so the advice of counting to ten is excellent! Good luck!