Illustration by Hugh D'Andrade. Thanks, Hugh!
Conflict, sadness, anger, grief, worry, shame, fear, phobias, nightmares: They can arise in our lives like scary monsters.
When an unknown part of ourselves looms like a monster in the closet, we must coax it out with patience and kindness. This is impossible to do alone, especially for young people.
Let’s turn the light on, so you and your child may meet your monsters and to come to know them as not-so-scary. They may even have gifts for us! We won’t know until we do the work together and listen to what they have to say.
How does therapy help?
Our kids are speaking to us but not always with words. Sometimes they hurt themselves or others or they withdraw or shut down. Some yell and get angry for no apparent reason. Others are so sensitive that they cry at the drop of a hat.
Symptoms speak. In therapy, we listen.
When we understand what our symptoms are saying to us, we can respond wisely.
What does therapy with kids and teens look like?
There are many ways of hearing a young person’s story. Some young people love talking, but others might speak through play, art, dramatic enactment, poetry, or movement.
Therapy looks different for everyone. The kids I work with always have a say on what we talk about or do together. Together, we will co-create conditions of healing and change.
I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (license #107253) and hold an M.A. graduate degree from California Institute of Integral Studies’ Counseling Psychology program, with a focus on Community Mental Health. I have worked in schools as an on-campus therapist since 2013. Before my career as a therapist, I worked for many years with people with autism and developmental disabilities and have a great deal of knowledge and experience in working with people (children and adults) with disabilities. I identify as a cisgender white woman and use she/her pronouns.
I have a specific interest in working with:
People with chronic illness, autism, or a developmental, learning, physical, or other disability
Foster families and / or adoptive families. Child and adult adoptees.
Immigrant families and / or asylum-seekers*
Children and adults from single-parent families, blended families, divorced families (with or without shared caregiving)
Families with polyamorous parents
Children and adults exploring and affirming gender identity and sexual identity
Families with children or adults exploring and affirming gender identity
Children and adults who are grieving
Children and adults healing from trauma and abuse
Children and adults who are living or have lived around others who misuse alcohol and substances
My Areas of Interest and Specific Training
Your family, your child, and you are remarkable. I am especially interested in working with families who are grappling with their differentness. The world isn’t easy for those of us who feel "different."
*Note that California law does *not* require therapists to report undocumented families.
Note that I am a mandated reporter and am required by law to report any suspicion of child or elder abuse, or of suspected harm to others.
I have extensive experience and welcome working with symptoms of:
Anxiety (social awkwardness, worry, panic, phobia, shame)
Depression (isolation, sadness, apathy, hopelessness)
Self-harm (cutting, etc.)
Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Families come in all configurations and from all cultural backgrounds. I believe that the act of honoring our diversity can heal society, but this starts with realizing, accepting, and honoring our own uniqueness. Children deserve love and attention, no matter what they're going through, or how "different" they are. It is an honor to help them learn to celebrate their uniqueness.
I am trained and continue to train in psychodynamic / psychoanalytic therapy. What does that mean? This kind of therapy seeks out what is hidden to us and brings it to light, so we can respond in ways that help. This way of working is relational, attachment-based, and incorporates a systemic understanding of problems.
Psychoanalytic therapy is trauma-informed, client-centered, and existentially inquisitive. Modern psychoanalytic therapy draws on the entire lineage of psychology theory but has well adapted to the issues and concerns of our times. Contemporary psychoanalytic scholars and clinicians are actively engaged with issues of race, gender, social and political inequality, and substance use.
My approach is less focused on quick-fixes and more focused on lasting change and overall wellbeing. However, I have seen that solutions and change arise naturally through the process, sometimes rather quickly.
You can also read my profile on Psychology Today
I offer a free, 15 minute phone consultation. Contact me and we can set up a time to speak.
My main office is located near Dwight and Telegraph in downtown Berkeley, California, just a few minutes' walk from the U.C. campus. My Castro Valley office is in the "Redwood Building," and is about a 10 minute walk from Castro Valley Bart Station, a 25 minute drive from Downtown Oakland, and just a few minutes' drive off the Redwood Road exit off the 580 freeway.
My fee for a 50 minute session is $130 - $200 for an individual and $190 - $250 for family sessions, but offer some reduced fee / sliding scale sessions. I strongly believe that money should not preclude you access to the help you need. If I cannot offer you a reduced fee session, I will provide you a list of referrals of therapists who can.
I accept cash, check, and credit cards, and some HSA card payments. My online client portal makes it easy to schedule automatic credit or debit card payments.
I currently accept Beacon Value Options insurance and U.C. Berkeley's Wellfleet / SHIP insurance. For other types of insurance, I can provide you with receipts or “super-bills” to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. You will need to contact your insurance company to find out what your coverage is for an “out-of-network” provider.
Typical therapy sessions are 50 minutes, once or twice weekly. In order to receive the full benefit of therapy, I have found that a weekly commitment is necessary.
My Castro Valley office is wheelchair accessible. However, the office restroom would most likely be challenging for most wheelchair users. My Berkely office is not wheelchair accessible, and has one step to get to the restroom. Both offices' restrooms are gender neutral.
My offices are more fun than usual therapy offices. Every aspect was designed with kids' comfort and interest in mind.
Both offices aim to reduce waste and carbon footprint. Both offices house other clicians who are committed to creating and maintaining a welcoming, hate-free, discrimination-free, inclusive environment.
If you feel you may harm yourself any minute, or are having suicidal or homicidal thoughts, call 911 now or go to your nearest hospital. You are important.
If you would like to schedule a free 15 minute consultation or schedule a time to meet, please call (510) 967-1123 or email me, here: