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2012 - 2011 Reviews


Where can kid learn internal/emotional regulation?

Feb 2012

My daughter, who has been diagnosed with ADHD, has struggled for years to manage the very big feelings that she experiences more intensely than most. Now she's 8 and wants to behave in ways that are more socially acceptable and attentive to the impact on others, but has a very hard time regulating her irritability and anger -- that is, it just bursts out of her in the form of excessive rudeness toward others (which we do discipline but it continues). At other times she can express that she actually wishes she could not act that way. She's been in play therapy, but I think she would benefit from some sort of CLASS OR THERAPY that would actually teach her self-regulation. Yoga and meditation have helped me with this as an adult, but I want something really targeted for her. She quit karate after a couple lessons, so I don't think martial arts of that type will work. We'd love to hear other ideas for specific classes or therapy. Seeking Regulation


I highly recommend Communication Works. From their website at http://www.cwtherapy.com/centerservices.html ''The Center at Communication Works (CW) provides a variety of comprehensive services including evaluations; consultation; and intervention for speech, language, occupational, self-regulation, and sensory processing challenges for people of all ages.'' I have a daughter with ADHD who has trouble with social integrations, self regulation, social anxieties, some sensory issues. She is highly sensitive and, as a consequence, is overly reactive. She is in a small group therapy with 2 other same age girls. She likes going there as the teaching approach is playful, and the group is very well mixed. They pay a lot of attention to the combination of the groups, and the therapists are very in tune with the kids and the parents. We receive a wrap up after each session, and home work. It is not a quick fix, but it is a great resource for us. It is located in Oakland, 3 min. off 580 exit Keller Ave. Well worth my weekly drive from North Berkeley. Hope you will find the right help for your child.
You are looking for Mar Rem Remington. She is a therapist who specializes in kids who she calls ''wired differently''. She was also a special ed teacher for many years before this. Our daughter has grown and changed a lot in the last year of working with Mar Rem. She not only works with your child, but she will work with you, too, since parenting kids with these challenges requires some different strategies. She also does school observations and consultations. We worked with 2 other therapists before this, but Mar Rem really knows how to help kids like this. Her office is in Berkeley. 510-835-4357. dawn
Hi, My daughter has benefitted greatly from being in Devin Berry's mindfulness and meditation group for 5-7 year- olds. I'm not sure if he does one for older kids or whether private lessons would be an option. As a clinical psychologist who thinks about emotion regulation issues I would say that, from what you describe, some one-on-one sessions would be really beneficial. You can read more about him here: http://deeperstillforteens.org/teachers/devin-berry/ He's just a very nice guy, warm, calm but energetic, knowledgeable and seems really interested in making it fun and engaging for kids. We're big fans. His phone number is 510-501-0201 and his email address is devinberry@gmail.com Susan
Communication Works in Oakland offers emotional regulation therapy and groups. http://www.cwtherapy.com/index.html Best!

Child therapist for aftermath of brain tumor

Feb 2012

My 8 year old son had a non-malignant but very consequential brain tumor removed a few months ago. He is still recovering and doing ok medically but is faced with many losses of his former life and former good health. Does anyone have a recommendation for an experienced child therapist who could help him grieve his losses and cope with the continued challenges of his new life? Someone in the Berkeley area would be most convenient. Concerned mom


I highly recommend Dr. Lester Isenstadt for your child with the aftermath of a brain tumor. Dr. Isenstadt is a Psychiatrist with 30+ years experience and interest in brain chemistry, AND he does his own therapy directly with his patients. His bredth of knowledge about brain function and development was very helpful for our daughter, and we still consult with Dr. Isenstadt whenever we see other professionals (ex: Kaiser) to get a trusted 2nd opinion. We first discovered him because we saw a child start to thrive who had been highly depressed and anxious and asked the parents what was helping their child. We have found Dr. Isenstadt's insight, vision, compassion, and effective treatment over a 5 year period to be invaluable. Further, he always found gracious ways to move us forward on decisions affecting our child even though my husband and I often disagreed about things like need for medication. Wishing you all the best

Therapist for 9yo girl w/newish phobias, anxiety

August 2011

Our nine year old is struggling w/a few phobias, social anxiety and hates being touched or too close to people outside of the immediate family. Any recommendations would be appreciated. We're in Berkeley. Thanks, Concerned Mama


There is a program that is highly regarded that has a children's version. Lots of local hospitals hold the course but they also have home workbooks/cds for those who can't attend the course on site. Kaiser holds the courses, I think in Vallejo and you don't need to be a member to sign up. Here is the link and there is a number at the bottom of the page that may know the local classes for kids. Where and when they are. http://www.angelnet.com/fear3.html Cathey
My recommendation for a sensitive, intuitive therapist is Christine Bartlett, PT, CHT, whose specialty is helping people with phobias through hypnotherapy and other modalities. She can be reached at 510-418-1940; her e-mail is ChristineBartlettLight@gmail.com. Best of luck! mr

2010 - 2009 Reviews


Psychotherapists for children

Dec 2010

Strongly considering bringing in my 7, 5 and 4 y.o kids to the KP child psych ''intake'' process to get started with a counselor. Have you been through it? Do you recommend it? What should I look out for? Did it help? Thank you, sincerely. AnonMom


While I'm not familiar with the intake process per se, I can highly recommend a psychotherapist on staff at Oakland Kaiser. Mary Haake (sp?) has helped a neighbor's child tremendously. Harriet

Pediatric CBT therapist in Albany w insurance

Nov 2010

I have a 12 year old who has always been prone to depression and anxiety and now with puberty setting in, the irritability and moodiness is paralyzing to her and our family. We are all living in fear of her mood and disapproval, which is crazy! She is already on small amount of meds but her doctor suggested CBT for her and possibly later for her and her siblings and/or me together. Here is the catch - I am a single mom and work full time but i have a generous PPO. I would like for her to be able to go by herself once a week after school. So I need a female therapist in Albany who takes insurance. If you know of such a therapist, please let me know. very worried mom


I highly recommend Anne Marshall. She's warm, compassionate, supportive, funny, and she gives real-world, practical advice so that you come out of a session with a sense of what you need to do to tackle your issues. Not a straight-up CBT approach, as far as I know, but she's very good at helping her patients take concrete steps in the here and now. I saw her as an adult, but I think she would be a good fit for preteens and teens as well. Last I checked, she had an office in Albany (midway down Solano) and took insurance. Jennifer

7yo is having serious problems at school

Nov 2010

can anyone refer a good child psychologist who deals with kids. My son who is diagnosed with asd (autism spectrum disorder) is about to be 7 years old. He is having serious problems at school. He is verbal but acts out with violence at times. The school suggested a psychologist. If anyone has any references, i would really like some referrals or suggestions. Thank you.


I highly recommend Alison Ehara-Brown. She is a well known and respected therapist who uses all the great modalities including sand tray, etc. Her office is on Solano in Berkeley. She worked with my daughter as she transitioned into a new school and was suddenly confronted with ''girl drama''. She is now working with my son who is a constant target for bullying. She is kind and knowledgeable and my kids love her. Lisa

2008 - 2007 Reviews


Play therapist for 5 year old

August 2008

I am looking for a therapist, who is trained in play and/or sand art therapy for my 5 year old. It would be very helpful if the therapist was a part of MHN/HealthNet, but not absolutely necessary. Thank you in advance. Heather


Try Dr. Philip Gross in Albany or Berkeley (on Marin). My child similar in age to yours is doing well with him. I don't know whether he does sand art or not. anonymous

Therapist for 4-year-old's extreme behavior

July 2008

Our son is almost 4 years old... extremely busy and bright and as he gets older, extremely challenging. Lately he's been having such extremes of behavior and is not responsive to the usual modification tactics. We have seen the pediatrician and tried different strategies (positive reinforcement, time out, etc.) to no avail. We're all out of our mind - knowing that what we're doing now isn't working. We need help from someone outside our network. We seek recommendations for MFT, MFCC, other types of therapists, etc. that can help us develop short/long term strategies to effectively navigate the discipline/parenting issues that we expect will continue to present themselves throughout our son's life living with us. We are a bi-racial couple living in Oakland Dimond/Fruitvale area, seeking someone close to home.


I highly recommend Debbie Essex for both individual and family counseling. I have two very, very bright children who are now in 5th and 7th grades. We have a very strong family unit and there's no question that each of us is happy overall. But I do believe that intelligent children present challenges that at times make you feel like you're at your wits end and at other times make you worry that you may not be doing the right thing. I had sought advice from another counselor before seeing Debbie and her theories of birth canal trauma and her recommendation for whole family therapy just didn't sit well with us. Debbie Essex is different. She has a generosity of spirit that works so well for her chosen profession. She listens intently, and can talk to kids in a way that they respond to quite naturally. Whenever I have lingering concerns over parenting issues, Debbie can either put my mind at ease or identify behavior as cause for concern. I have even turned to her for personal advice regarding the depression of someone very close to me, as well as what to do about the physical behavior of a parent on my son's soccer team. I recommended her to one of my closest friends at the birth of her baby for her adopted son's sense of security. I am confident that her experience as a therapist will not just help you, but that you will feel more secure as a parent because you see her. Here's her info: Deborah Essex, MFT 2931 Shattuck Avenue, #101E Berkeley, CA 94705 (510) 548-8980 www.deborahessex.com

Therapist for 9-year-old's anger and frustration

June 2008

Our 9 year old daughter is having trouble managing her emotions, anger and frustration. We're at a loss as to how to handle the situation and have decided that we need to seek therapy. Does anyone have any recommendations?


The nonprofit agency I work for, JFCS/East Bay, has an amazing team of therapists with particular expertise in early childhood and grade school-aged kids. I highly recommend them and definitely think that your daughter would be well-served. I know it sounds biased, but they really are wonderful--so much so that when we had a crisis at my son's preschool, I asked one of my co-workers to come in and give a presentation for parents and teachers about the specific issues we were dealing with. The main office is conveniently located in downtown Berkeley. If you're interested, please call (510) 704-7475, ext. 700, which is the intake extension. All the best, Holly

Therapist for 4-year-old's aggression and anxiety

May 2008

I am looking for an experienced child therapist for my 4 year old child that would help him to control agressive behaivors and anxiety. We have Alameda Aliance for Health (medi-cal) Mother


My five year old and I LOVE Dr. Joan Lovett. She is a developmental pediatrician with lots of experience working with kids who have agression and anxiety issues. She is wonderful with my daughter, and she was very accurate with her diagnosis and parenting techniques. I don't know what types of insurance she accepts, but she's definitely worth the money! She's located near Solano Ave in Berkeley. Her number is 510-524-0488 On the Way to Happy Parenthood

Therapist for 9-year-old with anxiety and insecurity

April 2008

My nine-year-old son has a lot of anxiety and insecurity and we're looking for a therapist who could help. Does anyone have a recent referral? Either a man or a woman therapist would be fine. We're eager to help our son. Thank you. anon


My son went to Sara Grunstein for awhile for anxieties and she is great. Very experienced with children and their development, very loving and relaxed. Also very good at helping parents to understand the different phases of development and how to help your child through it. 548-0161 She's located by Andronicos on Telegraph. Anon
I highly recommend Jason Brand, a therapist who has an office near 4th street in Berkeley (and I think he also has an office in SF). Jason worked with our 10 year old son. He's on the younger side, so he connects well with kids. Our son was anxious about ''seeing someone'' but Jason put him at ease right away. He specializes in technology-related issues with families (families with issues about video games, cell phone, or internet ) but we went to get help about our son's social anxiety issues. His approach was very helpful to my son and also for us as parents. I highly recommend him for family therapy and for child therapy. His number is (510) 488-3093. Good luck! Anon

Therapist for depressed 9-year-old

Feb 2008

Can anyone recommend a therapist (psychlogist? family therapist? psychiatrist? not even sure what kind....) for a 9 year old who seems to be chronically depressed (unhappy, angry, self-hating, explosive all the time)? We are Kaiser members, so would be interested in recommendations there, but are not averse to going the private route for the right person. Need help!


My 7 years old have been going to DR. Martinez in Berkeley. She does cognitive therapy. My son is doing much better after just 6 sections although his problem was anxiety and panic attacks. Her phone number is (510)652-4455 x14. She is in Oakland on College Av. She does not accept insurance or it is ship, but work. Been there

Therapist for 9-year-old step-daughter

Jan 2008

I have a 9-year old step-daughter who lives with my husband and me 50% of the time. My husband and I have been together since my step-daughter was 5 and ever since then (and before I was ever in the picture - hence the separation) her mother's irrational and manipulative behavior has become more and more extreme. My step-daughter's mother and my husband were never married and together until she was 1.

My step-daughter is (understandably) very loyal to her mother even though she is beginning to verbally question her mother's behavior (to me, not to her mother or father). I am concerned. She is learning from her mother that it is okay to get what you want through anger, yelling, manipulative and controlling behavior. She does not 'test' her mother because she is afraid of her mother's reaction and of ''making her mad'' (her father and I have made a CPS report in the past). When she is with us she is testing testing 1,2,3,4. As of late the lying has reached new proportions and has, to the mother in me, become more frustrating and upsetting. However, the therapist in me can chalk some (certainly not all) of it up to the fact that she is testing us because she trusts us.

I think that it would be in her best interest to have someone to talk to separate from and in addition to my husband and me. I am a therapist (but am not very familiar with others in this area). I see a lot of Borderline features in her mother and am seeing more and more troubling patterns of behavior in my step-daughter (lying, manipulating, playing the victim) that are beyond what I would consider 'normal' for her age group. As she has gotten older, I have become more concerned. We would like to work with someone who is familiar and comfortable with these issues (separation of parents, Borderline personality disorder, 'blended' families). We are in the Berkeley area. Thanks so much! Concerned step-mom


Bobbie Schear, 655-7240, is a very insightful therapist who understands plenty about kids, and she's very compassionate and passionate about kids. She uses sandtray therapy (all kinds of sand, all kinds of objects to deal with). She also works with kids who are have a difficult time communicating, and she often will cook with them. (The child usually decides what they will cook together, and she'll talk with them through the safety of cooking a recipe.) she's also very smart, and I believe she has a PhD, so she's familiar w/ standard diagnoses, and I know she's dealt w/ a wide variety of problems with kids (and adults as well). I don't know for sure what networks she's on, but I know she was on MHN, so may be available through others as well.
My step-son had great success with Dr. Lisa Lancaster (in Berkeley 510-841-2525). We were dealing with what sounds like some similar issues with him and his mother. Dr. Lancaster was excellent and I would recommend her without reservation. Hope she can help you too. anon

Therapist for 5-year-old's rages

Jan 2008

Our 5yr old is a loving empathetic child. However, he will fly into a rage occasionally...not a ''i'm angry leave me alone'' fit, but a real rage. These fits have been happening more and more in the last 3-months. They seem connected somehow to our business travel...one of us is always with them, but when the other gets back--watch out. In these moments, which can be triggered by something as petty as asking him to get dressed, or pouring too much in milk in his cereal, there is no talking, consoling or anything that seems to help until his rage subsides. He remembers exactly what he did and said during these moments, is remorseful, but apparently cannot keep himself from falling into this fit. Other pieces of that we're not sure fit into any answer to our son's issue is that he is always misplacing things, toys, etc..., he's clumsy...running into people and things. I'd like to say he doesn't listen ... that he's distracted, but it really seems like he just chooses to ignore.


I absolutely recommend that you contact the agency I work for, JFCS/East Bay in Berkeley. We have an amazing team of early childhood experts who will help you understand and sort through the developmental issues your son is dealing with right now. In addition to parent-child therapy, they also offer individual play therapy for kids, which could help your son directly deal with some of his behaviors. The therapists are all loving, empathetic, and extremely dedicated to helping young kids. While the agency is inspired by Jewish values, the services are open to people of all backgrounds and ethnicities. Call (510) 704-7475 x299 for Valerie Rosenfield, who does the initial intake. Find out more at www.jfcs-eastbay.org. All the best, Holly

Trained play therapist for young girl

May 2007

I'm adopting my six-year-old great niece who, along with her three younger siblings, was removed from her parents in Washington by CPS a year ago. Her parents are drug addicts with little hope of recovery, and she hasn't seen either parent for over a year. She's adjusted extremely well to living with me, my husband, and 12 year old son , but grieves deeply for her ''mommy'' and her siblings. She has a lot to work through and is angry and sad. Her kindergarten teacher (and I agree) that she would benefit greatly from working with a specialist in play therapy. She's back to wetting herself at school and regularly sobs to her teacher about missing her family. Can anyone kindly recommend an effective therapist for a six year old? The therapist must be a woman because she has some issues with males that we don't yet understand. I would be very grateful to receive recommendations for therapist in the East Bay, along with an explanation of why you find this person effective. Thank you.


We had terrific results with a play therapist about 6 years ago. She worked with my then-4 year old who was tantruming frequently (and had lots of other things going on, which we also started to treat). We saw her in Berkeley, but she also had an office in SF. Jane Rubin, PhD Play Therapist (510) 704-8759 (415) 931-0856 2434 Milvia Street Berkeley, CA 94704-1918 Good luck. - Happy play therapist client
I recommend Sara Brose. My daughter has been seeing her for over a year now and loves ''sara days''. She has a great office with a doll house, sand tray and a lot of figurines. I think she actually specializes in working with children that have experienced loss. (My daughter's father died suddenly when she was two. She is 6 now)

I also find it helpful for me because Sara makes sure to keep me abreast of whats happening in their sessions and helps me understand how to be a better parent for my child. Her office is on Howe street in Oakland right down the street from Kaiser Oakland. You can reach her at 985.2909 good luck


2006 - 2005 Reviews


Therapist for ''spirited'' 4 3/4 year old

Jan 2006

I have a very ''spirited'' 4 3/4 year old boy and am looking for a therapist who can help us determine what's going on with him; whether its just behavioral/developmental or something else. He is a very bright, loving, dynamic, cool kid but he has problems with aggression, anger, short attention span and high level of frustration, very intense and volatile emotions, difficulty with transitions, energy level and mood swings etc etc. His issues are overwhelming us right now and my husband and I are getting really stressed out and probably making things worse at this point. Nothing we do seems to help. We are walking on eggshells, never know when a huge explosive tantrum will hit. We have had a very hard time finding anyone who will even return our phone calls, let alone knowing where to start and what kind of therapist to go to. We would like to find someone who can do some sort of assessment of him and guide us in finding ways to help him interact more smoothly in the world. Can anyone recommend an occupational therapist or someone who specializes in young children (our insurance is Pacificare...)???? Are there any support groups out there?


Our experience with Susan Campordonico, OT, at Alta Bates/Herrick Campus (on Dwight Way in Berkeley) has been positive and helpful for our now 6 yr. old, (510) 204-4599. Also Dr. Brad Berman, our developmental pediatrician in Walnut Creek (925) 279-3480. It takes a very long time to get in to see him, so you might ask your pediatrician to refer you. Don't know about your specific insurance. Good luck. anon.
Please contact Dr. Denkla in Maryland, head of Pediatric Behavioralist program for John Hopkins University hospital. I have been to her lectures, and she is the top on her field. Please look for her in the internet, contact her and ask for a recommendation from her office here in California. She is your best bet to solve your issues. Answers
I have certainly been there! Ours was with our daughter though. You need to pick up the book ''The Bipolor Child'' by Paolos & Paolos. Just to see if some of the symtoms fit, and possible suggestions to at least help you deal with the flare ups/ explosions before you finish losing your mind! We went to Dr. Alderman at Richmond Kaiser - he is absolutely awesome! He was never quick to diagnose, but also gave us tools neccessary to help us deal with difficult explosions that would come out of nowhere. I totally understand the whole ''walking on eggshells'' household. It is very scary when you realize how much control all the sudden your 4-5 yr old child has over the entire household. Since seeing Dr. Alderman, and reading the book, it has helped Tremendously! Our daughter is now the loving child we always knew she had inside her. Even though we still experience a flare up now and then, we now know how to handle it better and our house is so much more peaceful and loving. And th! e stress has cut down unbelievable
We too had the experience of not even getting callbacks when looking for a therapist for our son. We eventually did get one call back and when we starting seeing him, we asked him what prompted hin to call when he was obviously quite busy? He told us that it was because we mentioned our pediatrician's name. So if you have not already done so, ask your pediatrician who they know that are pychiatrists or psychologists. You also mentioned O.T. That is a very good avenue to pursue, which I have only recently leaned about. It may be easier to get insurance coverage at this point, particularly if you can identify any kind of motor challenges your son has - does he excel at Legoes or avoid them. If he avoids them or some other activity that children his age generally are drawn towards, such as coloring, or puzzles, then that is a red flag. Lastly talk to your School District. I was astounded to learn recently that school districts are providing services to children as young as 3. I wish you well. Anon

Therapist for 5-yo son's explosive behavior

March 2005

I'm looking for a child psychiatrist in the East Bay (preferably Berkeley/Oakland) who also does therapy with young children. My 5-yo son has explosive behavior (meltdowns, aggression, screaming, general defiance) and a genetic propensity for bipolar disorder. We are specifically not looking for a psychologist or other non-medical therapist, but for an M.D. who can also prescribe medication.

I've gotten recommendations for Lester Isenstadt, Paul Abrinko and Madeline Lansky, but didn't see anything about them in the archives. Our preference is to avoid medication if possible, and to approach treatment mainly through therapy.

Thanks in advance for any feedback on these M.D.s or any other recommendations. Need to find help


Dr. Paul Abrinko is wonderful. Worth the time and money. anon
If you are looking to avoid medication, then your best bet is to find a good cognitive behavioral psychologist. Psychiatrists are not typically trained to do behavior therapy. Contact the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy. There is an excellent psychologist there who works specifically with children. Deborah

Therapist for 9 year old with anxiety/anger

March 2005

I am looking for a developmental psychologist/pediatrician or therapist to evaluate and treat my son, who is showing signs of OCD and other anxiety problems, as well as angry outbursts when he doesn't get his way. He is taking Ritalin for ADD (attention- type) and sees Dr. Landman in Orinda. While I think the Ritalin is helping him with the attention problem, his anxiety is creating almost daily problems now, and Dr. Landman always seems rushed and unsympathetic to anything more than a cursory discussion of his problems when he sees him. We would especially like names of therapists in the East Bay. desperate mom


I've heard excellent things about Michael Tompkins in Rockridge 652 4455...and have personally used another doc in that practice, years ago, she's no longer there, but the practice, in general iis excellent. My friend's son was treated for OCD with excellent results. kroisen
Dr. Stephen Walrod is an excellent, supportive and insightful therapist who is helping my 7-year old son with anxiety and anger issues. Across from Lake Merritt on Grand Ave. 444-4068. Good Luck. Also try reading ''Transforming the Difficult Child'' by Glasser. Been there

Therapist for very emotional 7-year-old

Jan 2005

My wonderful seven year old son is extremely emotional, extremely sensitive, and for unknown reasons has been having a tough time this year. Acting out, breaking rules, upset a lot. Over the last several months he began regressing, having potty accidents, breaking things, etc. We tried one therapist but she was in El Cerrito and we live in Oakland so with her limited appointments it was very difficult to make the schedules work. I read all the posting but havent found a match. Any suggestions for Oakland/Berkeley child therapist with experience in these areas? I have tried everything and am running out of ideas on how to help him. anon


My wife and i would recommend Ann Martin Center in Oakland/Piedmont border area (1250 Grand Avenue). They do excellent individual and group child centered therapy. My son went there and we were very pleased with the work that they did. anon.

2004 & Earlier


Help for 3.5 year old's social issues

Oct 2003

We are looking for a child psychologist or other professional to help our 3.5-year old with some social issues. Ideally the Dr./LCSW would observe our son at school and then have some sessions. Our son is having difficulty making friends, and understanding how to approach individual kids and groups of kids-and does so inappropriately - growling, screaming, etc. We are not interested in a psychiatrist (or medication) as a solution, but a psychologist/professional that treats and (maybe specializes in kids)this young. Thanks so much for any referrals that can be provided. anon


ry Jill Shugart, 510-528-0309, offices in N. Berkeley and Walnut Creek. She's a therapist that specializes with children. She also has been a preschool director for years. It's hard to find somebody who knows little ones. anon.
We went to a woman when we were having problems with our son hitting. She is not a psychologist (as far as I know). But, she is an expert on (as the person who recommended her put it) ''normal kids with behavorial issues.'' We found her very helpful. Her name is Meg Zweibeck and she's in Oakland. Her e- mail is dearmeg@rcn.com Best of luck to you! Nancy
I'm responding to the two recent posts seeking therapy/counseling for children (I think the requests were from parents of a 4 year old and an 8 year old). I know of a great therapist in Albany who works with kids and families, and who has specialized in working with younger children (preschool and elementary grades) and with adolescent girls. Monica Frame, LCSW (510-504-8168) works with the family and with the school (if appropriate), and I think that parents feel respected and included in the process. Her advice to parents is very practical and she is really patient/kind with kids. Karen
I would like to recommend Monica Frame, Licensed Clinical Social Worker to anyone who needs an expert in psychotherapy for children, adults and families. She is available for school consultations. Her manner is professional and warm and her advice is excellent and always very helpful. She can be reached at 510-504-8168. A preschool program director

Frustrated with child's behavior issues

November 2002

Frustrated, discouraged and scared from trying--without much progress--to work out behavior issues with one of my children, I need professional help. We have mental health coverage through our insurance, Pacificare. I've reviewed the archives and have found that none of the recommended therapists are listed with Pacificare. Am I delusional to think that I can find a ''good'' therapist who will accept my insurance? Can anyone make a recommendation for such a therapist or help me navigate this unfamiliar road? Many thanks, in advance, for any advice you can offer. stumped mom


I don't have the same health insurance you have so I do not know if they are part of your plan, but I have been taking my child to see Dr. Philip Gross. My son loves him and looks forward to our visits. While my son is seeing him, my husband and I meet with his wife, Miriam, a licensed clinical social worker. Their team work is very good and we feel we are making progress in dealing with our son's behavior, which had making us crazy. Good luck. been there, tried this.

Preschooler who may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Sept 2002

Can anyone recommend a child psychologist who works with preschool age children? My son may have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, so we are trying to find someone who can work with us to confirm diagnosis and plan treatment. We have called a number of folks in the area already, but they no longer take preschool-age children (VERY frustrating!) Any information would be extremely helpful.


I recommend Dr. Elea Bernou. She does very thorough child assessments, including neuropsych, cognitive, learning, and psychological issues. She is also great with kids and thoughtful in her recommendations and feedback. If money is an issue she supervises some interns who do assessments at a lower fee. phone 510-841-8484.
Diane Ehrensaft (near Childrens Fairyland in Oakland) is excellent with young boys. We were reluctant to take our son to therapy when he was 7 years old. But he was miserable, angry, and a roller coaster of emotions with no apparent source. School and knowledgeable parents all separately recommended Diane. She was and is wonderful. Diane was not quick to diagnose, did not assume it was environmental (it was not), and was not quick to recommend medication. She has been invaluable in the parent conferences and with our son's school. She also is practical and a straight shooter, and genuinely cares about our son. He still sees her at age 10,and we feel extremely lucky to have her in his life.

Diane is usually booked up, but if you're flexible you could get lucky. Her number is 547-4147.


Other advice: If you need a psychologist (vs. a child therapist) I know of two places which do psychological assessments and treatment planning:
  • West Coast Children's Center in El Cerrito (510) 527-7249,
  • Ann Martin Children's Center (510) 655-7880 in Oakland.

    As they work specifically with children, I am assuming they will assess and treat preschool aged children.

    If, after the assessment, you are in need of an experienced play therapist who enjoys working with preschoolers, I'd be happy to talk with you. I wish you much luck in finding help for your child and family.


    If you're suspecting Oppositional Defiant Disorder in a preschool age son, then you must be experiencing some very troubling behavior -- I'm sorry. I assume his behavior is pretty unusual, and I think you're right to be careful about confirming the diagnosis and planning interventions.

    It's hard for me to be specific without knowing more, but in general I have to say that I can't think of a child psychologist to recommend. We've had experiences with several psychologists, because we have two children who needed diagnosis and treatment as preschoolers. Networking with other parents of high-needs kids, I've also heard of other therapists. The psychologists we went to looked at the problems psychologically and tried to find explanations in the child's past experiences, family dynamics, etc. The solutions they proposed were a kind of good, conventional wisdom -- which is fine if you have a conventional child. In our case(s), there were biological factors that the psychologists were not prepared to diagnose accurately, and the conventional wisdom failed because the children's neurological makeup did not allow them to respond conventionally. In fact, the conventional wisdom was counter-productive and the failure to diagnose correctly meant that we did not get effective help for the children in the early years when interventions are most effective.

    My recommendation is to seek a neuropsychological assessment. A neuropsychologist will take a thorough look at psychological and biological factors. Often behavior issues are rooted in or complicated by biologically-based conditions, as with our child's aggression and oppositionality. A good place to start is the department of Neuropsychology Assessment at Children's Hospital Oakland. There are other recommendations on the website. How has your pediatrician responded? I had to reveal a lot of embarrassing detail to get our pediatrician's attention, but once I did she saw the seriousness of the issue and was very helpful with referrals and explaining the process. A neuropsych assessment is more expensive than a few visits to a psychologist, but our insurance covered most of it with the doctor's referral. Most important, an assessment is cheaper than years of unhelpful psychotherapy and can lead to great progress. A sympathetic mom


    Help for 4-year-old who has trouble adjusting

    June 2002

    I am interested in finding help for my 4-year-old son. He is a bright, happy child when he is in familiar and comfortable situations. He plays well with other children one-on-one, but when faced with new situations, especially those involving groups of kids, he is unable to handle it. Typically, he withdraws and eventually has a meltdown involving screaming and crying - this occurs even if he is left alone to merely observe activities. I've tried gradual preparation for these situations, but that has had little effect in helping with his reaction to the situation. As a new school year approaches, I am becoming increasingly concerned about introducing him into a new preschool environment, even though the class has only 12 children and a calm, low-key environment. I am uncertain what kind of therapist could work with us to help him with this. Any recommendations would be helpful.


    I would highly recommend Dr Philip Gross and his wife, Miriam Gross, who is a LCSW. They work together - your son would meet with Dr. Gross and during their session you would meet with Miriam. Miriam works with the parents on ways to handle different situations, and is most helpful. They are really wonderful and have been very helpful to us -- our son has a similar situation as you describe. Dr. Gross is in Albany, on Marin Avenue.
    One suggestion would be to try taking a workshop at
    Parents Place on Preparing for Preschool. The class meets for two evenings in July, led by Susan Byrd (a licensed clinical social worker at Parents Place in Marin). The workshop will cover preparing yourself and your child for the social experience of preschool and you can get the advice and support of a therapist for only $15 a session. If you need more help or a one to one consultation, you could follow up with her or one of the other clinicians/therapists at Parents Place but this is a relatively inexpensive way to see whether or not a therapist is the answer. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions at 510 433-2959...I'm the Parent Education Coordinator for Parents Place in Marin. You can also see the workshops/classes online at ParentsPlaceOnline.org or call them at 415 491-7959.

    Thanks!
    Michael Y. Simon, MFT


    Therapist for Preschooler with 'communication handicap'

    Feb 2003

    Can anyone recommend a child therapist to help us foster emotional/social growth in a preschooler with a 'communication handicap'? Barbara Kalmanson is not accepting new patients. Has anyone worked with Peter August or Rebecca Schwartz? We're thinking a 'floortime approach' would be most appropriate but are open to other alternatives. thank you


    We know of an excellent ''floortime specialist'' who trained with Stanley Greenspan. She can work with your child in your home and also train family members to foster communication through a relational approach. Please call me for details about Ilene Lee, PhD. M.L.
    My therapist, Dr. Margaret Dodson, on Solano Ave., often sees children. I haven't taken my child to her, but she has such a kind, gentle manner and a great sense of humor, that it seems like it would be worth checking her out. Her number is 510/526-0474. Stefanie

    Therapist to build 5-year-old's social skills

    March 2003

    I'm looking for someone who can work with an almost-5-year-old with issues of self-control, focus, tantrums, alone and/or with me, especially to build social skills for attendance at public kindergarten next fall. She is a high-energy and not super verbal child, so a play/art/physically oriented approach would probably work best. Or, if you know of someone not on the above list, please let me know; I'd be willing to spend my own $$ to work with someone really great. Thanks in advance.


    Two child therapists that I would highly recommend are: Hope Dean, LCSW on Carelton St. in Berkeley at 510-649-1144 Linda Cozzarelli, LCSW on College in Oakland at 510-428-9050 They are both seasoned therapists who specialize in working with children and (it's almost a given!) do play therapy. Good luck! dscott

    7-year-old daughter prone to severe tantrums and OCD

    May 2001

    Our 7-year-old daughter is prone to severe tantrums and shows signs of obssessive-compulsive disorder. So far, we have met with a therapist at Ann Martin Children's Center in Oakland and have not been impressed - we can't get answers to questions like, "Have you dealt with a child like this before? What kinds of therapies and theories do you believe in?" It seems as if the Ann Martin Children's Center is more for troubled, abused children or children with learning disabilities. My daughter is more "explosive" (many thanks to those of you who recommended Ross Greene's wonderful "The Explosive Child" - describes her exactly!) and seems completely out of control during a tantrum. Does anyone have (1) experiences to share - good or bad - about using the Ann Martin Children's Center for counseling;(2) recommendations for a good therapist to deal with such problems? Many, many thanks


    I highly recommend child psychologist Hilde Clarke, 420-1866, who works with children of all ages and their parents. She is very compassionate and bright, and really works with families to find creative solutions to the challenges they are facing. If she doesn't feel she can help she would probably have a good referral for you. She is located on Howe Street in Oakland.
    I also have an explosive (I prefer to refer to it as "falling apart" since explosive sounds violent to me which is misleading) 7 year old who suffers from Tourette Syndrome as well as milder forms of OCD and Hyperactive Disorder. After flailing around with various doctors (we also called but decided aginst trying Ann Martin as we also felt they didn't understand these syndromes very well) we finally feel we are making progress with Dr. Thomas Lowe in San Francisco. We weren't crazy about going into the city, but he is so knowledgable in this area that for us it has been well worth it. His specialty is Tourette, but since this syndrome is so often linked with OCD, he also is well-informed in this area also. My daughter likes him. He's very compassionate about what both parents and child have to endure with these disorders. And his treatment approach is practical. He runs the Tourette's and Tic Disorders Clinic at UCSF Medical Center. The bad news is there is a long waiting list (we waited 7 months to start seeing him). But my first call (you leave a message) resulted in a personal lengthy call from him one evening in which he really took the time to understand our situation. So it may be worth a call, if just to talk with him and get some advice or perhaps a more local referral. His number is (415) 476-7213. Please feel free to e-mail or call me if you want to talk further about just living with this situation. I know how stressful it can be. Good luck. Cathy
    Have you received a complete psycho-educational assessment of your daughter? I can't recommend this strongly enough, as it would help target appropriate interventions given her particular cognitive makeup (strengths and weaknesses). Going directly into individual therapy without some sound data on your hands (esp. for someone so young) and a framework for building an appropriate educational and emotional support network for your daughter can be a rather ambiguous venture. Holly

    Play therapy for 5-year-old

    Feb 2000

    Can anybody recommend a therapist/child psychologist who works with preschoolers (my son is just turning 5)? He has tantrums, has trouble with transitions and controlling his temper and it's causing some problems at school that we'd like to nip in the bud. Dana


    I love doctor Judith Isackson. She is on Solano Ave. I am not sure if she is on the Albany or Berkeley side. She has seen many of the kids I work with (I am a pre-school teacher) and she has been wonderful to work with. Thomas
    I highly recommend Dr. Fortunee Kayra-Stuart located both in Berkeley on 9th Street (near the West Side Cafe) and in Walnut Creek. My child has been seeing Dr. Stuart for the last 4 months for similar issues that you mentioned and we have found her help to be incredible. We have Health Net so we had to go thru the magic UC Mangaged Care phone number, but it's worth the $20 co-pay. Dr Stuart's # is 510-549-0181.
    Feb 1998

    Re: Therapist for a child

    We have been very happy with Jennifer Freeman. Her office is at 5th Street and Cedar, and her phone number is 526-2336.


    Two excellent child therapists are:
    Hope Dean (510) 649-1144
    Peter August (510) 273-9568 Both are professional, experienced, knowledgeable and reassuring. They can help you understand and deal with children's upsetting feelings and behaviors. Pat
    June 1999

    Re: therapist for a child
    For almost a year our 9-year-old has been attending a weekly four-child play group run by Toby Hendon (in Albany, 869-4534). It's been very good for his social skills, communication skills, and emotional stability. Toby's perceptive, gentle, intelligent, and effective; I'd recommend her for just about any child. John


    Feb 1998

    Re: therapist for a child
    I am familiar with a very fine MFCC (marriage, family, child counselor) therapist who practices in Oakland. He has specialized in working with young children for many years. His approach is holistic and includes both play therapy and use of a sand tray.

    His name is Skip Roache and he can be reached at (510) 845-4441. If you leave a message for him be sure to leave a phone number and let him know the best times to call you back.

    Whether you contact Skip or not, I think it would be a good idea to have your child assessed.


    Feb 1998

    For the person seeking a child psychologist: I recently consulted with Dr. Seligman, a child psych with a heavy psychoanalytic background. He was terrific in helping me learn about separation issues for my infant daughter. Very practical, down to earth. I recommend him highly. His number is 415 567 6369.


    1998

    Re: Adolescent counseling
    Hi, You might try the Ann Martin Children's Center, Oakland in Piedmont. They are located at 1250 Grand Ave. 655-7880. or try Berkeley Youth Alternatives.


    Re: Therapist for adolescent
    I would reccommend Michael Simon, a therapist in the Rockridge area of Oakland. He is an Marriage Family and Child Intern (so he's less expensive than a licensed therapist who doesn't work with a supervisor) and does a lot of good work with children and parents. He's given workshops and lectures at family service agencies in the area, too, on working with kids and parents. You can reach him 510 433-2959. Myriam
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