Debra Milinsky, MSW, MA, LCSW

Every journey – including that first thought to call a therapist – begins with a single step..    

When you need to talk to someone.. when stress, anxiety, depression, personal or relationship problems motivate you to call, I listen and help you with any personal, couple, family and workplace relationship concerns.

I am an experienced, licensed psychotherapist with many years of knowledge and skill acquired during 40+ years in general psychotherapy practice in Berkeley, Vallejo and San Francisco, providing a safe place to talk, explore and resolve what is challenging and troubling. 

Specializing in psychotherapy for individual, couple intimacy and communication problems, family, school or workplace relationships, child and teen challenges, repair for mother-daughter conflicts. LGBTQIA affirming, I provide effective, therapeutic help to individuals, couples, and all kinds of families from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and non-conforming sexual and gender identities.

Each person requires a specific therapeutic relationship that fits your unique needs and comfort level. My approach is compassionate, pragmatic and collaborative, listening empathically to learn from you what works best. Together we create a safe, confidential, nonjudgmental place to speak together about the initial worries that led to your call and any deeper concerns.

Proceeding at your pace, we explore your thoughts and feelings about what is going well and what is not. We listen to longings, disappointments, dreams, ever mindful of obstacles and interference both in the here and now, from self-defeating habits, behaviors, attitudes and from past and present relationships. This opens the door for making better choices, confidence, acceptance and balance in your life.

I bring compassion and perceptiveness to our collaboration  combined with patience, curiosity and many years of experience listening and learning from my patients who are always my best teachers.

Special interests and expertise

My areas of specialization include: couple therapy, marriage and divorce counseling; help with parenting skills and family therapy; loss and separations or family divorce adjustments and transitions; family reunification therapy during separation and divorce; healing mother and daughter relationships; effects of substance abuse and co-dependency on self-esteem and family life; sexual abuse, trauma and PTSD; and LGBTQIA affirming individual (adult, adolescent, child), couple and family work; and help for patients managing bi-polar depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

In addition to my private psychotherapy practice, I have worked extensively with adults, adolescents and children in a variety of agency, hospital and community settings, providing a safe place for clients to explore responses to:

  • Anxiety, fear and stress
  • Depression and mood
  • Emotional, physical and sexual trauma
  • Loss, grief and remorse
  • Shame, guilt and self-esteem
  • Sexuality concerns
  • Anger management and assertiveness skills
  • Pre-marital and couple communication, intimacy and infidelity concerns
  • Family reunification assessment and treatment during separation and divorce
  • Individual and family therapy for bi-polar disorder (BPD) 
  • Individual (adults, teens, children) and family therapy for eating disorders 

Professional activities and interests: Past-President of the Association of Family Therapists (1986-88); Childhood Matters (KISS-FM radio) guest expert answering listener questions about family violence and domestic abuse; Group psychotherapy and presentations to professional and community groups about parenting; couple communication; divorce and step-parenting, incest and sexual trauma.

Graduate degrees in: Clinical Social Work from the University of Michigan, MSW, 1975; and Clinical Psychology from the University of San Francisco, MA, 1978.  Clinical Social Work license in good standing  to practice psychotherapy in California, LCS7158, 1979.

Office hours by appointment in Berkeley and Vallejo

My patients are always my best teachers. Our work together is  a vibrant gift that continually enriches and deepens my understanding and appreciation of our shared humanity.

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