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About Me

Warmth. Compassion. Wisdom.

I have been a California licensed marriage and family therapist since 1992. Helping people comes naturally to me, as my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents worked as doctors, psychiatrists, social workers and public school teachers. I was born in San Francisco and grew up in Seattle, and shared my childhood home with two older brothers and visiting college students from Egypt, Israel, China, France, Japan, Korea and Ethiopia. As a high-schooler, I volunteered in hospitals and a disabled children's agency, and whenever possible, accompanied my dad backpacking in Washington's Cascade mountains and Arizona's desert trails and Grand Canyon.  


As an undergraduate at Smith College, my interest was in child psychology and I enjoyed studying children's art and play, neuroscience, and the changing roles of mothers as more women opted to go to work. I spent a semester in Greece which taught me about prioritizing family and community and helped me realize that every culture is steeped in it's own set of beliefs.

After graduating Smith College, cum laude, in 1984, I went on to continue my studies in clinical psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley. I focused on family systems and organizational psychology and completed my master's degree in 1986. I spent a few years as a psychological assistant at Research Nexus and as a child care consultant before starting a full-time internship at Circle Preschool's Day Treatment program. There, I led children's art and play groups,  taught parenting workshops, and honed my skills as a child and family therapist working with children from Oakland's foster care system. After becoming licensed in 1992, I started a small private practice and supervised  MFT interns in Seneca's day treatment program. My practice grew (along with my children) over the next 20 years. I began to specialize in helping teens, adults and couples, as well as children and families.   

I've raised two wonderful children in the East Bay and have made great friends through our local schools and community organizations. I value diversity, and am a proud LGBTQI+ ally and advocate for children and adults with special needs. I keep life balanced by dancing, gardening, reading, walking, meditating, and hanging out with friends. I witness everyday, how despite life's difficulties, people can heal from pain and can strive to understand differences. Currently, my greatest wish is to use our collective strength to cherish and protect the sanctity of all life and preserve the beauty and fragility of the earth.

Lake View

© 2017 by Deborah Essex, MFT

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