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Helping Families grow together

Counseling and evaluation services for individuals, couples, children, adolescents, and their families

Raising children can be tough. They don’t come with a manual. Whether you’re dealing with disruptive behaviors from toddlers, or substance abusing and other risky behaviors with adolescents, the expert clinicians at Family First Psychotherapy are here to help your family thrive. 

We can help with...

Power struggles, irrational behavior, and/or tantrums with toddlers & young children (aged 0-6)

Many parents need help to guide their little one’s behavior without blowing their top. Get support from a professional trained in early childhood.
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Anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation for children and adolescents

Stress, anxiety, and depression impact many teens. It’s important for them to get the support they need in order to successfully transition into adulthood.
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Early defiance, disruptive behaviors, and/or testing of parental boundaries with children (aged 6-12)

The elementary school years often bring new challenges. That’s why it’s so important for parents to have good, balanced strategies to respond to their growing children.
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Parent Coaching

There’s no such thing as perfect parenting. Sometimes the mistakes are just as valuable as the successes. Get help from a non-judgmental therapist who understands the struggle.
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Defiance, substance abuse, school issues, and other risky behaviors among adolescents (aged 13-18)

Adolescence can be challenging. Low school motivation, drug and alcohol use, and/or trouble with the law make it even more overwhelming. Get support from trained expert.
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Comprehensive Testing and Evaluation (ages 7 and up)

Being in the dark about your child's struggles can be overwhelming. Our comprehensive psychological evaluation can help you figure out how to help your child or teen.
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Office Location

Offering services at our centralized East Bay location in Oakland, CA and via telehealth (secure video) for select services

Meet Our Founders and Lead Clinicians

Mica Gonzalez, Ph.D.
Co-Founder & Clinical Director

You’re worried about your little one. You’ve tried everything you can think of–getting advice from friends or family, reading parenting books and blogs–and still nothing seems to change your child’s behavior for the better. It’s time to reach out.

It’s in my nature to help others. When I came of age and began to understand the pervasive ills of the world, I knew that my purpose was to help people by combining my two great passions: psychology and relationships.

Early on in my therapy training I realized that in order to help people, I really had to understand where they came from. That’s why I started working with families with young children, the place where the mind is born and shaped. I learned that the family is at the center of our greatest highs and most profound lows, whether we’re talking about our actual family or the one that we carry with us in our minds and hearts.

Since those early training days, now more than 10 years ago, I’ve seen time and again that children and their parents can make profound changes in their lives when they have a professional who can accompany them on the journey and provide guidance when possible.

The most sustainable changes tend to come incrementally and with consistent practice. I help your child realize these changes by

  • focusing on your child’s growth AND strengthening the child-parent relationship
  • getting a detailed picture of family life
  • observing your child at home and/or school
  • consulting with extended family members in Spanish, when needed
  • collaborating with teachers and other school officials
  • giving the child the space to share what’s bothering her
  • listening deeply to your parenting aspirations and troubles
  • thinking with you about the meaning behind you or your child’s behavior
  • noticing productive as well as troubling patterns
  • finding new ways to see challenges
  • offering concrete suggestions for reducing stress at home and school
    breaking problems down into smaller pieces so that they feel more manageable
  • practicing self-calming strategies
  • uncovering hidden obstacles to growth
  • encouraging you and your child to respond with mindfulness to your powerful thoughts and feelings
Sam Himelstein, Ph.D.
Co-Founder & CEO

Raising adolescents can be tough. They’re striving for independence but don’t quite have the skills to be fully responsible for themselves. It’s even harder when your teens start being disrespectful, lying, losing motivation in school, and engaging in risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use or even having problems with the law. 

It’s my passion to help teenagers and their families that are struggling. My passion comes from my own personal hardships as a young adolescent. I struggled with drugs, defiance, and anger as a young man and got into a significant amount of trouble; I found myself in trouble with the law, in and out of juvenile hall, and in group homes and wilderness programs. I was on a dark path towards prison and maybe even death. Very long story short, I was able to turn my life around through a lot of inner work, the help of mentors and therapists, and the unwavering support of my parents. 

That’s why I do the work I do. My personal experience grounds me in empathy and compassion for struggling adolescents and their families. I was able to turn my life around, get through high school, ignite my passion for helping others in college, and eventually went on to get a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I invested all my time into learning the best methods for helping young people get passed the barriers of thriving; drugs and alcohol, delinquency, trouble with the law, etc. My work has culminated through my training of other therapists and youth workers world-wide through my professional training institute, the Center for Adolescent Studies, many peer-reviewed journal articles, and my three books: 1) Trauma-Informed Mindfulness With Teens: A Guide for Mental Health Professionals, 2) Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse With Adolescents: A 12-Session Curriculum, and 3) A Mindfulness-Based Approach To Working With High-Risk Adolescents.

I’ve honed my skills to help adolescents learn self-regulation strategies, self-awareness skills, how to develop a confident identity, and how to make meaning out of the tough times in their lives.

I also coach parents to support the counseling process by learning strategies to build trust and authentic relationships while still maintaining appropriate parent/adolescent boundaries, along with learning what your teen learns in therapy to support their new coping strategies. My work is supported by empirical research and oftentimes youth are receptive to my program’s interventions. 

Let me help you build a trusting, authentic relationship with your child while simultaneously helping them with self-regulation strategies for substance use, emotional regulation, stress management, and/or past traumas.