COUPLES COUNSELING

Partnering up is full of big decisions, big emotions, big negotiations and big changes.  We often try our best but feel like we’re blindly trudging through unknown territory.  That’s because every relationship is unique and brings it’s own set of difficulties.  Plus we’re bringing all our expectations and hurts from the past.  It’s a lot to hold without support.

Couples Therapy can be one of the most rewarding experiences.  It’s a process. It helps stop negative patterns and promotes the strengths of your relationship.  It’s also a place where you can connect deeply with your partner while learning about your desires, needs and how to communicate them. 

Getting stuck and suffering in a relationship isn’t necessary.  With guidance, you can overcome problems and find solutions that work for both of you. 

 

COUPLES COUNSELING CAN TEACH YOU TO... 

 •  Communicate more effectively & create positive patterns

 •   Work through disagreements or differences

 •   Be assertive and get your needs met

 •   Create safety together to be authentic

 •   Let go of the past, forgive and grow into something new

 •   Relate in healthier ways and develop more love

RELATIONSHIP COACHING

When our social relationships are hurting, we feel more alone, down and life is stressful.  It's hard to trust new people because experiences from the past have compounded and we just don't know if it's worth it.  Relationships can seem like work and we wonder if we'll ever have peace with that family member, friend, co-worker or partner.  

NEW RESEARCH SHOWS THAT HAPPINESS AND WELLBEING ARE TIED TO THE SUCCESS OF OUR SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS. 

Relationship Coaching differs from psychotherapy because it's more action oriented.  Together, we'll write out specific and measurable goals and work weekly to get you where you want to be. I am your personal cheerleader, encouraging you and guiding you.  Lets get clear about what you want and go get it. 

 

RELATIONSHIP COACHING SUPPORTS YOU IN DIFFERENT WAYS:

Singles use romance coaching and master dating skills.  You’ll develop a roadmap for lots of different dating scenarios, including online dating, meeting people at clubs and bars, approaching someone to get a date, and many more.

Partnered individuals use coaching for tools to deepen their relationship or, if need be, strategies for getting out of their relationship.  You’ll also get perspective and advice for navigating the conflicts that arise during specific stages of a relationship.

Groups provide an opportunity to connect with and learn from other members and receive fun and fascinating information that will change the dating game into an adventure once again. Click below to see current groups offered:  Coaching Groups

INDIVIDUAL COUNSELING

Life is overwhelming.  It’s complicated, with new obstacles arising every day.   We’re responsible for so much – too much.  It’s a lot to hold.  Therapy is a place where you are not alone.  You can unload, unburden yourself and begin feeling better. 

There are times when we just need someone to listen and understand. Other times we long for guidance.  We work collaboratively with clients, providing them an opportunity to wake up and generate change.  

Deep down, we are all whole and healthy – therapy helps us see what’s obscuring our true nature.  Through becoming aware and authentic, healing occurs, and our brilliance comes forth.  Are you ready to finally give yourself this gift? 

AREAS THAT BRING PEOPLE INTO Our PRACTICE INCLUDE:

  • Relationship Issues & Conflicts
  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Depression, Sadness or Disconnection
  • Family & Early Life Issues
  • Healing from Loss or Trauma
  • Building Skills & Self-esteem
  • Co-dependancy
  • Communication Skills
  • Help with Mindfulness Practices
  • Sexual and gender minority needs
  • Oppression & Discrimination 
  • Stress & other effects from activism work
  • Effects of stigma

Brendan Hall

Clinical Director, MFT #92404

 

I VALUE RELATIONSHIPS AND SERVICE.  

I was raised in a family that stressed the importance of giving back to the community.  Since I was 15, I’ve worked and volunteered in non-profits, schools and agencies that I believed in.

In 2009, I left teaching to create my own company so I’d have the freedom to do the work of coaching, counseling and healing.  Today, I couldn’t be more enthusiastic with what I do and with who I get the honor of working with – amazing individuals like yourself.

Navigating the world around us can be difficult.  I am privileged to journey with clients through life and facilitate change.  I believe that deep within our minds and hearts, we are fundamentally hard wired for growth and healing.  Having the right support and guidance is critical so that we can break through and re-wire our core beliefs, emotions and negative patterns.  Together, we can look at past and current relationships, develop your support network and build more awareness to improve your overall well-being.

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

  • Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) Training I & II with Hans Stahlschmidt, Berkeley, CA 2016 - 2017 
  • Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) Training with Chip Cooper, San Francisco, CA 2016
  • AEDP Essential Skills with Karen Pando-Mars, San Francisco, CA 2015-2016
  • Couples Consultation Group with Dr. Michael Klein, San Francisco, CA 2014 Ongoing 
  • Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy Immersion Course with Diana Fosha, Vancouver, BC 2014
  • EFT Advanced Core Skills Trainings with Rebecca Jorgensen, San Francisco, CA 2014 
  • The Developmental Model for Couples with Ellen Bader, San Francisco, CA 2013

EDUCATION

  • Community Mental Health Program: Masters in Counseling Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA 2011-2013
  • Multiple Subject Credential & Masters in Teaching at University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 2004-2006
  • Bachelors of Arts at Eugene Lang College, New School University, Major: Education, San Francisco, CA 2000-2004

 

AMBER MERCADER

ASSOCIATE MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST#79809

Supervised by Sheila Addison LMFT #49616

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IT IS AN HONOR AND A PRIVILEGE TO WALK WITH YOU ON YOUR JOURNEY.

As a queer woman of color, born and raised San Franciscan, of mixed Mexican and filipino heritage, identity plays a huge role in how I view the world. This has informed my love and understanding of intersections of identities, my passion for community healing, the necessity for social justice and equity, and the value of wellness and healing to promote growth and connection.

As a former preschool teacher, I witnessed the positive impact I had on the children's development, the ability to form a healthy sense of self, and engage in the word around them. I bring this experience and sense of responsibility with me to my therapy practice. I truly believe that together, with guidance and support, we can begin to explore and understand places you feel "stuck," make positive changes to your everyday experience, and building healthy loving relationships. It is my mission to always provide quality, culturally-humble, trauma-informed, collaborative, and client-centered psychotherapy.

I have advanced training supporting clients that identify with the LGBTQI community, the addiction and recovery communities, women of color communities, and activist communities. I specialize in supporting those who have experienced vicarious trauma, oppression in many forms and with sexual trauma, including childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation.

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

  • Supporting Marginalized Communities in Community Mental Health Consultation Group with Satwinder Mahabir,  Hayward, CA 2016
  • Queer & Transgender Support Consultation Group with Tracy Davis, Hayward, CA 2016
  • Harm Reduction and Recovery within Opiate treatment with Isaac Burns, San Francisco, CA 2013
  • Somatics and Social Justice Training: Generative Somatics with Staci Haines, Oakland, CA 2011
  • Sexual Assault Survivors Support Training & Crisis Counseling with San Francisco Women Against Rape 2010 Ongoin

EDUCATION

  • Masters in Counseling Psychology, Community Mental Health at California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA 2013
  • Bachelors of Arts at San Francisco State University Major: Psychology, Minor: Human Sexuality, San Francisco, CA 2011

 

JOHN HANIG

MFT #97209

I have witnessed people re-engage their relationships with fun and curiosity.

My background as a musician and performance artist became a way for me to emotionally express my own personal struggles with LGBTQ identity, gender expression, depression, PTSD, substance use, and relationship issues, and this deeply inspired me to become a psychotherapist and expressive arts therapist to offer support for couples and individuals in the LGBTQ community. After first learning of the expressive arts’ ability to deeply invoke people’s emotions and release pain and stress at age 7 when I began performing solo piano music in front of large audiences, I began collecting experiences in which the expressive arts had saved my life time after time, including an incident in which I came out to my father as queer through a poem I wrote for him at age 16. I decided to learn how to use my artistic experiences as tools to help strengthen other queer men and LGBTQ people by studying expressive arts therapy at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco.

Today, I specialize in providing psychotherapy & expressive arts therapy to couples & individuals on the LGBTQ spectrum from a wide diversity of cultures and backgrounds, in English, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese, in both private practice and at the San Francisco LGBT Center. By providing a safe, nonjudgmental space to explore trauma and set concrete goals, I have witnessed people pull through immense emotional turmoil and re-engage in life and their various relationships with a fresh sense of fun and curiosity.

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

  • Reiki Level I & II with Shekhina Von Recklinghausen, San Francisco, CA 2016
  • Immigration & Trauma with Latino Gay Men Asylum Seekers with Luis Perez-Ramirez, PsyD, San Francisco, CA 2016
  • Assessment for Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) for Transgender Clients with Julie Graham, LMFT, San Francisco, CA 2015
  • Non-Violent Communication (NVC) Training with Roxy Manning, PhD, San Francisco, CA 2015
  • Ntu Afro-Centric Approach to Psychotherapy with Denise Boston, PhD, San Francisco, CA 2015
  • Stages of Change & Motivational Interviewing Training with Anibal Mejia, LMFT, San Francisco, CA 2014

EDUCATION

  • Master's in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy, California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA 2010-2013
  • Bachelor's in Music Composition, Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL 2002-2006

 

 SONJA SELENITE

ASSOCIATE MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST#91792

Supervised by Adina Ascher, PhD, LCSW #28900

I believe anything can be healed.

I feel learning to express the full textured version of ourselves is a path to freedom, well being, and inspiration to others to love and breathe the entire spectrum of experience. To hold the ecstasy and the brutality of life takes a village and I am honored to witness this journey of reflection, rising, and release with you. I view personal and relationship healing as a fundamental and poetic act of social revolution.

I am a queer native of San Francisco raised in a queer household centered on social justice. I was called to this work as a lonely painter concerned with questions about the creation of healing spaces and the soul alchemy of transmutation through art and ritual. I have experience in community mental health, and in particular with individuals in psychosis. I often draw on a framework of expressive arts, natural ceremony, and an acknowledgment of living within a heteronormative, patriarchal, and capitalist society, to expand the process outside the walls of the consulting room.

While I work from a background of Jungian and somatic approaches, I tend to favor the present-centered, person-centered, and heart-centered, and strive to incorporate both the latest neurobiological research on love and healing and ancient wisdom practices with world mythology. My own transformation through therapy, as well as exploration in non-ordinary states of consciousness, and experience living with chronic illness, deeply informs my dedication to this offering. I believe in you and it is a gift to behold. I am especially keen on working with queer, kinky, creative, and spiritual humans. All are welcome. She/her used.

Professional Training

  • Hakomi Professional Skills Training with Rob Fisher, LMFT, Berkeley, CA, 2016-ongoing
  • Somatic Experiencing and Yoga workshop with Peter Levine, PhD, and Mariana Caplan, PhD, San Francisco, CA, 2016
  • Introduction of Wilhelm Reich’s Orgonomy workshop with Patricia Frisch, PhD, Marin, CA, 2016
  • Domestic Violence 40 Hour Training, Sojourn Services for Battered Women and their Children, Santa Monica, CA, 2009

Education

  • Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, 2013
  • Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, UCLA School of Art & Architecture, Los Angeles, CA, 2010

 

MARNI LEVY

MFT#99850

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Our society as a whole is in need of healing.

In the transition from thinking– trying to figure it all out–to fully experiencing and expressing our emotional life and body-wisdom, I watch clients create more meaningful, fulfilling intimate relationships, and transform with newfound energy, aliveness, and direction.

As a Zen Buddhist practitioner I use a mindful, body awareness approach for clients to give voice to deep longings.  I provide a safe, warm space to focus inside and find the answers you seek.  In couples therapy we work to understand what de-rails caring, sensitive communication.  I offer an exploration of the couple's tender longings for intimacy and a learning container to grow as emotionally available, sexually connected lovers.

At an early age I found a love for volunteering locally and globally, and was revealed the illusion of separateness.  At the same time, I identify as a queer Israeli/American person.  I work with intersections of identity and how these inform how we relate to others and ourselves.  I honor differences and behold universal human experience and desire.  I’m trained in working with inter-generational trauma and healing ancestral pain. I enjoy working with couples on power dynamics, conscious communication, and healing conflict cycles.

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

  • Hakomi Mindfulness/Somatic Psychotherapy Training with Rob Fisher, LMFT, Berkeley, CA, 2017
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, Core Skills Trainings with Dr. Michelle Gannon, San Francisco, 2017
  • Treating Sexual Addiction with R.E. Roberts, M.S., San Francisco, CA 2015
  • Substance Abuse and Harm Reduction Treatment with Mardell Gavriel, PhyD, San Francisco, CA 2013
  • Queer and Transgender Cultural Competency with Willy Wilkinson, San Francisco, CA 2014
  • Healing the Soul Wound: Indigenous People and the Colonial Template with Eduardo Duran, PhD, San Francisco, CA 2014

EDUCATION

  • Masters in Counseling Psychology, Community Mental Health at California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA 2014
  • Bachelor's in Communications, Boston University, Boston, MA 2008

 

H. R. BREMNER

MSW, CSB, Certified Somatica Practitioner

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Power and creativity come from being seen and loved in our most passionate, vulnerable places

I come to this work through my own journey of accepting myself and my sexuality as a queer, white, cis-gendered man amidst the currents of North American culture and tradition.

I realize that mentorship, in the areas sexuality, intimacy and relationship, was something missing for me growing up. While wrestling with the question of who I was and finding myself in continuous addictive patterns, diving into the shadows of my self I learned about the human condition. My journey taught me the importance of such skills as mindfulness, embodied awareness, emotional literacy and open-hearted communication and the attitudes of curiosity, compassion, patience, and acceptance. I saw that above all else, connection and presence with others could bring me out of the darkness and into the light of my powerful creativity and passion for life. I realized that my most primal, vulnerable embodied connection to myself, my sexuality, was a key to the creative joy that life could bring… and the answers were inside me all along.

I now have the honor of bringing the wisdom that I have gathered through the experience of my life to the people with whom I work. I offer the mentorship that was missing for me to others, helping individuals, couples and groups come to an understanding of who they are in intimacy, sex and relationships. I aim to accompany people in a human-to-human connection where we can assist each other in finding our own answers with a loving presence that allows us to be seen and uncover what lies within us: the keys that unlock the binds of trauma and conditioning that keep us from the power, creativity and intimacy that our hearts desire.

Because some of the modalities I use are outside the bounds of the Board of Behavioral Sciences, I am not licensed as a psychotherapist.

Professional Training

  • Interpersonal Dynamics Facilitator Training Program, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business, Stanford, CA – Nov 2017 and Ongoing
  • PsychoEnergetics: A body-mind approach to depth and process facilitation, PsychoEnergetics: Michael Mervosh and Irene Tobler, Madison, VA – Sept 2017 and Ongoing
  • Energy Class: Somatic Self and Interpersonal Awareness based in Reichian Character Structures, Lynda Caesara, Berkeley – Sept 2008 – Aug 2017
  • Addictive Personality Paradigm, Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society, Debra Laughlin, Phoenix, AZ – Sept 2013 – June 2017
  • Somatica Method Training, Supervision and Assistant Teaching (Certified SomaticaÒ Practitioner), Somatica, LLC: Celeste Hirschmann and Danielle Harel, San Francisco, CA – Sept 2011 – Nov 2015
  • Men’s Inner Journey: Process/Spiritual Retreat for Gay Men, Participation, Facilitation, Program Coord. and Training, The Gateway, Michael Sigmann, San Francisco, CA – Sept 2008 – April 2014
  • Sexological Bodyworker Training (Certified Sexological Bodyworker), Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco, CA –  Jan – Mar, 2010
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Basic Training, EMDR-HAP and The Sage Project, San Francisco, CA – Oct 2009; Feb 2010
  •  Interpersonal Mediation and Advanced Interpersonal Mediation, St. Stephen’s Community
  • House, Toronto, ON, Canada – Dec 2006, Jan 2008
  • Train the Trainer: Crisis Intervention with Hostile and Aggressive Individuals, Training and
  • Facilitation, Canadian Training Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada – Aug 2003 – Aug 2008

Education

  • Master of Social Work, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada – 2000-2003
  • Master of Science, Molecular Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada – 1997-2000
  • Bachelor of Science, Honours, Life Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Canada – 1992-1996

 

COLIN STACK-TROOST

ASSOCIATE MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST #87898

Supervised by Dossie Easton MFT # 27782

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Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge.

As a consumer of therapy in my adolescence and early adulthood, it dawned on me how rare it was to encounter a therapist who was specifically trained to work with the issues affecting the LGBTQ community. It was at this point in my life that I was inspired to change careers, go back to graduate school, and become the type of therapist I wished I'd had.


In 2014, I received my Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles, with an emphasis in LGBTQ mental health. Since then I have worked with individuals, couples, and groups; utilizing a sex-positive and queer-affirmative approach that also recognizes multicultural issues and intersectionality.


I trained as a young therapist at Being Alive, a community clinic in West Hollywood providing health and wellness services to HIV-positive gay and queer men. After relocating to San Francisco, I spent two years working at the SF Therapy Collective in the Castro neighborhood, which provides low-cost therapy services to the LGBTQ community.


Now fully dedicated to private practice, my caseload is overseen by Dossie Easton, licensed MFT, life-long queer advocate, and co-author of the book "The Ethical Slut," a text that would forever change my life and how I think about relationships.

My mission as a therapist is to provide a safe space in which you can explore yourself or your relationship with your partner, partners, or family.
I work in a dynamic and engaging way, collaborating with my clients to create therapeutic goals and examine patterns and behaviors, improve communication, and emphasize self-expression. I specialize in working with clients who grapple with issues like sexuality, gender expression, transgender identity, and dealing with the effects of societal homophobia, sex-negativity, and heterosexism.


I strive to maintain a multicultural awareness in my work, and welcome humans from all walks of life who want to dedicate the time every week to their mental health and/or improving their relationships. I believe self-awareness and inner work can yield powerful results; all that is required on your part is openness, introspection, and a willingness to change.

BARBARA LABINGER

ASSOCIATE MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST#80283

Supervised by Inge Dean MFC #33666

 

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My path to both coming out and becoming a therapist wound through my experience in theatre.  The stage is where I first learned:

  • Sexualities, genders, and relationships come in a near-infinite variety.
  • Communication depends on not just on the words said but what’s under them.  Bodies speak.  Historical context matters.
  • We all can play multiple roles, with each other and with ourselves.
  • We are all shaped by story, and we each have a rich and important story to tell
  • It is always possible to change the script.  

I relate to clients with a mix of compassionate listening and down-to-earth dialogue.  My toolbox includes body awareness, mindfulness, and expressive arts.    I’ve worked with a broad diversity of individuals, couples and families.  I particularly resonate with people and/or relationships with a foot in two (or more) worlds.  This includes, but is not limited to: first and second generation immigrants; cross-cultural couples; genders, sexualities, and/or relationships that fall outside common definitions; and major life transitions.

PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

  • Hakomi Institute of California  Comprehensive Training levels 1 and 2, 2012-2013
  • Healing Shame-Lyon-Rubin Method 
  •  Certified practioner, Berkeley, 2016
  • Principles of Drama Therapy with Armand Volkas, Berkeley, ongoing

EDUCATION

  • MA Counseling Psychology California Institute of Integral Education, 2014 
  • MFA Playwriting Yale School of Drama, 1999
  • BA in Theatre University of California, San Diego, 1995

 

S.N. CHA

INTAKE COORDINATOR

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S.N. Cha is an Intake Coordinator with the Queer Couples Center. In addition, she is a freelance writer and copyeditor, with authored work appearing at Autostraddle, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, and The Butter. A former Fulbright grantee and VONA/Voices Fellow, she earned her BA at Hampshire College

DLANE TAYLOR

INTAKE COORDINATOR

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Diane Taylor is an Intake Coordinator at the Queer Couples Center as well as a sex coach. She studied Clinical Sexology with Sex Coach University and has completed the core curriculum of the Somatica Method at the Somatica Institute. She has a bachelor’s degree from UCSB and a Master’s from Cornell University.

To reach Diane with any questions please email her at Diane@QueerCouplesCenter.com

 

Do You take insurance?

Our therapists do not work on any insurance panels, but they can provide therapy invoices that you can submit for out of network reimbursement. We would recommend calling the member services department and asking them how much they cover for out of network providers.  Our therapists typically create a therapy invoice, or "Superbill" at the end of the month for clients to email or mail in.