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Our Mission

The Children’s Institute is located in the Oakland area, Walnut Creek, and Lake Tahoe. We provide therapy services to children and specialize in psychotherapy, child therapy, teen therapy, family therapy, co-parenting therapy, and reunification therapy.  Overall in our work, we strive to alleviate psychological suffering and challenges faced by children and families in our community. We seek to promote a strong sense of self and personal growth all while reducing anxiety and discomfort. Increasing our clients’ sense of meaning, purpose in life, and relieving them of any burdens is our priority. 

 

We welcome and embrace all clients from different cultures, families, values, and beliefs. All of our therapists honor and respect the unique characteristics in all of our clients. Therapy treatment initially begins with identifying and understanding the client’s challenges and goals in order to determine a customized therapy plan. Our therapists all have a unique approach to therapy and counseling, however, they all share a common goal of providing quality, effective, and empathetic treatment that answers to all established goals and challenges. We nurture and support all of our clients and their families by having all of our therapists’ actions are rooted in research based interventions. 

 

In summary, at The Children’s Institute we strive to promote the growth of each client and we hope that each individual is able to tackle any challenges they may be facing.

Meet Our Team

Amy Kelly, LMFT

Co-Founder

Amy Kelly is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in Child, Adolescent, & Reunification therapy.

 

Amy has spent the past decade working with children & families. She focuses on individual therapy for children & teenagers, family therapy, co-parenting therapy, & reunification therapy. 

Amy completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at San Francisco State, Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of California at Davis & CE with the American Academy of Pediatrics 

AMY KELLY, LMFT

Co-Founder
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #84567
amy@amykellymft.com

Amy Kelly is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in Children and Adolescents.

 

Amy has spent the past decade working with children & families. She focuses on individual therapy for children & teenagers, family therapy, & co-parenting therapy.

Amy completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at San Francisco State, Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of California at Davis & CE with the American Academy of Pediatrics 

Location: Oakland, Telehealth
Areas of Interest: Family/Couples, Children, Individuals

NATASA NORDMAN, LMFT

Co-Founder

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #52879

natasa@therabybynatasa.com

Natasa Nordman is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in depression, anxiety, adolescent therapy & EMDR.

 

She is focused on working with individuals who experience anxiety, depression, trauma, & phase of life difficulties. 

Natasa holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from University of San Francisco & a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from the University of California at Davis. She is also trained & highly skilled in evidenced-based practices such as EMDR & CBT.

Location: Oakland, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Trauma & Anxiety, Increase Sense of Self, EMDR

CHERYL FELDMAN, LMFT

Clinical Director

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #43294

Board Certified Art Therapist 12-008

cheryl@thechildrensinstitute.com

Cheryl is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Board-Certified Art Therapist who has two decades of working in school-based programs, community programs, and for the insurance industry.

 

Cheryl works with children and adolescents, and their families, who are looking for support with behavior and emotions, the education system, life transitions, substance use disorders, neurodivergence, and LGBTQ focus.

 

Cheryl received her Masters degree in Marital and Family Therapy with an emphasis in Art Therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University and is currently completing her PhD in Art Therapy from Dominican University of CA. Additionally, she has been an adjunct professor in the Masters program for the past five years.

Location: Oakland, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Anxiety/Social Anxiety, Neurodiversity & Identity, Art Therapy

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MORGAN WHITE, LMFT

Team Coordinator

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #136857

morgan@thechildrensinstitute.com

Morgan is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in working with children and teens. 

She studied History and Political Science at the University of Arizona, graduating as a Dean’s List Scholar. She went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology, with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy from Dominican University of California in San Rafael.

Morgan treats youths with a wide variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, school based stressors, grief/loss, and trauma.

Location: Oakland, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Depression, Adolescents, Anxiety

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BONNIE BURSET, LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #127992

bonnie@thechildrensinstitute.com

Bonnie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. 

 

Bonnie has a bachelors and masters degree in East Asian Studies. Bonnie graduated from the John F. Kennedy University with a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2016.

 

Bonnie works primarily with teens, adult individuals and couples on a wide range of issues from depression, anxiety and relational distress to complex trauma, self-harm, compulsion and addiction.

Location: Walnut Creek, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Couples, Co-Parenting, Adults

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MARTIN DILLER, AMFT

Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #136495 

supervised by Cheryl Feldman, LMFT $43294

 

martin@thechildrensinstitute.com

Martin is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. He graduated from the M.A. Counseling Program at the Wright Institute, Berkeley. He trained at California Pacific Medical Center - Davies Campus and with his father, Lawrence Diller M.D., a behavioral pediatrician based in Walnut Creek.

 

Martin enjoys working with families, teens, transitional age youth, and individuals who are managing life's challenges, interpersonal conflicts, anxiety, depression, and ADHD. He takes a holistic approach to treating clients, and integrates narrative, mindfulness, family systems, and CBT approaches.

 

Prior to his work as a mental health clinician, Martin toured internationally as a drummer-music director traveling 6-9 months a year, and worked with a diverse range of acts including Yuna, Amber Coffman, Young The Giant, Walk The Moon, and Postmodern Jukebox. Martin still performs regularly around the Bay Area.

Location: Walnut Creek, Oakland, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Adolescent Males, Familes and Life Stressors, Children and Families with Behavioral Concerns

DANYELLE CARUTHERS, ACSW

Registered Associate Clinicial Social Worker #108600

supervised by Natasa Nordman, LMFT #52879

 

danyelle@therapybynatasa.com

Danyelle works with children, teens, and adults experiencing depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other trauma-related symptoms. She utilizes a trauma-informed lens and integrates somatic, narrative, and relational therapeutic approaches.

 

Before pursuing licensure, Danyelle spent almost 20 years in the nonprofit sector, working with children, youth, and families within the Bay Area. Danyelle earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from San Francisco State University, a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from CSU, Long Beach, and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Simmons University, Boston.

Location: Walnut Creek, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Life Transitions/Self-Discovery, Anxiety and Depression, Trauma and PTSD

NICOLE FARBER, AMFT

Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #11432

supervised by Natasa Nordman, LMFT #52879

nicole@therapybynatasa.com

Nicole is a registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who works with teens, adults and families navigating a wide range of issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and life transitions.

 

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz and went on to work in Special Education, teaching and supporting teenagers and families who struggle with significant mental health issues. Later, she received her M.A. in Integral Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

 

Nicole is passionate about supporting clients find their place in the world through the therapeutic process.

Location: Walnut Creek, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Traume from an IFS-informed approach, EMDR, Anxiety

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PEARL PENUMAKA, AMFT

Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #129292

supervised by Natasa Nordman, LMFT #52879

pearl@therapybynatasa.com

Pearl is a graduate of the M.A. Counseling Program at the Wright Institute, Berkeley, with an undergraduate degree in English Literature, Criticism & Theory from the University of California, Davis.

 

Pearl is passionate about working with individuals and couples, especially those with multicultural identities, and has spent over seven years in the Bay Area non-profit world, prior to pursuing a degree in Marriage & Family Therapy. Pearl identifies as first-generation AAPI immigrant and a Woman of Color, and weaves those intersections and values of collectivism, community care and social justice into her therapeutic style, supporting the dignity and narratives of her clients across their healing journeys.

Location: Oakland, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Couples Therapy, Multi-cultural Contexts, Identity and Body Image

MICAELA FEIN, ACSW

Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker #93063 

supervised by Natasa Nordman, LMFT #52879

micah@therapybynatasa.com

Micaela works with adolescents and adults who feel depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, stuck, or numb and want to heal from past trauma, live more authentically, and develop more meaningful and satisfying relationships.

 

Micaela training is grounded in trauma-informed, psychodynamic, and relational therapy and she draws upon somatic and cognitive-behavioral techniques. 

 

She Micaela received her B.A. from Pitzer College and an M.S.W from UC Berkeley. 

Location: Telehealth 

Areas of Interest: Couples Therapy, Perinatal,Postpartum, Trauma

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JULIET SMALL ERNST, AMFT

Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #127880

supervised by Natasa Nordman, LMFT #52879

juliet@thechildrensinstitute.com

 

Juliet is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. She received her M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco.

 

Juliet works with adults, couples, and youth toward feeling more at home in themselves and in their lives. She has a particular focus in grief, life transitions, biracial + multiracial identity, and the intersection of Buddhist psychology and ethics with modern psychotherapy. Her style is relaxed, relational, and good-humored.

 

Outside of her work at TCI, Juliet is completing a 2-year psychodynamic training program at The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley, CA. She enjoys cooking, reading, and unscheduled time with her partner and cats.

Location: Oakland, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Grief/Loss, Relationship Struggles, Anxiety

JESSICA LIBBEY, AMFT

Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #134287

supervised by Cheryl Feldman, LMFT #43294

jessica@thechildrensinstitute.com

Jessica (she/her) is a registered Associate Marriage & Family Therapist who works with children, teens and adults who are struggling with anxiety, depression, self-esteem, trauma, life transitions, relationship issues and family discord. Jessica comes from a non-judgmental, client-centered, trauma-informed perspective and integrates psychodynamic, somatic, mindfulness, relational, narrative and CBT approaches. She believes in people's innate capacity to heal. 

 

Jessica received her Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Sonoma State University and her bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Location: Oakland, Telehealth

Areas of Interest

KATRINA BRASHARES, AMFT

Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #134035

supervised by Cheryl Feldman, LMFT #43294

 

Katrina@thechildrensinstitute.com

Katrina is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who works with children, teens, adults, and families on issues such as anxiety, depression, and those related to family discord, neurodiversity, and learning differences.

 

She uses a strengths-based, trauma-informed approach to meet her clients where they are. Katrina's therapeutic style is warm, non-judgmental, and client-centered. Katrina received her M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Dominican University of California.

 

When she's not working with clients, Katrina loves to garden, make art, and hang out with her three kids.

Location: Oakland, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Play therapy, Children and Teens, Parenting Coaching

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SONIA KAKKAR, ACSW

Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker #95978

supervised by Cheryl Feldman, LMFT #43294

 

Sonia@thechildrensinstitute.com

Sonia is an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ACSW) who graduated with a Masters in Social Work from the University of Denver. She is passionate about working with adolescents, teens and young adults who are experiencing depression, anxiety, PTSD and other trauma related symptoms. Sonia has an extensive background in working with youth who are navigating symptoms of complex trauma.

 

She utilizes an integrative and holistic approach in her therapeutic practices, which include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), strengths based, motivational interviewing and talk therapy.

Location: Walnut Creek, Telehealth

Areas of Interest: Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, Adolescents and Young Adults

Pearl Penumaka is a graduate of the M.A. Counseling Program at the Wright Institute, Berkeley, with an undergraduate degree in English Literature, Criticism & Theory from the University of California, Davis.

 

Pearl is passionate about working with individuals and couples, especially those with multicultural identities, and has spent over seven years in the Bay Area non-profit world, prior to pursuing a degree in Marriage & Family Therapy. Pearl identifies as first-generation AAPI immigrant and a Woman of Color, and weaves those intersections and values of collectivism, community care and social justice into her therapeutic style, supporting the dignity and narratives of her clients across their healing journeys.

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