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
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
Natasa Nordman, LMFT
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.
Lisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who invites her clients into a space of care and curiosity in a non-judgmental and welcoming way. Her therapy style is a balance of warmth, analysis, and intuition. She is committed to quality care to support you to a place where you can thrive again. She is creative in tuning into what feels right for the client(s) and adjusts her therapy space to accommodate to her clients’ needs to the best of her abilities.
Lisa received her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fuller School of Psychology and has been practicing for the past 5 years to a diverse population with various backgrounds from children, teens, young adults, couples, and elderly along with populations who have struggled with anxiety, depression, ptsd, grief and loss, marital conflict, and divorce.
LaToya Braxton, LMFT
LaToya is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has spent the last ten years utilizing a multisystemic approach to strengthen the family dynamic through individual, couple, and family counseling.
LaToya thrives on supporting the cognitive and attachment development of children, youth and transitional age youth, and on developing sustainable family structuring, through implementing practical intervention, that can be emulated in the client’s everyday communication and living.
LaToya completed a dual enrollment program at the University of Florida, and graduated with a Masters of Education Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and an Education Specialist Degree in Pediatric Mental Health.
Bonnie Burset 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.
Ryan Gogarty has experience in treating children, teens and adults who are experiencing depression, anxiety, family and relationship issues.
Ryan received his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona & Master's degree in Marriage & Family Therapy from Saint Mary’s College of California. Ryan is a LMFT (license number: 126085)
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.
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.
Marissa Wales is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist.
Marissa supports individuals, couples and families to strengthen relationships, work through the impacts of trauma and find meaning, authenticity and fulfillment in life.
Marissa completed her masters degree in clinical psychology from San Francisco State University. Her training is from a psychodynamic and relational approach which includes exploration of underlying patterns, emotions and beliefs.
Austin is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in working with adolescents, teens, families and individuals who are navigating life changes, anxiety, and issues related to ADHD.
Austin studied Psychology, Public Health, and Spanish at Fordham University in New York. She earned her Master’s Degree in Integral Counseling Psychology, from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Austin uses a holistic and trauma informed lens - blending pragmatic solution oriented work with depth psychological approaches - tailoring her focus to meet each each client's unique needs.
Austin lives in North Lake Tahoe where she enjoys skiing, hiking, biking, cooking and camping in her free time.
Sandra Berger, LMFT
Sandra is a license Marriage & Family Therapist who has spent the last 15 years working with children and youth in foster care, providing school based services and working in community mental health.
Sandra enjoys working with transitional age youths and families dealing with life transitions, adoption and attachment issues. Sandra has experience supporting a variety of family constellations including blended and kinship families, pre and post adoption support, and families in reunification.
Sandra completed her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology at Argosy University in 2009
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.
Hayley works with adults and adolescents who have experienced substance use disorders, depression, anxiety, grief, and trauma.
Hayley has formal training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), mindfulness techniques, crisis management, solution-focused therapy, and is a certified Motivational Interviewing (MI) counselor.
Hayley received my B.A degree from Northern Arizona University in Anthropology and my M.A degree from the Wright Institute of Berkeley, Ca in Counseling Psychology.
Morgan White is a Registered Associate 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.”
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.
John is a bilingual Associate Marriage and Family Therapist who practices from a trauma-informed lens, supporting children, teens, and adults who are experiencing depression, anxiety, PTSD, family and relationship issues.
He is currently also working as a school-based clinician. Born and raised in the Bay Area, he went on to receive his BA in Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara and recently received his Master's in Counseling, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy, from Saint Mary's College of California
Kaycie specializes in working with adolescents, teens, and families. She helps clients and families move through personal struggles, relationship issues, and communication breakdowns so they can live authentically and enjoy deeper, more meaningful connections with themselves and others.
Kaycie studied Human Development and Family Studies at Arizona State University. She earned her Master’s Degree in Integral Counseling Psychology, from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. She has been working with children and families for over 19 years through teaching, parent coaching, and therapy.