"Rebecca Woolis has produced a handbook that is both practical and accessible, eminently useful for anyone who has a family member with a serious mental illness" — E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., author of Surviving Schizophrenia


This book is an outstanding overview for extended family members and others involved in the care/support of a person who has bipolar disorder aka manic depression. Has proven very helpful in our situation. — Anonymous reader
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Major Psychiatric Disorders

Coming to terms with the experience, symptoms and diagnosis of a major psychiatric disorder is a difficult process. It takes time, usually longer than most people would prefer.Each person goes through this process in different ways and at different paces. It often entails many ups and downs along the way. Most people experience myriad of feelings including shock, disbelief, pain, sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, depression and confusion. This is true whether it is you or a loved one who has the illness.  I believe that it takes people who have a major psychiatric disorder and their families/support network enormous strength, courage, and perseverance to continue on this journey. Everyone involved needs support, education, consultation, and sometimes on-going therapy as well. I have been offering all of these services for over 30 years to people recovering from psychiatric disorder, their friends, family and providers. I have directed or been clinical supervisor in a variety of types of community mental health programs including residential treatment, supported housing, case management, day treatment and have begun two family support programs. Currently, in addition to my private practice I am the Program Director of the Berkeley Creative Living Center, a clubhouse model day treatment program for people recovering from psychiatric disorders. To see more about this program go to: www.bonitahouse.org.

When Someone You Love Has a Mental llness:
A Handbook for Family, Friends and Caregivers 
. . . was first published in 1992.  I revised and expanded it in 2003 to include more current information especially related to recovery from mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders.



I see psychotherapy as a journey we decide to embark upon together in the context of a compassionate, supportive, relationship. We explore areas  of your life that you feel are not working for you as well as you would like. I believe you need to be an active participant in deciding what areas you would like to work on and whether long term or short term work is right  for you at this time in your life. I have many years of experience and expertise to offer. I too am an active participant in the process, respectfully curious, asking probing questions, offering insights and understandings with compassion and at times humor. With some I work more cognitively, with others more psycho-dynamically. With some I offer short term, specific focused work on current issues. With others longer term work that includes exploring past experiences that continue to impact you today.

My goal is to provide a safe, supportive environment in which you feel comfortable exploring your inner thoughts, feelings and experiences. Your concerns, our relationship, your dreams and observations all provide opportunities for us to learn together and to understand what makes you tick, what brings you the greatest joy and satisfaction and how to overcome the internal and external obstacles standing in the way of having the life you want for yourself.

I believe that most of us fundamentally want to have a life that feels well worth living. One in which we feel some joy and passion. This usually includes feeling in good connection with one's self, with others, with something larger than our self and involvement with satisfying work or activity. I see therapy as a place to help you realize these as fully as possible.

I work with individuals and couples struggling with:

● Anxiety        ● Depression     ● Grief and Loss
● Relationship Problems    ● Stress     ● Trauma



Diversity is about accepting, respecting and being open to learning about our differences.

Unfortunately our country and culture tends not to do well with differences be they of sexual orientation, gender identification, race, ethnicity, functional ability, etc.

Having long worked with people with psychiatric disabilities and many lesbians both individually and in couples, I know that those who do not fit traditional societal norms can become marginalized and feel diminished. The stigma, discrimination, and prejudice that people face, adds a layer of problems that can be as difficult to deal with as the limitations any disability may bring. Though this may not be the focus of treatment I think it important to acknowledge the impact that these differences have on you and your loved ones. 


Rebecca Woolis, MFT
925 The Alameda
Berkeley, CA 94707
Phone: (510)525-3153