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Colleen Russell, M.A., LMFT, CGP
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC29249), since 1997
Certified Group Psychotherapist (41715), Since 2008
Certified Grief Counselor Certified Domestic Violence Advocate
Areas of Expertise: Trauma and PTSD, Loss and Grief, Couples and Relationship Issues, Life Stage Transitions, Motherless Daughters, Cult or High Demand Group, Spiritual/Religious Abuse Education and Recovery, Meaning of Life Issues
Internationally-Acclaimed Expert in Cult or High Demand Group Education and Recovery
Developed and Facilitated Groups for Former Members, Including Those Born and Raised (since 2003) Presentations to Mental Health Organizations and International Organizations
Online Educational Workshop/Support Sessions
Developed and Facilitated Motherless Daughters Groups for Women Who Have Lost Their Mothers Through Death, Illness, Narcissism, Abandonment or Estrangement in Childhood, Adolescence, or Adulthood
As a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC29249) I am trained to assess, diagnose and treat individuals, couples, families and groups to achieve more adequate, satisfying and productive marriage, family and social adjustment. Requirements for licensure include a related doctoral or two-year master's degree, passage of two comprehensive written examinations and at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience.
I am also a Certified Group Psychotherapist (41715) with the American Group Psychotherapy Association (since 2008). A Certified Group Psychotherapist is a clinical mental health professional who meets nationally accepted criteria of education, training and experience in group psychotherapy. A CGP is an expert in group psychotherapy and an ethical practitioner who is committed to group psychotherapy as an autonomous treatment modality.
Since 1992 I have maintained a general psychotherapy practice in Marin County, San Francisco Bay Area, providing general psychotherapy, counseling, consultations and workshops to individuals, couples, families, and groups. I facilitate supportive, exploratory groups and educational workshops, local and online, present to professional organizations, and write on topics in which I specialize, including professional journal articles.
As a young adult, I participated for two years in a transformative and intensive acting school, "The Loft", in Los Angeles, CA, with acclaimed acting teachers, Peggy Feury and Bill Trainer.
Other Areas of Expertise:
Difficult transitions or crisis; divorce, separation; mother-daughter conflicts; parent-adult child conflicts; family therapy and conflict resolution/mediation (Certified Family Mediator); shared parenting support (Certified Shared Parenting Support Provider);
Spousal/partner abuse survivors; Adults abused as children;
Young adults leaving families of origin; "Empty nesters"; Women 55+ Meaning of life concerns.
- Groups for Former Members of High-Demand Groups or Cults and Religious/Spiritual Abuse, Including Those Born and Raised in Them (since 2003)
- Motherless Daughters Group (since 1997)
- Women Older & Wiser (55+) Group (since 2016)
- Educational/Interactive Workshops for Former Members and Those Affected by High Demand Groups and Relationships, Cults and Religious/Spiritual Abuse, Including Those Born and Raised in Them, Online and In Office Since 2010. These are not Therapy groups.
- Online Educational/Interactive Workshops for Former Members of Cults or High Demand Groups and Relationships, co-facilitator with Janja Lalich, PhD, Take Back Your Life and Escaping Utopia, Growing Up in a Cult, Getting Out, and Starting Over. March and April, 2020
- Psychodynamic; Cognitive; Relational; Family Systems
Past Professional Experience:
Domestic Violence Advocate/Therapist at the Center for Domestic Peace shelter for survivors of spousal/partner abuse. (2014 to 2018). Past Team Program Developer and Group Facilitator at The Center for Domestic Peace for non-abusive parent and child witnesses, 2014 to 2016.
Primary Therapist at Wellspring Retreat for survivors of high demand groups or spiritually abusive groups.
- Assessment, treatment planning
- Intensive counseling and psychoeducation
- Workshop facilitation
Director/Primary Therapist, Center Point Adolescent Outpatient Drug Treatment Program, San Rafael, CA; Member of the Marin County Juvenile Drug Court Team, Marin County Juvenile Court, Civic Center, San Rafael, CA.
- Facilitated weekly adolescent psychoeducational groups and multi-family groups.
- Provided individual counseling using a biopsychosocial model of addiction, emphasizing cognitive/behavioral and motivational enhancement therapy.
- Served with the Marin County Juvenile Drug Court Team, Civic Center, San Rafael, CA
Case Manager/Counselor, Housing Specialist at the Marin Assisted Independent Living Program (Buckelew) for those diagnosed with severe mental illness, San Rafael, CA
- Individual and group counseling
- Assessments, treatment planning, symptom management for clients and families
- Crisis Intervention
- Life Skills Support
Primary Therapist. Adults, children, and adolescents, Clement Street Counseling Center, San Francisco
- Psychotherapy for individuals and couples
- Hospitalizations, community referrals
Group Facilitator. Adults and Children, Center for Attitudinal Healing, Sausalito, CA.
- Co-facilitator of group for terminally ill children; group for children whose parent died; bereaved adults; terminally ill adults; parents of terminally ill children
Primary Therapist. Children, Adolescents and Families. Children’s Hospital Comprehensive Child Crisis Services of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
- Crisis intervention at scene of child-related crisis; hospitalizations
- Assessment, diagnosis, treatment plans
- Individual psychotherapy
Primary Therapist. Children, Adolescents and Families. Community Mental Health Services, Family and Child Division, San Rafael, CA.
- Individual psychotherapy
- Conjoint therapy with parents
- Weekly community consultation to teachers at Marin City and Mill Valley public schools.
Primary Therapist. Adults. John F. Kennedy University Community Counseling Center, Concord, CA.
Milieu Counselor. Assisted Independent Living Program, San Francisco, CA
- Milieu and individual counseling with adults diagnosed with severe mental illness ; Co-facilitator for several household and community groups
M.A., Clinical Psychology, 1987, John F. Kennedy, University, Orinda, CA, accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). B.A., Psychology, San Francisco State University, 1982, Graduating with Honors
Continuing Education and Training
- 36-hours of CEUs for every two-year licensing period.
- International San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group nine month training and education, (2009).
- Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society, yearly institutes, didactic and experiential training (since 1997).
- Trauma treatment, symptoms, causes trainings with Bessel van der Kolk, John Briere, Janina Fisher, and other leaders in the field, 2006-present.
- Attendance and presentations at conferences with the International Cultic Studies Association, Marin California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and the International San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group.
- Marin California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
- CA Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
- Northern California Group Psychotherapy Society
- American Group Psychotherapy Association
- San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group
Presentations and Journal Articles Including:
- "Freedom From Coercive Control in Groups and Relationships", Presentation at ICSA Conference, Manchester, England, July, 2019.
- "Behave, Believe, Become: Recovering from High Demand Groups or Cults," Presentation at Marin CAMFT, February 2015
- “High Demand Groups and Abusive Relationships: Healing From Trauma and Pursuing Healthy Goals,” Presentation at the Central Oregon Clinicians Network Luncheon, February, 2012.
- “From Cults To Group For Former Members: Opportunities for Healing and Change”, Presentation at the Northern California Group Psychotherapy Institute, June, 2010.
- “Understanding Cult Involvement”, Panel presentation at the Mosaic Law Synagogue, November, 2009, Sacramento, CA,
- “Cults and Creativity” Panel presentation and “Disconfirming Inaccurate, Self-Limiting Beliefs Internalized From Thought Reform” Individual Presentation at the International Cultic Studies Association Conference, June, 2008, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Published Journal Article: “Touched, Disconfirming Pathogenic Beliefs of Thought Reform”, Cultic Studies Review Journal, 2010, special edition on cults and creativity.
Published Book Chapter
"Open the Curtains and Let in the Light," in Celebrating the Wounded Healer Psychotherapist, Edited by Sharon Farber (2017)
Certifications and Post-Graduate Training
- Certified Group Psychotherapist, American Group Psychotherapy Association
- Certified Domestic Violence Advocate, Center for Domestic Peace, San Rafael, CA
- Certified Grief Specialist, Our House Grief Support Center , Los Angeles, CA
- Nine Month Post Graduate Training with San Francisco Psychotherapy Research Group , San Francisco, CA
- Mediation Training with Steve Rosenberg, Attorney, Mill Valley, CA
- Shared Parenting Support Program with Frank Leek, Sacramento, CA
View of the Redwood-Covered Ridge From My Office