When we know ourselves, we know what to do.

Serving the East Bay communities of Berkeley, Oakland, Lafayette, and Walnut Creek.
Ernest Isaacs, MFT

My basic stance toward life is that in our true nature, all of us know what is right action and our suffering comes from not being in touch with who we really are. We are blocked from contact with our authentic feelings and desires. My work is based on awareness, which is the key to seeing through our blocks. In addition to helping clients explore their issues by talking, I also include experiential exercises that expand and open us to deeper understandings of ourselves. I offer a workshop called “Taming the Inner Critic” which helps people break free from self judgment and develop their self esteem. I teach classes on anger management, coping with stress, and communication for couples, and have led a group growing from divorce. Of course I offer these techniques to my clients as well when needed. I like to work with couples. I help them move past the blaming that interferes with intimacy, and teach communication skills so that conflicts can be resolved without damaging the relationship.

Additional Skills and Training:

• Gestalt therapy
• EMDR (Level II Certification)
• Meditation

I offer counseling services in Berkeley, California.

Featured articles by Ernest Isaacs, MFT:


The initials EMDR stand for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, an awkwardly named but very effective procedure for resolving post-traumatic stress, phobias, panic attacks, and other painful life experiences. It was discovered a few years ago by a psychologist who found as she was walking through the woods one day that when she moved her eyes back and forth in a certain way, disturbing thoughts seemed to disappear.


There are two basic types of trauma, single incident, like an auto accident or robbery, and ongoing, like childhood abuse or service in a war zone. The results of both, called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can be similar. In one manifestation of PTSD, you can have recurring distressing memories and dreams about the event or events.

Anger Management

Anger is an emotion that arises naturally in the course of being human. The problem is not with the feeling itself but how we respond to it, not acting out by being violent nor acting in by denying it. We need to be mindful of ourselves, take ownership of it, and discover more skillful ways of expressing ourselves when we get angry.

Taking Responsibility

A lot of my work with couples is based on the stance of taking responsibility. I have a pretty standard rap I give them during the first or second session, and keep referring back to the theme as therapy progresses. It is a very powerful intervention, one that I learned several years ago in an Esalen workshop with Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, authors of “Conscious Loving” and other fine books.

Fear and Anxiety

The emotion of fear arises from the survival instinct, the primitive desire present in all animals to avoid suffering or the ending of life. When the saber-toothed tiger roared in the jungle, we fell into the “fight or flight” mode, either attacking the source of danger or trying to get away from it. When you are confronted with threat and fear arises, your body mobilizes to cope with it. Hormones like adrenaline and cortisol flow through your blood stream, your muscles tense and get ready to move, and your senses become more alert.

Stress and Worry

When you don’t have confidence in your ability to cope with events and situations, difficult feelings can arise, helplessness, anger, frustration, grief among others. Under the impact of these stressors, your body becomes tense, your heart rate goes up, hormones flow through your blood stream, and you say “I’m stressed out”. Stress even has an impact on your immune system.

Taming the Inner Critic – Building Self Esteem

There is a teaching story in the Sufi tradition about the Mullah Nasruddin, a combination wise person, fall guy, saint, and fool. It seems there was a couple in his village having troubles who came to him for help. The man got up and told his story, how he felt, and so on, and when he finished, the Mullah looked at him and said “You’re right!”. Then the wife stood up and said her part and what she wanted, and the Mullah looked at her and said “You’re right!”. One of their friends who had come along sat there scratching his head and said to Nasruddin “But they can’t both be right?”. The Mullah replied “You’re right!”.