Margaret Petersen, MFT

Counseling and Psychotherapy


"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~ e.e.cummings

Does your teen or young adult struggle with anger, reactivity, or anxiety? Behavioral outbursts? Problems at life/school/work with dropping the ball, not following through, or acting out behaviors? Sleep problems? Alcohol
or drug issues? Is your young adult not taking on the responsibility you feel is needed for him or her to succeed? Do you find yourself saying the same things with the same negative results over and over?

If you are feeling troubled or worried about your teen’s behavior, or sad and stuck about your relationship with your teenager, I’d like to extend a welcome to this page and to share with you that help is available. Thousands of parents struggle with these complex years of teen /young adult parenting, yet when our homes become a battle-ground, that ongoing family combat stress can create disconnect, hurt, anger, and reactivity in everyone. Once our relationship with our partners becomes impacted by the stress, we can become even more alone with our despair.

Utilizing an emotionally focused attachment perspective, I reach out to model and co-create a therapeutic relationship that is strong enough to promote real behavioral and emotional change in the family. With this approach, teens can begin to take more emotional risks, experience the successes they desire and deserve, and begin to have an identity that is based in authenticity and clarity. As an emotionally focused therapist I will stop damaging cycles in the room (such as judgment and blaming or cold
withdrawing), shape new patterns of behavior with enactments to help family members reach out to and comfort each other, and encourage the expression of hidden core beliefs and feelings such as, “Are you really on my side? Do my feelings really matter to you? Can I turn to you and share my fears?” In a nutshell, I help families see their relationship “dances” that aren’t working very well, and offer more heartfelt and emotionally connected dance steps as alternatives instead.  

What our children crave, no matter their ages, in order to feel safe and to have the self-esteem they need to succeed, is a secure heart connection with themselves and with the people they love. A secure sense of self trumps anything on the face of the earth money can buy for our teens.

As neuroscience continues to unlock the secrets of the brain, startling insights about love and attachment are moving to the forefront of how relationships with a secure base of trust can heal all wounds.  With teens I continuously move to that deeper place of secure attachment rather than focusing on appealing, but short-lived, band aids for problematic behaviors.  If non-stop consequences aren’t helping your teen learn new ways to take responsibility and change problematic behaviors, I’d love to be able to help.

Our job as parents is to grow the tree we were given, by helping our children first discover who they are, and then to help them become the best they can be, as they learn how to create a life that works. Emotionally focused family therapy allows that to happen in a beautiful way. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions or concerns about my work with teens.

I look forward to hearing from you.  If you would like to set up an appointment or speak with me, please call my confidential voice mail at (925) 520-5263 or email me at



Let your heart guide you.  
It whispers, 
so listen carefully. 
  ~ Littlefoot’s mother