Karen Shay, MFT

Psychotherapy and Counseling for Adults, Adolescents and Couples

1330 Lincoln Avenue, Suite #107c 
San Rafael, CA 94901 map

Telephone: (415) 259-9669
E-mail: karenlshay@gmail.com


I became a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist in November of 1995 after completing my Master's degree in psychology at San Francisco State in 1991.  While in graduate school I had internships at San Francisco Suicide Prevention, Galileo High School in San Francisco, and Davidson Middle School in San Rafael.  Upon graduation I became a staff therapist at Family Service Agency of Marin, a private nonprofit agency that served the mental health needs of Marin County.  From my extensive work with children and adolescents at both Galileo High and Davidson Middle School and then later at Family Service, I was named Child Treatment Coordinator for the Agency and remained in that position for eight years in addition to my role as staff therapist.  In 2000 I went into private practice in San Rafael, California where I continue to practice.

I came to psychology in a slightly indirect way.  In undergraduate study, I majored in English literature and when I graduated in 1983 from San Francisco State with my Bachelor's degree, I had plans to go on to graduate school in literature and teach.  However, before committing to grad school in English, I realized that nearly all my interest and focus in English seemed to come from my feeling that literature is basically the study of peoples' narratives, the repeated telling of their stories, and their need to reveal their psyches.  It was the emotional, psychological aspect of trying to understand humanity that really drew me to literature, not a compelling need to teach composition or parse grammar.   So,  armed with this self discovery, I changed majors and followed what I have considered to be a much better path!

What is Therapy?

I believe therapy is, in the best sense, an extensive guided tour of the self.  One comes to therapy to understand one's self, to find one's true self and to ultimately accept and respect one's self.  Many of us take little time for self examination or reflection and go about our lives merely reacting rather than responding, thinking rather than feeling and wanting rather than loving.  Many of our problems and difficulties in life come from our misunderstandings of ourselves and others and from difficulties in communication.  What follows are some issues that are brought to therapy and my treatment theories for each.


  • Bachelor of Arts, Literature, San Francisco State University 1983, summa cum laude
  • Master's Degree, Psychology, San Francisco State University, with honors, 1991