Debra Kessler, Psy.D.

Debra Kessler, Psy.D.
Debra Kessler, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the care of children and their families. Dr. Kessler was awarded her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University. While working as an RN in Pediatric Intensive Care, she pursued a Masters Degree in Pediatrics from UCLA to further her skills in caring for children. After a career in nursing that included bedside nursing, Kessler chose to focus her attention on addressing the emotional needs of children and their families by obtaining a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at California School of Professional Psychology. Her post-doctorate work was done with Child Development Institute treating autistic and developmentally challenged preschool and young children and at Reiss-Davis Child Study center addressing the needs of school children, adolescents and their families. She has contributed to Infant/Child Mental Health, Early Intervention, and Relationship-Based Therapies: A Neurorelational Framework for Interdisciplinary Practice (Lillas &Turnbull 2009). Dr. Kessler has an active practice in Montrose, California. In a family centered manner, she treats a range of developmental and emotional issues including adoption/attachment difficulties, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, autism/Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, learning challenges, regulatory difficulties and other issues that interfere with children reaching their potential.

Blogs by Debra Kessler, Psy.D.

“I don’t know”, “I don’t remember”, “I didn’t do it” – Opportunities to Teach Responsibility

What is a parent to do when they ask their child “What happened” and are met with “I don’t remember”,  “I didn’t do it” or “I don’t know?”  This can be very frustrating when we are trying to work out skirmishes between siblings and are confounded by such evasive responses.  These responses thwart our goals… Read more »

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It isn’t whether you win or lose, it is how you play the game, or is it? The law of unintended consequences

It seems today as if outcome or product is the priority.  From grades and test scores, following rules, being “good”, winning a soccer game to getting into the best college or job, the focus is on the end product.  While this seems to be a responsible pursuit for conscientious parents, this path may in fact… Read more »

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Thoughts About a Massacre

We can point fingers in the aftermath of Sandy Hook.  It is the guns, the NRA, the politicians, the violent video games, the Asperger’s or school security.  Bottom line it is a human problem!  As a society we have moved away from thinking, feeling and being in connection.  Yes there is sadness, anger, pain, disappointment,… Read more »

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A Horrific Event – What Can We Learn From the Sandy Hook Shooting

Scary, disturbing, disgusting and virtually incomprehensible. These are the immediate feelings that overwhelm me while I watch the news unfold about the Newtown massacre.  As the details come to light, reports of the shooter’s history of “Aspersers”, social isolation and engagement in violent video games can be very alarming.  I know that there are many… Read more »

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Teaching Right From Wrong

I recently struggled with this question when my dog became ill with cancer.  She was a loving 9-year-old black Labrador retriever who slept in my daughter’s bed and greeted us cheerfully whenever we came into her line of sight.  She started sneezing one day.  Over time the sneeze was an indication that there was something… Read more »

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"If All You Have is a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail" by Debra Kessler, Psy.D.

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” – Abraham Maslow Seeking out the assistance of a therapist is a desperate and courageous act.  Typically, for a parent, it means they have tried and failed to help their child behave, so they have friends, get along with siblings and family members,… Read more »

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Sibling Rivalry, brothers and sisters

Siblings: Retaliation or Sadistic Pleasure

The matter of siblings is complicated.  In family life they are our first peers.  Consequently, we learn many of our problem solving skills and intimate social relating from these interactions and how our parents mediate them.  There are millions of conflicts a week: Johnny breaks Suzie’s toy, Suzie calls Johnny a name, Johnny doesn’t want… Read more »

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How to Approach Learning Challenges with your Child

As loving parents, we want the best for our kids. If we can afford it, we take our children to the orthodontist to correct their teeth, so they have a beautiful smile and keep their teeth to old age. I find this to be a helpful metaphor for learning challenges. Learning challenges are unseen “misalignments”… Read more »

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Should our goal for our kids be for them to be happy?

Many times in my office parents say their goal is for their child to be happy.   As a therapist, I have to wonder if being  happy is really what we want?  When are our children happy?  When they get a birthday present; get a cookie they wanted; win at a game.  If life consisted of… Read more »

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“Stuck” A life lesson on parenting by Debra Kessler, Psy.D.

My daughter and I were watching videotapes of her when she was little.  At 17 years of age, she likes to laugh at herself revisiting times when she was small and still trying things she has since learned she is not good at, such as singing and dancing.  In one of the tapes when she… Read more »

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