Oakland Magazine’s Best of Oakland 2015 – Best Psychotherapist

Best of Oakland 2015 - Best Psychotherapist 2015 - Sandra Bryson

Best of Oakland 2015 - Best Psychotherapist 2015 - Sandra Bryson

It’s been my pleasure working for my clients – I’m so grateful to be voted best of Oakland!

Posted in Uncategorized

Parenting in the Age of New Media

elementary school age kids

The average young American now spends practically every waking minute—except for the time in school—using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device, according to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kids ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day with such devices.  And since so many of them are multitasking — say surfing the internet while texting and/or chatting online — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into those seven-and-a-half hours.

elementary school age kidsHeavy media use doesn’t just squash creativity and promote a sedentary lifestyle. Studies show that this behavior is associated with behavioral problems and lower grades.  And even though multitasking has become a way of life, it can be detrimental: Distractions keep a child from learning new acts or concepts, and decrease the ability to remember what they’ve learned.

Some children stay up into the wee hours of the night texting with their friends, something parents are shocked to discover only after checking their cell phone bills. At this point, this behavior becomes a health issue and parents need to step in.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to limit screen time.

Do you need help:

Discovering how much screen time your child is engaged in — and setting some reasonable limits around it?

Knowing the appropriate age for your children to have a cell phone?

Understanding the most appropriate cell phone plans, for example where minutes and texting are limited and that doesn’t connect to the Internet?

Instituting a media-free rule during the school week?

Engaging your children in interesting things so they will be happy to put away their phones?

Learning how to be a good role model by limiting your own screen time?


Sandra Bryson, MFT, who helps parents raise good digital citizens, will help you with these issues and more so you will feel empowered to set clear, consistent and nurturing limits with your children and manage screen time for your entire family.


Posted in Articles

3 Ways to Make Personal Connections with Your Family

Family Looking at Laptop Over Breakfast

I get questions all the time from parents about how to balance the best parts of life in front of a screen and time attending to our kids.  We love what our screens do for us.  They give us directions to where we are going, they answer questions we have any time, day or night, and they provide a way for us to stay in touch with friends and family in the most fun and often intimate ways.

Yet what I keep hearing from kids is that they sometimes have a very difficult time getting their parents’ attention.  One pre-teen girl said that she thinks her father thinks she’s boring because every time she tries to talk to him, he picks up his smart phone.

Kids learn through attachment.  They learn about the world through relationships and relating.  When we connect with them directly, by gazing into their eyes or delighting in what they have to say, our brains are actually affected.

Dr. Dan Siegel says that during those times “mirror neurons” fire, meaning that we have brain activity that connects us to each other and we can actually feel the connection as if being “mirrored.” If we are connecting through a screen or one of us is on a screen, we don’t have that same kind of connection.

Here are some tips for achieving a more balanced approach to technology in our lives and making personal connections with your family:

1. Be intentional. Pay attention to your own cell phone use and learn to “step away from your smart phone” from time to time.  You are an important role model and not only can you give yourself opportunities to have face to face interactions with your child, but you will be showing your child that putting the phone away and relating in a direct way is the right thing to do.

2. Have conversations with your kids about smart phone use—yours and theirs.  Are they feeling rejected or left out because you are on the phone all the time?  Are you bothered by their texting during dinner?  Figure out what works for your family and make the changes you need to make so everyone feels better.

3. Don’t be afraid to set limits.  You wouldn’t let your child eat a whole bag of chocolate chip cookies. It’s ok to limit the amount of time she spends in front of  a screen.  There’s a big difference relating to someone through a screen and having a face to face conversation.  It’s important to know how to comfortably do both.


Posted in Articles, Boundaries, Family Practices, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Ways to Parent Mindfully


The internet is here to stay, and so are the gadgets that allow us to read, play games, and generally surf the internet at any point in the day. Here are a few basic tools to keep your family’s screen-time to a minimum.

1. Develop “healthy connection rituals.”

When you greet your kids first thing in the morning, be present and engaging. When you come together after being apart, make sure your smart phone is off and put away. When you have story time before bed, be totally present so that you can interact together with the story.

2. Take the time to reflect and understand your own values and gather the strength to set clear limits.

No one says limit setting is easy–if it were, more people would do it. Expect that you will disappoint your child and you’ll have deal with some push-back. It’s ok to disappoint your child, validate her feelings and give her the space to mourn the loss. Don’t worry, the fussing will only last a day or two.

3. Have “screen-free time” as a family.

Kids learn through attachment.It’s crucial that we spend plenty of time with them without distractions. And, we set a good example if we are willing to put our own screens away. Don’t worry, your fussing will only last a day or two.

4. Teach your kids how to “step away from screen time.”

Learning how to self-regulate takes lots of time and thousands of repetitions. Start when your children are young so that they have time to internalize the habits that will help them succeed in the world.

5. Pay attention!

Be present and be intentional. Don’t worry about being perfect. What’s most important is a balanced approach.

Posted in Articles, Boundaries, Internet Safety, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Internet Safety

Main Home Image

Parenting has always been a challenge. But the advent of technology has made it even more confusing. Today’s parents might know where their children are — but not what they are doing.

I empower parents to help their children stay safe online. As a therapist with an expertise in parenting and technology, I give you an understanding of how current trends in technology and social networking impact your children’s lives. Read more ›

Posted in Articles, Internet Safety, Uncategorized

Services I Offer

  • individual, couple and family psychotherapy
  • consultation, online and in person, for
    therapists, health professionals and
    parenting organizations
  • parenting groups
  • parenting book groups for mothers
  • mindfulness meditation instruction

Please visit SandraBryson.com for more information or call 510-653-6353 to set up an appointment.