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About Me

I have a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California, and completed my postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco. I received my BA and MA from Mills College in Oakland, California.

I was introduced to Schema therapy by Matthew McKay, PhD during my doctoral program at the Wright Institute. Jeffrey Young’s brilliant framework for understanding ourselves and others immediately resonated with me. I pursued a deeper understanding of schema therapy by attending three of Jeff’s intensive workshops. I began using schema therapy with my clients during my clinical training and I witnessed the empowering effects of this important piece of self-knowledge. I believe that you need to understand the source of your suffering to move past it. I combine principle from ACT with an emphasis on values, mindfulness, self-compassion and communication skills.

In my clinical work, I have provided brief and long-term therapy for individuals and couples utilizing schema, cognitive, and behavioral therapies to address interpersonal issues, weight management, anger, depression, anxiety, disabilities and trauma.



Just As You Are: A Teen’s Guide to Self-Acceptance and Lasting Self-Esteem

Stop comparing yourself to others—you’re special just as you are! In this fun, practical guide, you’ll learn how to silence your nit-picky inner critic, cultivate self-compassion, and discover what really matters to you.

If you’re like many teens, you probably feel pressured to live up to the impossible standards set by our culture, the media, and even by your peers. After all, everyone wants perfect hair, a perfect body, cool friends, and good grades. But while it’s okay to strive to be your best, it’s also easy to get caught up in a never-ending comparison game that can feed your inner critic and rob you of your happiness. So, how can you break free from negative self-criticism and learn to appreciate your strengths?

In Just As You Are, psychologist Michelle Skeen and her daughter, Kelly Skeen, offer simple tips to help you overcome feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness, stop comparing yourself to others, and be more open and accepting of all aspects of who you are. You’ll also learn how to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings in the moment using powerful mindfulness tools, and build a plan of action for the future based on your values.

Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself with clarity and kindness. With this important guide, you’ll learn to move past your faults, celebrate your true strengths, and discover what really matters in your life. What are you waiting for?


Communication Skills for Teens: How to Listen, Express & Connect for Success

If you’re like most teens, a ton of your communication is done through texting and social media. But when you spend so much time looking at a screen, it’s easy to forget how to engage in real-life, face-to-face communication — a critical skill for your future success! As you become more dependent on your phone and the Internet, your ability to connect in person may diminish.

Communication Skills for Teens is a must-have guide for keeping your communication truly real. With advice from teen coauthor Kelly Skeen , you’ll have everything you need to communicate more effectively in every area of your life — with friends, family, dates, and on job interviews. Packed with practical tips and exercises, this book offers powerful communication techniques and shows you how to apply them in the real world — without technology. If you’re ready to be the best communicator you can be, this book is your go-to guide!

Communication is an essential life skill that every teen must learn. Based on the New Harbinger classic, Messages, this book will teach you the necessary skills—such as assertiveness, active listening, and compassion—to become an effective communicator for life.

In an age of social media, texting, and ever-evolving technology, it’s easy to forget how to engage in real, face-to-face communication, a critical skill for your future success! As you become more connected to your smartphone and the internet, your ability to connect in person may diminish. But technology doesn’t replace the need for effective communication skills. In fact, successful personal and professional relationships are dependent upon connecting with people face-to-face.

Communication Skills for Teens provides the guidance you need to become a better communicator and succeed in all areas of life. You’ll also learn tons of essential life skills, including active listening, assertiveness, clarifying language, the art of an apology, compassion, interviewing skills, family communication, and more. Each chapter focuses on one key aspect of communication, offers a real teen’s perspective, and includes practical exercises to help you apply what you’ve learned in the real world—away from your computer and smartphone screens.

By following the practical, skills-based tips in each chapter of this book, you’ll learn powerful communication techniques to last a lifetime.


Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment and Building Lasting Relationships

As humans we thrive on love, comfort, and connection with others. But if you suffer from fear of abandonment, your relationships may cause you intense feelings of unworthiness, shame, loneliness, jealousy, and anxiety. These painful emotions can result in unhelpful behaviors—like avoidance, clinging, and blaming—that will ultimately sabotage your relationships.

Love Me, Don’t Leave Mewill help you understand how your past experiences contribute to your current relationship struggles using schema therapy and mindfulness-based approaches. This powerful guide will help you develop a new perspective about yourself and others. By working through the painful emotions and negative thoughts that stem from your experiences, you will learn to recognize and change the behaviors that are hurting your relationships—bringing you closer to the loving and lasting connections that you deserve.


The CBT Anxiety Solution Workbook: A Breakthrough Treatment for Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Panic

You are stronger than your anxiety! In this important workbook, best-selling authors Matthew McKay, Patrick Fanning, and Michelle Skeen offer a breakthrough anxiety solution based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you understand and overcome your fears and worries, rather than try to avoid them.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you may try to avoid situations that cause you to feel worry, fear, or panic. You may even believe that terrible things will happen to you if you face the things that make you anxious. But avoidance isn’t a long-term solution, and in the end it may result in more anxiety. This book shows you how the simple belief that you can endure your worries and fears—both mentally and physically—can be an extremely powerful treatment.

Using a breakthrough approach combining proven-effective CBT and exposure therapy, this workbook helps you understand how worry and rumination drive anxiety, and offers practical exercises to help you adopt new habits of observing your thoughts, rather than accepting them as the “ultimate truth.” You’ll also develop mindfulness and self-soothing coping skills to help you manage anxiety in the moment, rather than avoid it. Over time these practices will show you that you are more powerful than your anxiety.

If you’ve been stuck in a cycle of anxiety and avoidance, this workbook will help you make the changes you need to get your life back.

The Interpersonal Problems Workbook: ACT to End Painful Relationship Patterns

Based on a successful research study, this book presents a new, well structured, cohesive approach for readers to identify what is causing the problems they face, and give them powerful ACT-based skills to solve those issues. This book is a collaboration with Matthew McKay PhD, Avigail Lev PsyD and Patrick Fanning. This book is scheduled to be released July 1, 2013.

Do you often lash out at people? Do you let your emotions rule your interactions with others? Do you find it difficult to see things from others’ point of view? You are not alone. Despite the fact that we all have to deal with other people our daily lives, many of us have difficulties with interpersonal relationships.

Co-authored by psychologist and bestselling author Matthew McKay, The Interpersonal Problems Workbook combines research and evidence-based techniques for strengthening relationships in all areas in life—whether it’s at home, at work, with a significant other, a parent, or a child. The skills in this workbook are based in both schema therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and are designed to help you connect and communicate effectively with those around them.

ACT has been proven effective in helping people improve their relationships with others. The ACT skills detailed in this book include present moment awareness, diffusion, and flexibility—all of which will help you to improve your relationships with others. In this book you will learn what your schema is, and how to act on your values to communicate and get along with others.

If you are ready to stop building walls and start connecting with those around you, this book presents powerful, effective tools for change.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Interpersonal Problems: Using Mindfulness, Acceptance and Schema Awareness to Change Interpersonal Behaviors

My second book, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Interpersonal Problems: Using Mindfulness, Acceptance and Schema Awareness to Change Interpersonal Behaviors, released June 1, 2012 is a guide for clinicians that has been several years in the making. It started with Matt McKay’s idea that it would be great to test the effectiveness of combining schema therapy with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I was fully immersed in schema theory because I was using it as a clinician and I was writing my dissertation, A Schema-Focused Analysis of Philip Carey in W. Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage. I knew very little about ACT at the time. Matt had a colleague who loved ACT as much as I loved schema therapy so he brought the three of us together to create a protocol for clinicians to treat people with interpersonal problems. Once that was completed, we still had the onerous task of testing the protocol in a clinical setting to determine its efficacy. One of Matt’s students, Abby Lev, was looking for a dissertation topic and she was using schema therapy and ACT in her clinical practice. It was a natural fit for her. So, she took on the enormous project of testing the protocol. The outcome studies were impressive. The result of this collaborative effort is a book that I am very excited about, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Interpersonal Problems.

The book begins the treatment for interpersonal problems by defining early maladaptive schemas and helping clients identify which schemas are relevant to them and their difficulties in relationships. It then helps clients identify common schema triggers so they can begin to bring more mindful awareness to these situations as they occur. Once clients are aware of how schema-driven thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are impacting their interpersonal interactions, they have more opportunity—and more motivation—to change their behavior.


The Critical Partner: How to End the Cycle of Criticism and Get the Love You Want

When I was approached to write my first The Critical Partner: How to End the Cycle of Criticism and Get the Love You Want, I was very excited to be given the opportunity to possibly reach an audience that is unaware of schema theory or provide those who are familiar with schema theory another way to utilize their knowledge. When you are in a relationship with a critical partner—someone who constantly blames you and holds you to unrealistic standards—you may feel picked apart, unworthy and unhappy. You may start to wonder if you’ll ever be good enough for your partner. This guide can help you repair your relationship by getting to the root of why your partner criticizes you so that you both can build a more loving and supportive partnership.

Based in schema therapy, The Critical Partner can help you gradually change unhealthy relationship patterns and help your partner move beyond the need to criticize. Through a series of assessment quizzes and worksheets, you’ll learn what’s driving your partner’s behavior and what makes you vulnerable to critical attacks.  You’ll also discover alternative coping strategies for deflecting criticism and break the long-standing conflicts that keep you from moving forward as a couple. This book will help you get to the root of the problem so that you can repair your relationship and get the love you want.



While I was on the radio promotional tour for my first book, The Critical Partner, I was fortunate to be the guest of many great radio show hosts. I recognized the power of radio for communicating with a diverse population and I was excited by the number of people who contacted me through my website. Soon, I was a regular co-host on a radio show with “Coach” Ron Tunick on Thursdays from 4:00-6:00pm PST (Coach on the Couch with Dr. Michelle Skeen on KKZZ 1400-AM). Ultimately this resulted in my own radio show, Relationships 2.0 with Dr. Michelle Skeen.