Leo Terbieten is a licensed family therapist who specializes in helping parents and children smooth out the rocky landscape of divorce.
“I understand human behavior, child development and relationship dynamics and how they are tested by the divorce process,” he says. “And I’ve been through a divorce with custody issues, so I have the personal insight and empathy that comes from living it.”
A unique perspective
In private practice for 20 years, Leo’s broad background helps him support clients both emotionally and practically during divorce. His expertise is grounded by the everyday reality of sharing an office suite with divorce attorneys. Leo believes he is the only Marin psychotherapist to experience the daily functioning of a family law practice.
A family court expert
Leo has worked for Marin’s family courts for 30 years—14 years as both a recommending and non-recommending family court mediator and six years as director of Marin Family Court Services. He also has a solid knowledge of domestic violence issues.
In the course of handling thousands of custody cases, Leo has worked with hundreds of family law attorneys and scores of family law judicial officers. Local attorneys call on him for support in especially litigious cases and in managing difficult clients.
Leo began his career as a juvenile and adult probation officer and is skilled in recognizing sociopathic behavior, as well as child abuse and substance abuse.
The guide for divorcing families
Leo decided he could help a larger number of families and children by sharing his specialized knowledge in a book. In 2013, he published The Custody Manual, a practical guide for families going through divorce. In it he provided helpful tips and illuminating stories that outline what to expect and how to nurture children during divorce.
Leo was drawn to the family therapy field because of his longtime fascination with human behavior. He earned his M.A. in Clinical Psychology at the Professional School of Psychology in San Francisco, and holds a B.A. in Human Behavior from United States International University. He studied at their Hawaii, England and Kenya campuses.
Throughout his career, Leo has attended hundreds of conferences and trainings on child custody, child development and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.
Divorce as renewal
Having come through a divorce, Leo understands first hand that it moves through your life like an earthquake. “The challenge is that we’re forced to begin anew,” he says, “but that gives us an opportunity to grow as a person and as a parent.”
Originally from Santa Monica, Leo moved to Marin in the 1970s after completing his undergraduate studies and has spent his entire professional life in the county.