Hello, my name is Dr. Grace Malonai, and I want to welcome you, and congratulate you on your search for change. If you are here, then that means you are probably ready for something to be different, or you might be looking for information, support or new tools. Maybe you are a parent looking for solutions for your children, or maybe you are seeking help for your relationship, or perhaps you or your family are gifted or highly sensitive, and need a therapist who really gets that. Well, that’s my job—to help you, and I want very much for you to succeed.
I have been providing psychotherapy and counseling services in the San Francisco area since 1998, and have been in private practice since 2005. I specialize in parenting and couples, child and family therapy, and developmental concerns, including gifted development and high sensitivity.
I hope you look around this website to learn more about how I can serve you—and don’t forgot to contact me for a free phone consultation.
Credentials and Training
I am licensed by the state of California as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). I completed my graduate work at the California Graduate School of Psychology (now known as Argosy University). In addition to a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, I hold a M.S. degree in Clinical Psychology, and a B.S. degree in Nutrition Science, with an emphasis in physiological chemistry, from the University of California, at Davis. I have also received intensive training in family systems, child and adult development, trauma and recovery, play therapy, Relational-Cultural work, Depth Oriented Brief Therapy, and Narrative Therapy. To learn more about my approach, click here.
Focus on Giftedness and High Sensitivity
Since 2006, I have focused on learning about giftedness, high sensitivity, and sensory issues with the gusto of a highly educated, information-seeking momma bear (that’s a lot of gusto). This focus has allowed me to assist highly sensitive, intense, gifted children, their parents, and families. Correlating with that, my dissertation focused on maternal identity (published by ProQuest, 2004), and my current research with Gifted Identity℠ is on parental identity in parents of highly gifted children. I am also a certified SENG model parent group facilitator.
I have been a part-time professor at St. Mary’s College of California since 2003, where I have taught Human Development and Family Relationships, Group Theory and Practice, Psychopathology, Supervision, Self Management in the Workplace, Human Services Special Projects, Personal and Professional Assessment in Management, Adult Development, Writing for the Learning Resource Program (LERP), and served on thesis committees.
Projects and Speaking
I am a co-founder of the Gifted Identity℠ project. My interest in the study of gifted development blossomed when I began homeschooling my gifted child.
I regularly offer workshops, presentations and continuing education (CE) classes at state, national and international gifted workshops and conferences, including the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), Global Center for Gifted and Talented Children (GCGTC), and others.
I believe in service to my local community, and have presented at training workshops for Contra Costa County’s Children’s Mental Health, have served on a committee for the American Association for Women In Psychology, and have been a contributor to their newsletter. I am also a GoodTherapy.org Topic Expert, and a regular contributor to their blog.
Please contact me directly if you are interested in having me speak at your event or write an article for your publication.
Memberships and Affiliations
American Psychological Association (APA)
American Counseling Association (ACA)
California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC)
East Bay Region California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (EBCALPCC, Co-chair)
Association for Play Therapy (APT)
Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG)
National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF)
My interest in counseling psychology started when I was an undergrad. I had always loved science, and chose a major in nutrition, with an emphasis in physiological chemistry. That meant that I took chemistry classes every quarter of my college career. My major felt challenging and stressful at times, and I found reading my psychology-major roommate’s textbooks more interesting than my own. I was fascinated by the human psyche, connections between mind and body, and family relationships. These psych texts were also surprisingly relaxing and engaging. So, I read them for pleasure.
Later, while working as a nutritionist for a national clinic, I realized that most people who came to me for nutrition help suffered from emotional or psychological problems. I was often frustrated because I genuinely cared for my clients, but my science degree didn’t teach me to treat these underlying problems and real needs of my clients. Many who came to me for weight loss support or for healthier lifestyle tips suffered from eating disorders, anxiety or depression. Back then, I sought advice from mental health help lines, and I referred most of my case load to counseling. Like I said, I really cared for my clients, and did my best, but ultimately, to really help, I needed more training.
Still, I was in my 20s and didn’t feel quite ready for graduate school. That’s when I traveled about, pursuing divergent careers, including food chemistry, cooking, marketing, fine art and photography, and even got nationally certified in therapeutic massage therapy. Then, it struck me again, that sense that I wanted formal training in psychology, when I worked as a sports massage therapist in Telluride. It seemed ironic to me that my massage clients wanted to tell me their troubles, sometimes stalling their actual massage in order to keep talking with me eye-to-eye. Massage clients often experienced cathartic relief on the table (usually crying, but sometimes laughter), yet somatic work alone didn’t seem enough.
By the time I completed my M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology, I was in my 30s, married, and fairly settled—a much better place and time to do the self-reflective work that I believe is essential to become an effective psychotherapist. I loved graduate school and thrived on attaining skills that I had waited many years to learn. Now, decades after my interest in counseling psychology was first sparked, it remains my goal to help you thrive.
“Each person’s map of the world is as unique as the person’s thumbprint. There are no two people alike… no two people who understand the same sentence the same way… So in dealing with people, you try not to fit them to your concept of what they should be.” ~Milton Erickson
I cannot speak highly enough about Dr. Grace Malonai. She is both an excellent instructor of psychological knowledge and a caring, thoughtful and comprehensive clinician. She demonstrates her clinical expertise with her students and her clients of all ages, gender or culture. I would recommend her without hesitation to anyone seeking support, instruction or therapy.
Dr. Grace Malonai is a knowledgeable and informative professor. Having a professor that was also a practicing Psychologist proved to be invaluable. Her knowledge base in the different approaches in counseling is beneficial for those training to get into the counseling profession.
She is a very engaging teacher which always made for an exciting and interactive class. I would encourage any student to take her class.