Ria Severance is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who serves as a Collaborative Divorce Coach, Collaborative Child Specialist, Co-Mediator, and Executive Development Consultant. Ria brings a deep, personal commitment and honed clinical skill to her work to respectfully bridge the disparate concerns of couples, divorcing partners, co-parents and their children. In private practice since 1987, Ms. Severance uses research-based strategies in a warm and nonjudgmental way to redirect interactions and dial down intense emotions, in a process that helps couples enhance their skills and reach an honorable close to their marriage/partnership, while prioritizing the wellbeing of any children. Ms. Severance is an out-of-the-box, creative thinker – quick to envision win-win collaborations and solutions to relational challenges.
Prior to couples therapy, Ria also offers short-term Decision Counseling. Whether they stay together or part ways, couples completing Decision Counseling are more able to either: a) commit fully to Couples Therapy with a clear focus, or, b) if they separate, they are more respectful and “agreement ready” throughout the divorce process, because they are more resolved and clearer about their own part in the ending of the relationship.
Regardless of her clinical focus, Ria is a validating context for growth. Clients learn to generate and live into their vision of a life truly worth living, regardless of their circumstances. She empowers clients to build on their strengths and creativity, to cultivate the specific skills neeeded to be effective in their relationships and in their lives, such that they’re left inspired by who they are.
Drawing from her experience working with hundreds of children and parents, Ms. Severance helps keep families out of court. While addressing the needs of all family members, she empowers separating or divorced parents to: mediate a Parenting Plan (custody agreement), form a co-parenting alliance and develop a skill set that prioritizes the children’s wellbeing. Parents learn to recognize how even subtle pressure to align against or blame the other parent damages a child’s sense of self and relational skills in the long run. In addition, Ria provides Parenting Therapy for parents needing to learn the skills to handle children’s severe behavioral challenges. In divorce-related Individual Therapy, Ria walks a divorcing partner through the challenges and processes of divorce, the restructuring of the family. While teaching clients to manage their anxiety, grief and sense of loss, they also learn to envision and create a new future.
A bilingual/bicultural Latina, Ms. Severance has 30+ years of clinical experience developing empowering relationships with people of diverse cultures, classes, interests and needs. She has an exceptional ability to perceive, articulate and reflect multiple levels of a person’s experience and to communicate that in ways that enhance self-understanding, compassion, self-acceptance and the motivation to build needed relationship skills. Warm and non-judgmental, Ria’s style is genuine and direct.
She is a dynamic and engaging speaker and, along with other capable VDC colleagues, she offers free webinars, for the public, clinicians and other professionals working with divorcing families. Ria’s fresh approach ignites and invigorates as it empowers. Ria has also offered professional trainings at annual conferences for the state’s Collaborative Practice California (CPCal) umbrella organization, and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). Ms. Severance is currently active on 13 Collaborative Boards & Committees, including serving as: A Co-Founder of Virtual Divorce California, A Pasadena Collaborative Divorce Member, a Board Member of Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association (LACFLA), Member of CPCal Committees, and she also volunteers as a Co-Mediator and Divorce Coach at Loyola Law School’s Center for Conflict Resolution.
EDUCATION, LICENSE, CERTIFICATIONS AND TRAINING
UCLA PSYCHOLOGY BA – 1983 SUMMA CUM LAUDE
CSULA PSYCHOLOGY MS – 1986 – GRADUATED W 4.0
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist – 1986
American Association of Marriage & Family Therapists (AAMFT)- Approved Clinical Supervisor
California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists (CAMFT)– Approved Clinical Supervisor
Collaborative Divorce Coach & Child Specialist Training Certificate (Collaborative Divorce Team Training, LLC)
Collaborative Divorce Streamlined Protocols Training Certificate
Dispute & Divorce Mediation Training – UCLA
Divorce Mediation Training Advanced Certificate
Advanced Training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy – includes evidence-based methods for Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Mindfulness
Certificate of Advanced Post-graduate 4-year Training in Object Relations and Self-Psychology
Countless other psychology-related trainings.
MEMBERSHIPS & HONORS
Elected Member Phi Beta Kappa (Scholars Honor Society)
Elected Member Psi Chi – National Honor Society in Psychology
LACFLA member (Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association) – Featured Honorary Member of the Month – Volunteer on Collaborative Conferencing Project aimed at serving the underserved in partnership with Loyola Law School
Senator Carol Liu’s 21st District Women’s Council to provide leadership in the areas of Human Services and Education
World Education University (tuition-free online university), Advisory Board Member and Consultant
Fifty-Fifty Leadership (A women’s organization geared to ensuring 50% of the world’s leaders are women), Board Member
1910 Huntington Drive, #16
South Pasadena CA 91030