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Ellen Scharffenberg, a Vacaville, California-based LCSW,

provides therapeutic services to children, teens, adults and families.  She creates a safe and nurturing atmosphere where children and families feel supported in their process of changing and growing.

Ellen’s practice includes all ages and she supports a Christian perspective.  She knows that healing begins as people reconnect with their own strengths and dreams.  Ellen sees clients for a variety of reasons including life transitions, trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief, areas of abuse, anger, anxiety, depression, marital struggles and co-parenting issues.  

She also has expertise with adoption, special needs children and the unique needs of military personnel and their families.  Ellen practices from a strengths-based biopsychosocial approach.


Ellen Scharffenberg is a California Board of Behavioral Sciences certified Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  To qualify as an LCSW, she has a bachelor and a master degree, completed advanced training, gathered extensive clinical work experience, and passed the California state board certified licensing examination.

Family Therapy

Changes and the growth of the family affect everyone in the household.  The balance of how things “used to be done” changes over time as they grow both in age and in size.  When the family needs and priorities grow and fluctuate, stress and frustration can build up in each member.  Often a feeling of detachment and poor communication can leave unresolved conflict and confusion.  Ellen helps families understand their identity and values.  While strengthening and supporting parents, she encourages children and teens to make good choices.  The family will increase skills in communication, conflict resolution and boundary setting.  As a unit, they will improve their empathetic responses and further empower one another.  Ellen finds that combining individual and family therapy can significantly enhance therapeutic results.

Couples Therapy

Ellen helps couples understand and reprocess their conflicts and experiences. Working together in couples counseling, she uses and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) approach. As the couple enters the cycle of pursue, blame and withdrawal, she helps them become aware that both are getting hurt. Knowing the goal is to reconnect, vulnerability and trust expand. The couple begins to experience security and each feels understood and heard. 

“A major goal of effective couple therapy has to be to address attachment concerns, reduce attachment insecurities, and foster the creation of a secure bond.”

(Susan M. Johnson from The Practice of Emotionally Focused Couple therapy, 2nd edition, pg 39)


Pre- Marital & couples Counseling

Ellen uses the SYMBIS + assessment and an emotionally Focused therapeutic approach to help couples enhance their relationship.

“The SYMBIS Assessment provided insights into how our personalities mesh and our pre-marital counselor gave us useful tools and advice to coincide with the assessment. We’re better off as individuals and as a couple after going through the SYMBIS program.”
                                                                  –Chris & Leeanna

If you would like to learn more about SYMBIS please click the button below.

Individual Therapy for Adults 

Change continues throughout life as an adult.  To stay in balance, adults must make occasional adjustments. Individual therapy encourages the examination of personal experiences, thoughts, behaviors and feelings that may be undermining an individual’s happiness.  During the therapeutic process, Ellen helps the individual identify the area of concern, break it down into manageable parts and address each part thoroughly.  Individual therapy can help the individual and also improve their personal and work support systems.  Areas challenging adults often include:  

  • Finding and developing healthy, satisfying intimate relationships 
  • Managing anger and anxiety
  • Reflecting on what you value and developing realistic ways to live by it
  • Exploring and embracing major life changes like marriage or parenthood
  • Healing after trauma, grief, or loss
  • Changing long held assumptions and trying new behaviors
  • Enhancing personal communication skillsSubstance abuse/use
  • Learning new ways to cooperatively  co-parent 

Individual Therapy for Adolescents

Teens are faced with many changes all at once in a short period of time.  Hormones are triggering, physical, emotional and cognitive changes are happening and more time is spent socializing with peers than with their parents.  Many adolescents explore their power and the responsibilities that come with it.  They often are confused about their needs and how to communicate them well.  Individual adolescent therapy with the counselor and the teen helps them learn to communicate effectively, resolve conflict peacefully and make good choices.  Ellen is committed to giving teens the tools and communication techniques they need to continue their healthy growth to maturity.









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Ellen Scharffenberg and her husband and have been married 52 years, have four married sons and nine grandchildren.  Her life philosophy is based on who God is, how He loves and how we are learning to receive His love.  Ellen has learned that life’s journeys are always filled with both challenges and blessings.  She and her husband discovered early on that it is not possible to have a relationship without peaks and valleys.  However, it is possible to grow in love together no matter what you face – especially if you have faith. 

The path to the career of a psychotherapist initially developed from being a military and corporate wife and mother of four very “busy” little boys.  After eleven moves in about sixteen years, Ellen and her family moved to northern California.  It wasn’t long before her children began to bring their friends to her and ask her to help them.  Quite soon it became clear to her that she loved what she was doing and wanted to become educated secularly and spiritually in order to really help people safely.

Shortly after completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies and Social Sciences in 1990, Ellen began working in public service.  She then graduated with a Master in Social Work in 2000 Suma Cum Laude.  After completing her MSW, Ellen served in Children and Protective Services and Adoptions. She considers it an honor to work with children and families.  Training with vulnerable populations allowed her to gain expertise in areas such as addictions, abuse, domestic violence, adoptions, grief and loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, adolescents, and the mentally, emotionally and physically challenged.  

Ellen is dedicated to children, marriages and the family unit.  Her passion is to see families develop and maintain the skills needed to continue and improve their family legacy.  She is also personally committed to a life of balance that includes rest and restoration.