Dr. Christina K. Emanuel, MFT, PsyD

Date of Death

Dr. Christina Kathleen Emanuel died peacefully at her home on January 1, 2023, surrounded by her loving family, following a fierce year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. In every area of her life, Christina was exceptional: a renowned psychotherapist, a loving wife and mother, and an exuberant and caring friend.
Christina was born in Los Angeles, CA to William & Elizabeth Emanuel of Santa Monica, CA. Her passion for music began in the band at St. Monica Catholic Church, where she played clarinet, also learning flute and piano. She attended Marlborough School in Los Angeles and Georgetown University for her BS in Psychology. After graduation, Christina worked in the Alzheimer’s program at USC Centinela Hospital, and later at the Help Group in Sherman Oaks, CA whilst studying for her Marriage and Family Therapist certification. She received her MA in Counseling Psychology from Loyola Marymount University in 1994.
She opened a private practice in Pasadena, CA in 2005, working closely with autistic young adults and their families. She received her PsyD in Psychoanalysis from the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis (ICP) in Los Angeles, CA in 2012. In addition to writing, teaching, and presenting about autism, disability studies and relational psychoanalysis, she served on the boards for ICP and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP). She traveled frequently to international IARPP conferences, where she presented her work on the impact of ableism on the psychoanalytic world, offering new and important insights into this aspect of patient treatment. Christina also volunteered at Homeboy Industries, an intervention program in Los Angeles, providing pro bono psychotherapy to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated people for over 10 years. She cared deeply about her patients, many of whom had been mistreated, sidelined or ostracized; they found comfort in her philosophy of radical inclusion.
Christina became a mother in September 1997 with the birth of her daughter Caroline, followed by her son Peter in May 2000. She married Charles Garner in 2005, becoming stepmother to his sons David and Jordan. She resided with her new family in La Cañada until her death. Christina loved her blended family, and created new traditions around many holidays, including her favorite, the Fourth of July. Her hobbies included cooking and baking, frequenting the theatre (even seeing the original Broadway cast of “Hamilton”), copious consumption of “Law & Order: SVU,” British period dramas, and “Saturday Night Live,” spending time with her beloved dog ChuckNorris, laughing with her family over memes, inside jokes, and ridiculous Christmas ornaments, and playing music with the Raskull 10, an all-psychoanalyst rock group helmed by colleague and friend Peter Radestock. Christina often reminded her children that she was, in fact, in a band. She was known for her unique sense of style, especially her black pixie cut with a colorful streak (usually red or purple). She loved to cook and host, making anyone under her roof feel welcome and loved, unconditionally.
Christina will be deeply missed by her loved ones, patients, colleagues, and friends. She is survived by her husband Charles, her children Carrie & Peter Smith, her stepsons Jordan (wife, Pratichhya) & David Garner, her parents Betsy & Bill Emanuel, her brothers Mike (wife, Jenny) & Steve (wife, Stephanie), her nephews Will, Kevin, & Mike (wife, Sam), and many cousins & relatives around the country. She is also survived by her best friend Lisa Collins, RN, who cared for Christina and her family until she passed, as well as her goddaughter Madeline Collins & godson Graeme Collins.
Funeral services will be held on January 7, 2023, at St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada, CA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Homeboy Industries.