Barbara Ellen Friedman Chambers, 40, a psychotherapist in private practice in Washington since 1980 and a former teacher and director of the Columbia Road Children's Center here, died of cancer May 14 at her home in Washington.

Mrs. Chambers was a native of Washington and a graduate of Walter Johnson High School. She was a 1962 graduate of Barnard College and earned her master's degree in social work at Catholic University in 1980.

During the 1960s, she taught school in New York and Massachusetts and at Georgetown Day School. From 1968 until 1970, she was director of the Columbia Road Children's Center.

From 1970 until 1973, she lived in Encino, Calif., and worked as a teacher there. She returned to Washington in 1973 and taught at the Hillcrest School in Washington. She returned to the children's center as director from 1975 until 1978.

She was a member of the board of Washington Pre-Schools Inc., and a former chairman of the D.C. City Council Advisory Commission on Child Development Facilities.

Survivors include her husband, Reid, a daughter, Megan, and a son, Randy, all of Washington; her parents, Irving and Edna Friedman of Bethesda, and two brothers, Kenneth Friedman of Rockville, and John Friedman of Catonsville.