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MoonDragon's Parenting Information

Over the last 3 or 4 decades, we have found that the unusual, confusing, and sometimes dysfunctional behavior of children as well the same type of behavior by adults are all intertwined in the family interrelationships between parents and their children.


Here is an example of how a change in the life of one family member can lead to changes in the behavior of the others: A three-year-old who has been sleeping through the night suddenly starts waking up crying. Nothing in that child's life has changed except that his father was recently promoted and has been coming home a bit later than usual. As a result, he does not play with his son as much in the evenings, and the boy's mother (who is tired out herself by the end of the day) has less patience and snaps at her son more. The boy goes to bed feeling a bit angry, and wakes at midnight feeling anxious.

Another example: A husband and wife have been having marital problems, and there are more arguments and more tense silences than usual. At about the same time, their six-year-old, who had been fairly boisterous and prone to leaving her toys all over, becomes quieter and starts picking up very conscientiously. She seems to think that by being "perfect" she can make things better between her parents. She also develops a nail-biting habit, which has her mother concerned.

These examples might seem obvious to the reader, but to the families involved, their perception may be clouded, confusing and they may find the problems much harder to see and understand. Sometimes we need to step back and take a broader view of the situation to see a positive solution to a problem.


Every family has conflicts pretty much all of the time. What makes a family healthy is an ability to work through those conflicts in a positive way. When families are in trouble, it is often because they have gotten stuck repeating the same negative patterns over and over. Healthy families can "step back" and obtain a new perspective of their conflicts and work on changing patterns. Those families that are unable to change will remain miserable and develop symptoms of illness and dysfunction within the family unit. Many times, a child's "bad" behavior (or, as in the second example, anxious behavior) is a symptom of a family unit that is not well.


In marital and family therapy, the group is a natural one, formed by the bonds of kinship. Although the symptoms of one member may have brought the couple or family into therapy, the entire group is viewed as the treatment unit, and the assumption is that the group as a whole is disturbed.

There are several types of family therapy. In behavioral family therapy, family interactions are stressed, and members are made aware of the way their actions reinforce one another's behavior. Some therapists see family distress as the result of "coercion", in which each member uses aversive acts or words to influence the others' behavior. In marital behavior therapy, for example, it is assumed that the couple have been locked into frustrating behavior exchanges for so long that they have lost sight of the effect of their behavior on each other (and their children) and are unaware of the sources of their unhappiness. The therapist's aim is to shift the couple's behavior toward positive, mutually reinforcing interactions, to improve communication between them, and to shift the power in the relationship toward an equal balance.

In the communications approach, it is assumed that subtle nonverbal signals that directly contradict family members' verbal signals are involved in the disorder. This approach developed out of the double-bind theory of schizophrenia. Therapists uncover such signals, show what is being communicated, and point out how this negates what members profess to be saying. The therapist tries to get family members to talk openly, telling one another about their feelings and the kind of family relationships they would like.

In the systems approach, the assumption is that people are members of a family social system and that all members influence one another's behavior. The emphasis is on the interactions of the members and the role each member takes in the relationship. In the course of living together, each couple or family, consciously or unconsciously, sets up expectations for one another and assigns roles for each person to fill. Thus there may be a "weak" member, a "strong" member, a "caretaker", a "scapegoat". When roles are inappropriate or unduly restrictive, the most fragile member of the unit may show symptoms of mental disturbance, but all members are believed to contribute to the breakdown. Indeed, some therapists contend that the role expectations and patterns of communications are examined to readjust restrictive roles and promote mutual reinforcement.


Family therapists and family-oriented psychologists have developed some powerful ways of seeing the patterns of behavior within families and helping them change. They pay attention to the roles different members play, the patterns of interaction in the family, and how changes by one person cause changes in all the others. If a family is in need of help, and they cannot work out problems for themselves, then they need to find the therapist that they are most comfortable with. This will help the family to be able to understand each other, work together by learning and applying new, fresh approaches to family dynamics and communications, resulting in healthy family bonds.



Louisa Medrano, Psychologist
82 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 536-9198


Beverly Hubler, LICSW
567 Pleasant Street
Brockton, MA 02301
(508) 584-3339


ATR Counseling Service
399 Neponset Street
Canton, MA 02021
(781) 828-3717

Reunions Psychological Assoc.
30 Oxbow Road
Canton, MA 02021
(781) 821-2448


First Connections
111 Old Road To 9 Acre #1009
Concord, MA 01742
(978) 287-0221


Catholic Charities
140 Commonwealth Avenue #202
Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 774-6820

Charis Psychology Services
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 774-1411

North Shore Counseling Info
85 Constitution Ln.
Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 750-8887

Jeffrey M. Robbins
85 Constitution Ln.
Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 777-6497

Cathy Rogge
105 Centre Street
Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 774-5288


J. David Malone
1190 Stafford Road
Fall River, MA 02721
(508) 678-1180


Elyse F. Balder, LICSW
14 Vernon Street
Framingham, MA 01701
(508) 626-0576

Family Development Assoc.
40 Speen Street #106
Framingham, MA 01701
(508) 877-3660


Maggie Close, LICSW
19 Muzzey Street
Lexington, MA 02421
(781) 862-9006


North Shore Counseling Info
2 Phillips Street
Marblehead, MA 01945
(781) 639-4464


J. Gary Dolinsky, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
161 South Main Street, Suite 309
Middleton, MA 01949
(978) 750-1990


Ellen S. Leventhal, Med, MS, LMFT
8 Day Street
Norfolk, MA 02056
(508) 528-6433
Website: Therapist Locator: E.S. Leventhal
Special Interests: Anxiety, depression, divorce, eating disorders, grief, infertility, intimacy, separation, stress management. She specializes in providing expert comprehensive care and solutions for individuals, couples and families.


Family Psychological Assoc.
11 Vanderbilt Ave. #240
Norwood, MA 02062
(781) 769-5050

Wendy B. Case
11 Vanderbilt Ave. #240
Norwood, MA 02062
(781) 769-5050

Sandra B. Jansen
11 Vanderbilt Ave. #240
Norwood, MA 02062
(781) 769-5050

Ramie B. Lipeles
11 Vanderbilt Ave. #240
Norwood, MA 02062
(781) 769-5050


Gloria Barbacoff
30 Church Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-8484

Vincent J. Gennaco, Psychologist
6 Norman Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-5114

Mazer & Weisman Assoc.
6 Norman Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-3130

North Bay Counseling & Consultation
70 Washington Street #322
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 741-1167

Marguerita Reczycki
214 Derby Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-5505

Renee J. Sacks
8 Front Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 741-2210

Madeline Segal
6 Norman Street
Salem, MA 01970
(978) 745-5114


Susan B. Foley, Ph.D.
375 Redemption Rock Trail
Sterling, MA 01564
(978) 422-8132
Special Interests: Communication skills, conflict resolution skills, temperament, analysis, pre-marital counseling.


The FMC Directory: Find A Marriage Counselor & Family Therapist
AOL Yellow Pages: Marriage & Family Counselors in Salem, MA (Or Change Location)


When seeking a marriage counselor or therapist, it is important that the couple view themselves as a consumer of a product. The couple needs to feel in control of the process and view hemselves just as they would, if they were purchasing a car. The process involves careful research, consideration and consultation.

One of the first steps in seeking counseling is to decide as a couple if you would prefer a male or female therapist or marriage counselor. This will narrow down the selection process and the couple can proceed from there.

It is imperative that the couple inquires or asks the therapist or counselor the following before starting on the therapeutic process. Sample questions are:
  • Counseling fees: How much does each session run? Are there any discounts possible?
  • Are insurance reimbursements possible?
  • Inquire about the counselor's training: How long have they been in practice? What experience do they have in working with couples? (refer to the Types of Therapists article below for a description of therapist's backgrounds)
  • What type of therapeutic style do they employ? (read on for a description of therapeutic styles and modalities)
  • Ask about the therapist's license: not all states mandate that therapists hold a license, and one can always confirm a license by contacting the State Board of Licensing and/or Certification for that field of practice. If the therapist does hold a license, make sure that license is up to date and that the therapist is not sanctioned in any way.
  • Inquire as to the counselor's cancellation policies.

Both partners seeking marriage counseling need to feel comfortable with the counselor or therapist that they have selected. If one partner is reluctant to pursue therapy with a particular therapist, it is important that the couple find someone else.


There is no one type of therapy that is the best or most effective. It depends on each person's individual needs and the wishes of the couple. Some specific techniques have been found to be more useful than others in dealing with certain types of problems (such as phobias), but in general, research about the "best" model or most effective model of marriage counseling always reaches the same conclusion: the most critical factor is the relationship between the therapist and the clients/patients.2


Psychodynamic psychotherapy is used to help clients understand themselves more fully. The theory behind this approach is exploring our past - adverse childhood experiences or other unconscious conflicts. This is the basis for problems that persist into adulthood, such as unusually low self-esteem, anxiety, or a feeling of being incomplete. Psychodynamic therapy presumes that some facets of our lives are hidden from us, in the subconscious mind, and that we use defenses to help keep us from experiencing the pain that would come from acknowledging elements from our past. The classic form of "talking therapy" is psychoanalysis, which has evolved into several modern branches, including self-psychology, object relations psychotherapy, inter-subjectivity, and psychodynamic psychotherapy.3


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) uses a combination of both cognitive and behavioral therapy. CBT explores both thinking patterns and harmful or self-destructive behaviors that might accompany them. The therapy then combines changing the thinking patterns along with changing the behavior.4


Solution-based approaches provide the methods and the tools for people to move beyond old patterns and previous unwanted behaviors. These technologies and tools empower the individual to be more resourceful and to have a quicker route to the desired outcomes that they want and deserve.5


Is founded on four basic concepts, boundaries, subsystems, alignments, and complimentarily. A structural therapist takes these into consideration in working with the individual, family, and the social context. The most important component of this therapy is that the therapist must recognize that every family has a structure, and this structure is revealed only when the family is in action. 6


Systems theory is based on the premise that all pieces of an organism are part of a whole. A system theorists examines all pieces of the couple's family and identifies holistic changes that need to be made to the entire familial unit, rather than focusing on one individual.7


Feminist clinical approach encompasses a diversity of treatment interventions. Many rely on the lives and experiences of women and men-in particular, the nature and impact of inequality between genders and the structuring of gender roles, privilege, value, social class, culture, sexuality, and the concept of the self.8


There are many different types of therapists and counselors. It is important to shop around for a therapist or counselor that fits the needs of both partners in the relationship. If you as a couple are currently seeing a particular type of therapist and that counseling style is not working, you may consider trying someone else. Below is a list of different types of therapists or counselors and the educational backgrounds mandated for their certifications:

  • Clinical Psychologist

  • o Example: Molly McJoy, Ph.D. or Psy.D.
    o Scientist-practitioner
    o Has Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree
    o Usually complete a one year internship

  • Counseling Psychologist

  • o Example: Molly McJoy, Ph.D.
    o Scientist-practitioner
    o Has Ph.D. degree
    o Usually complete a one year internship

  • Psychiatrist

  • o Example: Dr. Molly McJoy or Molly McJoy, M.D.
    o Physician
    o Has a medical degree
    o Has medical internship and residency in psychiatry (3 years)

  • Psychoanalyst

  • o Example: Can be either, Dr. Molly McJoy or Molly McJoy Ph.D.
    o Psychiatrist or psychologist with all requirements above +
    o Admission to a psychoanalytic institute (3 years)
    o Goes through psychoanalysis themselves.

  • Social Worker

  • o Example: Molly McJoy, MSW or Ph.D.
    o Has MSW degree or Doctorate of Philosophy
    o Licensed individuals usually have LCSW or another variation depending on the state
    o Usually complete a one year internship, licensed practitioners have been under field supervision for usually 2 years.

  • Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT)

  • o Example: Molly McJoy LMFT or MFT
    o Has a masters degree or a Doctorate of Philosophy
    o Completed a two year post degree and work under supervision to attain licensure.

  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

  • o Example: Molly McJoy, M.A. or LPC or both
    o Has a masters in counseling
    o Usually complete a one year internship, licensed practitioners have been under field supervision for usually 2 years.


    1. Carter, B., McGoldrick, M., (1998) The expanded family life cycle: Individual, family and social perspectives. Allyn and Bacon: Boston.
    2. Psychotherapy, relationship help and marriage counseling. Psychotherapy Relationship Marriage Counseling
    3. Psychotherapy, relationship help and marriage counseling. Psychotherapy Relationship Marriage Counseling
    4. Psychotherapy, relationship help and marriage counseling. Psychotherapy Relationship Marriage Counseling
    5. Client Centered Counseling.
    6. Dorfman, R.A., (1998) Paradigms of clinical social work. Vol 2. Brunner-Routledge: New York.
    7. Dorfman, R.A., (1998) Paradigms of clinical social work. Vol 2. Brunner-Routledge: New York.
    8. Dorfman, R.A., (1998) Paradigms of clinical social work. Vol 2. Brunner-Routledge: New York.
    9. Types of Therapists. Websource is not responsible for any actions or qualifications taken by individuals listed here. They are added to this list simply as a convenience for MoonDragon visitors as a starting point for finding a practitioner in their local region. It is important that every person checks the background of any professional they decide to hire for services. Do not be afraid to shop around until you find a counselor that suits your specific needs and issues.


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