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Marriage & Family Therapy

Family Therapy Long Island


The family is the very first social unit where children learn about socially acceptable behavior. It is here where the rules and guidelines that govern family members’ interactions are modeled and the consequences of unsafe or unacceptable behaviors are implemented. As children learn to agree to disagree and to compromise, they hopefully mature into productive members of a society in which they are can love and be loved. While this sounds reasonable and a desirable goal for our children, it belies the complexities and challenges involved in parenting and maintaining a healthy family environment.

Do You Find Yourself:

  • Frustrated and challenged to maintain a connection with your children?
  • Confused over efforts to communicate with them?
  • Feeling as though you are up against a stone wall?
  • Stressed over work expectations and parenting responsibilities?
  • Ambivalent about the pressures placed upon your children today?
  • Struggling to address your children’s self-defeating behaviors in a proactive and positive manner?
  • Feeling depressed and alone in this journey of child-rearing?

Family TherapyYou are not alone with this challenge; nor do you need to address these concerns on your own. Your feeling isolated and alone can make moving forward difficult and alternatives elusive. Parenting your child into a healthy adulthood is by far one of the most difficult jobs in the world! Not one of us can meet all of the emotional needs of a child. However, with a focus on more effective parenting together we can explore the problematic situations and determine proactive ways of addressing them.

Within the therapeutic relationship you will learn how to determine what is truly occurring, to develop greater insight into the accompanying emotional dynamics and to implement effective methods of resolving the issues. As you work to identify who owns the problem, answers to the following questions will help you develop the tools needed to parent effectively:

  • What are the triggers for communication breakdown between you and your child/adolescent?
  • Is your child/adolescent reacting to circumstances in school or at home?
  • Is there bullying, emotional or physical, in school or in your home?
  • Does someone speak to your child in a manner that is harsh or critical?
  • How do you identify and discuss the emotions surrounding this problem with your child/adolescent?
  • How effective a communicator are you when it comes to conflict resolution?
  • Do you have the words to express what you want/need to say?

The role models for parenting within your family were established in your family of origin. If your parents were supportive, loving and consistently clear about acceptable behavior it is likely that your parenting style will reflect what you have experienced. However, if your parents were harsh, critical and generally suspicious of your intent, regardless of your intent to parent differently, chances are that your history will script your legacy! Despite your determination, as well as your own best efforts, on an emotional level the probability is high that you will parent as you have been parented! Unless you have learned how to identify self-defeating, oppositional or antagonistic behaviors as cries for help and direction, you will react rather than respond to the emotional complexities that surface within a family unit.

Parenting challenges the individual as well as the couple in very significant ways. All parents learn their parenting skills from their families of origin and repeat those patterns, regardless of how ineffective they were. However, it is in the relearning, not the repeating, that parents and children can progress. Parent-centered treatment focuses on putting parents back in control of their children’s health and well-being with new resources and confidence.

Family therapy is designed to help you to relearn, not to repeat, patterns of behavior. You will learn how to communicate more effectively within the family unit, how to provide emotional support and respect within it, and how to create an environment which nurtures the success of all. Instead of depression, anxiety and resentment being unwelcomed guests in your home, you can learn how to initiate change and nurture relatedness, respect and kindness in your family!


While many people long for a relationship and connections to others, few realize how difficult it can be to find and maintain a loving, bonded relationship. The vast majority of men and women experience frustration and distress. They repeat the patterns that bring them into unfulfilling relationships with those who are wrong for them, even though they may feel right. Have you wondered how this all began? Have you questioned how an intelligent person who is successful in all other areas of life continues to make poor choices of a mate?

Look back on the parenting style which guided your upbringing. Were your parents supportive, nurturing and providing of an emotionally stable environment? Were they autocratic, controlling and unable to deal with feelings, yours or their own? Was conflict ad upheaval synonymous with your surname? Was abuse-physical, emotional or sexual-part of your childhood or adolescent landscape? Your answers to these questions and their emotional fallout have had a profound effect on your emotional resilience and the personality type you seek out as a partner or spouse.

Marriage CounselingYour choice of a mate is rooted in these earliest bonding experiences or lack thereof. If your adult attractions are based on compromised bonding, you constantly will be drawn to those who cannot bond or connect. The patterns of your upbringing create the boilerplate for those you will be drawn to in adulthood. The ensuing difficulties with intimacy are expressed in a variety of ways. If you make the same mistakes over and over again with your spouse or your children, your co-workers or your friends, you may be emotionally stuck in a cycle of repetition rooted in these early feelings and experiences.

There is no parent who can meet all of the emotional needs of a child. All of us are less than perfect. As difficult as this may be to accept, it is highly probable that you have been exposed to feelings and patterns of behavior that have compromised your ability to be emotionally intimate. Despite the best intentions of your parents, these earliest experiences effect your decisions today. They prompt you to gravitate toward what is emotionally familiar, rather than what is best for you.

Do you find yourself disregarding or minimizing the warning signs? Do you ignore the dissonance that occurs between what you think and feel and what you sense in the core of your being? Do you push away from what is best for you, rather than pursue it? Do you react to what is good for you as if it were intolerable? Your responses to these questions are indicators of what you need to learn regarding emotional intimacy and making optimal choices.

Feeling hopeless or confused? Having difficulty seeing a light at the end of the tunnel? I will keep my sights on the light at the end of the tunnel for the two of us until you can see it for yourself! My work focuses on a unique combination of experiences. Emotional relearning will facilitate your ability to access feelings, regardless of their positive or negative valence, and utilize them constructively. An increased awareness of the subtleties of your autonomic nervous system will potentiate your ability to respond to those old self-defeating triggers in a constructive manner. Through this process you will learn how to change your interaction with others both socially and emotionally and process life more effectively.

I am a therapist in Manhasset, call me at (516) 627-1145 for a complimentary consultation to discuss any of these or related topics.

American Psychotherapy Association

Dr. Maryann B Schaefer

5 Travers St.  Manhasset NY 11030

Ph.D. – Counseling, Concentration in Psychology
NYS Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Fellow of American Psychotherapy Association

Phone: (516) 627-1145


Office Hours: By appointment only.