Alumni, Community and Student Engagement Initiatives


Death of a Parent in Childhood

One of the most stressful events for a young child to experience is the death of a parent. This type of loss often triggers an intense grief reaction that must be properly worked through in order for the child to continue developing in a healthy way. It is important to understand that there are differences between adult and childhood grief and that each child reacts to grief in his or her own way. Also, parentally bereaved children may exhibit symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in addition to the typical grief reaction; PTSD must be treated before the child can work through the grieving process successfully. Group therapy, camp-based interventions, art therapy, family, and individual therapy are all treatment methods that have been proven successful when working with parentally bereaved children. It is imperative to be aware that not all parentally bereaved children need professional intervention and that exhibiting grief is a natural reaction to the death of a loved one; however, it is also important for parents and therapists to be aware of the warning signs that signal that a grieving child may need professional intervention and increased family support.

Amanda Sperandio is a marriage and family therapy graduate student at Fairfield University.



Anorexia is a serious psychiatric illness marked by an inability to maintain a normal body weight, which usually means dropping below 85 percent of the ideal body weight. Those affected by anorexia, who happen to still be growing, fail to make the expected increases in weight and bone density, therefore leading to other serious medical conditions. Despite increasing weight loss, individuals with anorexia, continue to obsess about weight, remain dissatisfied with the perceived size of their bodies, and engage in an array of unhealthy behaviors to enable weight loss (i.e. purging, compulsive dieting, excessive exercise, and fasting). Individuals with anorexia place central importance on their shape and weight as a marker of self-worth and self-esteem, although they are never fulfilled due to the fact that they never believe they are thin enough. Typical personality features of individuals with anorexia include perfectionism, obsession, anxiety, harm avoidance, and low self-esteem. The most common co-morbid psychiatric conditions include major depression and anxiety disorders.

Melissa Sestito is a marriage and family therapy graduate student at Fairfield University.

Opening of the Koslow Center for Marriage and Family Therapy Creates Flurry of Activity for MFT Department

April 8th will mark the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Kathryn P. Koslow Center for Marriage and Family Therapy. Fairfield University President, Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. will lead the ceremony, which will be followed by an open house and reception.

Through a generous donation by alumna Kathryn P. Koslow ’05, who is also a member of the GSEAP and Marriage and Family Therapy Advisory Boards, the University renovated Southwell Hall and installed state-of-the-art technology to create a new training facility for Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) graduate students. Under the supervision of professional faculty and supervisors, advanced graduate candidates provide clinical mental health services to individuals, couples and families from the greater Fairfield community.

The official opening for the Koslow Center is also getting attention from campus and local newspapers :, which has produced a steady stream of interest from the greater Fairfield community.

In addition to the activity surrounding the Koslow Center, some marriage and family therapy graduates have been highlighted on campus. The Fairfield University Magazine recently published an article about Loren Smith ‘08 and Michael Becker ’10 integration of the MFT degree and their divorce mediation practices. To learn more about Loren and Michael, you can read the full article at:

Extramarital Affairs

Although monogamy and sexual exclusivity are the expressed cultural norms for the great majority of married, heterosexual couples, the occurrence of adultery and infidelity is widespread (Treas & Giesen, 2000). “In major U.S. survey of married individuals, as many as 25% of married men and 15% of women reported having had an affair at some time in their lives”(Lauman, Gagnon, Michael & Michaels, 1994). Given the extent to which infidelity occurs in the general population, it is likely that counselors of various types and affiliations will encounter couples and individuals who present with this type of problem at some time in their clinical practice (Snyder, 2005). Marriage and Family therapists are often the first to respond to the couple’s request for help following discovery or disclosure of an affair. Brown (2001) suggests that 70% of couples who request marriage counseling do so because the occurrence of an affair precipitated a crisis in their relationship.

Eva Spijkers is a marriage and family therapy graduate student at Fairfield University.

Conversations in Marriage and Family Therapy

Conversations in Marriage and Family Therapy

Date:                    Friday, March 4

Time:                    5-7pm

Location:             Program in Alumni House, reception to follow

Presenter:            Fairfield University Alumna: Trevor Crow

Topic:                   Emotionally Focused Therapy with Couples

Trevor Crow is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couples Therapist.  Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is the only clinically proven therapy for couples.  After 20 years of empirical research, researchers have proven the effectiveness of EFT.  For example, research studies find that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery and approximately 90% show significant improvements after receiving counseling from trained Emotionally Focused Therapists.  EFT is based in a clear, well-defined conceptualization of adult love and marital distress.  Research shows that emotionally fulfilling relationships are fundamental components of both physical and mental health and that emotionally focused counseling can re-establish supportive bonds among couples.  Through a structured use of systemic and experiential interventions, EFT allows couples to expand and shift their view of themselves and their partners.

Strengths of Emotionally Focused Therapy

  • EFT is based on clear, explicit conceptualizations of marital distress and adult love. These conceptualizations are supported by empirical research on the nature of marital distress and adult attachment.
  • EFT is collaborative and respectful of clients combining experiential Rogerian techniques with structural systemic interventions.
  • Change strategies and interventions are specified.
  • Key moves and moments in the change process have been mapped into nine steps and three change events.
  • EFT has been validated by over 20 years of empirical research. There is also research on the change processes and predictors of success.
  • EFT has been applied to many different kinds of problems and populations.

Goals of Emotionally Focused Therapy

  • To expand and re-organize key emotional responses – the music of the attachment dance.
  • To create a shift in partners’ interactional positions and initiate new cycles of interaction.
  • To foster the creation of a secure bond between partners.

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn and network – free of charge!

Please rsvp to or 203-254-4000 x2306

We hope to see you there!

Scary Statistics

The United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, School Crime & Safety Statistics show that

-1 out of 4 children is Bullied.

-1 out of 5 children admits to being a bully, or doing some “Bullying.”

-8% of students miss 1 day of class per month for fear of Bullies.

-100,000 students carry a gun to school.

-28% of youths who carry weapons have witnessed violence at home.

-282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.

-More youth violence occurs on school grounds as opposed to on the way to school.

-1 out of 5 teens knows someone who brings a gun to school.

-Playground statistics: Every 7 minutes a child is bullied.

-When Bullying behavior is witnessed  adults intervene 4% of the time; peers intervene 11% of the time and 85% of the time there is no intervention.

Networking Breakfast

We are excited to invite you to come to campus for a Networking Breakfast and Meeting with other students, alumni, professionals and the CTAMFT Board of Directors.

Date:   February 11, 2011
Time: 8:30 am – 10:00 am
Place: Alumni House at the Fairfield University
R.S.V.P.: Ada Faugno at <>  no later than February 8th!

Dorothy Timmerman, CTAMFT Board President, extends this invitation to meet and network with each other and the CTAMFT Board Members:

“You will have the opportunity to hear about some very exciting news about our new website, which we are continuing to expand, the launch of our new Facebook page as a means of communicating with members as well as promoting our field to the public, important legislative updates, information about our Annual Conference scheduled for April 8th, 2011 including the addition of a new Poster Session, and much more. This is also a wonderful opportunity to learn how you can be involved in our Professional Organization in a way that helps you meet your goals.”

Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI)

Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI) can be defined as behaviors (i.e. cutting/burning/skin scratching) resulting in physical damage with no explicit or implicit intent to die but rather to gain relief from negative emotion or obtain social reinforcement (Weissman, 2009). Other names and definitions have been ascribed to this phenomenon. It has been called parasuicide (Linehan, Armstrong, Suarez, Allmon, & Heard, 1991), self mutilation (Briere & Gil, 2010), and deliberate self harm (Odershaw, et al., 2009). Some studies have classified NSSI amongst other “self destructive behaviors” (i.e. substance abuse, binge eating, smoking, and reckless endangerment) (Herrenkohl, Catalano, Hemphill, & Toumbourou, 2009). Currently NSSI is not considered a disorder in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but a proposed revision is being considered for the creation of an NSSI diagnosis in the DSM-V (Nonsuiciadal Self Injury – Proposed Revision, 2010).

An important distinction of NSSI is that it is non-fatal by nature. If it were fatal then it would be considered suicidal behavior. NSSI events differ from suicidal events in that the intent is not death, but an improvement in psychological state (Roth & Presse, 2003). The distinction is further made by the argument of some researchers that NSSI is an “anti-suicide” behavior, suggesting that NSSI is used as a coping mechanism to avoid suicide (Suyemoto, 1998). While NSSI may be considered an attempt to avoid suicide, researchers have found a strong link between suicide and adolescents who engage in NSSI behaviors (Stanley, Gameroff, Michalsen, & Mann, 2001).

Michael Romano is a marriage and family therapy graduate student at Fairfield University.

Psychotherapy Models

A psychotherapy model is a collection of beliefs or unifying theory about what is needed to bring about change with a particular client in a particular treatment context (Hubble, Duncan, & Miller, 1999).  Models include techniques, which are extensions of beliefs or theory, implemented to bring about change in the client (Hubble et al., 1999).  Model specific factors are unique variables of a theoretical approach or model that contribute to therapeutic change (Sprenkle & Blow, 2004a).  A useful model integrates components of theory, research and practice (Sexton, Ridley et al., 2004).  The relationship between these terms implies that all effective therapists operate from a specific model (Hubble et al., 1999). Embedded within therapeutic models are assumptions about health and function, the model developer’s worldview, and style of personal interaction.

Carissa D’Aniello is a graduate of  Fairfield’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program.



Come and learn with fellow MFTs
about the latest developments in
Marriage and Family Therapy

Great opportunity to network and create community!

Thursday, Dec 16, 2010

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Canisius Hall Room 15