A Spotlight on Professor Gagliardi, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Couples and Family Therapy Interview

Couples and Family Therapy Interview

A few months ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Jackie Gagliardi, who is a part of the core faculty here at MSPP and the coordinator of the Couples and Family Therapy program. I am currently taking Collaborative Therapy with Multistressed Families and Professor Gagliardi is a wonderful teacher on this subject. She holds many years in this field under her belt, and with that comes a multitude of experiences and stories.  Professor Gagliardi is a licensed marriage and family therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant and co-author of Study-Guide for the Marriage and Family Therapy National Licensing Examination. She holds a Master’s in Education in Counseling and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Family Systems from Northeastern University.

For many years, Professor Gagliardi worked as a play therapist for children, and overtime she noticed that, although the children would initially improve, they would eventually come back, because the family was not working together as a unit. She realized that the work she was doing with an individual could only go so far, unless the family was brought in and everyone made an agreement to cooperate. This motivated her to pursue a CAGS in Family Systems. She also had the unique opportunity of training at the Family Institute in Cambridge, MA.

Professor Gagliardi has had a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts for 33 years specializing in individual, couple and family therapy. She also has had a consulting business, in which she had the opportunity to connect with schools, family owned business and clinics, including community agencies. While juggling all of this, she has run numerous parent groups and teacher workshops and been a critical part of Kantor Family Institute in Cambridge. Professor Gagliardi was involved in the founding of The Family Solutions Institute, which grew out of Kantor Family Institute.

Her experiences as a therapist helped drive her to teach future clinicians. She was the co-director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Cambridge College and an adjunct faculty member of the Andover Newton Theological School and at Wheelock College. She became a part of the MSPP community five years ago and is actively involved in every part of the CFT program here.  In fact, she serves as an advisor to many of the CFT students, including myself.

When designing the CFT concentration at MSPP, Professor Gagliardi and the other team members decided to name the program “Couples and Family Therapy” instead of the traditional “Marriage and Family Therapy.” Professor Gagliardi advocated for this unique title because she wanted to acknowledge that the definition of relationships is changing and that there all many types of couples. “You do not need to be married to seek therapy,” she commented and specifying marriage in the title would not honor other relationships and this societal change.

Professor Gagliardi is driven by her desire to help people, thus she also finds the time to be a member of the Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health. As a part of this team, she is advocating for consumers and their protection and serves as the representatives of Marriage and Family Therapists on the board. She has the distinct chance to review applications for licensure in different disciplines.

She suggests that prospective and current students in family therapy programs should definitely go for all the way and apply for licensure as an LMFT, especially now that Massachusetts has given vendorship to LMFT’s. This means that LMFT’s can now bill insurances for the work they do, which is crucial to our progress. “Now that we have vendorship, the field will be growing and there will be an increase in jobs, especially due to Children’s Initiative, and in wraparound services and home based work,” she says.

Professor Gagliardi also recommends that therapists work to continue their education, even after they graduate. She advises that attending workshops and conferences are not only great networking tools, but also excellent ways to introduce balance into your life.

When asked about her many projects and what they mean to her, Professor Gagliardi remarks, “I am really excited because my passion is to train couples and family therapists to serve the underserved and to become competent and culturally sensitive therapists.”

Professor Gagliardi previously served as a board member of the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and back in November, MSPP hosted the MAMFT board members, who spoke with CFT students regarding career opportunities. MSPP also hosted MFT program directors for their quarterly meeting.

“I love what I do and the thing I love the most is to be able to help people communicate and find a way to live their preferred lives. I think of all the times I have met with people and how in the end, we worked to find a way to improve the quality of their life. However small or large the change was, it was contributing to their quality of life, and I had a unique hand in that,” Professor Gagliardi remarks. Her passion is not only evident in her impressive criterion but also in the stories she shares with her students. She is knowledgeable, compassionate and encouraging, and I am honored to have the opportunity to train under her guidance.

Posted in Counseling Psychology, Couples and Family Therapy | Tagged , ,

Tips for Surving the GRE

For some of us, standardized tests are the last thing on our bucket lists. The truth is if you thought you were done with filling in bubbles with the SATs, I have some tough news for you: not only do you need to bubble-in like a champion for many national voting procedures, but equally bubble-riffic are exams like the GRE and the Examination of Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). However, depending on where you take it, it’s likely that your exam will be administered on computers, so you can put your #2 pencil away. As you may know, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for entrance to MSPP’s Clinical PsyD graduate program; it is an optional application material for the Master’s programs, and the PsyD programs in both School Psychology (“strongly recommended” that you take the GRE for the School Psych PsyD program) and Leadership Psychology. This post will take a closer look at the GRE and offer some tips to employ when tackling that computer screen’s challenges.

As previously mentioned, for most test takers, this exam will be computer based. Please note that there was a significant overhaul of the GRE a few years back, so for those of us who may be rusty, let me offer some conventional wisdom: from what I understand, the “newer” (as of 2012, I believe) GRE is adaptive between sections, not within sections. Knowing this takes the pressure off those first five questions that had been touted as the most important in the previously adaptive GRE. Also, you can skip questions, flag questions, and scroll through questions. This is helpful for those moments when you’re stumped and feel the need to move on but not completely abandon ship. One overarching theme I might advise is to be sure that you understand what each question is really asking. This applies to both verbal and quantitative questions. If you’re not sure about a response, it’s okay to flag it and come back to it.

There are three major components to the GRE: 1. Verbal reasoning, 2. Quantitative Reasoning, and 3. Analytical Writing. We’ll dive into them below and even offer some tips.

Verbal Reasoning
Overall tip: being a good reader will help you with these sections. Magazines (a broad assortment), news articles, books – all of these will help. Additionally, the vocabulary is elevated from your banal SAT words; if this is a weakness for you, you may want to practice reading some literary reviews. 

  1. Reading Comprehension – You’ll read some passages and respond to some questions. These passages draw from a variety of subject matters, some of which may really interest you, others may make your eyelids very heavy. Either way, it would behoove you to pace yourself. For the reading comprehension section, you will be faced with the following:

A. Multiple-choice questions – These will be in the form of “select one or more correct answers” to each question. If it’s a “one or more” versus a “select one,” you will want to be sure that ALL of the responses you mark are accurate. You will not receive partial credit here.
B. Select-in-passage – There will be questions that ask you to highlight where in the passage you would find the answer (e.g. “Select the sentence that explains why a person may want to study for the GRE”).

2. Text Completion – There will be a sentence, or even a paragraph, with blanks and choices that make the most sense for the overall context. Tip: You want to read the ENTIRE passage before hitting “submit” on these; the response that may make sense in one blank may not include any word that makes sense in another blank.

Quantitative Reasoning
In general, you will want to refresh the following: algebra (including inequalities, foiling, and absolute values), number sense (integers, ratios, fractions, decimals, percentages), exponent rules, probability, mean/median/mode, and geometry (slopes, triangle and line properties may help you save some time). With word problems, be sure you’re deconstructing them to be sure you know what exactly it is that you’re supposed to be solving for.

A. Comparison Questions – Column A is greater, Column B is greater, the two quantities are equal, or the relationship cannot be determined. If you are able to remember that order, you will save a little bit of time.
B. Multiple-choice Questions – Similar to the Reading Comprehension, some of these may ask for multiple responses. If it is a question where multiple responses are possible, be sure that ALL of the selection you’ve made are correct; again, there is no partial credit here.
C. Numeric Entry Questions – It’s not all bubbles, folks. Here you enter an answer into a box provided. My advice on this one would be to embrace the flag and revisit option if you’re stuck. On the multiple-choice questions, you have a 1/5 chance of guessing the correct answer; here, you’ve got a blank box to fill in. As they say, do the math?

Analytical Writing
These are scored writing samples, and there are two of them. Overall, you should have two general goals in your writing here: 1. Structure: be sure you have a clear thesis, along with an organizational approach that flows. 2. Expression: mix up your sentence structure, throw in some of those bigger words you know (heyo, “pulchritude”), watch your grammar and punctuation, and please, stay away from colloquial language!

A. Analyze the Issue – Read the prompt. Take a side. Back it up. It’s not a bad idea to take a 5-paragraph format approach to this, with your introduction, three supporting paragraphs, and conclusion. In addition to clear organization (see above), you will also want to employ some quality examples to bolster your argument.
B. Analyze the Argument – Now you critique someone else’s argument. Look for the holes in logic; they’ll be there. Your writing should highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the argument provided. Again, organization and support of your position are some keys to your success.

Other tips: first of all, congratulations on making it this far in reading this post! Secondly, there are lots of resources out there, from Princeton Review (I am not endorsing any particular review, just offering an example) to GRE apps for your smart phone. Many of the books you buy to help you review also offer online versions or CDs with practice tests. Additionally, some colleges and universities offer GRE prep classes at a discounted rate. The benefit to these classes is that they’re scheduled, so if you have a trouble with internal motivation and sticking to your own review schedule, it could be worthwhile. I’d say to be sure you give yourself some time to familiarize yourself with some of the concepts and the layout of the test. Check out ETS’s website (listed below) because they have some free examples. And, if you do have documented accommodations, be sure to arrange for that well in advance.

Overall, try to get some good sleep, give yourself some practice, and pace yourself. You can do it!

ETS online: http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/about

Posted in Applying to MSPP, Change of Career, Clinical PsyD, Organizational Psychology & Leadership, School Psychology | Tagged

Anxiety as a Positive Agent for Change

Anxiety is a part of everyone’s life from the moment we are born, and is generally produced from some form of change.  Generally connoting negative emotion and outcome, anxiety is synonymous with stress which many of us have come to believe is not a “good” thing.

At birth, you’re no longer in the womb.  This is a stressful change.  

You graduate high school and are suddenly “on your own” facing many new experiences and challenges.  Anxiety in some form or another will probably ensue.  

Your work organization undergoes significant structural modifications.  Change to the environmental norm at work can be scary.    

However, have you ever considered the positive attributes of stress?   

Take a deadline for instance.  For procrastinators, deadlines act as positive stress, creating necessary anxiety.  The anxiety of meeting a deadline forces them (okay, “us”) to get things done; I think we can all agree that getting things done is a good thing.

Without deadlines, some  people will never finish projects [in a timely manner] or arrive to appoints in time, or give presents for their loved ones on an annual basis (a birthday can serve as deadline).

In a business setting, anxiety too can be used to the benefit of the organization.

This notion is an underutilized if not completely ignored strategy in many workplaces because anxiety is most often forged by and maintained with negative influence.  It is usually derived from circumstances that force knee-jerk reactions out of fear or pressure, versus deliberate pro-activity born from solid strategic planning and communication.

Companies which are well-versed in transformational change have cracked the code on delivering urgency (basically meaning a “deadline” for achieving rapid change) and creating positive anxiety to their advantage.

At such a point, employees are not solely, negatively impacted by the stress, but rather energized by it.  It drives them to achieve the goals set forth by the change, and eventually anxiety is surpassed by positive outcomes.

Those organizations that can learn to quickly adapt to constantly evolving external and internal environments are those that use the anxiety that comes with change as a force multiplier.

Can you think of areas in your life where stress or anxiety can be used to your advantage?

Top 4 Tips for Interviewing

Our Organizational and Leadership Psychology Department recently hosted a “Breaking In” workshop for current students and alumni.  These 4 Top Tips For Interviewing were provided by MSPP Organizational Psychology Alumni, Marge Dupere and Dennis Woodruff.

  1. Do your homework: Prior to any meeting, be it an interview or networking meeting, know what is going on at the organization you are targeting. Best exercise is to write out a report for yourself, including a summary of key strengths and challenges for that organization, and questions you would like to ask of those with whom you are meeting.
  2. Information interviewing works: Get out there and find out more about the discipline in which you would like to work (such as Org Behavior or Leadership Development), the sector you would like to work (biotech, non-profit, healthcare, etc.). If you are uncomfortable meeting first with your prime target, get to know their competitors. You will add serious value to the discussion once you land the “big one”; the interview that matters.
  3. Leverage what you know: If you are changing careers or targeting an adjacent field, build on what you know whether that is sector or subject matter expertise. For example, if you worked in financial services (in a finance/accounting role) then seek an OD role in that sector and build on/sell what you know about that business and audience.
  4. Believe in and be confident in what you learned at MSPP: As discussed, there is rigor in your degree and/or certificate that many working in the field may not possess. Learn how to communicate that value proposition in a succinct and compelling way, and in the interest of the decision maker.
Posted in Change of Career, Online Education, Organizational Psychology & Leadership

Top 3 Tips for Linked In

Our Organizational and Leadership Psychology Department recently hosted a “Breaking In” workshop for current students and alumni.  These 3 top tips on Linked In were provided by MSPP Organizational Psychology Alumna, Leto Papadopoulos.

  1. Keyword your LinkedIn profile with all relevant terms related to the types of positions you’re looking for within OD. This can be done within the summary, job descriptions or skills & endorsements sections. It doesn’t matter where on your profile those terms are located, you will still appear in search results and terms will be highlighted.
  2. Create a strong career summary for your profile. This is a big picture overview – if your background isn’t in OD, find transferable skills/accomplishments to highlight.
  3. Use LinkedIn to create networking opportunities. It’s an extension of your in-person activities. Do your research on companies and people to meet with, and then use it to get introductions to set those meetings.
Posted in Change of Career, Online Education, Organizational Psychology & Leadership

Top 3 Tips for Resume Writing

Our Organizational and Leadership Psychology Department recently hosted a “Breaking In” workshop for current students and alumni.  These 3 top tips on Resume Writing were provided by MSPP Organizational Psychology Alumna, Kelly Armstrong.

  1. Write a powerful opening/objective statement or summary. A solid, clear opening/objective statement will help you carry a focused message throughout the resume. This will summarize your skills and emphasize your strengths and this should typically be in a block paragraph format and run about 3 to 5 sentences long.
  2. Tailor your resume and cover letter for EACH position. Many applicants create a generic resume and send it out for every job of interest. Most often this is just a waste of time. You should take the time to review in detail the job advertisement and the required qualifications. Tailor your resume and work experience to support what the employer is looking for. Address each point in enough detail that the employer can easily find the information on your resume and cover letter and understand your depth of experience. One resume does not fill all.
  3. Be organized, logical and concise. In addition to reviewing your experience, employers also use the resume to sense whether you are organized, logical or concise. Make sure your resume is balanced, neat, visually appealing and flows consistently. Clearly separate sections and emphasize section titles. Leave sufficient blank space between sections for easy reading.
Posted in Change of Career, Online Education, Organizational Psychology & Leadership

Preemptive Nostalgia

As has been previously mentioned, I am a graduate of Wesleyan University. That’s Wesleyan. Not Wellesley. Don’t ask me why, but every time I told someone where I was going, they said “Oh, the all-girls school?” I believe there was even a shirt printed joking to that effect sometime in my sophomore year. Our desire for clarification had nothing to do with the caliber of either school, but rather was related to our fierce pride in all the things Wes had to offer, in the way we believed we were pushing boundaries and being someone new. Last night, How I Met Your Mother had a scene depicting a flash forward to two of the characters dropping their son off at their alma mater, Wes, and then heading to the local watering hole (Eli Cannon’s!). As the writers are Wes Alums, these types of scenes happen occasionally and always make me smile with happy memory.
Bear with me. I am going somewhere with this. I am graduating from the MA/CAGS program in June (yay!) and am positively SHOCKED that three years have gone by. And while the glories of grad school are far different than the memories of college, there are the same moments of self reflection and growing edges that I will look back and reflect upon with misty smiles. I expect we all feel proud of MSPP, of the education we have had here, the field expectations, and its new building that finally reflects the quality within. I sometimes still get the blank, confused stare when I say I attend MSPP, but then, I am used to that. It is happening less and less often as reputations of the quality professionals take root in the area, and I look forward to the day when conference presenters make reference to “1208” and The Great Debate About Free Printing” and I can chuckle at the memories along with the crowd.

Posted in School Psychology

Greetings from Fatimah

As a first year student in the Master in Counseling and Global Mental Health Program, I am honored to be a part of the MSPP community.  Prior to matriculating into this program, I spent the last 11 years in Philadelphia in various service environments.  I have spent 10 years working as a diversity trainer and facilitator within the context of non-profit and higher educational institutions.  I have also provided technical assistance to immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs – providing wrap-around services in low and modest wealth communities.  I am a Senior Fellow and the human rights organization, Humanity in Action and have engaged in social change work in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

I love the Global Mental Health Program at MSPP for many reasons.  Firstly the program provides a space for me to synthesize my work as a global advocate with the practical skills of psychotherapy and healing.  I have gained a tremendous understanding of the role mental health professionals play in providing support to refugees in the United States as well as their role abroad in disaster relief or following the devastation of mass violence.  As challenging and intractable as these major problems sound, I have found courage and hope in the trauma informed treatment framework based on decades of experience among MSPP faculty.

I would be happy to answer any questions one may have about the program.

Posted in Global Mental Health

An Afghan Adventure

So, I spent the past 10 months at a Marine Corps base in Afghanistan.

Over the Hindu Kush Mountains of Southern Afghanistan

Over the Hindu Kush Mountains of Southern Afghanistan

I’m not a Marine, not an active duty service member, nor a contractor.  I’m a legitimate Government Service (GS) “civil servant” who voluntarily applied to deploy to Helmand Province from my cozy life in Colorado Springs.

“Why would somebody to this?”, you ask.

Well, several reasons.

1.  Enriching Work – We as Americans have sent hundreds of thousands of troops to Afghanistan.  It’s treacherous, particularly when many service members are on their second, third, forth or even fifth deployment.  My job was to direct Morale, Welfare and Recreation programming for the personnel working at the base.  What could be more

Hosting WWE wrestlers to include the 7ft, 400lb "Big Show".

Hosting WWE wrestlers to include the 7ft, 400lb “Big Show”.

rewarding in a war zone than ensuring that these individuals received world-class fitness programming, Wi-Fi in their living quarters (albeit spotty for many challenging reasons), special events offerings, and celebrity USO meet-and-greets? I got to help ensure that decompression activities were readily available and of a high-quality, so that everyone could do their jobs as effectively as possible.  I am so grateful for that opportunity.

2.  Sense of Adventure – I have been working for the US Army for the past 9 years at various bases throughout the US and Europe.  I kinda just wanted to see what’s going on in a deployed environment.  After all, everyone’s doing it.

Short, but wild Osprey flight "down South".

Short, but wild Osprey flight “down South”.

Okay, maybe not everyone, but when you work on a military base, you’re surrounded by people who have experienced the deployed lifestyle…be it actively deploying, or keeping the embers burning back on the home front.  I mean, don’t you think it sounds just a little bit interesting to “see what it’s really like” over there?  After all, plenty of your hard-earned tax dollars are being sent over there by the billions; why not see it at work?

And see it first-hand, I did!  Pretty mind-blowing to witness even the logistical processes of getting personnel to where they need to be in Afghanistan, getting the supplies and equipment necessary to keep them afloat, and then managing the resulting waste.

Musician/Producer Tim Rushlow hanging out with Camp Dwyer Marines

Musician/Producer Tim Rushlow hanging out with Camp Dwyer Marines

 “Icing”-type goods, services and activities blew me away as well — like fancy meal nights at the dining facilities for major holidays, “near beer” provisions (since consuming alcohol is strictly prohibited), small shops with common amenities we don’t view as “luxury” here in the US, and well-attended Zumba fitness classes.

3.  Money for School – Part way through paying graduate studies straight out of pocket with no scholarships and no loans, it dawned on me that “this $h!t’s expensive!”.  Ha.  So, I explored and weighed options for supplementing my income to support my dirty, little academic habit.  Without taking loans, a deployment through the US military was the most feasible option.

R&R in Dubai at the tallest building in the world.

R&R in Dubai at the tallest building in the world.

This worked out just fine.  I got to take some pretty wicked “Rest & Recuperation (R&R) trips, and still come back with plenty of money to cover the rest of my Master’s while keeping a little change in my pocket.  “Epic winning.”

4.  Time for Studies and Physical Fitness –  Let’s face it: I’m a seasoned procrastinator.  Like…I’m really exceptional at what I do.  I can find 50 things around the house that need to be completed before I can bring myself to crack open my text book for the week’s assignments.

By deploying to Afghanistan, however, I didn’t have a house to take care of, a dog to walk and nurture and clean-up after, grocery shopping to do, cooking to clean up…and so on.  I figured in theater, I’d work a regular schedule and then have a bunch of time on my hands for working out and studying.  Sweet!  I’d be forced into focusing on my academic growth and physical development.

Ha!  THAT didn’t happen.  When the reality of my 12-hour day, 7-days per week schedule set in, I immediately realized that I had no choice but to reign-in my studies from full-time to part-time.  MSPP was fully supportive of this request, by the way, considering my situation, which was a huge relief.  But I still felt like I was drowning, given the extreme technological challenges one inherently faces in a third-world country (I forgot this consideration when I applied for 2013 coursework).  However, with the support of the MSPP faculty and my cohort classmates, I was able to work through what I’d signed up for while I was gone.

5. Absence of Ties – I’m not married and I don’t have children just yet.  So, accomplishing

I missed this little thing!

I missed this little thing!

goals 1-4 above were doable.  Had I been tied to a husband or children, there is little to no chance that I’d have every considered deploying for nearly a year.  I do have a sweet, sweet poodle-mutt of a dog named Chloe.  She was my primary concern and apprehension about leaving.  Fortunately my folks, who she loves, agreed to look after her and love her in my absence.

It all worked out.  Even found a couple potential soul-mate while I was there.  We’ll see where that goes.  Wouldn’t that be the ultimate Afghanistan souvenir?  Ha.  It’d make the whole experience even more worth it.

Now I can get back to procrastinating on my terms.  I’m working toward having enough time to really focus on knocking out the rest of my MSPP program at the level that I want.


Posted in Change of Career, Experiential Education, Global Mental Health, Online Education, Personal Growth | Tagged , , , , ,

Marshall Ganz on narrative & social movements


Please take the time to check out my conversation with Dr. Marshall Ganz at the Kennedy School of Government. Marshall Ganz is a senior lecturer in public policy at HKS, and a  leading expert in narrative, social movements and leadership. Dr. Ganz was a civil rights activist in the 60, and worked with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in California. He is also credited with devising and orchestrating the successful grassroots organizing model in Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.


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