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About Don MacMannis, Ph.D & Debra Manchester-MacMannis, MSW

Don MacMannis, Ph.D. and Debra Manchester MacMannis, M.S.W. are a team both at home and at the office. Married for more than thirty years and parents of two sons, they are psychotherapists who have simultaneously served as directors of the Family Therapy Institute of Santa Barbara. In addition to nationwide lectures on families, they have provided postgraduate training to hundreds of therapists.

Beat the Back-to-School Blues: How You Can Help

A recent three-year longitudinal study confirmed what family therapists have observed clinically for decades: that patterns of family interaction have very important effects on children — both for better and for worse. Here's the bottom line: if you want your kids to succeed in school, build a stronger, more loving family. Melissa Sturge-Apple, a researcher from [...]

We are Family: Tips on Sibling Rivalry

The Gerson family overwhelms our office with noise and activity from the first moment they arrive for family therapy. The three boys, aged 7, 11, and 13, immediately begin to argue over who sits where. Pouncing on each other’s laps, they push and poke. The youngest one screams as though he’s been mortally wounded. Mom and [...]

Top 10 Summer Tips

If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers. — Edgar W. Howe Perhaps you’ve been enjoying your summer, getting extra time to have fun with your kids without the pressure of homework and extracurricular activities. Perhaps not. Let’s face it, [...]

Singing the Praises of Elementary School Musical

Most of you know me as Dr. Mac, with more than 30 years of family therapy practice and the author of numerous articles and books on parenting. What you may not know is that I'm also a music director, songwriter and creator of educational entertainment for children, including having worked on the animated PBS series Jay Jay [...]

By | 2018-06-01T16:09:32+00:00 June 1st, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

We Can Work It Out – Tips for Avoiding Hurt & Conflict

Most people realize that high levels of conflict— loud, angry or bitter fighting— can be tremendously destructive not only to marriages and intimate relationships but can cause lasting harm to kids caught in the crossfire. Conflict takes a toll not only psychologically but also physically. As painful as divorce can be for kids, what we know [...]

The Surprising Truth About Happiness

“I just want to be happy!” Young and old, male and female, rich or poor, we utter these six simple words. If you ask parents what they most want for their kids, they say the same thing— “I just want them to be happy.” Why is this precious human emotion so available to some and so [...]

By | 2018-03-29T13:03:46+00:00 March 29th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

For the Love of Laughter

"The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease."  – Voltaire Although many of us have felt instinctively for years that laughter, like crying, can be a powerful antidote to pain and suffering, the scientific world is finally catching up. According to the American Association for Therapeutic Humor, laughter may have [...]