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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.

Are You Tending Your Garden of Love?

"Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing." -Jim Rohn The wish for a deep sense of connection and commitment to others is universal. Ask people what is most important to them and their first answer is always [...]

Celebrating the Essence of Thanksgiving

When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. -Tecumseh, Shawnee leader Wouldn’t the world be a better place if every day had a little bit [...]

Communication: 5 Simple Tips

We're constantly shocked by just how easy it is to hurt or be hurt by our loved ones due to problems with communication. Communication is supposed to consist of both talking and listening in somewhat equal measure. But regrettably, sometimes there is one but not the other. Sound familiar? In some families, everyone seems to [...]

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 [...]