Co-Founders and Co-Directors Nancy Knudsen and Jack LaForte are a married couple who have come together professionally to establish this institute at a stage in their careers when giving back is of utmost importance. Both trained as family therapists in the 1980’s, they are each committed to the value of seeing human beings in the context of their families and communities.
Nancy Knudsen, LMFT, is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Northampton, MA with over 30 years experience in the field. She has used a family systems orientation over the years to work with individuals, couples, and families on a wide range of issues. Over the past 8 years, Nancy’s primary clinical modality has been Emotionally Focused Therapy. She first became a certified EFT therapist in 2011, then a certified EFT supervisor in 2014, and served two years as the Assistant Director of the New England EFT Community. Nancy has taught a number of workshops on EFT for professionals. Historically, her areas of professional interest have been structural family systems, Bowen family systems theory, trauma, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).
Nancy earned a master’s degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1984. From there she attended a two-year certificate program at the Kantor Family Institute in family therapy which emphasized a thorough knowledge base of each of the major family therapy models. She developed an interest in family related trauma in the 1990’s, and sought out training in EMDR in order to learn to address unspoken emotional states,completing EMDR training in 1997 and becoming an EMDR Institute Facilitator in 1999. To strengthen her background in family systems theory, Nancy completed a year long post-graduate program at the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in 2008. She has been a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Massachusetts since 1991. Additionally, she is a Past President of the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. Her most recent enterprise is co-founding and co-directing the Couple and Family Institute of New England located in Northampton, MA.
Jack LaForte, Ph.D., LMFT, has worked with literally thousands of clients during his career as a psychologist, licensed marriage and family therapist, life coach and consultant. With over 35 years experience, he has developed an integrated client-focused approach which combines family systems, positive psychology, communications theory, cognitive behavioral therapy, and emotionally focused therapy. In his work he tries to engender trust, hope, openness, warmth, respect, and a sense of humor. In March, 2016, he had the honor of receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Dr. LaForte earned his doctorate in counseling and consulting psychology in 1983 from the Union Institute. He is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist and Past President of the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He received his Clinical Membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in 1979 and became an Approved Supervisor 1984. In addition to his private practice Dr. LaForte has served as a consulting psychologist to mental health and social service agencies in the Pioneer Valley. Dr. LaForte has supervised and trained marriage and family therapists, taught at the graduate level and lectured on various topics related to relationships systems. He has also authored two chapters on Emotional Triangles.
Dr. LaForte has been a member of the American Psychological Association, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, American Family Therapy Association, the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and the Family Firm Institute.
Acey A. Mercer, LMSW is a graduate of the University at Albany School of Social Welfare where he obtained his Master’s in Social Work. Prior to graduate school Acey studied at Radboud Universiteit in the Netherlands where his academic focus was in Gender and Sexuality Studies. These foci ignited Acey’s passion to further explore and examine human behavior, relationships and the dynamics of class, race, ability, gender and sexuality. These motivating factors drew Acey to pursue social work and ultimately to become a licensed psychotherapist and educator. Acey is currently Practice Manager at Choices Counseling & Consulting in Albany, NY where he oversees clinical referrals and is responsible for the overall daily operations. He is also a Clinician at Choices and counsels clients exploring gender identity and expression. He works with adults, youth, and their families as they navigate questions and challenges related to the social, legal and medical aspects of gender transition. Acey’s clinical lens gives a strong compliment to the professional education services he delivers as Senior Consultant of the Training Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity, and Sexuality (TIGRIS). Acey specializes in providing clinical training and policy development as it relates to best serving transgender and nonbinary populations in medical, mental health and educational institutions.
MaryAnna Domokos-Cheng Ham, Ed.D., LMFT, is a Professor Emerita at the University of Massachusetts Boston. From 1985-2005 she was a tenured faculty in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology. While at UMass Boston she founded and developed the Family Therapy Program, and was its director. After 18 years of institutional development, FTP was awarded full certification from COAMFTE, (Commission On Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education) the accrediting body of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The UMass Boston FTP became the first academic program to be accredited in Massachusetts. This achievement was a milestone because, unlike many other states in the U.S. with several COAMFTE accredited programs, no marriage and family program in Massachusetts had ever been accredited by COAMFTE.
Dr. Ham has also been a former president of the Massachusetts Division of AAMFT and a national board member of AAMFT. Her scholarship has been focused on issues of diversity, biracial coupleships, and ethics. For over 30 years she has provided family, couple, and individual therapy to diverse racial, cultural, gender identified populations. Although well versed in many modalities of therapy, her clinical focus is systemic therapies, in particular post-modern and social construction approaches including narrative therapy.
Currently, Dr. Ham maintains a private practice in Northampton, MA. She is also a Master Therapist for Couples Therapy Inc, an online therapy practice that treats couples located internationally and throughout the United States. She continues to be affiliated with UMass Boston by teaching online advanced family therapy courses. Throughout her work, MaryAnna maintains her commitment to social justice and respectful communication.
Daniel J. Wiener, PhD, RDT/BCT is licensed psychologist who taught Marriage and Family Therapy for 23 years as a Professor at Central Connecticut State University. Having founded his approach to relational therapy, Rehearsals for Growth (RfG), in 1984, he has presented over 230 professional workshops in 8 countries, training over 1000 therapists. He is an author/editor of 5 books (starting with Rehearsals for Growth: Improvisation for Psychotherapists in 1994) as well as 50 professional chapters and articles. He is the recipient of: Psychodrama’s Zerka T. Moreno Award (ASGPP), both Drama Therapy’s Gertrude Schattner Awards and a Research Award (NADTA). His website is: www.rehearsalsforgrowth.com.
Jane Fleishman, PhD, MS, MEd is a Certified Sexuality Educator, researcher, and writer with more than 40 years’ experience. After retiring as the Director of Medical Education and Staff Development at a large psychiatric hospital, Jane pursued her PhD and began her successful encore career in human sexuality. In her recent TEDx talk “Is it OK for Grandma to have sex?” she articulates her mission to promote the sexual well-being of older adults. Her recently published research assessing the sexual satisfaction of aging adults in same-sex relationships is available here. Dr. Fleishman’s focus on changing the ways older adults’ sexuality is perceived allows her to bring together decades of experience in organizing, educating, researching, and implementing lasting change across a wide variety of disciplines. In 2000, she received Governor’s Service Award in Healing of Racism; in 2015, a Graduate Scholar Award from the Aging and Society Knowledge Community; and in 2016, the William R. Stayton Award for Leadership in the field of human sexuality. In 2020 her book on sexuality aging will be released by Skinner House Press. Visit her website at: www.janefleishman.com.
Joseph Winn LICSW, CST-S received his MSW from The Boston University School of Social Work in 1995. Joe has completed extensive post-graduate training in domestic violence, and family and couples therapy with a particular interest in structural, strategic, Bowenian, collaborative language systems and post-modern models of intervention. Joe is also an AASECT certified sex therapist, and AASECT certified supervisor of sex therapy. Joe has been self-employed in private practice since 2006 has a thriving supervisory practice and maintains an office in West Concord, Massachusetts. Joe works primarily with mixed gender, LGBTQQIA + individuals, couples in open and consensual non-monogamy, polyamory and kink and has a particular interest in high conflict couples, and couples looking to regain pleasure and trust-based sexuality after sexual assault and abuse. While drawing from a variety of couples therapy models including EFT, experiential, and object relations, Joe resonates most strongly with Bader and Pearson’s Development Model of couples therapy. Joe is also a member of the training faculty with The South Shore Sexual Health Center, in Quincy, Massachusetts. SSSHC is an AASECT approved training program for clinicians looking to become AASECT Certified Sex Therapists.
Julie Mencher LICSW is a therapist, clinical consultant, and educator in Northampton MA who specializes in working with the LGBTQ community. Her organizational consulting work focuses on helping pre-K through college educational institutions and health care organizations in several countries to work toward trans inclusion and trans-competency. Formerly, Julie was the Transgender Specialist at Smith College (2001-2004), adjunct professor at Smith College School for Social Work, and Visiting Scholar at the Stone Center and Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at Wellesley College. She has published book chapters and articles in clinical journals and the media on LGBTQ topics, and is the co-author of the chapter, “Two Middle-Aged, White, Jewish, Cisgender Lesbians Sitting Around Talking About Trans Sex,” in Sex, Sexualities, and Trans Identities (2019, forthcoming from Jessica Kingsley Publishing). Her general psychotherapy and clinical consultation practice includes a focus on working with LGBT clients, particularly with the parents of gender-nonconforming and trans youth.
Nancy Knudsen, LMFT is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in Northampton, MA with over 30 years experience in the field. She has used a family systems orientation over the years to work with individuals, couples, and families on a wide range of issues. Over the past 10 years, Nancy’s primary clinical modality has been Emotionally Focused Therapy. She is a certified EFT therapist as well as a certified EFT supervisor, and served two years as the Assistant Director of the New England EFT Community. Nancy has taught a number of workshops on EFT for professionals, and has facilitated over 12 couples weekend workshops using the Hold Me Tight® Program developed by Dr Sue Johnson. Additionally, she is a Past President of the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. Her most recent enterprise is co-founding and co-directing the Couple and Family Institute of New England.
Sidney M. Trantham, PhD is an Associate Professor and received his Ph.D. in 1999 from the University of Florida (Gainesville). His doctoral work focused on exploring the impact of early childhood sexual experiences on the psychological functioning of adult males. He was a Harvard Clinical Fellow (1996 – 2000) at the Cambridge Health Alliance in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he completed his clinical psychology internship and neuropsychological post-doctoral fellowships, as well as engaged in research identifying early cognitive markers of HIV-related dementia. His work at Fenway Health (1999 – 2006) in Boston, Massachusetts included working with adults to address a variety of issues related to sexual identity development. In addition to his university appointment, Dr. Trantham maintains a private practice where he provides integrative psychological, neuropsychological, and gender assessment as well as psychotherapy with children, adolescents, adults, and families. Areas of clinical interest and expertise include working with transgender and non-binary children and adolescents, sexual and racial identity development, and mood disorders.
Steffani Brandenburg, LCSW, LICSW, CST is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist with a full-time private practice in Mt. Kisco, New York. She is a Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist and Approved Supervisor through The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, with advanced training in psychoanalytic psychodynamic psychotherapy, attachment and trauma-informed therapy including EMDR. Ms. Brandenburg has over 30 years of experience working with individuals and couples and specializes in working with LGBTQ identified individuals and mixed and same-gender couples. As a leading professional in the field of human relationships, Ms. Brandenburg has extensive experience providing clinical consultation, advanced clinical training and professional and community education throughout the New York Tristate area.
Theresa Bullock Cohen, LICSW, BCC, CGP is a licensed social worker, certified group psychotherapist, certified EFT couples therapist, and certified supervisor in full-time private practice. Her clinical focus is working with individuals, couples, and groups who struggle with secure attachment and intimacy. Theresa is a former supervisor for the Harvard University Mental Health Service, and currently provides supervision and consultation to therapists in private practice. She has taught as an adjunct professor at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and is currently on the teaching faculty for the NSGP group training program. Theresa has over 15 years of clinical experience leading groups, and she has presented continuing education workshops for Boston College, Harvard University UHS, the Psychodynamic Couple and Family Institute of New England, Seacoast EFT Community, Psychology Specialist of Maine, and the annual conference for the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy. Visit her website at: www.tbcohen.com.
Meet the Administrator
Lindsay Swan is an artist, graphic designer, and administrative professional, originally from Brooklyn, NY. She has worked for the Couple & Family Institute since 2017. She currently lives in Ashfield, MA with her partner and 1-year-old daughter.