Marriage and Family Therapy

Monica McGoldrick Podcast with Dr. Eli Kehram of AAMFT

(transcript of podcast interview)

Today, someone that even if you have never heard her speak, you have certainly read one of her books if you have been through any MFT or systemic therapy training programs.  I am talking about Monica McGoldrick.  I had never met Monica before this interview, so this was really a treat  to understand her, not only her history but just how many areas of MFT she touched all the way back to model like classic Bowenian Family Therapy, moving through feminist critics into past modernism and she is still very relevant today as you’ll hear her say. 

Monica is the co-founder and director of the Multicultural Family Institute in Highland Park, New Jersey.  She is also an adjunct faculty at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.  Many of her books as I said, probably even if you didn’t know this was Monica, you have read in your training process, including: Genograms, Assessment and Intervention, a book that explains the use of Genogram mapping with famous examples of people in history like Sigmund Freud, to the Fondas and the Kennedys and she’ll talk in the interview about how she got the idea to use famous people.  She has also written Ethnicity in Family Therapy, a book that discusses the patterns of fifty-one different cultural groups.  The Expanding Family Life Cycle is a book that explores in a readable fashion human evolution through the life cycle.  Living Beyond Loss is a book about grief and unresolved mourning and finally Re-visioning Family Therapy.  Race – Culture – Gender in Clinical Practice has been a Gold standard in the field, outlining the importance of the social and cultural factors that influence family’s systems in our society today.

Monica was born in Brooklyn.  She grew up there and spent some time in Solebury, Pennsylvania.  She is into ancestry, her ancestry is from Ireland.  Her mother’s ancestors came from West Cork.  She is quite an accomplished academic.  She majored in Russian studies at Brown before receiving a masters in Russian Studies at Yale.  She fell in love with New Haven and that is when she also developed her love of working with families.  You will hear her in the podcast how she discovered social work and family therapy, receiving her MSW & later on her honorary PHD from the Smith College of Social Work.  Ladies and gentleman I proudly present to you, Monica McGoldrick

I am so pleased to be joined on the AAMFT Podcast by family therapy pioneer, Monica McGoldrick.  Monica, I have been looking forward to this interview for a long time, because I’ve never spoken with you. We’ve never met, but I am a big fan of your work. So the first question is how does someone with the advanced degree from Yale in Russian end up in family therapy?

M – By being in love with Dostoevsky, in the first place.  That’s where it started, I’m sure.

E – Ha, ha!

M- So it was the psychology of it.

E – Yes, tell me of your journey into this great profession…

M- – Well it’s kind of an oddball story.  I was finishing my Masters degree in Russian Studies, which was a terminal degree.  It was a relatively new program that no longer exists, actually. And I couldn’t get a job, because it was very political. You were either considered a communist or working for the CIA, and neither was my interest. I really didn’t know what I was going to do.  So, this guy picked me up in a diner in New Haven.  He was studying to be a psychologist and I thought wow, there’s something you could study and have something to do at the end!  I had never thought about what I would actually do, and overnight I decided to switch fields. 

E – Oh my gosh.

M – It wasn’t even a date, it was a chance encounter, a breakfast, and my parents were very supportive, which was really great, because I did not have a great relationship with my mother, but she was fabulous and said,  “If that is what you want to do, that’s it.”

E- So where are we in the timeline?  Late 60’s?

M – This was ’66, I graduated from college in ’64, two years earlier.  This was June or May of ’66. So what was I going to do?  I went and talked to somebody at Yale who turned out to be a wonderful guy named Jack Levine, who ended up being very helpful to me. He sort of laughed at my idea that I could like come into their department and start  right now, and he said no, but why don’t you go to the Mental Health Center that was about to open. You have to be sure this is what you want to do, since you just decided yesterday!  So I did.  I got a job at the Mental Health Center and began the day the doors opened. Rachael Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s wife, was my first boss and supervisor.

E – That’s amazing, The Jackie Robinson.

M- Yes, The Very Jackie Robinson who was my childhood hero.  My 8th birthday was spent at Ebbets Field, right over the dugout where Jackie Robinson came in.  He was my great hero in childhood.

E – So she was a social worker?

M – No, she was a nurse.

E – Psychiatric nurse?

M – a Psychiatric nurse and she was the head honcho, hiring people for the new the Mental Health Center, which was just starting up.  And so I worked there for a year and I thought I wanted to be psychologist, but the psychologists didn’t seem to be doing anything really interesting.  I worked on the inpatient unit, the day hospital, and the emergency unit.  I worked on different units during that year but the psychologists were just called in when you had a problem patient and it would take them a long while to write up a report that no one could understand and we used to think of it as, you wheel in the psychologist and then wheel them out and you were still are left with a difficult patient.

E – They did assessment, they weren’t in the trenches.

M – Right. They were using this very complex language and everyone just shrugged and went on trying to figure out, what do we do now with the difficult patient.  But the social workers dealt with the families and I was working as a psychiatric aide, so I got to basically live with the patients and then to see their families if I was on the afternoon or evening shift. And I thought, wow, some of these these are pretty weird families.  At some point during the year the social worker was quite overwhelmed and she asked those of us who were psychiatric aides is there was anyone who would be willing to volunteer to see families and she would supervise. Wow!  My hand shot up, count me in!  Families are most relevant and interesting.

E – Now at that point, had you ever been exposed to systemic language or family therapy?  This is the Golden Age, the late 60’s, early 70’s or right in the hey-day.  Were you doing this out of experienced learning or did you have some….

M – I knew nothing.  I knew absolutely nothing and that first year I just knew the families seemed to be or were definitely involved in the problem.  But meanwhile I decided to go to social work school instead of into psychology and got into Smith because I didn’t want to leave New Haven and you only went to Smith in the summer, so I could live in New Haven and have a placement there and that seemed like a good idea.  The only problem was, people told me that Smith might send you elsewhere if they thought that you had problems or needed a change or something. I had no interest in going anywhere else. I wanted to stay right there. The only way you could be guaranteed to stay was if you were in therapy or if you were engaged.  Well I wasn’t engaged, but I was in therapy.  So I went and asked the therapist, how would you like to say that I can’t possibly leave this therapy. He said sure, whatever.  So I did and I got placed in New Haven at one of the hospitals which was a great first placement That hospital (T-1) was run by a psychiatrist who really thought systemically. No family could be hospitalized there if they didn’t agree to come basically 3 to 4 times a week, twice for multi-family groups.  On Saturday mornings every family had to come and you met in a big group. All the staff were there! On Wednesdays family members met in a group without the identified patient and they met with a social worker and the psychiatry resident assigned to the IP at other times as well.  As a social work student, I would see the relatives of the identified person.  And meanwhile I was learning about systems from anybody I could, because by that time I was in love with family therapy

E – Your earliest influences as far as what you read or what you saw in this Golden Age of family therapy, who do you feel impacted you most?

M – Virginia Satir and Jay Haley, these were the two biggies.  Strategies of Psychotherapy and Conjoint Family Therapy were like my two bibles and The Power Tactics of Jesus Christ.  They were all great, great exciting adventures in understanding systems. I finished school in ‘69 and continued to work in New Haven, I got a job there.

E – Hospital setting in mental health?

M – It was actually an out patient unit of a Catholic Hospital with 2 Jewish therapists, 1 Scandinavian, and me.  There were crucifixes over all the doors. I did see quite a few nuns, as it was a time when a lot of nuns were leaving the convent and that was kind of a safe place they could go to talk about their issues.  I never saw any priests, but we did do groups, and saw a lot of families. I was trying to be a family therapist from the get- go.  And so I would go to Ortho (The American Orthopsychiatric Association Annual Meeting). I never missed, and I would get to every Virginia Satir session I heard about.

E – You were not thinking about Genograms?  Clearly you did not invent them, but certainly you revolutionized and popularized them. So when did you first come in contact with the work of Murray Bowen and the Genogram?

M – 1972. I heard him give a talk at a conference, a big conference up in the Berkshires. (I was just moving to New Jersey) I heard Bowen saying that no matter what kind of therapy you’ve had, if you can’t sit in a room with your mother and feel okay about yourself, you have not arrived.  I thought this guy is just an idiot, he has no idea, he had never met my mother and he didn’t know what he was talking about. At the same time, I was also intrigued. I would tune him out and then tune him back in. I’d think, he’s an idiot, and then I’d think, wow, what if that could be true!   Phil Guerin, who had been one of Bowen’s residents was also at the conference and I connected with him.  By the end of the conference, I had hired him as a coach and he had hired me to come and teach at the Bowen institute he was just developing in Westchester. That was the start of my becoming a Bowenite.

E – Were there any other females in that group of Bowenites?

M – Oh yes, Betty Carter.

E – Oh yes.  Is that when you first met Betty?

M – Yes, she and then Peggy Papp was there but she wasn’t quite as interested or involved. But Betty was although  I really didn’t connect with Betty until later.

E – So you’re there and experiencing family of origin work.  You mentioned your mother several times and I’m curious, Bowen would always say the therapist cannot get the client system past the level of differentiation that they were at.  I’m wondering how work made you look at your own family origin and I ask model developers on this show to talk about what it was like growing up, how their becoming a therapist impacted their relationships with their own families.  I’m curious about your relationship with your Mom.

M – Well it totally transformed it.  I mean Bowen, I’m sure it is why I do what I do, because understanding Bowen’s ideas and working on my own relationship with my family transformed everything.  I came to see my mother totally differently and my whole family differently. I changed my relationship with her.  And I’ve been on the journey ever since to enthuse other people about systems ideas, to help them see their relationships and life differently and to position themselves differently through that understanding.

E – You’re so well known for Genograms.  Did you immediately gravitate toward that as far as relating to your interviews?

M – Absolutely, absolutely, you couldn’t, you couldn’t be working a la Murray Bowen and not be using Genograms.  Everybody did.  And it was part of my coaching and it was part of what I did with my clients.  It was part of what I was already teaching. I was teaching family therapy from the get-go in New Jersey.  I got a job at a medical school and began to supervise others in working with families and we all did Genograms. Every chart had a Genogram in it.

E – Was Murray a difficult guy to get along with?

M – Oh, not for me.  I thought he was fantastic.  He was so generous with his time.  He was just great to me.  I think he was not as generous to his own people as he was with me.  I found him wonderful, I mean he was just terrific.  At a certain point after a couple years working with Phil, he said that I should really go and experience Bowen directly.  I used to go to the Georgetown conferences, but that was only once or twice a year.  Bowen had a one day a month conference that he did for whoever wanted to come, at the Medical College of Virginia, and I began commuting from Rutgers to Virginia. It was a big, big drive every month. And then I began staying an extra day and Bowen was very generous in that regard too that they had a video set up and if I went a day early I could connect to them and sit in some classroom and watch his videos and tell the video guy, okay can you move it ahead, I’ve seen enough of this session and can you show me the next one.  And I did that for 4 years.

E – Do you remember that as one of the most clinically rich, when you had all these great formative experiences, it was definitely worth the drive.

M – Absolutely, absolutely. And every time, even if I sometimes thought it had been a boring session, and maybe I I wasn’t really sure what he was talking about . . . on the way home I would find myself thinking: I have to be in touch with my aunt or my mother.  I’ve got to figure this one out, I’ve got to write to this one, write to that one. It was always triggering ideas about what I needed to do to understand my own life better.

E – Where did you get the idea to write the Genogram Book, really the Bible on how to construct and assess and interpret a genogram.  I know that probably many people who will listen to this podcast, you know graduate students, young professionals, people who have been out in the field a long time and probably everyone has seen multiple of your books we have talked about, but the Genogram Book I still have and use it often to construct a genogram.  When did you get the idea for that?

M – Well I was very interested in the potential of genograms for research.  I wasn’t a researcher, but I really thought genograms would make research possible, that you could do no other way.  You could develop clinical documentation of family patterns through the use of genograms in a way you could really learn about systemic patterns, but it needed to be computerized, I knew nothing about computers, but I kind of developed the dream of computerized genograms. And I would talk to people about it and meanwhile would try to study my own cases and my student’s cases and so forth.  Then one day, I went to an Ortho meeting in Boston and by the time I registered and signed into my room I had 3 messages from friends saying you won’t believe it! Somebody has computerized the genogram and you must run down to the exhibit hall, not do anything else, just go down there, you won’t believe it!  And it was Randy Gerson. He had in fact done it!  He wasn’t even a Bowenite.  He was just like a person who had been living in DC and went to a few Bowen events and saw genograms and thought, yeah, this is good, but it would be so much easier if you computerized it, because every time you want to add something new, you have to start over. He had a little old Mac and he had done it.  I thought, this is fabulous.  So he and I got together and we both fed each other’s enthusiasm about it was for genograms to be computerized. We should do something about it, because his program was a graphics program- it could draw a genogram, but we knew we needed to have the foundation be database, not a drawing program, to collect all the complexities held within the idea of a genogram. 

We tried for years to get funding to get somebody to really computerize the genogram as more than a graphic We began doing some little research projects.  I was working with another friend of mine, Michael Rohrbaugh, who kept urging me: you really need to write something to clarify what a genogram is. People talk all the time about genograms, but they need something that explains what they are and why they are useful. I thought Yeah it’s time to really explain to people why this is such an important map.  But I couldn’t write the paper because it was too complicated, if I told you my about genogram, you’d be interested, because you know me, and I’d be interested in your genogram. But as a general proposition, it involves way too much detail. It’s really hard to convey what’s so exciting about genograms in a general way.  The patterns are too complex.

Meanwhile, I had decided I should get a PHD to improve my resume, so I went to this university without walls called the Fielding Institute out in California.

E –Are we in the 1980’s now?

M – Yes this was 1980-84.  It was 1980 when I met Randy and when he and I were trying to get funding and whatever. I started at Fielding Institute. They had 16 areas that you had to get certified in, starting with Freudian Theory. I though Oh My God, back to that, I did that already.  I went to Smith, which was a very Freudian school and I can’t bear to go back for that.  My only interest was Family Therapy.

E – Once you think systemically, you can’t think any other way.  It’s hard to go backward.

M – Right, so I finally came up with an idea: What if I did Freud’s genogram?, Would that pass me in the Freudian Theory?  I could talk about his family to explain his ideas. They said, okay.  Then there was this area called Neo-Analytic Theory that I had to get certified in, so I said, could I do Jung, Adler, and Karen Horney’s genograms to discuss their theories? And they okayed that.  And then I got do interested in those people and their genograms that that became also the solution to this paper I never could write about genograms. I realized that while the clinical cases are too complicated to use to explain genograms, people would be interested in the genograms of famous people,.

That became my solution to the problem of how to explain genograms. And so I never finished the Fielding program, but my efforts became the genogram book.  And, of course, it became more than a paper. It became a way to tell the stories using famous people.  People could come to see patterns that they hadn’t noticed and it will help them understand systems thinking .

E – What did Murray Bowen think of you expanding on his work in that wonderful way and that book?

M – I have no idea. 

E –  You never…

M – I can tell you this much, around the same time, I was also moving towards culture and gender and so forth and Murray was not especially enthused about my interest in ethnicity. He thought it was a waste of time, and even our focus on the life cycle, he was like, that is not a bad idea but I’ve seen better.  He wrote a nice forward for us for our book on the life cycle, but he was not much taken with the idea.  I would consider myself Bowenites totally, although most Bowenites I’m sure would consider I left the religion long ago, but I would say that there is not a single idea that I’m interested in that is not totally connected to the Bowen Theory to this day, Gender, Race, Culture, Social Class, all of it. 

E – You just expanded the lens of the Bowen Theory.

M – He was thinking systemically about how one person affects another, how nature affects us, how we affect nature back and how it’s all connected and there’s nothing that’s not connected, it’s all part of the same thing. 

E – In 2019 you may not see a lot of Bowenian family therapists claiming their sole orientation, but it’s hard to argue with these ace principles, that stand the test of time and I  am glad to hear you  say that.  But as you expanded, let’s talk about the things you just mentioned, the Family Life Cycle.  I think at that point, probably the only other person that had talked about life cycle was Haley.  He talked about families running into problems as the nodal transitions.  Talk about how you and Betty worked together to expand that framework.

M – First of all, Betty and I came together around an article that we wrote for a book that Phil was doing on family therapy.  He saw himself, he was seen by others in those days, I’m (the late 70’s) as taking Bowen’s ideas and expanding them. And he forced Betty and me to write a paper on the family therapist’s own family and family therapy with one person.  So he forced us basically to become friends, which was great, because we struggled at first to do that to please him.

E – Was it a natural fit?

M – Well we were really different. She was a character, a much larger than life person. I like to collaborate, but I can’t say it was difficult but she was in a different place in her life. But we became extremely good friends and from there on until basically she retired, and eventually got dementia and died, she was my closest friend, in so many ways, that I just discussed all kinds of things with her.  I was also extremely close friends during all those years with Froma Walsh.  I had gone to school with her and Carol Anderson.

E – You bring that up, so another, I want to play word association.  Tell our listeners about Stonehenge.

M – Oh yeah, okay and that was a place where I wasn’t connected to Betty, Stonehenge.  It’s an odd way that whole thing, about Stonehenge started.  I was interested in ethnicity and had discovered Ireland and that I was Irish, I was a complete enthusiast and every summer I’d go to Ireland.  I would try to find family therapists to connect to and if anybody was going, I would hook up with them.  So Lynn Hoffman was going to Ireland and I didn’t know her very well but said, okay, want to go together and travel around? So she said sure so we traveled around and while we, as we did she talked about her life and I was like Oh My God, she wrote Conjoint Family Therapy for Virginia Satir. I never knew that! And she gave Minuchin the name “structural” for what he was doing,  Jay Haley did his own writing as well but her relationship with Jay Haley was very significant and the things that he did.  And here she was, this person who totally, Satir wasn’t appreciated, but she wasn’t either.

E – Well I think quite often women are vastly unappreciated in our textbooks and in the history of our profession.

M – Absolutely, she was really.

E – I am glad you made mention how kind of unsung she was as she was a big influence on you as well.

M – So she began talking, she was going to meet with different teams, teams were becoming the in thing, and she was like traveling around meeting people and doing great things, and I thought, wouldn’t it be great to bring some of these great women together.

Betty and Olga and Peggy Pope and MaryAnn Walters had developed the women’s project a couple of years earlier in 1980 and I was even thinking maybe to do a project with them.  But I got the idea from Lynn of doing a women family therapist conference. So I figured you know, the Women’s Project, I’ll talk to them.  This might be something we could do together, and I called Betty the minute I got home from traveling with Lynn in Ireland about the idea and she said, Oh that’s really great.  I said, why don’t we do it with the Women’s Project.  She said, oh I have to talk it over with them. I said, sure, let’s talk to them.  The next week I was invited to meet with them and present the idea.  So I went to meet with them and presented the idea and it’s a basic idea.  Why don’t we women get together and talk, because we don’t get appreciated and we don’t talk to each other, because we are always looking for the great men and why don’t we just meet ourselves?  So I presented the idea. But they turned it down. and one of them said there was no one out there that they wanted to meet, which I thought was really weird for a women’s group.  I thought. Too bad.  So I went home and called Carol Anderson and Froma and said, Hey, you want to put on a conference on women?  What do you think?  They said sure, so that’s where it came from, that’s what we did, first in 1984, then again in 1986.

E – Stonehenge, was in Connecticut?

M – Yes, Stonehenge was at a place where my husband and I used to go for our anniversary.  It was a wonderful inn in Connecticut.

E – What were your memories from there, any great ideas, or further writings that came out of that?

M – Oh enormous, enormous, profound, profound changes in my whole way of thinking.  And then very, very important, the women at Stonehenge and we have many of us talked about it since, anytime we were ever anywhere, after that meeting and saw one of the other people again, we would always feel like we had an ally, no matter what might be going on, we felt together.  It changed the dynamic dramatically.  It was a fantastic experience, absolutely fantastic.  There were lots of ideas that came out of Stonehenge. Lots of things got published as a result.  Froma and Carol and I did a book, Women in Families which I am still very proud of, we didn’t it follow up, and it should be followed up, but lots of the other people there wrote things as a result of collaborations they developed with people they got to know at Stonehenge. It was huge, really.

 E – That’s really amazing.  You know what I think about you, your career has become storied and spanned multiple decades I think of the family therapy textbook that put you in the family origin in each chapter, it can put you in the feminist critique, it can put you in the multicultural gender chapter, your diverse interest and scope is really extraordinary.  I can’t think of anybody else who has touched as many different areas.  What do you think, a couple of questions, what do you think since you started in the profession in the late 60’s through the Golden Age of family therapy, through the feminist critique to the 80’s into post modern, what do you think is the biggest changes in the practice of family therapy and profession from when you started into now?

M – Oh, that’s a depressing topic.  What I think is that very powerful, money forces have had a very evil influence on healthcare and mental healthcare and that systems as we came into the field and were so excited is basically dead.  It’s not, it’s really hard.

E – You identify more as a social worker, a family therapist…

M – Family therapist, no question.

E – No question.

M – But I do come from social work and I did struggle to try to figure actually what the theories were and there weren’t very good theories that you could sink your teeth into like the Bowen Theory, for example, or many other systemic ideas that you know that I absorbed growing up and I think it’s a huge loss that they didn’t just take over when psychiatry kind of died, because of big Pharma and the insurance industry and managed care and all that, social work should have said never mind about the others, here we go, let’s just take these ideas and run with them, because so many of the originators in that field were  also actually social workers, which is true.

E – Of course, I mean it was a motley crew of people from different professions, certainly the ground floor were the social workers and I think when I talk to my colleagues who are social workers they think of course there is this commonality of systems but think more of the Macro and family therapists think more of the Micro and doing the work with the family systems, there are so many commonalities when you think of what needs to happen to bring family….

M – People need to collaborate like your very program is a great idea.  I heard of on thing recently, I was invited to the University of Georgia by Jerry Gale and it was their 35th Annual Conference of Social Work, Family Therapy, and Counseling.  Because Counseling also that’s like you know sort of whose got all the social class status and whose ahead and which profession has more prestige and so on, rather than focusing on where the good ideas, how do we get them and use them and how do we support the people who need our help, which to me is all I’m ever interested in.

E – Well it’s clear in listening to you, you were passionate from an early age and with these early experiences working in the hospitals and all throughout your career to these great collaborations.  When you think about us just going through, all throughout your career, looking how many, and I just named some books so listeners will know some books you either co-authored or wrote yourself, these are just a few, “Revisioning Family Therapy,” there’s “Ethnicity and Family Therapy”, “Genograms: Assessment and Intervention,” we talked about earlier “Expanded Family Life Cycle,” what do you want your legacy to be because you’ve touched many people, collaborated with many, what do you want your professional legacy to be in our profession, Monica?

M – I don’t care particularly about my own legacy so to speak so much as I care that systemic ideas not get lost.  Let me say two things about that; I was at a conference in Aberdeen, Scotland the other week and I saw this old video of John Weakland from MRI and he was kind of on his last legs, and I don’t really know the context, but Eda Shay was then Jay Haley’s nurse there and then Shay asked him, “John if you just had like a year to live, one thing more you could do more in you life, what would it be?”  And Weakland said , “I don’t think of myself as a preacher really, but I think these systemic ideas are so powerful and I would just go around trying to convince people to pay attention to them and to forget all the bullshit that they otherwise seem to be preferring to pay attention to, cause I just don’t get that.”  That would be my thought.  I don’t understand. Systemic ideas being so important to our very survival, I can’t understand why so many other forces are having so much power to keep us from paying attention to them.

E – As I see what you think systemically you can think no other way.  I usually believe that.  When you think of….

M – Can I tell you one more thing?

E – Sure.

M – At this conference I showed a little video that I had made where we were talking about the history of family therapy at previous International Family Therapy Association Conferences in Malaga, with some really creative women who were talking about the development of family therapy in Russia, Turkey and Hungary and my friend Nydia Preto and I were the discussants.  We were feeling really depressed about family therapy in the US and, for all the good ideas, it’s not a good time for family therapy here so we were feeling pretty depressed responding to these presentations, but we spent 5 days in Barcelona and we went to see all these fabulous things of Antonio Gaudi and we got completely enthusiastic.  So I made a little movie about using Gaudi as an inspiration to the future of family therapy.  Because Gaudi knew that all the fabulous things he did in his lifetime would never be completed in his lifetime and it would take generations and who would bring new ideas to finish his creations and that’s how I think about systemic work.  I don’t care as much about whether I get remembered or what I though gets remembered, but I want systemic ideas to become the core of how we think about helping people and solving our human problems.  That is what I utterly believe.

E – Even if you don’t want to take credit for it, what do you think about the evolution of, as far as your impact on gender and culture?  How have you done as a profession as far as expanding our lens in that way?

M – As a profession, well as a profession, I think we’re so stuck at the margins of society in terms of our status, so I think that’s a real problem that money talks and money and power are male arenas still and yet we’re seeing a potentially very exciting new shifts politically but I think while we’ve made great progress in the profession and also in our world, gender wise, in terms of understanding the role that gender plays, because when I was starting in Family Therapy, gender wasn’t even a category, you know, never mind an equal category, you know what I mean?  Like there could be an entire presentation of 16 white men at a conference and people would think Wow that was great and they wouldn’t think there wasn’t a single woman or a single person of color there.  Nowadays at least we don’t feel comfortable, we still maybe do that predominantly, but we are at least are feeling uncomfortable about that or more uncomfortable about that.  I think there’s still terrific pressure from the dominant group to have it be white therapy for white people, male white people especially and that women’s needs are not obviously taken into account here or around the world.

E – do you still do Family Therapy.  How often?

M – Yeah, as much as I can.

E – The good thing is if no one has seen Monica’s work, she has made countless training tapes, but I really want to emphasize, I’m thinking about this tape you made about 10 years ago and you’re working with this African American gentleman who doesn’t really see how he’s getting ready to have a child and he really doesn’t see how doing a genogram or understanding his family origin is relevant and by the end of an hour you have created this beautiful picture and it’s like a light bulb goes off in the guy, you know…

M – I know that.  You know I made a follow-up video last year, 10 years later with him and his wife and his wife’s father, yeah.

E – Listeners of our podcasts know these model developers , one of their common factors  is the passion, the way they thought of the field, of their work early on in their careers very much endures to the late stages of their career and that is certainly with Monica McGoldrick.  I have one last question to ask you on your video.  You know we talked a little bit about your mother earlier and Bowen kind of really opening you up to these things of your family origins, so what about your family procreations, what of that…

M – Well so my husband is an engineer, he started as a physicist and he never wants to socialize with my family therapy buddies because we talk too much about stuff, but he is incredibly intuitive and he always picks up the vibes on you know who let us down, who didn’t come through with something they were doing, who talked too much, you know, the foibles of the people in the field even though he spends no time directly with them but he always knows.  I would say he has become an enormously better husband over the decades.  We’re almost 50 years married, next year it will be 50 years.  And taught me a lot about culture, he comes from Greece and grew up there and you know still has family there and I think we’ve had our separate spheres and that’s been good for me, because I think had I married someone I could have shared more with, it would have been hard as a woman, I didn’t even realize that for many, many years, but I think the fact that he had nothing to do with my sphere of life, was really a blessing.  And my son makes movies for the NBA, and I adore my son.  He was the most fabulous baby, child, person you could ever want and was in his earlier days, what they used to call “an AFTA kid.”  When we used to go every year to the Family Therapy Meetings,  he was one of the kids that grew up knowing my friends and having to sit through sort of boring dinners and he has a son whose 1 ½, who I’m just totally in love with as I was with my son.

E – Another generation to add to your Genogram.

M – And I’m wondering what in the world is the world going to be like for him.  And I’m just hoping and praying that we make the world a better place by the time his challenges really come along, when he’s adolescent and so forth.  We’re not taking very good care of things.

E – Well I hope so too and I have learned so much this hour.  You really have your own kind of professional aura, profession of Genograms, Marriage and Family Therapy profession, you’ve certainly touched many, impacted and collaborated with many.  Do you have any last things, words you want to leave our listeners with, because a lot of people will listen to this and sometimes you only read about someone or read their books or see videos but this is really kind of personalized.  That’s why I love doing these interviews.  The really important people behind, the models behind the writing, any final words Monica you would like to leave our listeners with?  Please plug anything you want to, any new project you’re working on or you want them to check out.

M – On You-Tube anyone can go and put in Multicultural Family Institute and watch these little videos.

E – What will I see in the videos?

M – Well there’s one about step families and in-laws, there’s one about working with couples, there’s one about immigrant families, they’re just little 15 minute videos but they’re in process and we want to make more.  We want to do more on the Life Cycle and also clinical videos.  Most of my videos are available like the harnessing the power of Genograms, the one you talked about and the other one I made with the family more recently, they’re available with, but these others are just free, anybody can just help yourself and give me any feedback that you want.

E – Yes and another question.  Another fascinating interview in the Pioneer Series on the AAMFT Podcast.  Many thanks to Monica McGoldrick, such an amazing career and I really appreciate during the hour she talked about some people and things that probably aren’t remembered as fondly as they should be in our MFT history, namely her association with Betty Carter.  Those of our listeners newer to the field and not read about Betty Carter and what she did with Gender and Power certainly kind of a must read to your emerging MFT skillset, also the Stonehenge conference, I think a very influential meeting of some of the strongest  female voices in the field which as you heard Monica say, so many great ideas came from probably doesn’t get it’s proper place in the history books.  That happened in 1984.  If you want to find out more about Monica McGoldrick, you can go to, that is  That is the website of the Multicultural Family Institute and on there in addition to learning more about the things that she talked about in the interview you can see her videos and DVDs for sale, which she too mentioned in the interview.  Monica wanted me to pass along that the software she prefers to use, which is also a very popular question is Geno-Pro, which she has been associated with almost since the origin and you can see her doing that as far as the creation of the genogram using the Geno-Pro software.  If you go to her You Tube page which she referenced and all you have to do on your Tube browser is put in Multicultural Family Institute and when you put that in you will get a selection of videos including, and they’re all very easy to digest between 10 and 20 minutes long, Step Families and In-Laws, Working with Immigrant Families, you’ll see a reflection on Stonehenge, 30 years later, Triangles and Detriangulating and Cultural Confidence 101.  Very good, free and easy to check out.  The Pioneer Series is one of my favorite parts of the podcast and I ‘m still, just 20 years into my career as much of a student and appreciate the history of our profession as anyone.  It’s a real treat to bring this podcast to you and to be part of the AAMFT.  If you want to reach us, please drop us a line and give us some feedback, we’d love that.  E-mail is [email protected], Twitter handle @theAAMFT and follow the conversation.  If you enjoyed this interview, you can also go into the archives wherever you find a favorite podcast whether it be Apple podcast, Spotify, Google play, you can see back episodes which alternate between focusing upon influential figures in the field like Monica McGoldrick and important topics like multicultural competency and tele health.  We like to give you a good mix between personalities and the content shaping the past, present and future of systemic therapy.  Until next time, stay systemic my friend.