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 … Read more