Peter Fraenkel, PhD
Couple, Family, and Individual Therapy
Life can be complicated. We may face challenges -- in our intimate and other relationships, in our studies, and in our work lives. Some we manage well, and some, not so well. Challenges can also come from within -- difficult thoughts and feelings, psychological symptoms, as well as problematic behaviors that trouble us yet that we have difficulty stopping. A comprehensive approach to these challenges requires gaining insight and understanding about ourselves, our histories, and our troubling situations -- but also, new actions that result in observable, significant change. My integrative approach -- whether with couples, families, or individual adults, teens, or children -- systematically combines ideas and practices from a wide variety of research-supported therapies. Through what I call "experiments in possibility" -- new actions that may feel awkward or even irrational at first -- this Action+ Insight approach will allow you to step out and away from unpleasant, unsuccessful ways of being and onto a path towards greater success and a sense of well-being.
What To Expect At Your Visit
In our first meeting, I'll start to get to know you — not only the emotional, relationship, and/or school or work challenges and difficulties you're facing, but also your strengths and abilities. I'm interested in you as a whole person. If you're coming as a couple, or a family, I want to get to know both the challenges and the positive aspects of your couple or family life — not just the problems you're facing. We'll build on those strengths, even as I share with you new, research-supported techniques and tools for communication, problem-solving, enhancing sexual and emotional intimacy, managing school or work challenges, or any other issue you're facing. In other words, although I am skilled in assessment and diagnosis (and as a tenured psychology professor at the City College of New York, I teach it!), our main focus will be how to move on from your problems and symptoms as quickly as possible so that you can see real, positive, observable results. I am an integrative therapist, meaning I am skilled in a wide variety of approaches — family systems, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, existential, mindfulness, to name a few. I have published many articles, chapters, and books and presented all around the world on integrative, effective approaches to therapy.
My Educational and Training Background:
My educational background and clinical training was comprehensive and diverse, leading me to master a wide variety of theories and techniques, and strong skills as an academic writer and researcher.
After attending New England Conservatory of Music as a drums and percussion major for my first year of college (I'd planned to be a professional musician since age 14, but actually missed regular academics once I was studying music full-time!), I received my undergraduate degree in Psychology and Philosophy from Boston University (1980, summa cum laude, with Honors in Psychology), and my doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Duke University (1988). I completed a pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology, working in the Psych ER, Adolescent Inpatient Unit, Adult Inpatient Unit, and received advanced training in psychological testing, psychodynamic, behavioral, and family systems approaches to therapy. at Bellevue Hospital/NYU Medical Center. I then completed a post-doctoral internship at NYU, focusing on couple and family therapy, an NIMH Research Fellowship in Child Psychopharmacology there, and advanced training in family and couple therapy with one of the founders of the field, Salvador Minuchin, M.D.
Coming full circle, my early training as a drummer contributed to one of my major theoretical and research contributions -- examining the many ways that couples get "out of sync" in the way the partners inhabit time -- differences in daily and weekly rhythms, differences in their pace, in punctuality, and so on. I've written many articles, chapters, and a book on this topic, and if we work together, we will surely examine how differences in your approaches to the ever-present dimension of time affect your couple and family life!
My Employment Background:
I have always striven for a balance between being a therapist, being a teacher, and a theorist and researcher. I find that my research and theoretical/clinical writing informs my clinical work and keeps me learning and growing, and my clinical work informs my teaching, writing, and research. My first academic position was as a professor at United States International University (now part of Alliant University) in Nairobi, Kenya (for almost two years). Upon returning to NYC in 1992, I joined the supervising faculty at the Ackerman Institute for the Family, where I taught the first-year course in family systems theory and practice, supervised postgraduate trainees, and became a core therapist and researcher director in a project working with families in which there had been incest. At the same time, I was a part-time supervising psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, where among other things, I started a Child Behavior Clinic in the Department of Pediatrics. And I was appointed as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU, where I started the PREP program (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program), an empirically-supported program developed at the U. of Denver, that teaches couples communication, problem-solving skills, and strategies for enhancing the positive qualities of marriages. In 1998, I was recruited to join the full-time faculty as an Associate Professor in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and the general Department of Psychology at The City College of New York. I received tenure in 2003, and now teach family and couple therapy, psychopathology, and research methods, primarily in the Masters in Mental Counseling and undergraduate program.
I am a Licensed Psychologist in the State of New York (since 1990).
Presentations and Publications:
I have presented at scientific and clinical conferences all over the world (Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, England, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, India, and Hong Kong). I have over 50 peer-reviewed articles and academic chapters, both in American and European journals and books, and have published two books, with another currently in preparation. Topics include integrative approaches to couple and family therapy; distress- and divorce-prevention approaches for couples; time issues in couples and families; work-life balance; clinical training in family and couple therapy; family-based treatment of incest; family homelessness; and more. I've also appeared on television, including the Phil Donahue Show, CBS 48 Hours, VH1, Fox News, Good Day NY; Judith Regan Tonight; ARD (Germany), Globo TV Network (Brazil); as well as on radio, including the BBC, CBS, the Joan Hamburg Show, and others. I've been quoted as an expert on relationships in many newspapers and magazines, including "O" the Oprah Magazine, SELF, Redbook, the Wall Street Journal, and many others.
Honors and Professional Organizations:
I received numerous honors as an undergraduate and graduate student, and was a finalist for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. I received the American Family Therapy Academy's 2004 award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice, and AFTA's 2012 award for Innovative Contributions to Family Therapy. I am a longstanding member of AFTA, as well as the American Psychological Association, and have served on the Board of Directors and on the Editorial Board of Family Process, as a Reviewer for the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, and am a Contributing Editor and frequent presenter for the Psychotherapy Networker.
My office is located in midtown Manhattan.
Important Information for Starting Treatment with Dr. Fraenkel
The Description of My Practice is designed to orient you to how I will work with you in psychotherapy. In the past, patients often started therapy with little information about the therapist, or how he/she works, his/her training, or much else aside from the fee and the need to show up on time. No longer. Now, it is expected that professional psychotherapists provide information orally or in writing about their practice, training, policies, and so on. This is to make sure you know what you are about to engage in for treatment. Contemporary psychotherapists should be transparent about their methods and work in a collaborative manner with clients. For years, I’ve communicated this information orally – usually in the phone call or email before the first appointment, or in early sessions; but I’ve decided to write it up and include even more detail than in the past. If anything is missing or unclear, please contact me at your earliest convenience so that I can answer your questions. It is your responsibility to read this document and email me when you have read and understood it – not later than one week after we beginning working together.
The Authorization for Release of Information Form is there in case we agree that it would be good to speak with other professionals involved in your life -- individual therapists (if I'm seeing you as a couple or family), psychologists who have done testing with your child, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and so forth. No need to fill it out until we meet and decide whether it would be useful for me to speak with those professionals.