A few months ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Jackie Gagliardi, who is a part of the core faculty here at MSPP and the coordinator of the Couples and Family Therapy program. I am currently taking Collaborative Therapy with Multistressed Families and Professor Gagliardi is a wonderful teacher on this subject. She holds many years in this field under her belt, and with that comes a multitude of experiences and stories. Professor Gagliardi is a licensed marriage and family therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant and co-author of Study-Guide for the Marriage and Family Therapy National Licensing Examination. She holds a Master’s in Education in Counseling and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Family Systems from Northeastern University.
For many years, Professor Gagliardi worked as a play therapist for children, and overtime she noticed that, although the children would initially improve, they would eventually come back, because the family was not working together as a unit. She realized that the work she was doing with an individual could only go so far, unless the family was brought in and everyone made an agreement to cooperate. This motivated her to pursue a CAGS in Family Systems. She also had the unique opportunity of training at the Family Institute in Cambridge, MA.
Professor Gagliardi has had a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts for 33 years specializing in individual, couple and family therapy. She also has had a consulting business, in which she had the opportunity to connect with schools, family owned business and clinics, including community agencies. While juggling all of this, she has run numerous parent groups and teacher workshops and been a critical part of Kantor Family Institute in Cambridge. Professor Gagliardi was involved in the founding of The Family Solutions Institute, which grew out of Kantor Family Institute.
Her experiences as a therapist helped drive her to teach future clinicians. She was the co-director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Cambridge College and an adjunct faculty member of the Andover Newton Theological School and at Wheelock College. She became a part of the MSPP community five years ago and is actively involved in every part of the CFT program here. In fact, she serves as an advisor to many of the CFT students, including myself.
When designing the CFT concentration at MSPP, Professor Gagliardi and the other team members decided to name the program “Couples and Family Therapy” instead of the traditional “Marriage and Family Therapy.” Professor Gagliardi advocated for this unique title because she wanted to acknowledge that the definition of relationships is changing and that there all many types of couples. “You do not need to be married to seek therapy,” she commented and specifying marriage in the title would not honor other relationships and this societal change.
Professor Gagliardi is driven by her desire to help people, thus she also finds the time to be a member of the Massachusetts Board of Allied Mental Health. As a part of this team, she is advocating for consumers and their protection and serves as the representatives of Marriage and Family Therapists on the board. She has the distinct chance to review applications for licensure in different disciplines.
She suggests that prospective and current students in family therapy programs should definitely go for all the way and apply for licensure as an LMFT, especially now that Massachusetts has given vendorship to LMFT’s. This means that LMFT’s can now bill insurances for the work they do, which is crucial to our progress. “Now that we have vendorship, the field will be growing and there will be an increase in jobs, especially due to Children’s Initiative, and in wraparound services and home based work,” she says.
Professor Gagliardi also recommends that therapists work to continue their education, even after they graduate. She advises that attending workshops and conferences are not only great networking tools, but also excellent ways to introduce balance into your life.
When asked about her many projects and what they mean to her, Professor Gagliardi remarks, “I am really excited because my passion is to train couples and family therapists to serve the underserved and to become competent and culturally sensitive therapists.”
Professor Gagliardi previously served as a board member of the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and back in November, MSPP hosted the MAMFT board members, who spoke with CFT students regarding career opportunities. MSPP also hosted MFT program directors for their quarterly meeting.
“I love what I do and the thing I love the most is to be able to help people communicate and find a way to live their preferred lives. I think of all the times I have met with people and how in the end, we worked to find a way to improve the quality of their life. However small or large the change was, it was contributing to their quality of life, and I had a unique hand in that,” Professor Gagliardi remarks. Her passion is not only evident in her impressive criterion but also in the stories she shares with her students. She is knowledgeable, compassionate and encouraging, and I am honored to have the opportunity to train under her guidance.