Cara Brendler, LCSW

Cara Brendler Photo

Cara Brendler, LCSW, joined the Minuchin Center Faculty in 2008 and has a private practice in Manhattan. She specializes in working with fathers and daughters within the family context and presents her work with her own father, also a family therapist. Cara runs mindful parenting workshops for young families and leads a women’s therapy group focused on creating balance and leading a purposeful life. She has co-led family and couples therapy training groups and has run therapy groups for teenagers and young women. Cara also has experience presenting to parents of high school seniors on the transition to college/post-high school life. She speaks French and brings her sensibilities and background as an artist, athlete, and her experience in design into her work as a therapist. 

Richard Holm, DSW, LCSW. LMFT

Rich Holm

Richard Holm, DSW, LCSW. LMFT has extensive experience providing consultation, training, and supervision in the areas of home-based services, child welfare and prevention services, residential treatment, adolescent substance abuse, and inpatient and outpatient mental health.  He contributed to a chapter in Minuchin, et al. Working with Families of the Poor (2nd ed.) and (contributed Boundaries in Structural Family Therapy,) in J.L. Lebow, et al. (eds.), Encyclopedia of Couple and Family therapy.  Richard is a Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, an AAMFT Approved Supervisor, and a former Associate Professor in the Department of Human Services, CUNY-New York City College of Technology.  His special interest is in helping develop and implement family-centered services in agencies that serve marginalized populations.

Daniel Minuchin, MA, LMFT

Daniel Minuchin

Daniel Minuchin, MA, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist with an active interest in how the public and non- profit sectors, and helping institutions in general, can interact with families more productively. He provides consultation and training on working with families to schools, mental health centers, and to agencies working in residential treatment, substance abuse, psychiatric and home-based treatment, foster care, and prevention. For a number of years he was a consultant and trainer for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. Dan is a Clinical Member of the AAMFT and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.

Ethan Ornstein, LCSW

Ethan photo

Ethan has worked with diverse families, couples, and youth in a variety of settings for over 15 years. Prior to leading the family services department at the Masonic Center for Youth and Families (MCYAF) in San Francisco, California, Ethan directed the Intensive Family Therapy Program at University of California at San Francisco’s (UCSF) Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. Ethan provides training and consultation in family therapy throughout the San Francisco Bay Area to agencies serving disadvantaged populations. He has particular interest in working with families embedded in multiple systems. He has presented at the American Family Therapy Academy and Child Welfare League of America. Ethan believes passionately in families’ inherent capacity for growth and change.

Wai Yung Lee, Ph.D., AAMFT Approved Supervisor,

WY Lee

Wai Yung Lee, Ph.D., AAMFT Approved Supervisor, is Founding President and Clinical Director of the Asian Academy of Family Therapy, and Clinical Director of the Aitia Family Institute in Shanghai. A recipient of the 2014 American Family Therapy Academy’s Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice Award, her research on Capturing Children’s response to parental conflicts and making use of them for therapeutic intervention has been considered innovative. She has also expanded this knowledge and technology to the study of children from divorce and trans-generational families.

In addition to her numerous publications on working with Asian families, Dr. Lee has co-authored three books with Salvador Minuchin including the first and second editions of “Mastering family therapy – Journeys of growth and transformation,” and “Assessing families and couples – From symptom to system,” together with George Simon and Michael Nichols. A newspaper columnist, her series of books on families written in Chinese has been published in Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong respectively.  

Minuchin Center Board of Directors

Carol Dannenfelser LCSW

Carol Dannenfelser

Carol Dannenfelser is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who earned her Bachelor Degree in Special Education at the University of Connecticut, and her Master Degree in Social Work at Hunter College in New York City.

Early in her career, she worked with adults struggling with persistent mental illness in community group homes established as part of the deinstitutionalization movement. From there she moved into working with individuals and families in an outpatient setting under the career-shaping supervision and training by Minuchin Center Faculty member Richard Holm, DSW, LCSW.

Over the course of her career, Carol has sought to infuse her understanding and practical skills in structural family therapy to helping clients across a range of service settings. These included Family Counseling Services of Ridgewood, CarePlus NJ, Paramus High School, Franziska Racker Centers in Ithaca NY, a BOCES day treatment school, and private practice.

For the past 8 years, Carol has been on staff at the Sage Day therapeutic high school program in Rochelle Park, NJ, providing individual, group, and family therapy. She has also enjoyed serving as a Field Instructor for MSW students from graduate programs at both Fordham and Rutgers universities.

Peter Fraenkel PhD

Peter Fraenkel PhD

Peter Fraenkel, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at The City College of the City University of New York; a former faculty member of the Ackerman Institute for the Family, where for over a decade he directed the Center for Work and Family; and is in private practice in New York City.  He received the American Family Therapy Academy’s 2012 award for Innovative Contribution to Family Therapy for his work in the area of time and couples, integrative approaches to couple therapy, and resilience-strengthening programs for homeless families.  Dr. Fraenkel is the author of Sync Your Relationship, Save Your Marriage: Four Steps to Getting Back on Track (2011, Palgrave-Macmillan), co-author of The Relational Trauma of Incest: A Family-Based Approach to Treatment (2001, Guilford Press), and author of numerous other publications.  He is a former member of the Board of Directors and is an Advisory Editor for the journal Family Process, a Contributing Editor for the The Psychotherapy Networker, and past Vice President of AFTA.  Dr. Fraenkel lectures nationally and internationally, and has been widely featured on the topic of couples and families in the popular press. His book Bringing Couples Back from the Brink: Last Chance Couple Therapy (Norton) will be published in 2021, and his book The Complete Guide to Couple Therapy: From Happy to Last Chance Across the Lovespan (Routledge) will also appear in 2021.


Frank Harvey, MSW, LCSW

Frank Harvey

Frank E. Harvey is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker whose career in mental health began in 1986 after receiving a bachelor degree in psychology from Ramapo College of New Jersey.

He spent the first 13 years of his career advocating for the most vulnerable of the psychiatric community by working with the chronically mentally ill. During this period Frank assisted in the coordination of adult services for several community group homes in an effort to prevent the institutionalization of this population.

Since receiving his Master of Social Work degree from Rutgers University in 1999, Frank’s clinical focus has been on assisting families with children suffering from disorders diagnosed in childhood. To this end, Frank received 5 years of training with The Minuchin Center for the Family in their externship program. Frank spent 3 years providing in-home family therapy for children discharged from inpatient psychiatric care in an effort to prevent re-hospitalization.

Frank also worked for over 15 years with the families of children and adolescents in the inpatient and partial hospital settings as Clinical Coordinator of children’s psychiatric care at St. Clare’s Hospital in Boonton, NJ, then at ICCPC in Parsippany, NJ.

Frank is currently the Clinical Supervisor with Sage Thrive’s in-district program, providing therapeutic services at Great Oaks Legacy Charter School in Newark NJ.

Nancy Kline Gold, LCP

Nancy Gold

Nancy Kline Gold is a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Jersey and an Approved Supervisor for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.  She received her Master’s degree in Psychological Services in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and her post-master’s Certification in Family Therapy and School Consultation from the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic.  Ms. Gold has over 30 years’ experience in developing programs for youth and families; she has devoted many years of study and practice to working with and changing families, schools and other systems. Nancy served on many community and state boards such as the Camden County Youth Services Commission and the Governor’s Advisory Committee for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, where she was able to bring a focus on family intervention to local and statewide policy and funding decisions.

Nancy is the former President/CEO of Family Therapy and Consultation Services (FTxCS) and United Family Services (UFS).  Both agencies provide family focused treatment through direct services in homes of southern and central NJ and in 5 Pennsylvania counties and outpatient services in Woodbury, NJ and Philadelphia, PA.

Richard J Lally, MSW, LCSW
President of the Minuchin Center for the Family

Richard Lally, MSW, LCSW is a graduate of New York University School of Social Work and is a licensed therapist with more than 25 years of experience specializing in child, adolescent, couple and family therapy. 
After completing his undergraduate studies at Stonehill College in Criminal Justice, he earned his Master of Social Work degree at NYU.  His extensive post-graduate work includes training at the Minuchin Center for the Family, the Princeton Family Center for Education, and the New Jersey Center for Family Studies.  He has also received training in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Level I and Level II.
He specializes in empowering families whose members are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Mood Disorders, Oppositional Defiant Disorders and self destructive behaviors. He also works with families transitioning through difficult divorce. 
He works within K-12 schools with students, faculty, and staff to service students and families in need of support.  During his ten year tenure at St. Clare’s Hospital he also developed programs for children, adolescents and adults in hospital and community settings.
As a lecturer at Rutgers University School of Social Work he has taught graduate-level classes including Working with Children and Adolescents, Welfare Policy, and Families and Family Therapy.  He has instructed psychiatric residents on the fundamentals of family therapy at Bergen Regional Medical Center and NYU Child Study Center.  He teaches continuing education classes for mental health professionals.  He also provides lectures and training to agencies and community services including schools, universities, places of worship, and self-help groups. 

Jay Lappin, MSW, LCSW

Jay Lappin

Jay Lappin, MSW, LCSW has taught, trained, supervised, and written about Structural Family Therapy for over 40 years.  He studied, then taught and supervised at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic. For fifteen years, he was the principle trainer and consultant for Delaware’s Department of Services to Youth, Children & Their Families “Family Focus” program – a “whole systems” initiative involving all three operating  divisions and their personnel including a pioneer program in family reunification.

Jay has served on the boards and held offices for the New Jersey American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy and the American Family Therapy Academy. He & his wife, Joyce received the “Outstanding Contribution to AFTA Award.” In 2020, he received the “Outstanding Contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy” from AAMFT. 

He has written on Structural Family Therapy from a cross cultural perspective, implementing larger systems change and conducting family sessions. He has been a contributing editor for the Psychotherapy Networker and interviewed Salvador Minuchin for  www.psychotherapy.net

Jay has conducted workshops, lectures and supervised throughout the United States, Germany and Taiwan. Closer to home, in New Jersey, he has been in private practice for over forty years.

Peter Lopez, MSW

I have been in the field of mental health since 1992 and in the following years I was fortunate enough to see Chloe Madannes, Jay Haley, and Salvador Minuchin, and started my journey of being a family therapist.

I attended the extern program at the Minuchin Center for Family in 1995 and was fortunate enough to be trained by Emma, and George Simon over the next several years as I worked in both the hospital-setting and outpatient services in northern New Jersey.

As I reflect back now over 20 years ago in mental health field  my orientation to working with children, adolescents  or adults has always looked through the lens of structural family therapy which has not only helped me but I have been able to share my knowledge of working with family to other therapist and colleagues over the years to help promote family therapy.

As I move to my next phase of life my hope is to share more of what I’ve learned from the Minuchin Center and from my experiences of working in many different venues  in New Jersey.

I have worked on a children’s crisis inpatient services , to partial day program, to residential programs,  and now working with families in their home and my messages has always been the same, that every family can solve their own problems  but something gets in the way, and  for myself,  structural family therapy has been the intervention that I bring to help family solve their own dilemma.

Several months ago I was asked to join the Board of the Minuchin Center  and coupled with working with family has been the most rewarding time for me.

 The hope is to continue to spread the ideas of structural family therapy even further through technology and a partnership with Rutgers University the State School of New Jersey.

This spring the Minuchin Center faculty will begin workshops at Rutgers University and the goal is to expand and convey the ideas of structural family therapy to a new generation of therapist and to reconnect with establish therapist  who seek new ways to work with family. Rich Lally and myself are working with Rutgers University in this collaboration to promote structural family therapy.

Also this spring the Minuchin Center will be launching a new website which would spread the ideas of structural family therapy beyond traditional borders and being a little part of that venture is immensely rewarding to myself.

Being a structural family therapist  for over 20 years has helped shaped not only my professional life but helped me establish  my view  of life and I am very proud to consider myself a structural family therapist.

Naftoli Walfish, MSW, LCSW

Naftoli Walfish, LCSW

Naftoli Y. Walfish, LCSW, has worked in major mental health institutions since 1994. As the founder of Family Enhancement LLC he operates an agency that provides counseling services for children and families including in home counseling.  In addition, Mr. Walfish is the coordinator of the Behavior Health Outpatient clinic in St. Mary’s Hospital located in Passaic NJ.   Mr. Walfish is an advanced trainer of the Nurtured Heart Approach® as well.  

From 2002-2005 Mr. Walfish trained at the Minuchin Center for the Family and subsequently provided training and supervision to hospital staff both inpatient and outpatient in utilization of SFT methods.  Mr. Walfish joined the board of the Minuchin Center in Jun 2011. Licensed as a Clinical Social Worker by the New Jersey and New York State Boards of Social Work, he also runs a private practice.

His extended profile can be found here http://www.linkedin.com/in/naftoli

Board Emeriti:

  • Charles Fishman, MD
  • Nancy Boyd-Franklin, PhD 
  • Marta Sullivan, DSW