Dr. Laura Marshak, a professor in the Department of Counseling, was a presenter for the International Family Therapy Association annual conference in Slovenia in March. The conference’s main audience was married and family therapists across the world.
Marshak was joined by Mary Anne Bie from Norway, who works for the Norwegian government specifically to run workshops for married couples raising children with disabilities or illnesses. Marshak spoke of her experiences doing clinical work, and also some of the background from her most recent book, Married with Special Needs Children, A Couples Guide to Keeping Connected.
After obtaining her Ph.D. at University of Pittsburgh in Rehabilitation Counseling, she focused her psychology work towards addressing the adjustment needs of persons with disabilities as well as the needs of couples with children of special needs. “There is a need for an issue like this to be addressed because of the dramatic increase of problems with these married couples in the present day,” Marshak said. Having a child with a disability herself, she feels personally and professionally connected to this subject of study.
“It was interesting to see that many marital issues were similar across borders. There were people from many other countries needing the same kind of help. This shows that marriages with special needs children need love and support, too, something sometimes only invested in the child. This is an international problem that needs to be addressed.”
Marshak also owns a private practice with two colleagues in North Hills. A major focus of her clinical work concentrates on the needs of these married couples. She has spoken at several international, national, and local conferences, as well as numerous support groups.