Debra Manchester, LCSW
(805) 882-2424 x 101
Debra J. Manchester, L.C.S.W., is the original co-founder of The Family Therapy Institute and has been the Executive Director since 1979. Her original vision is as important and timely today as it when FTI was founded, namely to provide counseling services to children, youth and families from all walks of life and to provide education and direction to promote healthy relationships and effective nonviolent means of communication and conflict resolution. She is the co-author of the highly acclaimed book, How’s Your Family Really Doing?: 10 Keys to a Happy Loving Family. Her second book, Who’s the Boss?: The Win-Win-Way to Parent Your Strong-Willed Child was released in January 2015. She writes a bi-monthly blog on family issues at Howsyourfamily.com.
Debra received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology With Distinction from Stanford University and her Masters in Social Welfare with a specialty in Family Therapy and Community Mental Health. Prior to starting FTI, she was the Executive Director of Social Advocates for Youth in the San Francisco Bay Area working with runaway teens and children at risk. In addition to her role at FTI, she taught Family Therapy, Couples Therapy and other clinical courses in the Masters program at Antioch University for over 17 years and at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She has been a consultant at numerous local agencies including The Santa Maria Youth and Family Center, CALM, Child Protective Services, Sanctuary Psychiatric Center, and other local schools and mental health facilities. She continues to provide advanced training and supervision on various clinical topics.
Debra believes that in order for therapy to be effective, the clinician must draw on all levels of a person’s functioning, working within the context of their current relationships. Therapy includes addressing the client’s social interactions, communication and other behaviors, facilitating emotional healing, while respecting each individual’s unique cultural legacy and spiritual worldview. Some of her work is with individuals, some with couples, and some is with whole families. Her style is direct, providing a safe environment as well as specific help with problem-solving giving clients new tools and techniques to treat themselves and others with more compassion and better means of communicating.
Debra has been married for thirty-five years and she and her husband, Don MacMannis, have two sons and two granddaughters, partnering at home, at the Institute, and in publishing several books and articles. Her greatest loves include animals of all types, hiking and communing with mother nature, painting and drawing, and being with her friends and family.