Barbara Shaw, M.S.

marriage & family therapist

Individuals | Couples | Families

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about barbara

portrait of Barbara Shaw I have grown personally and professionally through 30 years of receiving and providing therapy, nearly 25 years of marriage, and 20 years of parenthood. As a result of these life experiences, I have come to believe that our present is profoundly impacted by our past. When we take the time to explore our pasts, we gain new insights and understanding into our day to day attitudes, emotions and behaviors, allowing us to become happier and healthier beings. I would love to support and coach you through this learning and growing process.

I received my Masters in Clinical Counseling Psychology with Marriage and Family Therapy Specialization from Chestnut Hill College in 2007. Since then, I have treated clients with a vast assortment of issues and symptoms ranging from marital and family issues to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dissociation, anxiety, and depression. Many of my clients are also survivors of childhood abuse and neglect. Regardless of their issues, I find what my clients care about the most is how they feel during therapy sessions. My clients care about feeling respected, heard, never judged, and unconditionally accepted for who they really are. I welcome individuals, couples, and families of every race, creed, sexual orientation, and gender. I would be truly honored to get to know you — to hear your unique story.

Barbara is an active member of :
  • American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT)
  • Pennsylvania Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (PAMFT)
  • Chester County PAMFT (CCPAMFT)

What’s an MFT, anyway?

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) ARE specifically trained to effectively manage couples and family sessions. We are experienced in utilizing systems based interventions that have proven successful in addressing family, couples and individual issues. If you are seeking couples or family counseling, I strongly recommend a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), or a clinician who is specifically trained for this work. Be sure to find a therapist that is comfortable and competent enough to deliver the specific treatment that you need.

Marriage and Family Therapists ARE NOT exclusively for families and couples — we see many individuals. While our training is specially focused on viewing issues in the context of family dynamics, past and present, we are equally qualified to see individuals. We will, however, view an individual’s challenges and symptoms from a broader family systems perspective. This approach provides for a deeper understanding of underlying issues behind symptoms and results in more effective strategies for helping individuals with their problems. By exploring the source of symptoms (instead of merely addressing the symptoms themselves), therapeutic benefits are likely to be more significant and long lasting.

What happens in therapy?

In the first few sessions, we will get to know each other and discuss what brings you into therapy. Together we will determine what you would like to accomplish and the best way to achieve these goals.

Each and every client’s process is unique. Some clients seek immediate and concrete advice in addressing specific problems such as dissatisfaction with career or a particular relationship. Others seek to address the underlying sources of ongoing painful problems such as anxiety, depression, anger, or past trauma. Still others struggle with chronic challenges within the family — a troubled marriage or an “out of control” teenager.

There is a child inside each one of us, who comes out in front of the person we are most comfortable with.

Individuals and families may choose to explore their past and present family dynamics, including patterns of relating with family members and significant childhood events. Understanding and awareness of past patterns of relating often lead to improvement in the client’s present situation.

Destructive coping strategies from the past are often the source of relationship issues in the present. Sometimes we find that we are behaving in ways that served us well back then, but are no longer working for us now. These coping strategies allowed us to survive whatever stressors we were facing at the time; but these same strategies may drive others away in the present. Coping strategies from childhood often take the form of defensive behaviors and attitudes — we can literally feel and behave as children.

These behaviors and attitudes can destroy relationships over time. A trained professional can help you to identify, acknowledge, and replace these maladaptive and potentially destructive strategies with healthier productive ones.

contact me

Barbara Shaw, M.S.

168 West Ridge Pike
Suite 208
Limerick, PA 19468
(610) 308-4523