Bernard Guerney, Jr., Ph.D., (1930-2019) was the founder of the National Institute of Relationship Enhancement® and was internationally recognized as one of the most prominent and innovative practitioners of marital and family therapy. His methods were developed and refined in over thirty five years of practicing, teaching and supervising individual, marital, group, and family therapy. His presentations and workshops elicited high praise and great enthusiasm on four continents. For their work in developing Relationship Enhancement® therapy and enrichment methods, Dr. Guerney and his wife, Dr. Louise Guerney, won several national awards. He was a fellow in five APA divisions, a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology, Counseling and Psychotherapy, Behavioral Medicine, and Marital/Family Therapy, a certified group therapist, and an AAMFT-Approved Supervisor. Dr. Guerney served as the Director of NIRE, Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, and Professor Emeritus of Family Studies and of Counseling Psychology at Pennsylvania State University, where he founded and directed its Individual and Family Consultation Center for 25 years. Alone, or with others, he produced over 80 articles and chapters, four books, and numerous manuals, training tapes, and films in the areas of individual, marital, group, and family therapy. He served on the editorial board of many marital and family therapy journals. He was one Salvador Minuchin’s co-authors of the family therapy classic Families of the Slums. Dr. Guerney’s own book, Relationship Enhancement: Skill Training Programs for Therapy, Problem Prevention, and Enrichment has been called, by Dr. Douglas Sprenkle, “a seminal and potentally revolutionary work … perhaps the best … integration of theory, research, and practice in the family intervention field.”
Robert Scuka, Ph.D., M.S.W., LCSW-C, is Executive Director of NIRE and a senior member of NIRE’s Faculty. Dr. Scuka is certified as a Relationship Enhancement® Marital/Couples Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer, a Couple Relationship Enhancement® Educator/Leader, Supervisor and Trainer, a Child-Centered Play Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer, and a Filial Family Therapist and Supervisor. He is author of Relationship Enhancement Therapy: Healing through Deep Empathy and Intimate Dialogue (Routledge, 2005). In addition, Dr. Scuka is co-author (with Drs. Bernard Guerney and William Nordling) of the Couples’ Relationship Enhancement® Program: Leader’s Manual and is the principal author of the Home Study Program Guides that accompany NIRE’s two video-based home study programs for professionals. Dr. Scuka has produced three DVDs/Videos: Demonstration of the Identification Mode of Empathy with the Relationship Enhancement® Model, Relationship Enhancement® Skills Demonstration Conducted by Two Leaders (with his wife Mary Scuka), and Using Relationship Enhancement® Therapy To Help Couples Recover from Infidelity. Dr. Scuka has served as the principal leader of NIRE’s Couples’ Relationship Enhancement® Weekend and has led numerous three-day RE Therapy and 3-day RE Program Leadership training workshops across the country. Dr. Scuka also leads church retreats for couples and appears as a guest speaker at community events for the general public. In addition to his Master in Social Work from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, Dr. Scuka also has a doctorate in religious studies and taught philosophy and religion at American University and Georgetown University for nine years. He also has been on the faculty of the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work in Baltimore, MD as an adjunct instructor.
Louise Guerney, Ph.D., Director of Play and Filial Family Training at NIRE, is internationally recognized as one of the most prominent and innovative practitioners of child-centered play therapy. A licensed Clinical Psychologist, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, and a founding Board Member of the Association for Play Therapy, Dr. Guerney is known, together with her husband, Dr. Bernard Guerney, Jr., as the creator of Filial Family Therapy, a unique family therapy model that teaches parents how to become the primary therapeutic agents for their children through the medium of play therapy. As a Professor (now Emerita) of Human Development and Counseling Psychology at Penn State University, as a workshop instructor in scores of workshops conducted on four continents, and now as Director of Play Therapy and Filial Therapy Training at NIRE, Dr. Guerney has trained and supervised many hundreds of professionals. Independently and collaboratively, she has produced scores of articles and chapters on child and family therapy, two books, and training videotapes for therapists. Active in the professional community, she is one of the creators of PhoneFriend, a nationwide network of “warmlines” serving latchkey children, and has served on the Board of APA’s Division of Children, Youth and Family Services. She has developed a number of parent skills-training programs, including The Foster Parent Training Program in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. She serves on the Editorial Boards of several child- and family-oriented therapy journals, including The International Journal of Play Therapy. Dr. Guerney has won several national awards from state and national organizations for her contributions to child/family enrichment and therapy, including the 1988 Marriage and Family Therapy Award for Contributions to the Field of Marriage and Family Therapy, awarded by the Family Therapy Section of the National Conference of Family Relations, and together with her husband, the 1983 Mace Medal for Contributions to Marital Enrichment, awarded by the Association for Couple and Marital Enrichment. Mostly recently, Dr. Guerney has co-authored (with Virginia Ryan) Group Filial Therapy: The Complete Guide to Teaching Parents to Play Therapeutically with their Children (Jessica Kingsley, 2013).
Carrie Hansen, M.S.W., LCSW-C, a licensed clinical social worker is the Director of Stepfamily Programs at NIRE. Ms. Hansen is certified as a Relationship Enhancement® Marital/Couples Therapist and a Relationship Enhancement® Program Leader and specializes in working with couples considering separation or divorce, remarriage issues, and parenting and stepfamily issues. Ms. Hansen also works with children in a private school in Prince George’s County, Maryland.
William Nordling, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, is the Chair of the Department of Psychology at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Crystal City, Virginia and a senior member of NIRE’s Faculty. He also serves as Co-Director of Supervision and Certification programs in Child-Centered Play Therapy, Filial Family Therapy, Relationship Enhancement Couple/Family Therapy, and Couples’ Relationship Enhancement® Program Leadership at the NIRE. Dr. Nordling has been active both as a clinician and trainer in the areas of play therapy, family therapy with young children, couple/family therapy, and psychoeducational programs for couple/family enrichment. He has conducted numerous trainings and given numerous presentations in these areas for mental health settings and professional organizations. He is the co-author (with Dr. Bernard Guerney, Jr.) of the Family Relationship Enhancement®: Leader’s Manual and (with Dr. Guerney and Dr. Scuka) of the Couples’ Relationship Enhancement® Program: Leader’s Manual. Dr. Nordling also is co-author (with Nancy Cochran and Jeffrey Cochran) of Child-Centered Play Therapy: A Practical Guide to Developing Therapeutic Relationships with Children (John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
Mary Ortwein, M.S., LMFT, is a member of NIRE’s training faculty and is a NIRE-certified supervisor and trainer in Relationship Enhancement® Therapy, the Mastering the Mysteries of Love version of the Relationship Enhancement® Program, Child-Centered Play Therapy and Filial Family Therapy. She is co-author with Bernard Guerney of several Relationship Enhancement publications, and is the author of Mastering the Magic of Play: A Training Manual in Filial Family Therapy for Parents. Mary continues to do professional and participant workshops across the country. Her current writing project is a book on empathy for volunteers who visit the Carebound and their families within the Catholic Church.