Fran Davis is a Massachusetts-based Psychologist with more than 25 years of experience in individual, couples, marriage and family therapy, with an inspired personal mission of helping people create happier lives. Through her Happiness Coaching, Divorce Coaching, Family therapy and Career Counseling, she has helped transformed the lives she’s touched, and specific to those of us here at FWW, has been a catalyst to help those navigating divorce turn that “significant storm” towards calmer waters, recognize the opportunity for personal evolution and reconstitute their lives in meaningful and truly fulfilling ways. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Fran recently about her life, her passions and her practice.
What inspired you to become a Psychologist?
It may sound funny but some of my earliest memories involve listening to people and trying to help them solve their problems. There is a family legend that when I was about 4, our backyard neighbors were having a fight over how they were going to manage the following day’s challenges given that they only had one functional car. I was listening carefully and during a lull in the conversation, piped up with a solution that met everyone’s needs. I can almost see the shocked, appreciative and chagrined look on their faces as they realized that the 4 year old neighbor girl had been listening carefully to their dilemma and offering a viable plan that neither of the adults seemed to be able to find. As a teen, I ran the “crisis hotline” from my bedroom, as I seemed to be the go-to friend to confide relationship and family challenges.
Probably not surprisingly, I studied psychology in college and found it fascinating to learn the theories that mapped with my natural intuitions and curiosities about how people worked. After college I entered one of the top PhD programs in my field and since graduating have continued to actively pursue ongoing professional training especially in the areas of couples and family therapy as well as state of the art attachment based treatment models.
As well as marriage and family therapy, you also offer career coaching. Can you tell us how FWW members might benefit from this and what it includes?
During and after a divorce, many women are faced with the prospects of rebuilding their lives. Certainly career is an important cornerstone in that rebuilding process and generally speaking, I have found that when women feel more engaged in their professional lives, they can be more empowered and resilient in the divorce process. For some women, an early life career choice no longer fits with one’s interest or new lifestyle and sometimes, the person had never really figured out “what she really wanted to be when she grew up”.
As a psychologist with over 30 years experience helping hundreds of individuals who have wrestled with such concerns, I bring a complex understanding and an array of resources to help clients to get unstuck and find their way to happier personal and professional lives. Some of the resources that I use to help individuals include standardized career tests such as the Strong Interest Inventory, Career Leader, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, FIRO-B and others.
What’s one of your favorite client success stories?
It’s hard to pick a favorite but I can absolutely reflect on certain clients that I have seen make remarkable positive changes in their lives over the course of our work together. I think of one person in particular who when I met her, had been in a series of unsatisfying relationships, always focused on the other’s needs – never her own. She also had been working in a career where she felt overworked, under appreciated and where her needs for social connection and a sense of intellectual engagements were not being met. She has since gotten a graduate degree in a much better fitting field and is rising up the ranks professionally. I was invited to her wedding and she is now in a warm loving marriage with kids on the way. In sum, I take great pride and joy from seeing people’s lives blossom into who they were meant to become.
What three things do you want every client you work with to take away from your sessions?
I bring strong curiosity; caring and compassion to all of my sessions so that my clients feel a sense of safety, feel deeply listened to, cared for and understood.
What’s it feel like when you experience a client make a personal breakthrough?
Nothing makes me happier that sharing a client’s success with them. I always feel privileged to do work that allows me to be an important witness and support in someone’s life journey.
How long is a client typically coached for?
When I do career work, it typically is less that 4-6 months. For psychotherapy and divorce coaching, I will continue working with someone as long as we both feel that our relationship is bringing value to their process.
How would you conduct a session with clients that aren't based in the Greater Boston area?
For non-local clients, I can do phone or online appointments. For online appointments, I prefer a platform called VSee, which is a more secure, more reliable for of Skype.
What is the most challenging part of your job as a psychologist?
Sometimes I see couples in the process of separating and I can foresee the difficulties that are going to befall their children. When there is no ability or willingness to priorities a child’s needs in the divorce process and there is nothing I can do to prevent it, I feel very disheartened and sad.
Tell us about "Human Sexuality and the Positive Psychology”. What key aspects of this course that you taught come through in your sessions?
For many people issues of sexuality can often be difficult to raise even with one’s therapist. When clients see that I taught the Human Sexuality course at Harvard, it seems to give them more freedom to share with me on this vital topic. I am comfortable having these conversations with individuals and can also help facilitate better communication between partners in couples work.
The Positive Psychology course at Harvard was the most popular course taught at the school, eclipsing introductory economics classes and getting broad national press. The professor, Tal Ben-Shahar is now an acclaimed expert in the field and teaches trainings around the world. The principles and techniques of the course (which are laid out in his book Happier) are wonderful resources for helping individuals build happier lives. Teaching the class enabled me to learn the curriculum and I bring many of the practices to my individual clients.
Can you tell us a little about Blindside Divorce?
While I work with individuals who are experiencing all types of divorce issues, I have a particular interest and specialty working with people who have been blindsided by their partner’s seemingly abrupt and out of the blue revelation that they are leaving their marriage. For the partner being left, who had previously experienced their relationship to be solid, safe and secure; the shock and subsequent trauma is often compared to being hit by a truck that seemed to come out of nowhere. I call this phenomenon Blindside Divorce and I am beginning to more systematically study the impact and healing processes on individuals and their families.
When this happened to me over a dozen years ago, I had no idea this could ever happen to anyone, let alone myself. That said, in the past decade I have learned an enormous amount through my own legal and healing process as well as working professionally as a therapist and divorce coach with both the leavers and those left.
If you are someone who is going through such an experience, at any stage in the process, I would like to first extend my sincere compassion to you. I also extend an invitation to share your experience in a survey that you can find here.
A number of our members are in the process of recovering from abusive relationships, and in need of rebuilding their confidence to be independent and thrive after their divorce. What advice would you give with regards to this healing process?
I would stress the importance of finding a therapist and support network (friends, clergy, support groups, etc.) to accompany you on your journey of recovery. Nobody can do the healing for you but nobody heals alone. Also if you’ve experienced abuse in relationships before, it’s really important to find helpers who truly understand that and who will work with you to create trust and safety. If you don’t feel comfortable with the care you are getting from a therapist – find a new one.
How would a member of our site schedule an appointment?
How much do you usually charge for your services?
My full fee for individual divorce coaching and psychotherapy is $185/hour, for couples work is $200/hour and for career coaching $250/hour. I do slide my fee when there is financial need and I can also provide paperwork if your health insurance has an out of network benefit so you can see reimbursement for our work.
If you could leave our members with one piece of advice on recovering and healing from divorce or a failed relationship, what would it be?
No matter how badly hurt you feel right now, people have an enormous capacity for healing. It takes time and the right resources but people do recover and even become better for the struggles they have overcome.
Thank you Fran! You are truly an inspiration!