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Melissa Ciottone Defends Doctoral Dissertation at SEU

Melissa Ciottone Defends Doctoral Dissertation at SEU


Morristown, N.J. (April 23, 2020) – Melissa Ciottone has successfully defended her dissertation at Saint Elizabeth University to earn a Psy.D. degree in Counseling Psychology.

Ms. Ciottone is currently the Director of Program Development and Adolescent Services at the Center for Evaluation and Counseling, Inc. (CEC) in Parsippany, New Jersey where she has helped countless children and families who are involved in the Child Protective Services’ (CPS) system.

For her dissertation, Ms. Ciottone studied her own organization’s treatment plans to learn more about their effectiveness in preventing recurrent child abuse and neglect. Would 6 months of psychotherapy help individuals with maladaptive parenting attitudes and skills improve their expectations of their child’s development and increase empathy? Her findings were significant and will impact the way treatment is delivered at CEC.

Dr. Marianne Dunn, director of the Psy.D. program is proud of the research Ms. Ciottone has done, saying, “Melissa’s findings show that forensic psychotherapy can improve certain indicators that may decrease the likelihood of child abuse. She has done wonderful social advocacy work.”

Especially helpful in the dissertation process was Ms. Ciottone’s advisor and chair, Dr. Patricia Heindel. “Since the beginning, Dean Heindel provided hours of continued support, guidance, and reassurance in the process,” Ms. Ciottone writes in her dedication. “Dr. Heindel always took the time to answer my questions and address any and all concerns no matter how miniscule.”

Trained in the Nurtured Heart Approach and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Ms. Ciottone will continue her work at the Center for Evaluation and Counseling, where she has worked for over 20 years, improving outcomes and advocating for children and families.

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