About Us

Family Transitions – Programs That Work was created to deliver effective programs to families going through divorce or separation.

Family Transitions – Programs that Work was created to deliver effective programs to families going through divorce or separation. These family changes are stressful for everyone. The programs we offer have been demonstrated through rigorous scientific studies to make a difference in the lives of children and their parents. Our programs meet the highest scientific standards for improving children’s mental health. We are also delighted to say that children and parents love our programs! 

Our company was started by three people with PhD’s in social science. Two of the founders have spent over 35 years developing and evaluating programs for children and families who have experienced family transitions. The findings from their studies have been published in the most prestigious scientific journals. To accomplish the goal of moving these programs into the real world, these researchers teamed up with a third partner with extensive experience in the private and non-profit settings that provide services to the public. The Family Transitions team shares a commitment to bringing effective research-based programs to children and families who can benefit from them. 

Meet Our Team

The Family Transitions team shares a commitment to bringing effective research-based programs to children and families who can benefit from them.

Irwin Sandler, Ph.D.

Irwin Sandler, Ph.D.

Regents' Professor and Director of the Prevention Research Center at Arizona State University

Sharlene Wolchik, Ph.D.

Sharlene Wolchik, Ph.D.

Faculty Member in Psychology Department at Arizona State University.

Michele Porter, Ph.D.

Michele Porter, Ph.D.

Arizona State University's REACH Institute

Sharlene has been a faculty member in the Psychology Department at Arizona State University for over 35 years. During this time, she has conducted research on factors that promote positive adjustment of children who have experienced family transitions, such as parental divorce and parental bereavement. She has also developed preventive interventions for these children and their parents and conducted rigorous evaluations of them. Her studies have shown that parents and children benefit from participating in these programs and that these positive effects last up to 15 years after participation. This work has been supported by multiple grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Institute of Child Development. Dr. Wolchik has received numerous awards for her research and has published over 250 studies in scientific journals.

Given these lasting positive effects, Dr. Wolchik is committed to bringing these research-based programs to children and families who can benefit from them. People who know Sharlene often say that the parenting programs she has helped create are simply Sharlene distilled, probably because she’s one of those rare people who is always looking for an excuse to give you genuine, warm, and specific praise.

Irwin began his career as a clinician but somehow ended up as a researcher and eventually became a Regents’ Professor and Director of the Prevention Research Center at Arizona State University. He has devoted his career to studying resilience following major stressors such as divorce. The findings from his research have been published in over 200 scientific papers. Along with his colleagues he has developed resilience-promoting programs for children who experienced parental death and parental divorce and has conducted rigorous scientific studies on the long-term effects of these programs. This work has been supported by several grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Dr. Sandler’s most exciting findings are that the programs he and his colleagues have developed make a major difference in the lives of participants up to 15 years later. He is well known for his enthusiasm for his work, integrity, good humor, insistence on wearing Hawaiian shirts, and having a messy office.

Michele received her Ph.D. in Family Studies from Arizona State University. Prior to returning to school for her graduate studies, Dr. Porter worked in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors in many roles. She was an account executive with a large advertising and public relations firm, a marketing executive for several companies and held executive director positions in the non-profit sector. As soon as you meet her you understand exactly why she was successful in so many different positions: she is one of the most energetic and well-organized and goal directed people you’ll ever meet. Still, she always manages to find time to ask you how you’re doing in a way that lets you know she really cares about your answer.

Most recently, Dr. Porter has worked with Dr. Sandler and Dr. Wolchik at Arizona State University’s REACH Institute to evaluate the long-term effects of prevention programs aimed at helping children and families adjust to stressful life experiences such as divorce, separation and parental bereavement.