PEAK Director
Keli Rugenstein, Ph.D.

Keli is a psychotherapist and a licensed marriage and family therapist. She began her career with a specialty in treating clergy and clergy families. Over time she noted that many of her clients were the children of pastors who were estranged from the church and also their parents. Sometimes the adult child had initiated the estrangement, sometimes their parents had. By far, the majority of the estrangements were initiated by the adult child. Among her secular clients the phenomenon of estrangement between parents and their adult children emerged and over the past two decades, estrangement rates continue to grow.

Research about estrangement did not begin in earnest until a few years ago. Reflection on the nature of the estrangements she was treating and comparison with her colleagues in the field revealed that reconciliation is not a common outcome. Current research, as little as there is, confirms this.

There is no doubt that their children are also hurting. However, considering the developmental stage of life parents are at during an estrangement, there is a greater sense of urgency to try to re-balance life’s needs. The need to plan for physical care, financial situations, elder care, and end of life issues becomes increasingly critical due to the foreshortened timeline aging parents are up against. These issues can be challenging even in the best of times but when an estranged parent is also dealing with isolation, depression, and anxiety (to name but a few of the impacts estrangement has on parents), decision making suffers or is unreasonably delayed. Sometimes the poor or delayed decisions adversely affect the next two generations.

This is why PEAK was founded. PEAK addresses the need for parents to recover from estrangement. No one “gets over” being estranged by their child, but they can return to a life of meaning and purpose. PEAK’s goal is to help parents move forward in life and regain a healthy sense of self with a splash of zest. PEAK wants to help parents move from hurting, to healing, to helping.

Director of Program Development
Dr. Aemina Razzano

Aemina Razzano has been working in trauma for over 20 years. Throughout her career she has trained and worked in disaster mental health, rape crisis counseling, suicide prevention, and palliative and end-of-life care. This culminated in Aemina’s work as a chaplain at two different hospitals in New York state. Having worked with families in a variety of settings – from non-profits to hospitals to churches, she has experienced a multitude of family systems and is keenly aware of the dynamics at play in relationships.

When Aemina met Keli in 2015, they began discussing the ways in which trauma was affecting the communities they served and over time, have worked on trauma-related issues. They have collaborated on a number of projects and she is grateful to have met Fe through Keli. Fe’s compassion and commitment to helping others heal resonates deeply with Aemina’s ethic of compassion and social justice.

Aemina completed her doctoral work in Trauma Informed Care at Drew University. Her focus is on the way in which the neurobiology of the brain protects the soul and allows for wholeness to emerge in trauma recovery. She has studied with Bessel Van Der Kolk, Steven Porgess, and Richard Swartz and holds her postgraduate certification in Trauma Stress Studies from the Trauma Research Foundation.