Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, LMFT
Accepting clients paying out of pocket or who have PPO plans other than Aetna for daytime appointments (slots for Aetna clients are full).
Young adults / college students (18 - 24)
Specialties & expertise
Melissa Kester is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Midtown Manhattan specializing in couples therapy, anger management, infidelity, mood disorders, life transitions, and trauma. As an expert in couples counseling, she helps partners disarm reactive defenses, improve communication, and rekindle intimacy and trust. She is passionate about helping partners explore their unique relationship dynamics and develop new skills to deepen bonds. Among couples, she especially enjoys working with expecting and new parents dealing with perinatal and peripartum mood disorders.
Melissa also works with individuals navigating trauma recovery, and especially enjoys supporting male survivors of sexual abuse. She utilizes an integrative approach, to help clients develop coping skills to tackle immediate challenges, while also gaining greater insight into their inner world.
Thoughtful and receptive, Melissa is committed to creating a safe environment for clients to productively work through obstacles and develop a greater sense of emotional well-being. Her office is conveniently located a short walk from Grand Central.
Couples counseling – Addressing relationship challenges and life transitions; strengthening communication and feelings of security, desire, connection, and love
Anger management – Addressing sudden outbursts of anger or sustained resentment; developing healthy anger expression and outlets
Relationships – Understanding one’s wants and needs in relationships; exploring patterns of interaction, addressing concerns, and strengthening satisfaction in relationships and dating
Mood disorders – Depression, dysthymia (mild depression), bipolar disorder, hormone-related mood issues, i.e. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) and postpartum depression, adjustment disorder with depression
Life transitions – Coping with difficult or impactful life changes, such as moving to a new area, relationship transitions, child rearing, or career changes; learning self-care to better manage resulting stress
Trauma – Coping and healing after threatening or scary events, such as witnessing accidents or experiencing sexual, verbal, emotional, or physical abuse
Depression – Providing support and promoting healing through hopelessness, low motivation and energy, sadness, irritability, sleep disturbance, and loss of interest and pleasure in life
LGBTQIA and sexuality topics – Exploring topics of sexuality, gender, and identity; coping with discrimination and oppression; navigating relationship, family, and cultural challenges
Parenting – Helping parents develop and implement strategies to address challenges that arise throughout childrearing; managing stress and increasing support
Perinatal mental health – Addressing issues specific to women and families during the pregnancy and postpartum period, including postpartum depression and anxiety
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Healing painful experiences and memories from the past
Stress management – Strengthening effective ways of coping with the stress of life and change; managing expectations of self and others
Currently accepting clients paying out of pocket or who have PPO plans other than Aetna (slots for Aetna clients are full).
Read about the benefits of seeing an out-of-network provider here.
Initial/ongoing sessions: $225/session (50min)
Sliding scale: A sliding scale is offered to clients who need a reduced fee to receive therapy. She also has two interns that offer reduced fee sessions.
Therapist's note: Melissa can assist with billing to receive reimbursement from your insurance company if you are seeking out-of-network sessions.
Message to clients
"The therapy room is seen as your safe space where you can come and release the weight you have been holding. Melissa seeks to be a receptive and unbiased resource. She is committed to working collaboratively with you towards healing in a thoughtful, present and emotionally focused manner. By paying attention to the patterns that may prevent you from creating the life story you desire, she looks to co-create with you a new map towards healing."
Treatment approachesCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)In cognitive behavioral therapy, you work with a therapist in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking, so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. (learn more)
Family SystemsFamily systems theory views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit. Family system therapy may be used to address conflict stemming from the family unit by working on a client's ability to maintain individuality while maintaining emotional contact with the group. (learn more)
Internal Family SystemsIFS is a type of therapy that views the mind as a combination of relatively discrete subpersonalities each with its own viewpoint and qualities that interact with one another. IFS aims to understand how these collections of subpersonalities are organized and promote harmony among them. (learn more)
Mindfulness PracticesMindfulness practices include but are not limited to developing awareness, attention, and remembering. In mindfulness-informed therapy, clients develop tools to become aware of what is occurring within and around them, so they can begin to untangle from mental preoccupations and difficult emotions. Self-acceptance and compassion are also core elements of mindfulness-informed therapy. (learn more)
Psychoanalytic TherapyPsychoanalytic therapy tends to look at experiences from early childhood to see if these events have affected the individual’s life, or potentially contributed to current concerns. This form of therapy is considered a long-term choice and can continue for weeks, months or even years depending on the depth of the concern being explored. Psychoanalytic therapy aims to make deep-seated changes in personality and emotional development. (learn more)
Sensorimotor therapySensorimotor Psychotherapy is a body-centered approach that aims to treat the somatic symptoms of unresolved trauma. Traumatic experiences may become trapped deep within the body, and therapists trained in this modality can help an individual begin to heal by helping that person re-experience, in a safe environment, the physical sensations associated with a traumatic event. (learn more)
Education and work experience
Madison MFT, 2009 - Present
Midtown MFT, 2006 - 2009
Hofstra University, MA in MFT, 2005
SUNY New Paltz, BA, 2002