Meet Our Staff
The Institute of Marital Healing is staffed by a group of professionals whose clinical expertise is matched only by their compassion and their desire to promote healthy marriages. We warmly invite you to learn more about the people in our the practice.
- Richard P. Fitzgibbons, M.D.
- Peter C. Kleponis, Ph.D., L.P.C.
- Neal R. Niznan, M. Div, M.S.W.
- Thomas F. O'Brien, Ph.D., Ed.D.
- Ian Buterbaugh, M.S.W.
- Carolyn W. DeFer
Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons is the director of the Institute for Marital Healing (IMH) outside Philadelphia and has worked with several thousand couples over the past 40 years. Trained in psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center, he participated in cognitive therapy research with Aaron T. Beck, M.D.
In November 2014 the second edition of an American Psychological Association Book on the treatment of excessive anger, retitled Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, was published. This book was co-authored with Robert D. Enright, Ph.D., professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
A former president of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Frank Farley, endorsement on the cover reads, “This groundbreaking book by forgiveness pioneers Enright and Fitzgibbons elevates forgiveness therapy to its rightful place among the important psychotherapies of our time.”
The marital and family therapy at IMH is strongly influenced by the writings of St. John Paul II, most especially Love and Responsibility and The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.
Also, at this website a number of recent articles are available on important psychological issues related to marriage and the family.
He is a consultant to the International Forgiveness Institute's research projects of addressing excessive anger through forgiveness education and therapy programs in elementary, middle and high school youth in Belfast, N. Ireland, in central city Milwaukee and other countries with Robert Enright, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin.
He has been an adjunct professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for the Studies of Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America, Washington, DC and a consultor to the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy.
Dr. Peter Kleponis is a Licensed Clinical Therapist and Assistant Director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in Conshohocken, PA. He holds an M.A. in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, PA and a Ph.D. in General Psychology from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. His doctoral thesis evaluated the relationship
between narcissism and spiritual well-being in 200 Roman Catholic
Dr. Kleponis has over 18 years of professional experience working with individuals, couples, families, priests, religious, seminarians and organizations. He specializes in marriage & family therapy, pastoral counseling, resolving anger, men’s issues, and pornography addiction recovery. He is Certified in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Sexual Addictions by The American Association of Christian Counselors' Light University and by Dr. Mark Laaser's Freedom Begins Here Program.
Dr. Kleponis is founder of the successful Integrity Restored Recovery Program for pornography addiction. He travels extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad educating people on how to win the battle against pornography through his Fighting Porn in Our Culture…and Winning! conference program. He has presented conferences to numerous dioceses, colleges, seminaries, religious communities, parent’s groups and other Catholic organizations.
Dr. Kleponis has also been a guest on EWTN television programs such as Women of Grace, Franciscan University Presents, and Crossing the Goal, and is a regular guest on Relevant Radio’s On Call program. He is author of two books: The Pornography Epidemic: A Catholic Approach (2012, Simon Peter Press) and Integrity Restored: Helping Catholics Win the Battle Against Pornography (2014, Emmaus Road Publishing).
Neal is a master's level licensed social worker. He also holds a master's degree in Pastoral Ministry from Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University. He received certificate training in family therapy from the Multicultural Family Institute of New Jersey.
Over the past fourteen years Neal has provided therapy for individuals, couples, and families throughout northern New Jersey and the Southeastern Pennsylvania. He recently expanded the scope of his clinical practice to individuals and families coping with life threatening illness and issues of bereavement through his affiliation with the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. O'Brien received his graduate degrees from Villanova University, Immaculata University, Saint Joseph University, Southwest University and Holy Family University. His majors include: Counseling Psychology, Educational Administration and Leadership, Counseling, Guidance and Student Services, Elementary and Secondary Education and Pastoral Theology. He is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Dr. O'Brien holds several certifications in both states that include elementary, secondary, supervision, administration and superintendency. As a life-long educator and learner, he has taught at all levels of education including elementary, secondary, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level courses. He has served on dissertation committees and as Chair. He has been recognized as a Nationally Certified Psychologist. He is a member of many boards and commissions and has authored several articles in addition to giving numerous workshops and conferences. Dr. O'Brien was previously the Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and is presently an associate Dean at Immacualta University. He was ordained a deacon in 1988.
Ian Buterbaugh is a Licensed Social Worker and has extensive experience working with youth and young adults. Ian served as a college campus minister and as the assistant coordinator of CYO for the Diocese of Allentown, and taught Theology at a diocesan high school. His clinical work is influenced by St. John Paul II"s Theology of the Body. He incorporates insight-oriented, cognitive-behavioral, family and forgiveness therapy in his work with youth, singles, Catholic marriages and families.
He received a Masters of Social Work from Marywood University. Ian spent 2 and one half years as a seminarian for the Diocese of Wilmington, which is where he earned a degree in Theology. Before entering into the seminary, Ian studied theatre at DeSales University, and worked for 5 years as a professional stagehand. His passion for integrating an authentic anthropology into the mental health field drives his mission of being an excellent clinician.
Carolyn DeFer, Office Administrator of the Institute for Marital Healing
I have worked with Dr. Fitzgibbons for twenty years and, over the years, I have seen the wonderful results of people who have come to our office looking for help in improving their marital relationship. I truly believe that the Lord wants to heal marriages and families and that maritalhealing.com can assist in that healing process.