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What she does

Pedro-Carroll is an advisor to "Sesame Street's" "Little Children, Big Challenges: Divorce," a resilience initiative to help young children understand and deal with stressful life circumstances. She is also an author, speaker, consultant to organizations worldwide and private practitioner in Rochester, N.Y.

A young therapist

Pedro-Carroll grasped "the power of understanding and being understood" early in life, she says. As a preteen, she would hijack her family's only phone and the privacy of their only bathroom to counsel friends through crises. "My mother would yell at me to stop practicing without a license," she says.

After college, Pedro-Carroll became a therapist in the Cincinnati public school system, where she noticed that many students felt as if they were the only ones struggling with family issues. That inspired her to pursue her PhD in clinical and community psychology at the University of Rochester and to develop the Children of Divorce Intervention Program, a model used worldwide today.

"A support group becomes a very safe and appealing way for children to correct the misconceptions they have such as the fear they caused their parents' divorce or that they will be replaced by a parent's new partner," Pedro-Carroll says.

Pedro-Carroll also co-founded A.C.T.—For the Children (Assisting Children through Transition), a court-endorsed education program for divorcing parents.

How to get to Sesame Street

The nonprofit educational organization behind "Sesame Street" tapped Pedro-Carroll as an expert on divorce about two years ago. Her work involves teaming with producers and writers to develop characters and storylines that address children's common reactions to divorce. Her book "Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce" served as a key resource in developing the resulting research-backed materials including a DVD, books, downloadable apps, videos, music, tips for parents and online training for providers.

Taking care

A few years ago, Pedro-Carroll's mother, who had Alzheimer's, reminded her of an Italian phrase (Stammi bene!) that means "take care of yourself" — a message Pedro-Carroll emphasizes in her book. Her own self-care includes exercise, meditation and spending time with friends, her husband of 35 years and her seven children and stepchildren.