Dr. Mac

Singer, Songwriter and Producer

I specialize in creative projects for young children. As a singer and award-winning songwriter,  I’ve written and produced over a hundred songs. I am continually inspired by the profound changes that I see, not only in kids, but in their parents and teachers as well. What a great side-effect!

How Did I Become Inspired to Write Children’s Songs?

After working as a psychologist with kids and families for decades, local Santa Barbara pediatricians started referring to me as the “child whisperer.”  But having a successful practice just wasn’t enough. I could only reach a limited number of kids through my practice, while I felt that millions could benefit from my experience— combined with the latest brain research, developmental psychology, and family studies. I had so much to share but with so few people.

Having been a singer and performer all my life, I became inspired to write songs for kids. Songs and phrases would pop into my head, often in the middle of the night. I was blessed to connect with musicians that could help me produce these gifts that I was given, finding not only Brian, Craig, and Lois, but countless numbers of really talented local adult and child singers!

I learned from kids that they are attracted to adult-quality music but obviously need age-appropriate lyrics. Studies show that there’s no better way to help people retain information than through songs, so why not write music with a message! It was the perfect marriage between my inspiration, passion for music, and the precious times with kids that gave me the benefit of a bird’s-eye view into their little hearts and minds. 

My hope is that you’ll find these songs to be not only highly entertaining, but also help you to find some solutions that you need for your unique classroom or family situation. I’ve come to realize that this work is the fulfillment of my purpose—to try to make a difference in the world through sharing these songs and concepts, and nothing warms my heart like the smiling, happy faces of kids and families I’ve entertained.

These songs, my gift, are now my gift to you.

Music Director and Songwriter for PBS and Nick Jr.

In my early years, one of my greatest blessings was to meet Christopher Cross. He raved about my music and was kind enough to offer me free studio time, playing guitar, some background vocals and his boundless expertise—and off I wrote. 

After producing my first dozen songs and demonstrating my breadth and skills as a songwriter, I was fortunate enough to be offered a job as both music director and songwriter for a show that was in an initial creative process by a Methodist minister and Porchlight Entertainment. It soon became our PBS hit series, Jay Jay the Jet Plane— a warm and wonderful preschool series about animated singing airplanes— filled with positive messages. More recently I became a songwriter for Nick Jr’s. Mutt & Stuff.

Educational Background for Don MacMannis, Ph.D. (aka Dr. Mac)

In addition to my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, I have a master’s in school-child psychology from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College. 

Child and Family Psychologist

The Family Therapy Institute of Santa Barbara, is a public non-profit organization that was founded by my wife, Debra, in 1980. Joining the team soon thereafter, I became the Clinical Director. Overseeing the work of fourteen therapists, we provide psychotherapy services to hundreds of clients each year. We have also trained dozens of interns and have presented workshops offering continuing education to therapists throughout California.

Affiliated Colleagues

We also sponsor yearly workshops with other internationally renowned presenters, most notably: Virginia Satir, M.S.W., Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., John Gottman, M.D., Raymond Moody, M.D., Eben Alexander, M.D., Charles Fishman, M.D., Esther Perel,  Mark Epstein,M.D., Ram Dass, Robert Brooks, Ph.D.,  Ron Taffel, Ph.D., Pat Love, Ed.D., Violet Oaklander, Ph.D., Eliana Gill, Ph.D., Monica McGoldrick, Ph.D.. and Scott Shannon,M.D. 

Acclaimed Writer

Debra and I have co-authored two highly acclaimed books, How’s Your Family Really Doing?: 10 Keys to a Happy Loving Family and Who’s the Boss? The Win-Win Way to Parent Your Defiant Strong-Willed Child. My online parenting course, Parenting Strong-Willed Kids, has been attended by over a thousand parents worldwide.


I have been a school consultant for the past fifty years, starting with my first job out of college—  working in the Boston Public Schools. More recently, I’ve been a consultant to teachers at Waldorf, as well as in four local public schools where my research on my songs was conducted here in Santa Barbara. 

Educator and Speaker

I’ve taught courses in life-span developmental psychology and behavioral psychology at graduate and postgraduate levels. I’ve also been in high demand as a presenter on a variety of topics related to parenting, teaching, and social and emotional learning. I recently won the title of “Best Family Therapist” in a poll taken by SBParent.com, and have been featured in national newspapers, magazines, radio programs, CNN, Time Magazine, Inside Edition, Time for Kids, AOL, and At Home-Live.