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Dr. Marisa G. Franco

Psychologist, professor, friendship expert, and New York Times-bestselling author of Platonic

  • About Marisa G. Franco

    Dr. Marisa G. Franco holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Maryland and works as a professor there. Her research focuses primarily on communities and connection and how these influence our health, our work, and our resilience.

    Friendship, gathering, and the importance of connection are key topics in an era of social fragmentation and rampant loneliness. Social connection is a predictor of how long we live and loneliness is as toxic for our bodies as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Dr. Marisa G. Franco takes a data-driven look at community and connection, and speaks to private companies, universities, and non-profit organizations all over the country about finding and keeping new friends as adults, making (work) friends in a digital-only world, and overcoming loneliness.

    Dr. Marisa G. Franco’s book, Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends, was an instant New York Times bestseller and hailed as “a remarkable examination of the epidemic of loneliness and sound advice for alleviating it […] a useful tonic to a key social ailment” by Kirkus Reviews. Filled with evidence-based tips, Platonic, gives guidance on forging strong connections and making friends in an era of distraction, burnout, and chaos.

    Prior to teaching at the University of Maryland, Dr. Franco was an Assistant Professor at Georgia State University and an AAAS fellow at Millennium Challenge Corporation. While a doctoral student at UMD, Dr. Franco won numerous research awards, including the 2013 Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award and the 2015 Outstanding Graduate Student Award.

    Dr. Franco writes the Platonic Love blog for Psychology Today and has been a featured expert in The New York Times, Huffington Post, Vice, The Telegraph, Scientific American, Bustle, Women’s Day, etc. She is a frequent guest on popular podcasts, including We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle, Therapy for Black Girls, and NPR’s Here & Now.

    Contact us to learn how to bring Dr. Marisa G. Franco to your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    Belonging at Work: How Community Drives Engagement and Retention

    A sense of workplace belonging is connected to higher job satisfaction as well as positive mental health and well-being. In this interactive and data-driven talk, Dr. Marisa Franco will guide audiences through the science of connection and how the same tools for building friendships can help initiate and maintain workplace relationships. Tailored to meet the needs of companies of different sizes from varying industries, Dr. Franco can address:

    • The relationship between authenticity and belonging for workplace success.
    • How to cultivate employee engagement and belonging at work when teams are sitting in home offices across the world.
    • How to strengthen connection between employees from different generations (e.g. Gen X, Gen Z, Millennials, etc.).
    • How to build trust in virtual work settings.

    Strengthening Social Connection, Community, And Collaboration…And Why It Matters

    The need for connection is fundamentally human and underlies everything—our health, our motivation, our work, and our sense of who we are. And yet, we are in the middle of a loneliness epidemic and our communities are disconnected. In this keynote or in-conversation format, Dr. Marisa G. Franco will share insights into the science of connection and why belonging makes individuals and communities more resilient. She will share skills and hands-on tips for initiating and maintaining collaboration, community, and friendship.

    Supporting Student Mental Health Through Community and Friendship

    In a talk geared for students and the communities that support them, Dr. Marisa Franco dives into the importance of connection and friendship for mental and physical health. A professor at the University of Maryland, Dr. Franco is adept at communicating with younger audiences and can customize this talk to speak about how to network authentically, how minoritized students can find belonging, and how students can use technology to foster connection. She covers in detail why students may feel lonely and offers takeaways that help them learn how to make robust and meaningful friendships that will support their mental health.

    The Science of Finding Joy

    Joy often feels out of reach for employees who feel overwhelmed and burnt out. In this presentation, Dr. Franco shares why joy is important alongside strategies for embracing it. Joy counteracts prevalence—the idea that a single negative event pollutes all aspects of life. It is not a way to ignore the negative, but rather, to acknowledge that bright spots exist alongside it.

    Dr. Franco guides audience members through interactive, practical, and research- based strategies for embracing joy. She encourages her audience to acknowledge
    small pleasures, magnify good news by sharing it, and experience others’ joy vicariously. Audiences will leave with a newfound understanding of the importance of joy for overall mental well-being and they will learn how to better embrace it.

  • Video

  • Praise for Marisa G. Franco

    Praise for Platonic

    There isn’t enough conversation around some of the central relationships in our lives: friends! We are craving information about how to make friends, keep friends, and be a better friend and Platonic delivers. I’m so impressed with the research and thoughtfulness in this book, and I learned so much about what might have gone wrong in my past friendships and what I want out of my current and future relationships. I closed this book determined to prioritize my friendships as one of the most important aspects of my life.

    Laura Tremaine, author of Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First

    Dr. Franco’s book Platonic is an ode to modern friendship, complete with a practical guide to making and keeping friends. It reminds us of the importance of platonic love in today’s society—bucking the notion that romantic love trumps everything else in our lives…the depth of research Ms. Franco weaves into the book sheds light onto an aspect of our world that—like an old and trusted pal—it may be too easy to take for granted.

    Wall Street Journal

    A smart and savvy guide on forging friendships…This has wisdom to spare.

    Publishers Weekly

    A remarkable examination of the epidemic of loneliness and sound advice for alleviating it…A pleasing mix of research, advice, and humor, this book is a useful tonic to a key social ailment.

    Kirkus Reviews (starred)
  • Books by Marisa G. Franco

  • Media About Marisa G. Franco

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and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Marisa G. Franco travels from Washington, DC

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