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THERAPIST TINA TESSINA credits her Roscoe upbringing – and education – as significant influences in her life.

Roscoe gave this therapist 'grounding'

By Jeanne Sager
LONG BEACH, CALIF — February 22, 2008 — Everybody’s looking for a good listener.
One of the country’s best is living in California these days.
She’s got the ear of “Oprah” and “Larry King Live” watchers, “Redbook” magazine readers and Yahoo Personals Web surfers.
And Tina Tessina is accustomed to telling people she learned to listen growing up in “her” small town, Roscoe.
Although she was born in New Jersey, Tessina moved to the hamlet at the tip of Sullivan County when she was just 3 months old.
Her parents, Peter and Mae Bellochio, had found a hotel for sale, made the purchase, and moved their small family north.
Growing up at the Rockland House on Old Route 17, Tessina said she never dreamed she’d one day be a psychotherapist with a string of successful books and talk show hosts knocking on her door.
She was simply a child who loved English with Mr. Rizzuto, math with Ms. Albee, music with Mr. Chlypavka.
In fact, the latter sent her on a path to SUNY Potsdam, where she spent two years studying at the Crane School of Music.
“It’s pretty wonderful to be inspired by your teachers,” Tessina said.
The author of 11 books – including “Money, Sex and Kids” which was published in January and “Commuter Marriage” which will hit shelves in April – she said she hasn’t taken a formal writing class since graduating from Roscoe Central in 1962.
“Because I got such a good background there,” she explained.
Her time in Roscoe wasn’t always easy – in the years between 12 and 18, Tessina lost every family member with the exception of her mother. Peter Bellochio passed away when his daughter was just 18 – she came home from college to attend his funeral.
Her scholarship ran out after two years in school, and Tessina made the difficult decision to leave college.
She married, then divorced.
Now living in California, Tessina made the fateful decision to enter therapy.
“For myself,” she explained. “Just to kind of figure things out.”
What she figured out was therapy was a place where she could turn the page – and she could turn her own small town upbringing into a way to help the world.
It was the ’70s in California, and Tessina jokes that there was still the old hippie mantra “doing well by doing good” dancing in her mind.
At 29, Tessina finally knew her goal in life was to become a psychotherapist and help others.
Putting herself through school, Tessina’s desire to find family prompted her to share a home with eight other people in a 22-room mansion.
House meetings were long, drawn out battles even among the well-meaning friends.
They became the basis of Tessina’s first book, the one she calls “an accident.”
She’d been chatting with Riley Smith, a colleague and housemate, about how to solve the meeting problems, when the two came upon a solution.
The relationship model not only brought their house meetings down to a reasonable amount of time, but it caught the attention of a professor at Los Angeles City College.
The resulting workshop drew so many participants, the college “couldn’t find a room for us,” Tessina said with a laugh.
“And we couldn’t find a book that said what we were saying, that you have to cooperate instead of compromise,” she recalled.
By 1980, their book, “How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free” was on shelves and selling rapidly.
It’s since been reprinted several times, is still in circulation today and still brings journalists knocking on Tessina’s door for her expert advice.
She’s since been wooed by bigger publishers, gotten the all-important (in the publishing world) agent and become a familiar face on the Oprah and Larry King shows.
She’s also been spotted on the news magazine television circuit over the years promoting her books, and earned a spot on the Redbook Love Network.
Tessina answers relationship questions these days not only in the Long Beach, Calif. Office she maintains but online at and Yahoo Personals.
Remarried to husband Richard, who she met in 1982, Tessina is settled… happy.
And while it may be a job, her work is Tessina’s way of giving back.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a counselor until I was 29,” she noted, “but I could sit on a bus bench, and people would tell me their life stories.
“I have a natural ability to motivate people to share with me,” she continued. “That’s something I credit to growing up in a small town.
“I got the world’s best education at Roscoe,” Tessina explained. “I was really taught there how to think, not just regurgitate.
“I learned how to make connections with people.”
Although the family hotel was long ago sold to another family, and today’s Rockland House looks largely different from that run by the Bellochios, Tessina is still very much connected to Roscoe.
She keeps up with fellow graduates of the Class of 1962, and a photo album linked to her Website details the last trip she took with Richard to her old hometown.
She’s doing the town proud by “healing the planet, one person at a time.”
“Money, Sex and Kids,” focused on the top three reasons married couples argue, keys in on the myths of fighting in a relationship.
“It is necessary to have differences and resolve the differences,” Tessina said. “It isn’t necessary to yell and scream and carry on.
“There are guidelines for fighting fair.”
The book is available in major bookstores, as well as online at or, and “Commuter Marriage” will hit the same stores in April with help for “geographically-challenged” couples.
Tessina is also author of the “Dr. Romance” e-mail newsletter, and a number of articles can be viewed on her Website at

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