Definitions and Distinctives
The federal government has designated Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) as a core mental health profession along with psychiatry, psychology, social work, and psychiatric nursing. Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples, and family systems.
MFTs broaden the traditional emphasis on the individual to attend to the role of individuals in relationship networks. Research studies demonstrate the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating mental and emotional disorders and health problems.
Distinctives of the program include:
- A relational view of clinical care from systemic/social-ecological perspectives.
- Strong self of the therapist emphasis on the students’ understanding of the moral-values-spiritual dimensions of their own lives, as well as how these dimensions interact with their clients’ lives.
- The ORCA Stance, which holds theological and relational values as a way to explore the worldviews of our clients with an Open, Respectful, Curious and Accountable attitude.
A major strength of the program is cohort-centered, intentionally-sequenced curriculum with purposeful self of the therapist development, while bringing cultural and theological sensitivity into the practice of family therapy.
Mission, Goals and Competencies
SPU's mission statement says that the University: seeks to be a premier Christian University fully committed to engaging the culture and changing the world by graduating people of competence and character, becoming people of wisdom, and modeling a grace-filled community.
Congruent with SPU, the MFT program provides high quality education and training in a faithfully Christian context. Students develop competent skills as beginning marriage and family therapists, engage with the culture through clinical training contexts, and develop an awareness of their own character issues.
While on-campus faculty and staff hold a Christian faith commitment, students aren't required to share any religious perspective. The program posits that direct clinical experience in the community will best shape students’ integration of MFT theory, self-development, and engagement with cross-cultural experiences.
Graduates of the masters of science in marriage and family therapy (M.S.) program are prepared to:
- Apply family systems theoretical models and clinical interventions to therapeutic work with individuals, couples, groups, and families.
- Examine personal and professional values and integrate them into an ethical practice of family therapy.
- Demonstrate awareness of sociocultural and professional trends in the practice of psychotherapy.
Student competencies for each of these goals are based on Professional Marriage and Family Therapy Principles.