Our COAMFTE-accredited Couple and Family Therapy Ph.D. program was first established in 1985. We have a long history of preparing leaders in couple and family therapy education, research, and practice. Our training focuses on relational processes, empirically-supported interventions, and clinical research methodology. Our work is guided by a commitment to inclusion, diversity, and social justice. Our faculty are prominent scholars in parenting, family dynamics, intimate relationships, mental health disparities, immigrant and refugee families, trauma, and clinical research; we also have expertise in numerous empirically-supported couple and family interventions. We view doctoral education as a time of apprenticeship in which students receive intensive mentorship in research, practice, and education. Students are guided through the program by their advisor and doctoral committee.
MISSION AND OBJECTIVES (GOALS)
Couple and Family Therapy Program Mission
We are committed to advancing systemic interventions that support the well-being of individuals and families through excellence in clinically-relevant research, empirically-informed clinical practice, and education/outreach. Our activities are guided by our values of inclusion and diversity.
In order to achieve our program mission, we have established the following program goals and student learning outcomes.
Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes
- Clinically-Relevant Research. Students will conduct research that is relevant to systemic interventions.
- Students will develop expertise in synthesizing literature and understanding theoretical frameworks relevant to their research area.
- Students will develop expertise in designing a research study using the best-suited methodological approach to address their research question.
- Students will publish clinically-relevant scholarship (e.g., scientific journal article or book chapter).
- Students will prepare a grant proposal that is relevant to their research interests.
- Empirically-Informed Clinical Practice. Students will inform their clinical practice by empirical evidence.
- Students will demonstrate knowledge in at least one empirically supported systemic intervention.
- Students will practice skilled clinical work in the following: Admission to treatment, clinical assessment and diagnosis, treatment planning and case management, use of supervision to achieve clinical effectiveness, and legal issues, ethics, and standards.
- Education/Outreach. Students will share knowledge with students, practitioners, scholars, and/or community members.
- Students will graduate with skills that will allow them to be effective instructors in higher education.
- Students will be prepared to provide effective couple and family therapy supervision.
- Students will conduct professional presentations at community, regional, national, or international events.
- Inclusion and Diversity. Students will demonstrate a commitment to scholarly and clinical work that recognizes social locations, acknowledges power imbalances, and seeks to reduce disparities.
- Students will learn to attend to issues of inclusion and diversity in their scholarship.
- Clinically, students will demonstrate sensitivity to the social locations of their clients.
To learn more about our program mission, goals, and student learning outcomes, please see our CFT Program Handbook
The Ph.D. program has six core faculty members who are all licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and AAMFT approved supervisors. The faculty have national reputations in research, education, clinical practice, and leadership. The program is directed by Andrea Wittenborn. Other core faculty include Adrian Blow, Marsha Carolan, Kendal Holtrop, Temple Odom, and Saila Subramaniam. Faculty have different roles in the program. Drs. Blow, Holtrop, and Wittenborn serve as faculty advisors and mentor students in research. All faculty teach and supervise in the program’s Couple and Family Therapy Clinic.
Graduates from the Couple and Family Therapy Ph.D. program work in a variety of settings, including universities, government, research institutes, and practice settings. You can learn more about our graduates through the following link.
ACCREDITATION APPROVAL STATUS
The Couple and Family Therapy Ph.D. program is accredited by the Commission on Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) through November 1, 2020.
The CFT program is a year round program. Students begin classes in the Fall semester of each year. Summer schedules are usually lighter in coursework with students focused on clinical hours, assistantships (if assigned), and research. Click the following link to access The Michigan State University Academic Calendar.
DEGREE COMPLETION REQUIREMENTS
The Couple and Family Therapy Ph.D. requirements consist of coursework, a practical immersion experience, 1,000 direct client contact hours (doctoral and pre-doctoral combined), comprehensive exams, and dissertation. More details about degree completion requirements can be found in the following places: CFT CURRICULA, CFT PROGRAM MANUAL, and the HDFS PhD HANDBOOK
TUITION AND FEES
We strive to fund all of our students, if possible, with assistantships. If you receive an assistantship, it will fund nine credit hours of tuition in the fall and spring semesters, and five credit hours in the summer session. It will also provide health insurance and a monetary stipend. Please visit the following site to learn more about Graduate Assistantships: https://grad.msu.edu/assistantships
Admission (Doctoral program only; no master’s program offered)
Students are admitted to the doctoral program in Couple and Family Therapy in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Students who enter with a master’s degree from a COAMFTE-accredited program, or its equivalent, will enter the doctoral program directly. Applicants who currently have a master’s degree from a non COAMFTE-accredited program will be considered, however they will be required to complete additional courses to meet the COAMFTE master’s degree equivalency prior to graduation. These courses will be determined after a review of previous coursework by the CFT program director. Generally, it is possible to accept many clinical experiences and courses from the student’s master’s degree as part of the equivalency. Students in such cases should anticipate that their education will take more time to complete than those entering with a master’s degree from a COAMFTE-accredited program.
Degree Completion Time Frame
Students entering the Ph.D. program with a master’s degree in MFT usually complete their Ph.D. in 4 years. Depending on prior coursework and appropriate clinical experiences, students entering with a master’s in another area may require 1-2 additional years to complete the PhD. A total of 1,000 hours of direct client contact is required for the doctoral degree in CFT; up to 800 hours can be counted from prior clinical experiences as long as they meet COAMFTE criteria. An immersion experience is also required that may include clinical, teaching, administrative, and research experiences. Please go to the following link to review graduation rates: https://hdfs.msu.edu/sites/default/files/public/CFT_Clinic/COAMFTE_SAC_Data_Disclosure_Template_2019.pdf
Clinical training occurs in the Couple and Family Therapy Clinic. The Clinic is located in the MSU Clinical Center, and functions as a non-profit community-based agency. Clients come from the greater Lansing area (population, 480,000), as well as from the MSU community (50,000 students, 13,000 faculty and staff). Services are provided on a sliding fee scale and supervision is provided by CFT faculty. Senior doctoral students provide additional mentoring for junior students. Each session is recorded for review and supervision.
The CFT doctoral program is committed to providing research experiences for each student that leads to expertise in the conduct of research and results in publications and conference presentations. We encourage students to go beyond the required courses to identify courses in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology, for example,that will strengthen their research and content expertise. We want each student to combine classroom learning with continuous hands-on experience in research and publication. The Department provides computers, statistical programs, coding programs, and a video-coding laboratory for student-faculty research, as well as dedicated research space. The Clinic provides opportunities for observation, data collection, coding, and more. The University provides a research design and data analysis consultation service open to students and faculty.
There is an increasing need for doctoral graduates who are committed to and can carry out sophisticated programs of research, regardless of their setting—academic, medical, agency, advocacy, or private practice. Our goal is to provide the kinds of experience that will set the stage for such efforts.
The CFT program manual contains a wealth of information including information on curriculum, program milestones, policies related to student retention, grading, remediation, technology, and licensure (including licensure portability policies). The manual can be accessed at: https://hdfs.msu.edu/sites/default/files/public/CFT_Clinic/CFT_Program_Manual_2019-2020.pdf
TECHNICAL TRAINING IN OUR CLINIC
All students engage in clinical training in the MSU Couple and Family Therapy clinic. Our clinic offers state-of-the-art facilities including electronic medical records, video-recording equipment, and software to provide supervisory feedback on video-recorded sessions. All students are trained in clinic procedures, which are described in our clinic manual.
The Couple and Family Therapy Program at Michigan State University prides itself in attracting diverse students to the program, both from the United States and Internationally. Our current student body for 2018-2019 is depicted in the table below:
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Core CFT Faculty/Clinical Supervisor* Diversity
(*Note, all program faculty serve as supervisors in the clinic. You can read more about their supervisory work at this link: https://hdfs.msu.edu/clinic)
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