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Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

Over the past several decades, family therapy has grown from an experimental innovation to a significant force in the mental health field. Today, the knowledge and skills of the family therapist are recognized as integral to the treatment of a host of issues such as marital conflict, chemical addiction, eating disorders, child and elder abuse, foster care, and juvenile delinquency. Family therapy practitioners are found in an array of professional settings: mental health clinics, public service agencies, private practices, churches and synagogues, businesses, schools, hospitals, courts and prisons.

All families experience and must cope with the stress that accompanies milestones within the life cycle: courtship, marriage, birth, child rearing, old age, and death. In addition, separation, divorce, remarriage, chronic and terminal illness, and the dramatic change in both women’s and men’s roles are social issues which challenge all families today. Rather than obstacles to growth and change, these stressors and challenges, with the assistance of a skilled family therapist, offer families opportunities and new options for more satisfying, effective functioning.

The Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy provides graduate students with a broad conceptual understanding of both healthy and dysfunctional family relationship patterns within a multicultural context. A systems theory and process view is applied to behavior, growth and change within individuals, couples, groups, families and communities. Students develop an understanding of the dynamics of relationships within the family, e.g., alliances, cutoffs, triangles and enmeshments. Relationship and communication patterns are considered within the context of the family life cycle. Students acquire skills and competencies to effectively facilitate and manage the therapeutic intervention process leading to realignment of the family’s relationship system and healthier functioning.

The Master of Science degree program in Marriage and Family Therapy is designed to provide advanced training for those who intend to serve or are currently serving the community in a therapeutic capacity within public or private, human service settings. The curriculum is based on an integrative approach to professional preparation as a family therapist. Course work emphasizes the acquisition of knowledge of a variety of theoretical approaches and methods of family therapy as well as the development of therapeutic skills. Theoretical learning and skill development takes place within the context of the student’s personal family life experience as it influences the intervention process.

Additionally St. Thomas offers a joint J.D. (LAW) and Master Of Science In Marriage and Family Counseling degree program. Students in the joint degree program will transfer nine (9) credits* from the J.D. program to the graduate Master of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling program. The Master of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling is available only to students who have been fully admitted to the St. Thomas University School of Law and who maintain satisfactory progress in their law studies. This 36 credit degree program does not include all the required courses for the Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy program (48 credits). Students have the option of taking additional coursework in the pursuit of licensure as a marriage and family therapist in the State of Florida as well as the option for completion of the lengthier Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy program.

Academic Program
The academic program is theoretically and experientially based. A foundation in family systems theory provides a basis for understanding and assessing the therapeutic needs of families, couples, and individuals. Experiential learning is achieved through in-class simulation exercises and videotaping as well as evaluation of therapeutic techniques, site visits to successful family service agencies, and field-work internships which provide students with the opportunity to practice intervention skills with families as well as individuals.

While the development of the Marriage and Family Therapy curriculum was guided by both state and national credentialing requirements, matriculating and prospective students are encouraged to direct questions regarding licensure to the Florida Department of Health, Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling. At present, this agency is the only official source of information. Students may be required to take a graduate writing seminar to improve their skills.

Marriage and Family Therapy students may earn a Certificate in the Study of Loss and Healing through the Center for Loss and Healing by completing the five required courses listed under the graduate certificate. Three of these courses may be used as electives in the Marriage and Family Therapy degree program with advisor approval.

Course Requirements (48 credits)

Foundation Courses (21 credits)
        CPS 503 Applied Research Methods
        CPS 730 Theories of Personality 
        CPS 733 Introduction to Counseling 
        CPS 736 Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling 
        CPS 745 Abnormal Psychology 
        CPS 746 Human Sexuality Counseling 
        CPS 760 Multicultural Counseling

Specialization (18 credits)
        CPS 740 Introduction to Family Therapy
        CPS 741 Transitions in the Family Life 
        CPS 742 Intermediate Family Therapy 
        CPS 743 Theory and Practice of Counseling Couples 
        CPS 792 Field Experience I 
        CPS 793 Field Experience II

Electives (9 credits)
Choose three courses from the following: 
        CPS 663 Occupational and Educational Principles of Guidance
        CPS 734 Therapeutic Issues of Infancy and Childhood 
        CPS 735 Group Therapies 
        CPS 737 Therapeutic Issues of Adolescence 
        CPS 739 Therapeutic Issues of Aging 
        CPS 744 Substance Abuse and the Family 
        CPS 747 Individual Assessment and Treatment Planning 
        CPS 749 Intermediate Counseling 
        CPS 750 Introduction to Community Consultation 
        CPS 751 Vocational and Career Counseling 
        CPS 752 Selected Topics in Psychotherapy

Other courses may be taken as electives with the approval of the program coordinator.

For more information, please contact Dr. Barbara Buzzi, bbuzzi@stu.edu or call (305) 628-6584.

Click here to download and print a copy of the Comprehensive Exam Application.