Marriage and Family Therapy Program Overview

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MFT Mission Statement

The mission of our 2-year, 48-credit M.A. program is to produce graduates who distinctively integrate Christian belief and practice with the best of contemporary scholarship and professional standards in marriage and family therapy; who demonstrate a vision for clinical practice as service, especially to the body of Christ, the Church, and to marginalized persons throughout the world;  who are dedicated to diversity and justice in their personal and professional lives; and who are prepared for professional licensure as marriage and family therapists.

Program Distinction

Consistent with the historic mission of our graduate psychology programs at Wheaton, our vision is to develop whole and effective clinicians through a balanced approach to education that attends to spiritual, personal, interpersonal, and professional growth and development as part of the education process. Our program is built on a cohort model, with students sharing their two-year course of study in a diverse, cohesive learning community characterized by Christ-centered relationships. Faculty and students join together in actively exploring the integration of Christian faith and MFT practice both in classroom study and in more personal settings. During both years of the program, students and faculty participate together in Personal and Professional Development Groups (MAFT 661-664), an opportunity for mentoring by faculty, and exploration of group dynamics, interpersonal processes, and professional identity integral to the practice of couple and family therapy. Faculty members also provide oversight of students’ Pre-Practicum and Clinical Practicum experiences through Practicum Seminars (MAFT 696-699) focused on putting the concepts and theories of integration into practice.

Program Goals and Objectives

In accomplishing our mission, our program includes the following four domains, which adhere to guidelines and competencies as developed by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the AAMFT Code of Ethics:

  • Clinical Competence
    We proceed from a relational/systemic perspective, with curriculum built around MFT core competencies in Assessment and Intervention consistent with the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education and the Illinois LMFT requirements. (Incoming students who wish to practice outside of Illinois will need to research requirements for other States, and we will do our best to help meet these.)  We prepare students to be effective practitioner/scholars, equipped with a strong theoretical foundation, evidence based skills, and the capacity to draw from ongoing research and scholarship. An integral part of this is our engaged faculty--professors modeling the “life of the mind” as teachers, scholars, mentors, clinical supervisors, and MFT practitioners. We aim for clinicians who incorporate the following knowledge into their systemic thinking: individual and family development; interpersonal justice; the personal faith in Christ; and a deep appreciation of the impact of contexts on individual and family functioning.
  • Relational Competency
    We focus on relationships in the MFT program. Relationships are the cornerstone to who we are as people and as professionals. Through multiple experiences (i.e., professional and personal development course, within our cohort class structure, during social gatherings) faculty and students interact and grow together. One specific aim in developing relational competence is by demonstrating self-awareness and emotional regulation in courses and clinical internships. Through this awareness students strengthen their ability to communicate effectively and appropriately to colleagues, supervisors, and clients our thoughts and diverse perspectives. Ultimately, we desire to strengthen our connection to Christ, our families, each other, and in our professional relationships.        
  • Interpersonal Justice
    We guide students to understand, integrate, and value diversity and justice, a focus evident in student and faculty recruitment efforts and materials, in a supportive, accepting learning environment, and in a curriculum and training program designed to prepare professional Christian MFTs who deal responsibly with needs found in pluralistic cultures throughout the world. We train students to be contextually sensitive Christian marriage and family therapists who responsibly integrate and practice professional ethical conduct.  It is our desire that our graduates will integrate diversity and justice in their personal and professional lives, and approaching persons with genuine respect and openness for the multiple contexts they are imbedded in (e.g., disability, ethnicity, poverty, sexual orientation, gender, faith system, etc).
  • Christian Distinctiveness
    We inspire students to integrate Christian faith with professional theory and practice as they build the church, minister to the underserved, and impact society worldwide. As systems thinkers we examine how contextual factors influence individual and family functioning and we seek to go beyond relief of suffering. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “We are not simply to bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the [oppressive] wheel itself.” We want to invest in changing family, church, community, and organizational systems in such a way that, rather than serving as barriers, they support and facilitate authentic, Christ-centered relationships.  Marriage and Family Therapy is seen by the faculty as service, especially to the body of Christ, the Church, and to marginalized people throughout the world.  We encourage our students to share in this vision and practice with us.

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