North Dakota State University’s master’s program in couple and family therapy has been nationally recognized for developing and providing cutting-edge education that focuses on diversity and social justice.
The program and its faculty, Tom Stone Carlson, Christi McGeorge and Kristen Benson, received the national Training Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. This is only the second time in the history of the award that it has been given to a program rather than an individual scholar.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy represents the professional interests of more than 50,000 couple and family therapists in the United States, Canada and abroad. The association’s Training Award honors members for significant contributions advancing the field of marriage and family therapy.
The program was nominated by top scholars and educators in the field, including Douglas Sprenkle of Purdue University, Julie Serovich of Ohio State University, Fred Piercy of Virginia Tech University and chief editor of the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Leigh Leslie of the University of Maryland, and William Doherty of the University of Minnesota. As a group, they are responsible for hundreds of scholarly publications and millions of dollars of research funding.
“The couple and family therapy program at NDSU has clearly made a significant and lasting impact on the field of family therapy,” Sprenkle wrote in his nomination. “Their efforts to raise the visibility of the need for training programs to make the issues of diversity and social justice central to training of all couple and family therapists are deserving of recognition and is a model for the entire field of couple and family therapy.”
The nominations highlighted NDSU’s commitment to producing therapists who know how to work effectively with clients who experience societal challenges because of race, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. The nominations also noted the program’s reputation as a leader in preparing therapists to provide competent and affirmative therapy services to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. “The program is the pre-eminent couple and family therapy program in the country in training culturally competent therapists to work with LGBT clients and families,” Leslie wrote.
Jim Deal, head of the Department of Human Development and Family Science, said that the couple and family therapy program has “an outstanding national reputation and draws students from across the country.”
Master’s student Sarah McDougall, who is from Canada, said she chose couple and family therapy at NDSU because of its focus on diversity and its reputation as a top program. “I am confident that no other program in North America would have been able to offer me the unique training I am receiving here at NDSU,” she wrote in a nomination letter.
NDSU’s couple and family therapy program is a master’s option in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. It is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. The two-and-a-half year program prepares students for careers as researchers and licensed couple and family therapists, attracting students from across the U.S. and Canada. Eight students are admitted to the program each year. Graduates have a 100 percent pass rate on the national licensure exam and a 99 percent employment rate in the field.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.