NDSU faculty and students associated with the Couple and Family Therapy Program in the College of Human Development and Education attended the national conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in Sacramento, Calif., from Oct. 1-4.
Faculty and alumni of the Couple and Family Therapy program also gave a number of poster presentations at the conference. Sarah DeJean and Christi McGeorge presented "Does Gender Matter? Societal Perceptions of Single Parents." The presentation explored the differences in attitudes toward never-married custodial single mothers and fathers. Findings suggested that single mothers were viewed less positively than single fathers in terms of personal characteristics and parenting abilities. McGeorge says one possible explanation for the differences is related to gender role stereotypes about women and men. "Based on these stereotypes, never-married single mothers are viewed negatively, while never-married single fathers are assumed to be going 'above and beyond' to care for their children and, thus, are viewed more positively," she said.
McGeorge, Tom Carlson and Heather Guttormson presented "Promoting Equality in Couples Therapy: Measuring Therapists’ Competence." This poster described the development of a measure that assesses marriage and family therapists’ knowledge of feminist principles and competence in utilizing practices aimed at increasing the level of equality in couple relationships.
Monica Rock, Carlson and McGeorge presented "Couple and Family Therapy Students’ Beliefs about Sexual Orientation and Therapy.” This poster described a study about the beliefs of couple and family therapy students about sexual orientation and their self-reported competence working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients. The results support the existing literature that argues that couple and family therapy programs need to include specific training on affirmative therapy practices and concepts, as the level of affirmative training the participants received was directly related to their self-reported clinical competence working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients.
Kristen Benson, assistant professor, and Fred Piercy presented "A Qualitative Study of Transgender Relationships and Therapy," which explored what transgender people and their partners think couple and family therapists need to know to clinically address issues related to disclosure of transgender identity and ongoing relational matters with loved ones. The presentation included themes and subthemes about participants’ perspectives concerning well-informed therapists.
According to Benson, clinical implications of this study include training and education about gender identity and transgender clients, suggestions to create transgender affirmative couple and family therapist practices and exploration of couple and family therapists’ biases and self-awareness regarding how assumptions about transgender clients impact their views and clinical work with this population.