Student Outcomes

Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy

Department of Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy

Our Students

Students in our Marital and Family Therapy program include individuals seeking to serve a variety of populations. Our students often have a background in psychology or other social sciences and most are seeking to enter the profession by earning licensure as Licensed Marital and Family Therapists (LMFTs). Click here to view our student profiles or read on to learn more about our student and alumni outcomes.

Alumni Testimonials

"Attending USD for my Marital and Family Therapy degree has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. In this program, not only have I acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to become a good and competent therapist, I have also been reminded of the importance of living a life of integrity and love, as has been displayed to me by all of the faculty and staff in this program. They have taught me that I never know who I am going to meet, and whether it be a new friend, colleague, or client, I want them to leave their time with me feeling that they have been truly heard, and completely loved--the same way I feel completing my time here at USD. I have received more than an education here, but a new way of thinking about, and caring about the world around me."
- Erica Johnson, Class of 2012

"Leaving the USD's Marital and Family Therapy program is bittersweet as it has left an indelible mark on me both personally and professionally. The faculty and staff not only educated me, but helped me safely navigate the ebbs and flows of being a new graduate student. My peers supported me as we explored human relationships amongst our clients and ourselves, and everyone helped me fall in love with a field that I can now boast as a raison d'être. And now, as I enter the field as a young therapist, I am vitalized, excited and confident knowing that I'm standing on the shoulders of exceptionally intelligent and wonderful people."
- Benjamin Inouye, Class of 2010

"As a graduate of this program, I want to sincerely recommend USD to future students considering Marital and Family Therapy. This school truly offers the highest quality professors as well as students, making our education – and our reputation – superior in this community. Its national COAMFTE accreditation has personally proven invaluable, as I now accompany my military husband from state to state. Working with other MFT communities in the country, it seems my coursework and my practicum experience surpass those of other programs, and I credit USD for making me a more marketable therapist and better prepared. And I must admit, our classroom window’s view of Mission Bay didn't hurt either!"
- Natalie Smith, Class of 2009

"I was initially drawn to USD’s MFT program due to the warm and inviting atmosphere fostered by the faculty. I was further intrigued by the program’s emphasis placed on medical family therapy and the frequent reinforcement and application of the “biopsychosocial” model of care. The education I received from the rigorous coursework in conjunction with a stimulating and challenging practicum site within a medical setting exceeded all of my expectations. I am consistently reminded of the strength of this program through the incredible work graduates are involved in around the world and the strong ongoing reputation alumni have built within San Diego and beyond. The variety of challenging coursework and practicum placements, opportunities for international work, and the dedication of the faculty to the program and students are all reasons I feel lucky to be an alumna of such a fine program."
- Shannon Sampson, Class of 2008

"In January 2005, after 15 years in corporate America, I enrolled in the USD MFT program with oneal. My goal was to become a competent marriage and family therapist treating individuals, couples and families in a private setting. In August 2007, after a packed curriculum with classes and practicum hours, I saw my first client as an MFT intern in private practice. Today, as I continue to see clients and build up my clientele base, I realize how well the USD MFT program prepared me for my new career. Most every class I took while a student and every case I saw during my practicum turned out to be invaluable. Hard work, excellent teaching, and a highly regarded, accredited program were well worth the effort."
- Nada Zein, Class 2007

"What strikes me as most impressive about the MFT Program at USD are the constant, untiring efforts put forth by faculty, staff, alumni, and students to ensure that the program continues to improve. In the four years since I have graduated, the program has broadened its practicum site options, further developed and strengthened its partnerships within the local and national communities, and expanded its courses that play an increasingly important role in family therapy today, such as Human Diversity. Having worked for the MFT Program for three years after graduating, I developed a deep appreciation for the level of commitment and passion that it takes to maintain and improve this outstanding, nationally-accredited program. The MFT Program at USD has everything one would hope for - the prospective students are excited, the current students are inquisitive, the alumni are well-prepared and ambitious, the staff are dedicated and attentive, and the faculty are perseverant in their drive to continually improve as professors, clinicians, and mentors. While the MFT Program is constantly evolving to better prepare each class with the skills necessary to succeed after graduation, the mission behind and ethos within the program remain the same."
- Brandina Morrison, Class of 2006

Learning Outcomes

The educational goals of USD’s MFT program, which provide for and embody the program’s expectation of student learning outcomes, are as follows:

  • Prepare future professionals who will identify as marriage and family therapists and practice a biopsychosocial, systems approach to family-oriented mental health care.
  • Prepare future professionals who are ethical clinicians and sensitive to the diversity of their clients.
  • Prepare future professionals who will draw upon knowledge from a variety of disciplines and integrate empirical based research into their clinical practice.

Regarding expected student learning outcomes, given the above listed educational goals of the MFT Program, it is expected that students will graduate from the program with the ability to do the following:

Student Learning Outcome 1: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program are able to critically analyze field-related research and its applications to practice.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the major concepts in research so that one can evaluate an empirical study.
  • can identify the key strengths and limitations in an empirical study.
  • know what are the key empirically supported treatments for a variety of issues that MFTs frequently encounter.
  • know how to access and use information from research to inform one’s clinical work.
  • value using research to inform one’s clinical work.

Student Learning Outcome 2: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program conduct clinical assessment that is grounded in theory and integrates a biopsychosocial perspective.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key concepts used by major models of family therapy for understanding individual and relational well-being.
  • can use theory to guide assessment.
  • know the key DSM IV-TR disorders encountered by MFTs.
  • can effectively assess and diagnosis DSM IV-TR disorders.
  • can recognize the role that biology/physical illness may have on individual and relational well-being.
  • are familiar with commonly used instruments in the MFT field.
  • can conduct an assessment from a biopsychosocial perspective.
  • value using a biopsychosocial perspective for assessment, with particular emphasis put on assessing conceptualizing from a systemic perspective.

Student Learning Outcome 3: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program use theory and current treatments to develop effective treatment plans.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key concepts and interventions used by major models of family therapy.
  • can develop an effective treatment plan or treatment focus.
  • can use theory to guide treatment and development/use of interventions.
  • know the current treatments used to treat DSM IV-TR disorders, including psychosocial and pharmacological treatments.

Student Learning Outcome 4: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program apply individual and family development in the assessment and treatment of cases.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key life cycle issues that families face.
  • are able to recognize the role of life cycle issues in the conceptualization and treatment of cases.
  • know the key stages of individual development from childhood through adulthood.
  • are able to effectively use knowledge of development in the assessment and treatment of cases.

Student Learning Outcome 5: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program demonstrate commitment to the legal, ethical, and professional standards of the MFT profession.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key ethical principles and laws relating to the practice of MFT.
  • are able to recognize when a legal or ethical issue exists.
  • are able to effectively respond to when an ethical or legal issue exists.
  • are committed to following the legal, ethical, and professional standards of the MFT profession.

Student Learning Outcome 6: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program demonstrate competence working with clients from diverse backgrounds.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key concepts and idea that are necessary when working with clients from diverse backgrounds (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation).
  • observed competence in working with clients from diverse backgrounds.
  • value looking at contextual factors to understand individuals and relational systems

In addition to the central student learning outcomes, the Marital and Family Therapy program expects graduates who:

  • are able to develop an effective client-therapist relationship.
  • are able to effectively structure therapy, including setting appropriate boundaries.
  • recognize when and how to make appropriate referrals for assessment and/or treatment.
  • are able to identify when self of the therapist issues arise in therapy.
  • are committed to examining and addressing self of the therapist issues as they arise.
  • demonstrate an ability to learn and enhance their skills through reading, workshops, supervision, etc.

These expected student outcomes are facilitated by the program’s educational goals, which are ultimately aimed towards achieving the mission and visions of the Program, SOLES, and USD, creating post-graduates who are highly competent, curious, ethical, and prepared to serve diverse communities.