Marriage and Family Therapy


The department offers two master's degree (MA) programs: one in Marriage and Family Therapy and one in Family Studies. The Master of Arts (MA) degree in marriage and family therapy prepares candidates for careers as marriage and family therapists. The curriculum and clinical training at Fairfield University equips the candidate to work in a wide variety of professional settings with diverse populations who are experiencing a broad range of problems. The program is dedicated to providing a learning context that fundamentally values diversity and nondiscrimination. The core curriculum, the clinical training component of the program and the faculty and supervisors strive to address diversity, power, privilege, and social justice in all aspects of training and education. Toward that end, the faculty is committed to creating an environment that welcomes and provides mentorship to a diverse student body by a diverse group of faculty, instructors, and supervisors.

The program is accredited through 2018 by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Upon completion of the planned program of study, candidates may apply for pre-clinical fellow membership in AAMFT and are eligible to take the licensing examination in the State of Connecticut. Upon completion of additional required clinical experience and supervision and a passing score on the national licensing exam, according to Connecticut statutes, graduates may apply for Connecticut licensure in marriage and family therapy and Clinical Fellow membership in AAMFT.

The MA degree program in Family Studies is an advanced educational track in early childhood, human development, interpersonal relations, and family studies. Graduates of the program may enter a variety of human services vocations and/or pursue further advanced degrees in human and family development including early childhood, adolescence, marriage and geriatrics.

The Family Studies program focuses on basic human developmental and behavioral characteristics of the individual within the context of the family system. The curriculum includes instruction in the conditions that influence human growth and development; strategies that promote growth and development across the life span; and the study of family systems.

The curriculum is designed to prepare the candidate to pursue doctoral studies in related areas to become educators and researchers. The Family Studies program also provides an advanced educational track for the candidate who wishes to seek employment in the non-clinical areas of social service delivery, research, family policy and family law, parenting and family life education, health and well-being, prevention and program evaluation. The curriculum covers theory, research and practice with individuals and families across the life span. The curriculum strives to address diversity, power, privilege and social justice with the goal of creating an environment that welcomes and provides mentorship to a diverse student body by a diverse group of faculty and instructors.

Mission Statement

The Marriage and Family Therapy program at Fairfield University is designed to prepare students for careers as competent professional marriage and family therapists by providing them with a solid conceptual knowledge base and the clinical skills necessary for effective practice. Students are exposed to the broad range of family systems theories and models with a particular emphasis on the utilization of the Structural and Strategic approaches. The program is dedicated to providing a learning context that fundamentally values diversity, nondiscrimination and the promotion of justice. The program seeks to educate students to be socially aware and ethically responsible professionals.

Philosophy Statement

The philosophy statement of the Marriage and Family Therapy program is an extension of the Mission Statement and incorporates the Conceptual Scholar-Practitioner Framework of the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions and the Ignatian Jesuit values of the university. The Marriage and Family Therapy program instills in graduates the value of the inherent worth and dignity of all people and promotes the wellbeing of individuals, couples, families and communities, is committed to serving a diverse society; possesses strong conceptual and clinical knowledge and upholds the highest standards of professional conduct. The program supports the development of intellectual rigor, personal integrity, multidisciplinary collaboration, informed decision-making, self reflection and social responsibility.

Admission to the Program

Application deadlines are listed online at

All potential candidates will be required to participate in person in a mandatory on-campus group interview as part of the admission process and will be notified in writing of their eligibility for the group interview.

Given the professional responsibility one assumes as a marriage and family therapist, candidates whose work continues to be of marginal academic quality despite remedial efforts or who demonstrate personal qualities that are not conducive to the role of the marriage and family therapist as cited in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program Student Handbook, or after an unsuccessful attempt to maintain or be placed in a practicum or internship site, may be terminated from the program. All candidates are required to adhere to the AAMFT Code of Ethics and the Marriage and Family Therapy Program policies and procedures. Failure to comply with ethical and professional standards may also result in termination from the program. In addition, the disposition statement presented in this catalog is applicable to this program as it is to all programs in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions.

Kathryn P. Koslow Center for Marriage and Family Therapy

The Marriage and Family Therapy program operates a clinical facility on the campus of Fairfield University. The Kathryn P. Koslow Center for Marriage and Family Therapy is a new, state-of-the-art facility that was made possible through a generous gift. The Center is a beautiful facility that is equipped with the latest in technology which enables advanced master's degree candidates to receive the finest professional training for students entering the profession. The Koslow Center offers a wide range of clinical services available to the community, as well as new and exciting opportunities for students to engage in research, grants, and community partnerships.

The Koslow Center for Marriage and Family Therapy is dedicated to providing therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families; to excellence in the training of professional marriage and family therapists; and to creating a community of professionals where both graduates and current students can be engaged and remain connected. In keeping with Fairfield University's identity as a Jesuit and Catholic institution of higher learning, the Koslow Center is committed to the ideals of embracing difference, examining social systems critically, and becoming directly involved with those who are underprivileged and underserved.

FT 0099 Comprehensive Exam0 Credits

FT 0425 Private Practice and Small Business Management3 Credits

This course will provide an overview of small business and private practice management. Students will become acquainted with the technical and personal elements necessary to create and sustain a private practice. Attention will be focused on narrowing student focus in order to develop a feasible strategy for creating, implementing and maintaining small business goals.

FT 0433 Social Justice and Diversity in Professional Practice3 Credits

Students examine professional practice with individuals, couples and families from diverse ethnic, cultural, racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds with a focus on issues of diversity, social justice, power, privilege and underserved communities, in accordance with Key Element IV-B and Foundational Curriculum Area (FCA) 3 of the accreditation standards set forth by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COMAFTE). The course addresses the issues of gender role stereotyping and changing sex roles, and integrates professional contributions from the professional literature.

FT 0447 Lifespan Human Development3 Credits

This course explores the processes of individual and family development from childhood through old age. Presenting theoretical perspectives for studying child, adult, and family development, the course examines the modifications of family structures over time and psycho-social development within family systems and cultural contexts. Crosslisted with CN 0447.

FT 0450 Techniques of Narrative and Solution-Focused Therapy3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0559.

This course will provide an overview of two postmodern and strengths-based therapeutic theories, concepts and applications. The student will become acquainted with the theories and concepts developed by White, Epston, Anderson, Freedman, Combs, de Shazer, Berg and others. Attention will be focused on distinguishing between the postmodern approaches in terms of assessment, conceptualization, treatment and theoretical foundations.

FT 0465 Introduction to Substance Abuse and Addictions3 Credits

Candidates explore basic information about the history and current use/abuse of various drugs and alcohol. Topics include addiction, the 12-step programs, physiological effects, FAS, COAs, and family systems as well as culturally relevant prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies for individuals and families. Crosslisted with CN 0465.

FT 0470 Professional Practice with LGBTQ Youth and Families3 Credits

This course is designed to expand candidates' multicultural competence when working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals, couples, and families in educational and mental health settings. Topics include identity development, political and historical context, minority stress theory, ethical issues, and guidelines for best practice in marriage and family therapy, counseling, psychology, and educational contexts.

FT 0525 Divorce, Single-Parenting, and Remarriage3 Credits

This course considers the implications of divorce, single parenting, remarriage, and step-parenting for families experiencing these transitions and for society at large. Specific topics include boundary issues during transition, legal aspects of divorce custody decisions, school issues for children of divorce, and the complexities of single-parenting and blending families, with an emphasis on recent research regarding divorce and its aftermath.

FT 0550 Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy3 Credits

This course provides an overview of the historical development of the field of family therapy, acquainting candidates with the models developed by Minuchin, Haley, Madanes, Satir, Bowen, Whitaker, and others. The course focuses on distinguishing between the systemic approaches in terms of assessment, conceptualization, diagnosis, treatment, and theoretical foundations, and explores contemporary directions of the field.

FT 0552 Intervention in Structural and Strategic Family Therapy3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0550.

This course focuses on the models of Minuchin, Haley, Madanes, and MRI, with an emphasis on developing a substantive understanding of diagnosis, assessment, and intervention design. The course addresses the range of techniques associated with each orientation, indications and contra-indications for using specific techniques, rationale development for intervention, and the role of the therapist.

FT 0553 Family Therapy Pre-Practicum3 Credits

Prerequisites: FT 0433, FT 0550, FT 0552.

Taken after 0FT 552 and with the approval of the clinical director, this course provides simulated experiences in the practice of family therapy and focuses on developing skills in joining and forming a therapeutic relationship, designing and implementing interventions, and the use of self at the various stages of therapy. The course emphasizes the structural, strategic, and systemic family therapy models and addresses culturally sensitive practice, management, and treatment of cases of suicide, child abuse, domestic violence, and incest. Successful completion of this course and the requirements determines readiness for clinical practice. Candidates must have a signed clinical training agreement on file before registration.

FT 0555 Foundations of Marital and Family Therapy3 Credits

This course exposes candidates to the theories upon which the models of family therapy are based, exploring the critical epistemological issues in family therapy theory. Furthermore, it helps candidates think about therapy theoretically applying systems theory to an understanding of the variety of contexts in which marriage and family therapists work, including mental health systems, medical systems, etc. The course prepares candidates to understand and contribute to current thinking in the field in regard to theory and practice. Topics include general systems theory, cybernetics, communication theory, constructivism, and current developments in epistemology.

FT 0556 Research in Marriage and Family Therapy3 Credits

This course covers the methodology, design, and statistical procedures for research in marriage and family therapy. The course addresses selecting appropriate experimental designs, data analysis and understanding the inferential potential of statistical procedures, and evaluating published research, including efficacy and outcome studies in marriage and family therapy. The course content includes quantitative and qualitative research in the field with recognition of cultural factors in research design and methodology.

FT 0559 Practicum in Family Therapy I3 Credits

Prerequisites: FT 0553, FT 0565.

This course provides clinical experience working with families and meets the standards for training established by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Connecticut Department of Health and Addiction Services. Candidates provide five hours per week of service in the Koslow Center plus five to 10 hours per week of service in a community agency offering family therapy treatment under supervision. This practicum follows consecutively after FT 0553.

FT 0560 Practicum in Family Therapy II3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0559.

This course is a continuation of FT 0559.

FT 0561 Advanced Interventions in Family Therapy3 Credits

Prerequisites: FT 0559.

This course explores in depth the theory and techniques of Bowen Family Systems Theory. It focuses on developing a substantive understanding of the theoretical assumptions and clinical applications of Bowen theory and emphasizes self-of-therapist processes as central to effective practice of Bowen therapy.

FT 0565 Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Family Therapy3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0550.

This course examines issues specific to the clinical practice and profession of marriage and family therapy. Areas of study include ethical decision-making and the code of ethics; professional socialization and the role of professional organizations; licensure and certification; legal responsibilities and liabilities of clinical practice; research, family law, confidentiality issues, AAMFT Code of Ethics, interprofessional cooperation, and mental health care delivery systems.

FT 0566 Substance Abuse and the Family3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0465.

This course brings together substance abuse studies and family systems approaches. Students are presented with a knowledge base of skills and methods for assessing and treating family systems. The course identifies the addictive and intergenerational patterns within families. Students are encouraged to reflect upon the theoretical frameworks to understand and create interventions for alcoholic and substance-abusing family systems. Relational clinical models including developmental, systemic, solution-focused, and narrative approaches are reviewed and evaluated. The course examines the history and methods of treatment models. Issues of social justice are emphasized in a review of socio-cultural and social policy that influence family behaviors and treatment. Crosslisted with CN 0565.

FT 0567 Couples Therapy3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0553.

This course examines couple relationships including issues of intimacy and sexuality throughout the lifespan. The focus is on understanding, conceptualizing, and treating couple relationships across sexual orientations and partnership types. The course addresses assessment and intervention in critical cases as well as treatment of common presenting problems such as infertility, childrearing conflict, infidelity, domestic violence and chronic health issues. The course also covers sexual dysfunction as it occurs in each phase of the couple relationahip. Students learn methods for biopsychosocial assessment and diagnosis and develop ethically informed treatment formulations using systemic models of therapy.

FT 0568 Special Topics in Family Therapy (Shell)1-3 Credits

This course explores advanced topics in the field of family therapy. Topics may vary each semester and are determined by the marriage and family therapy faculty as a reflection of pertinent themes of interest in the field.

FT 0569 Assessment Techniques in Marriage and Family Therapy3 Credits

This advanced family therapy course addresses clinical diagnosis and assessment in the treatment process. Topics include major family therapy assessment methods and instruments, familiarity with the DSM V, pharmacological treatments, and recognition and critical assessment of cultural factors.

FT 0570 School-Based Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy3 Credits

This course is a requirement in the Area of Specialization in School Marriage and Family Therapy and provides an opportunity for candidates to apply theory to practice in the context of the public school system. The practicum is an advanced level clinical experience that is specifically designed to meet the requirements established by the Connecticut State Board of Education for certification in School Marriage and Family Therapy. Enrollment by permission only.

FT 0580 Internship in Family Therapy I3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0560.

During internship candidates provide 10 to 15 hours of clinical services at an off-campus internship site. They receive weekly individual and group supervision by an approved site supervisor and weekly group supervision by University faculty.

FT 0581 Internship in Family Therapy II3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0580.

This course is a continuation of FT 0580. Candidates must complete all clinical and supervisory hours by the close of the grading period to be eligible for graduation.

FT 0582 Continuing Internshp in Family Therapy1 Credit

FT 0595 Independent Study3-6 Credits

Candidates undertake individual projects in consultation with a faculty member based on proposals submitted one semester in advance of course registration.

FT 0598 Master's Thesis in Marriage and Family Therapy3 Credits

Prerequisite: FT 0556.

This elective seminar is for candidates wishing to conduct original research in the field of family therapy or family science. The thesis is expected to make a scholarly contribution to the field. Credit for this course is contingent upon approval of the completed thesis. Prior to beginning this course, candidates must consult with their advisor and complete the prerequisite steps, including the preparation and acceptance of a thesis proposal.

Associate Professor

Preli, Chair

Assistant Professor

O'Brien, Clinical Director

Instructor of the Practice

LaBella, Koslow Center Administrator