Couple and Family Therapy PhD

Major: Couple and Family Therapy
Degree Awarded: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Minimum Required Credits: 120.0
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 51.1505
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 21-1013

About the Program

The PhD program in Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) develops the next generation of couple and family therapy scholars interested in research related to family based psychotherapy, families and health, and health disparities. Students are trained to advance the knowledge base of couple and family therapy through education, research, and clinical service with a particular emphasis on evidenced informed treatment modalities.

The program is rooted in relational and systems theories and therapies including Attachment-based Family Therapy, Emotionally Focused Family Therapy, and Medical Family Therapy approaches. Students are expected to demonstrate critical and analytical thinking with respect to the broad areas of systems theory and therapy, and have a primary interest in research and scholarship. The Counseling and Family Therapy Department is committed to attracting minority scholars as well as training students to be aware and sensitive to contextual issues such as race, class, gender, spirituality and sexual orientation, as well as power and privilege.

Graduates of the Couple and Family Therapy PhD program serve as researchers in public and private institutions, faculty in graduate programs of couple and family therapy, psychology, social work, or medical schools, and as clinicians in mental health agencies or private practice.

Additional Information

For more information about the PhD in Couple and Family Therapy, visit the Counseling and Family Therapy Department website.

Degree Requirements

Students are required to complete the standard curriculum in couple and family therapy before pursuing the doctoral curriculum. The standard curriculum is offered in the COAMFTE- accredited Master of Family Therapy and post-master's certificate programs at the University.

The curriculum includes study in the following areas:

  • Theory and research in couple and family therapy
  • Research methodology, including statistics, research design, and computer applications
  • Evidenced informed and specialized instruction in couple and family therapy
  • Diverse family structures
  • Supervised clinical experience
Required Courses
CFTP 713Introduction to CFT Clinical Research 3.0
CFTP 720Couple Therapy Theory & Practice3.0
CFTP 721Critical Theory in Couple and Family Therapy3.0
CFTP 724Multicultural Approach to Couple and Family Therapy4.0
CFTP 725Trauma and Families4.0
CFTP 729Diverse Families and Communities: Intervention Strategies 3.0
CFTP 735Family Healthcare Policy3.0
CFTP 757Attachment, Emotions and Psychotherapy3.0
CFTP 759Psychotherapy Outcome and Process Research 3.0
CFTP 760Teaching Practicum 2.0
CFTP T780Special Topics in Couple and Family Therapy1.0-6.0
NHP 762Health Professional Education3.0
RSCH 714Qualitative Research Methods I3.0
RSCH 759Foundations of Biostatistics3.0
RSCH 770Foundations in Research Methods3.0
RSCH 811Intermediate Biostatistics3.0
RSCH 814Intermediate Biostatistics II3.0
RSCH 815Scientific Inquiry and Writing3.0
Internship - Minimum of 27 credits *27.0
Couple and Family Therapy Internship
Dissertation * 37.0
Couple and Family Therapy Dissertation
Couple and Family Therapy Dissertation Defense
Total Credits120.0-126.0

Internship (CFTP 801): Students are required to complete at least three terms of internship during the third or fourth year of the program. They must register for 9.0 credits per quarter to cover this activity. Most internships will be done in 3 quarters (27.0 credits), but the expectation has been set that the internship will be completed after 4 quarters (36.0 credits) to give the student some flexibility.

Dissertation (CFTP 802): Students should begin their dissertation in year three or four of the program. This project is expected to take four quarters (36.0 credits). For each of those quarters the student must register for 9.0 credits of CFTP 802. If the project takes longer than four quarters, the student may continue to sign up for 9.0 credits of CFTP 802 each quarter. It is anticipated, however, that all students will complete their dissertations after 8 quarters (2 years, 72.0 credits).

Dissertation Defense (CFTP 803): Students are required to defend their dissertations when they are complete. To defend, a student must register and pay for one credit of CFTP 803.

Students must be actively engaged in clinical practice throughout the program. Before graduating from the PhD program, all students are encouraged to complete at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact hours.

All students are required to do an internship. Internship supervisors must be clearly senior in experience to the student intern. The purpose of the internship is to provide students with a supervised full-time clinical, research, academic or administrative experience of at least nine months duration. Clinical and alternate internships must emphasize relationally focused practice and research. For the clinical internship, it is to ensure that students meet the 1,000 direct client contact hour standard.

Students should contact the Counseling and Family Therapy Department for additional information about the qualifying exam and the dissertation.

Sample Plan of Study

First Year
CFTP 7133.0CFTP 7254.0CFTP 7244.0
CFTP 7293.0RSCH 7703.0NHP 7623.0
RSCH 7593.0RSCH 8113.0RSCH 7143.0
 9 10 10
Second Year
CFTP 7213.0CFTP 7353.0CFTP 7593.0
CFTP 7573.0RSCH 8153.0CFTP 7602.0
CFTP T7803.0RSCH 8143.0CFTP T7804.0
 9 9 9
Third Year
CFTP 8019.0CFTP 8019.0CFTP 8019.0
 9 9 9
Fourth Year
CFTP 8029.0CFTP 8029.0CFTP 8029.0
 9 9 9
Fifth Year
CFTP 8029.0CFTP 8031.0 
 9 1 
Total Credits 120

Couple and Family Therapy Faculty

Jessica Chou, PhD, LMFT, LPC (St. Louis University). Assistant Professor. Community-based research within marginalized populations including women and families impacted by substance use, training experiences of couple/marriage and family therapists (C/MFT) and migration and resettlement among immigrant and refugee families.
Guy Diamond, PhD, MA (California School of Professional Psychology) Director, Center for Family Intervention Science. Associate Professor. Prevention and treatment of adolescent depression and suicide; screening and education in schools, primary care, emergency rooms and health care centers; Attachment-based family therapy; empirically supported treatment for youth depression and suicide.
Stephanie Krauthamer Ewing, PhD, MPH (University of Delaware). Assistant Professor. Promoting healthy emotional development and resilience in children and adolescents, attachment and care-giving relationships, impact of trauma on parenting and attachment, developmental and contextual risk factors for depression and suicide risk in youth, evidence based treatments for depression and suicide risk, research methodology.
Gloria Gonzalez-Kruger, PhD, LMFT (Michigan State University) Director of Clinical Services, Department of Counseling and Family Therapy. Associate Clinical Professor. AAMFT Approved Supervisor, Access, utilization, and cultural competency of mental health services: Underserved and marginalized communities, Latino/a families, integrated primary care/behavioral healthcare, outcome-based education and training of MFT/CFTs (cultural competence, telehealth, virtual reality).
Kenneth Hardy, PhD (Florida State University). Professor. Challenging society to think critically about the hidden but significant connections that often exist between trauma and issues of oppression.
Christian Jordal, PhD, LMFT, CST (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) Interim Chair, Program Director, Master of Family Therapy Program (MFT). Associate Clinical Professor. Behavioral health outcomes, mixed methodology; program evaluation, sexual and gender identity, healthcare best practices.
Laura Lynch, PhD, LMFT (Drexel University). Assistant Clinical Professor. Medical family therapy, collaborative healthcare, and couples and families coping with chronic illness; couple and family therapy graduate education; couples therapy with a focus on emotionally focused therapy.
Phyllis Swint, PhD, LMFT (Drexel University) Director of Clinical Training. Assistant Clinical Professor. Development of clinical training models and affiliate relationships that align with foundational learning and placement experiences for C/MFT and Masters of Addictions Counseling students. Extensive background in advocacy and working with marginalized families in behavioral health, community mental health, and the Philadelphia prison systems. Community outreach, collaboration and research, dedicated to the relational treatment needs of marginalized communities within the scope of clinical training and development.
Marlene F. Watson, PhD, LMFT (Virginia Polytechnic and State University). Associate Professor. Forensic family therapy, siblings, race, class, gender and health policy issues.
Ebony White, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACS (Montclair State University). Assistant Clinical Professor. Research focused on addressing issues in transracial adoption and improving trauma informed care within the African American community. Understanding global mental health within the African diaspora and expanding developmental pathways through advocacy and social justice.
Erica Wilkins, PhD, LMFT (Texas Tech University) Program Director, Doctor of Couple and Family Therapy (DCFT). Assistant Clinical Professor. Residual effects of slavery on African Americans, HIV/AIDS, treatment of post-traumatic stress, grief counseling, substance abuse and the family, culturally competent services, and contextual therapy.
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