Masters (MA) in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

Purpose

The MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program is designed for men and women who desire graduate study and preparation for marriage and family therapy. We recognize there is a need for specific clinical training and expertise required for working with couples and families as well as individuals, groups, and the broader community. It is therefore intended that the program leading to the MA degree in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling will assist students in the process of developing such expertise for effective practice in marriage and family therapy.

Accreditation

Accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and approved by the Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors and Therapists

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates will:

  • Demonstrate and articulate an understanding of professional identity as a marriage, couple, and family counselor
  • Demonstrate knowledge of theories and treatment of individuals, couples, and families, articulating the core dynamics from an integrated systemic perspective.  (e.g. human development, family dynamics, traditional and contemporary marriage, couple, and family theories, research, and cultural context.)
  • Demonstrate clinical competence as a marriage, couple, and family counseling intern including the skills and practices of individual, couple, and family treatment, systemic assessment and diagnosis, treatment, termination, documentation, and ethical practice
  • Demonstrate personal awareness, theoretical knowledge, and clinical skills needed to engage in multi-culturally sensitive individual, couple, family and group counseling and advocacy
  • Apply relevant research and evaluation methods in the practice of marriage, couple, and family counseling
  • Demonstrate reflective and ethical decision making grounded in the knowledge of relevant legal and ethical codes as well as in an examination of personal values
  • Demonstrate the College of Education Conceptual Framework to Think Critically, Transform Practice, and Promote Justice 
  • Articulate how personal faith informs one’s identity and practice as a marriage, couple and family counselor

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or above is required. The undergraduate degree does not have to be in the field of psychology.
  • Completed Application Form at apply.georgefox.edu
  • $40 non-refundable application fee
  • Résumé of work and/or volunteer experience
  • Written admission statement addressing the question provided in the Application Form
  • One academic reference form and one professional reference form
  • An official transcript from each college or university attended
  • Group interview with the Admissions Committee. An invitation will be extended to those meeting initial program criteria.
  • The Admissions Committee will consider each application item and the Group Interview as part of the admissions decision.

    Additional requirements for international students are online here.

Transfer Credit

Up to 22 credit hours from another CACREP Accredited program can be transferred. Credits from Non-CACREP Accredited programs will only be considered as electives.  Program directors will determine the number of transferable credits upon admission into the program. Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer. In addition, only courses taken elsewhere within 10 years of the date of matriculation to the MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program will be considered for transfer. Transferability of credits earned at this institution and transferred to another is at the discretion of the receiving institution.

Residence Requirements

Of the 68 hours required for the MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program, a minimum of 46 hours must be taken in resident study at George Fox University. All work leading to the MA must be completed within seven years from the time of matriculation. Extension of this limit requires the approval of the Graduate Department of Counseling (GDC) Faculty. However, only one such extension may be considered due to special circumstances, such as ill health. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the degree. A leave of absence is valid for up to one year after which the student must re-apply to the program.

Course Requirements

The MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program is generally 2-4 years in length with 68 semester hours of course work required as a minimum for graduation. Of those hours, 6 are in prescribed spiritual integration courses, 33 in prescribed counseling courses, 23 in the area of specialization, and 6 in clinical internship credits.

Other Degree Requirements

Each student must complete a minimum of 20 hours of personal counseling/therapy as part of the MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program. Additionally, an ongoing review process serves as a way to assess the student's fit for the program; fit for the profession; emotional, psychological, and intellectual ability; as well as maturity level for functioning safely as a mental health professional. Graduate School of Counseling faculty will review students each fall and spring semester. For more specific information, please refer to the student handbook.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate with the MA in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling degree students must:

  • Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 68 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Achieve no grade lower than a B in all courses. If a grade of a B- or lower is received in a required course, that course must be retaken (for more specific information, please refer to the student handbook).
  • Complete a minimum of 20 one-hour sessions of therapy from a family systems perspective with a licensed marriage and family therapist.
  • Complete a 700-hour supervised clinical internship in marriage and family therapy that meets the currently articulated criteria for such training, with at least 270 hours of direct client contact (135 hours required with couples and families; 135 with individuals, couples, or families)
  • Successfully complete the Clinical Portfolio (reading fees are assessed during the final semester of clinical internship), in which the student articulates his/her current understanding of marriage and family therapy and applies the same through an analysis of his/her counseling practice, an evaluation of his/her strengths, and a three-year professional development plan
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Curriculum Plan

Complete the following:

This course examines both the content and process of the Christian faith as well as its implications for clinical practice. Explored are an introduction to spirituality in mental health, basic hermeneutics as applied to Christian Scripture, basic theological concepts, the relationship between theology and psychology, health and toxic faith systems, spiritual development, spiritual/religious assessment, the spiritual/religious orientation and value system of the therapist, and treatment interventions in the spiritual/religious realm.
This course is an introduction into the complex psychological variable called Image of God. The course will introduce the student to the theoretical framework and the clinical perspective in understanding and working with a client's spirituality and/or religiosity. The course takes an integrative approach combining both theological and psychological data regarding the client's unconscious image of God within the contexts of relational, social, and cultural factors.
It is challenging to understand the difference between guilt, shame, and grace. It is also difficult to know then how to apply this to our spiritual lives, and yet harder to know how to apply this to someone else's life. This course is designed to inform the therapist about family shame, guilt, and grace. Definitions, characteristics, and change strategies for shame in clients, both individuals and families, will be discussed. Models of grace and healing for shame will be identified. There will be significant emphasis on the student's own experience of shame and grace. No Pre-Requisites
Provides an opportunity for students to develop/deepen their own spiritual identity. Views of God, creation, self, family, relationships, faith communities, personal disciplines, personality type, spiritual health, and pathology are among the topics for exploration. Students will explore literature of spiritual formation, reflect/journal on their spiritual histories, participate in intentional community experiences, and consider the therapeutic and clinical implications of their spiritual identity.

Complete the following:

This course reviews basic concepts and skills of counseling individuals, including practice in applying those concepts and techniques in counseling situations during class. Emphasis is on conditions for effective helping relationships, attending and interviewing skills, basic theoretical assumptions, ethical principles, and professional orientation.
This course is designed to advance student understanding of theory as it related to clinical practice of counseling and therapy, including intake and assessment skills, the influence of the clinician, the development of interventions, crisis strategies, and treatment plans, consultation, file management, and the ethical treatment of clients, especially those from diverse and/or multicultural populations. Emphasis is placed on understanding the client(s) from systemic and developmental perspectives. Pass/No Pass. Prerequisites: GCEP 500 Introduction to Couple and Family Therapy; GCEP 501 Principles and Techniques of Counseling; GCEP 510 Human Growth and Development; GCEP 520 Personality and Counseling Theory; GCEP 530 Psychopathology and Appraisal; GCEP 540 Professional Orientation; GCEP 550 Group Theory and Therapy. GCEP 540 and GCEP 550 may be taken as corequisites. In addition, Clinical Mental Health students are required to have successfully taken GCEP 522 Advanced Clinical Skills and Marriage Couple and Family students are required to have successfully taken GCEP 514 Couple Therapy and GCEP 524 Family Therapy. Students must have (a) completed all prerequisites with a B or better grade, (b) applied and been accepted as an internship candidate, and (c) attended the Internship Orientation (during spring semester of that year).
The study of human growth and development recognizes that a complex interplay of biological, intrapsychic, relational, and social dynamics are in constant motion throughout one's lifespan. Therefore, this course examines human development from an ecosystemic perspective by surveying a variety of major developmental theories as applied across the lifespan and identifying the use of those theories in the practice of Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy. The influence of cultural dynamics on human development is also considered, as expressed through dominant social values shaping our understanding and experience of self, family, gender, race, ethnicity, and spirituality. Emphasis is placed on applying developmental theories in the assessment and diagnosis of individuals, couples, and families, and in the educational environment.
This course is a survey of major contemporary theories of counseling and personality development with particular emphasis on the etiology, assessment, and treatment of psychopathological states as interpreted within various theoretical frameworks. The course surveys the major figures and their theories in the area of personality and counseling modalities. Theorists are examined to discover their views of anthropology, psychopathology, normalcy, behavioral, and relational assessment, in addition to their therapeutic goals and interventions. The course explores each theory in light of social and cultural diversity as well as the integrative impact of spirituality and religiosity on the development of the person. The systemic perspective, which recognizes that personality is embedded in various systems (family, relational, social, community and cultural), is considered throughout.
The treatment of individuals, couples, and families requires multidimensional assessment skills in order to ensure ethical, appropriate, and effective intervention strategies. This course is intended to begin the student's process of developing mastery in the assessment and diagnosis of psychopathology as codified in the DSM-V. Biological, psychological, cultural, and systemic factors are considered in the assessment, etiology, and treatment of various disorders. For Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple and Family students only. Prerequisite: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
This course is a study of the professional and ethical issues that most effect the preparation for the practice of counseling individuals, couples, and families. The course is focused on the development of the professional identity of counselors in training. This includes study of legal and ethical issues (including professional mental health organizations and state law) related to licensure and clinical practice, as well as the professional responsibilities of counselors. Development and maintenance of private and agency professional practice is also addressed.
The primary objective of this course is to teach group leadership theories and skills, and to help students understand how proper group processes and methods can contribute to clients' mental health. Students will learn group leadership, group dynamics, theories of group development, group treatment planning, group assessment, and ethical considerations related to group treatment. Students will also take part in a community-based group experience. For students in Graduate School of Counseling programs only. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 501
This course examines theory, etiology, assessment, and treatment of addictive disorders in individual, marriage, couple, family, and group modalities. The course also provides insight into the collaborative nature of treatment in the field of addiction, providing opportunities for students to work with each other and professionals in the field to enhance knowledge of treatment interventions and treatment planning. Pre-Requisites: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
Students will engage in all steps of the research process by participating in a collaborative research project that emphasizes the importance of research in the counseling profession, including work that informs evidenced-based practices in the field. Students participate in the ethical design, analysis, reporting, and evaluation of empirical research. Students will also learn to fundamentals of program evaluation, including needs assessments and strategies for program modification.
This course is intended to increase the student's understanding of the issues and dynamics in counseling across social and cultural lines. Students will explore the nature of society and culture and how these impact the counseling process. Students will examine several major spiritual traditions, with a view to understanding the implications for clinical practice with persons in these populations. Within each tradition, the following are explored: history and tradition; sacred writings; central doctrines; spiritual authority; faith communities; communal and personal disciplines/rituals; health/happiness and pathology; means of grace; social and cultural practice; relationship to creator/creation; gender, blood, and faith relationships; compare and contrast with Western Christian worldview; systemic analysis; and therapeutic implications. Attention will be given to developing understanding of gender, class, race, ethnicity, structure and roles within marriage and family work, and various lifestyles. No Pre-Requisites
This course is a study of the foundational psychological and social issues related to career counseling. The following areas will be explored: lifestyle and career decision making process, career guidance programs for special populations, and future issue as it relates to the work place and the necessary skills to become a careerist. The integration of career counseling philosophy, methodologies, resources, and psychotherapy will be explored in the context of a total person approach. This course is intended for students in the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs only. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 501
This course offers a study of the basic concepts and principles of psychological assessment, including historical factors influencing testing and test construction. Students will also learn the statistical language and theory related to measurement error, scales of measurement, measures of central tendency and variability, reliability and validity. Students will learn about a selected group of assessment instruments and their range of applications in the field. Critical evaluation of assessment instruments will be included as well. This course is intended for Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health, Marriage, Couple and Family and School Counseling students only. No Pre-Requisites.
This course intends to deepen the student's knowledge base regarding the complexities of the human experience by examining neurological functioning and its role in human distress and recovery. Specifically, it explores the interplay between neurobiology, the social environment, and pharmacological interventions, and its influence on cognitive, affective, and behavioral functioning. The course offers an overview of neuroanatomy orienting the student to basic brain structure, advances in interpersonal neurobiology confirming the role of attachment relationships in brain development, and the role of interpersonal relationships and pharmacology in altering brain functioning.

Complete the following:

An examination of key concepts in marital and family systems, including the family life cycle, as well as an introduction to various approaches to marital and family therapy. Core counseling skills as used in systems therapy will be taught and practiced. Prevention services as well as the roles of ethnicity and culture will be studied.
This course equips the student to function more effectively in providing systemically-oriented conjoint couple therapy. Attention is given to understanding and assessing the couple as an interacting system; treatment planning; developing and maintaining therapeutic balance; and acquiring and practicing specific skills and frameworks for systemic case conceptualization, intervention, and termination. Focus is on an integrative, holistic paradigm of couple functioning, including diversity. A common-factors and core competencies approach to interventions and the use of the therapeutic triangle as the basic structure for conjoint couple counseling are emphasized throughout. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
This course explores and applies fundamental knowledge and skills utilized in the treatment of relational systems. Perceptual, conceptual and executive skills will be developed through direct case application of required reading as well as simulated therapy sessions with specific client families. The student will also demonstrate an awareness of current best practice strategies, while also exploring issues of justice and advocacy as embedded in relational ethics and the challenge of interpersonal forgiveness. In addition, the student will identify multi-model intake and initial assessment methods. Instruction format includes a hybrid-learning environment utilizing both face-to-face and online class activities. For Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling students only, others by permission. Prerequisites: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
Many dimension of human sexuality will be explored, including anatomy, physiology, identity, values, culture, relationships, family, spirituality, dysfunction, therapy techniques, and ethics. Students will evaluate their perceptions about their sexuality in order to understand the impact of the clinician's values on clients. This course is intended for students in the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs only.
This course will cover an introduction to the theory and practice of play therapy as a primary therapeutic approach when working with children in individual and family psychotherapy. The course is designed to prepare the student to effectively provide developmentally appropriate counseling for children, focusing on the development of a therapist-child relationship and utilization of play media in the systemic counseling process as a means to facilitate expression, self-understanding, and personal growth and development. Students will become familiar with play therapy theory techniques, therapeutic stages, ethical issues, and application. Observation of and experience in play therapy are an integral part of the course. This course is available to all GSC students. As it is an MCFC requirement, priority enrollment will be given to MCFC students. Prerequisites: GCEP 500 Introduction to Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling or its equivalent
This course involves development of a culminating graduate-level clinical thesis, built upon the internship experience and previous courses. Concurrent with the student's final semester of internship, this multidimensional clinical project involves the student demonstrating perceptual, conceptual, and executive skills┬┐demonstrating minimum practice standards in the legal, ethical and effective treatment of clients. Students are expected to prepare a comprehensive paper detailing their primary theoretical orientation, including perspective of the nature of persons, change and dysfunction, as well as the therapeutic process. Additionally, the portfolio includes video, session transcripts, psychosocial assessment, and written reflection which will be reviewed by the instructor and a licensed mental health professional in the community. Intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 593. Additional course fee required.
This course runs concurrently with GCEP 592 Clinical Internship I, and focuses on the development and implementation of treatment plans, reporting and assessing progress of treatment, appropriate referral procedures, and consultation. This course considers traditional and contemporary approaches to assessment, treatment planning, and intervention based in biopsychosocial systems and evidence-based interventions. It is expected that case conceptualization and treatment plans be consistent with diagnosis [DSM-IV-TR] and the counselor's theoretical orientation. The goal is to assist student interns with the development of advanced clinical counseling and case conceptualization skills that are consistent with sound clinical, ethical, and systemic practice. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 592
This course runs concurrently with GCEP 593 Clinical Internship I, and focuses on the development and implementation of treatment plans, reporting and assessing progress of treatment, appropriate referral procedures, and consultation. This course considers traditional and contemporary approaches to assessment, treatment planning, and intervention based in biopsychosocial systems and evidence-based interventions. It is expected that case conceptualization and treatment plans be consistent with diagnosis [DSM-IV-TR] and the counselor's theoretical orientation. The goal is to assist student interns with the development of advanced clinical counseling and case conceptualization skills that are consistent with sound clinical, ethical, and systemic practice. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 593
Complete 6 credits of electives from any additional GCEP or TRMA coursework.

Complete the following:

Note: Students are expected to follow the sequence GCEP 592, GCEP 593 beginning with the fall semester of the final year. Students who begin internship in the summer will register for GCEP 591 for 1 additional hour and GCEP 599 Treatment Planning for 1 additional hour, but will still need to register for and attend fall and spring internship. Students who continue internship into the following summer will register for GCEP 594 for an additional 2 hours.
The clinical internship is the culminating field experience for students in the Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs. This course will be the experiential application of the counseling skills learned in earlier courses, with a focus on clinical, ethical and systemic conceptualization and practice. Students will have an on-site placement in a public or private mental health setting, with the goal of creating the necessary bridge between training and professionalism. The goal of these courses is the attainment of competency equivalent to that of an entry level professional mental health professional, and consists of the primary components of counseling practice under the direct clinical supervision of a site supervisor, and case consultation and supervision facilitated by a university instructor. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Pre-Requisites for CMHC: GCEP 500, GCEP 501, GCEP 502, GCEP 510, GCEP 520, GCEP 530, GCEP 540, GCEP 550. Pre-Requisites for MCFC: GCEP 500, GCEP 501, GCEP 502, GCEP 510, GCEP 514, GCEP 520, GCEP 524, GCEP 530, GCEP 540, GCEP 550. Co-Requisite for CMHC and MCFC: GCEP 597 Students must have (a) completed all prerequisites with a B or better grade, (b) applied and been accepted as an internship candidate, and (c) attended the Internship Orientation (during spring semester of that year).
The clinical internship is the culminating field experience for students in the Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs. This course will be the experiential application of the counseling skills learned in earlier courses, with a focus on clinical, ethical and systemic conceptualization and practice. Students will have an on-site placement in a public or private mental health setting, with the goal of creating the necessary bridge between training and professionalism. The goal of these courses is the attainment of competency equivalent to that of an entry level professional mental health professional, and consists of the primary components of counseling practice under the direct clinical supervision of a site supervisor, and case consultation and supervision facilitated by a university instructor. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs students only. Pass/No Pass. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 592. Co-Requisite: GCEP 598

Note:

All course work for this master's program is taught from a systems perspective, to meet LMFT licensure requirements. GCEP 540 Professional Orientation focuses on the AAMFT Code of Ethics.