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Chicago | Doctorate

Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy

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Program Overview

Adler University’s COAMFTE-accredited Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Couple and Family Therapy program trains clinicians to be socially responsible practitioners well-versed in major models of couple and family therapy.

Our program is designed to prepare doctoral graduates with advanced specialized skills, knowledge, and experience for careers as couple and family therapists, researchers, or in academia.

Faculty are licensed Marriage and Family therapists and AAMFT approved, and provide students personalized mentorship with a focus on self-of-the-therapist development to cultivate a systemic framework and identity, including an ethical consciousness, cultural competence, and social responsibility.

This program also allows students to add on a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling for an additional 12 credits of coursework.

Read the latest information from the Couple & Family Therapy Department

The Couple and Family Therapy Department Handbook (“CFT Handbook”) is available for applicants and current students. This contains the most up-to-date information regarding the department and our degree and certificate offerings.

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      Student Outcomes

      The mission of the CFTD program is to prepare professionals with the core identity of Couple and Family Therapist including the attainment of advanced skills in research, theory, and the application of a systemic framework and identity including an ethical consciousness, cultural competence, and social responsibility. This is achieved through a commitment to our Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes. As evidenced by the program’s mission, goals, and student learning outcomes, the Couple and Family Therapy Department is committed to diversity in a variety of ways including the composition of our faculty, supervisors, and students.

      Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

      The mission of the Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy program is to prepare professionals with the core identity of Couple and Family Therapist including attainment of advanced skills in research, theory, and application of a systemic framework and identity including an ethical consciousness, cultural competence, and social responsibility.

      Program Goals

      • To role model a clear professional identity as an ethical Couple and Family Therapist with advanced training, knowledge, and experience.
      • To train students to develop a culturally competent and systemic worldview in their work as Couple and Family Therapists across academic, clinical, research, and supervision settings.
      • To graduate socially responsible professional Couple and Family Therapists sensitive to social justice and diversity.

      Student Learning Outcomes

      • To understand and apply advanced knowledge of systems, modern, and postmodern Couple and Family Therapy theories.
      • To demonstrate cultural competency with diverse populations in the advanced practice as a Couple and Family Therapist across academic, clinical, research, and supervision settings.
      • To demonstrate knowledge of Adlerian principles that can complement systemic work with couples, families, and individuals.
      • To display advanced application in clinical and supervision skills in the practice of Couple and Family Therapy with specific training in grief, loss, and trauma.
      • To exemplify doctoral-level knowledge, skill, and integration of research in the field of Couple and Family Therapy.
      • To demonstrate sensitivity and knowledge in application of social justice, social responsibility, and oppression with couples and families.
      • To establish a clear professional identity including an ethical consciousness as a Couple and Family Therapy with advanced training in preparation to serve the profession.

      Demographics & Diversity

      The Couple and Family Therapy Department at Adler University is committed to diversity as part of their mission, program goals, and student learning outcomes. Here is a snapshot of the racial and gender demographics of faculty (core and adjunct), supervisors (core and site), and students in the COAMFTE-accredited Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy program for the current academic year. Information on the demographics of the CFT Department is gathered through a self-report form provided to students at orientation and core and adjunct faculty and site supervisors during onboarding. Gathering this information is part of the accreditation process for COAMFTE.

      CFT Department’s Definition of Diversity

      The Couple and Family Therapy Department at Adler University has a deep commitment to individual and family health. Our foundational belief is all people are worthy of our understanding and respect. We believe that diversity education is a personal and relational process, therefore we value self of the therapist exploration and experiential learning. We believe there is growth potential through learning with and witnessing the growth and development of others. We value recognizing and understanding the dimensions of culture that organize social identities such as race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, class, disability, health status, nationality, religion, spirituality, and/or political beliefs, immigration, language, or other relevant social categories.

      With this in mind, and consistent with the mission of the University, the programs aim to deliver a multiculturally informed curriculum and practice experience in service to diverse, marginalized, and underserved communities in order to meet each program’s mission to prepare socially responsible Couple and Family Therapists (CFTs) with a systemic framework. We believe that CFTs cannot become socially responsible practitioners unless there is a focus on understanding and addressing issues of social justice.

      We attempt to facilitate an environment that allows for the transformation of difficult dialogues into courageous conversations. We walk with students in moving from a position of understanding structures of injustice toward action in challenging them. This position includes a thorough examining power, identifying privilege, and challenging interpersonal and structural oppression through clear and deliberate social action.

      Careers

      Our program is designed to prepare doctoral graduates with advanced specialized skills, knowledge, and experience for jobs including (but not limited to):

      • Advanced Couple and Family Therapist
      • Academic professor
      • Systemic researcher
      • Clinical supervisor for couple, marriage, and family therapists

      Graduates of the program have the core professional identity as a Couple and Family Therapist (CFT) qualified for membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and eligible for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Illinois.

      Professional Development & Training

      Learn in a collaborative environment with experts who offer individualized mentorship and unique professional development opportunities. Our diverse faculty bring together real-world expertise with scholarship and research experience in the field of marriage and family therapy.

      Build your professional network and begin to establish yourself as a scholar-practitioner in the field. Through University partnerships with community agencies, you will gain hands-on experience providing clinical therapy, supervision, and advocacy for underserved populations. Student scholarship is supported with opportunities to present your work at both state and national levels.

      As part of successfully completing our program, you will complete an advanced clinical practicum and a full-time internship tailored to your professional goals.

      Additionally, you will complete a doctoral dissertation, which provides students with the opportunity to engage in in-depth scholarship on an important issue in the field of couple and family therapy; it provides students the venue to demonstrate their skills in advanced research.

      Graduate Spotlight

      Nisan Ilkmen, graduate
      Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy

      Nisan Ilkmen a Ph.D. student in the Couple and Family Therapy program in Chicago, shares how her immigration experience and multi-cultural background led her to want to become a social-justice-focused family therapist.

      Learn More

      Accreditation & Licensure

      Accreditation

      Our Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy is the only Ph.D. program in Illinois that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Our program prepares recent graduates of clinical master degree programs and experienced clinicians to be advanced practitioners in couple, marriage, and family therapy as well as leaders in research, teaching, and advocacy.

      The Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy Program at Adler University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), 112 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, (703) 838-9808, [email protected].

      Our innovative program meets the standards of the Higher Learning Commission and trains clinicians to be socially responsible practitioners well-versed in major models of couple and family therapy. Faculty are licensed Marriage and Family therapists and AAMFT Approved.

      The CFTD program has also received special approval from AAMFT to provide the fundamentals of supervision course so that Ph.D. students can become an AAMFT Approved Supervisor Candidate. Opportunities to supervise MCFT students and receive supervisor of supervision is available through doctoral elective courses.

      The Certificate of Accreditation for the Couple and Family Therapy program is available here. The program is currently accredited for the period of 11/1/2018 through 11/1/2024.

      Licensure

      Incoming students with a master’s degree in couple and family therapy, i.e. marriage and family therapy, or medical family therapy are typically eligible to apply for licensure as an LMFT in the state of Illinois. Applicants for this program with a master’s degree in another field, i.e. counseling, psychology, or social work, will have their graduate coursework evaluated and a program of study designed to meet the requisites of our Ph.D. programs and recommendations of coursework to help meet the licensure requirements for the LMFT in the state of Illinois. The program cannot guarantee this evaluation of coursework on behalf of the state. It is important for students be aware that LMFT requirements can vary significantly from state to state in their requirements of completed practicum hours and coursework for licensure. Clinical hours done in the context of practicum and internship requirements of the doctorate can typically be counted as hours towards licensure as long as the experience meets the requirements of both the degree and the state.

      LMFT Licensure Application Process Guidelines

      Adler University works to provide resources to our students and alumni in support of the licensure process. Below are some basic guidelines on application and licensure in the state of Illinois. Please review this information thoroughly. If you require more detailed, step-by-step instructions, please submit an email to [email protected] with the subject line: “LPC/LCPC Licensure Application Process guidelines” and request the instructions.

      LMFT Licensure in Illinois

      The curriculum and supervised training of the MCFT program are intended to help graduates meet the educational requirements for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Illinois. Licensure requirements can vary significantly from state to state in their expectations of practicum hours and coursework. Students are strongly encouraged to review the licensing requirements in any state in which they would anticipate practicing. MCFT students complete a practicum as part of their degree requirement including 100 hours of supervision with an AAMFT Approved Supervisor or Supervisor Candidate. This 100 hours of supervision can also be used towards LMFT licensure requirements in the state of Illinois. Additionally, the Master’s Qualifying Exam for degree completion is intended to prepare students for the licensure exam.

      Doctoral students in Couple and Family Therapy (DCFT) must be licensed or eligible for licensure as a LMFT in the state of Illinois. Applicants without this can be admitted as a doctoral student but must first complete the requisite coursework for eligibility – this will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Department Chair. Students not meeting this requirement will take the requisite CFT courses in the first year of their doctoral program. Client contact (practicum and internship) and supervision, done post the eligible master’s degree, to fulfill the doctoral requirements can be counted as hours towards licensure should it meet all the state and program requirements.

      Information regarding licensure as an LMFT in the state of Illinois can be found at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations website for Marriage and Family Therapy.

      Information regarding the licensing exam can be found at the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards National Exam.

      Student Achievement Data

      The CFTD program collects Student Achievement Data from its’ current students and graduates including graduation rates, job placement, and licensure.

      Adler University is a nationally recognized pioneer in graduate education, training culturally competent clinicians who empower individuals and strengthen communities around the globe.

      Curriculum

      The following list of courses are required to complete the 102-credit hour Ph.D. in Couple and Family Therapy (CFTD). The CFTD program is a full time program to be completed in four years and no longer than seven years. CFTD courses are listed under the categories of Advanced Curricular Areas (ACA) and Advanced Practical Experiences as outlined by the COAMFTE Accreditation Standards Version 12:

      Find course descriptions and more information in the Adler University Course Catalog here.

      Advanced Research (ACA 1) – 13 area credits/13 program credits

      CFTD 740 - CFT Qualitative Research Methods (3 cr.)

      This course focuses on qualitative approaches to familial and relational research. It examines the theories and methods of qualitative research, such as grounded theory, narrative, case study, and hermeneutics and phenomenology. The course is designed to prepare students for the development of their dissertation proposal.

      CFTD 741 - CFT Statistics (3 cr.)

      This course covers the concepts and applications of descriptive and inferential statistics. It focuses on the statistical methods of data analysis, the analysis of variance, multivariate analysis, and multiple regression models. The course is designed to prepare students for the statistical analysis in their doctoral dissertation.

      CFTD 742 - CFT Quantitative Research Methods (3 cr.)

      This course will provide an overview of basic research design and measurement. The focus of the course will be research design and methodology specific to couple and family therapy. Students are expected to conduct an extensive, guided review of couple and family therapy research literature.

      CFTD 743 - CFT Qualitative Data Analysis (3 cr.)

      This course provides an in-depth study of various qualitative research approaches and related data-collection methods. As a result of the course, students are expected to be familiar with ways of analyzing different types of qualitative data corresponding to the purpose and the design of the research model.

      CFTD 788 - Grant Writing (1 cr.)

      Students will be introduced to the basics of grant writing. This course will provide an overview of the mechanics of writing a grant proposal, develop skills in finding funding opportunities, and cover the essentials of grant management.

      Advanced Relational/Systemic Clinical Theory (ACA 2) – 18 area credits/31 program credits

      CFTD 720 - Advanced Couple and Family Therapy Theory I (3 cr.)

      This advanced course explores the evolution of classic/modern approaches to couple and family therapy (CFT) theory, emphasizing a critical approach to both their theoretical and clinical application aspects. Students will be required to critically examine the specific theories’ stands on power and privilege dynamics as well as multicultural topics.

      CFTD 721 - Advanced Couple and Family Therapy Theory II (3 cr.)

      This advanced course focuses on the study of the primary postmodern models of family therapy theory including their unique approach to assessment, case conceptualization, and intervention. Students will be required to critically examine the specific theories’ stands on power and privilege dynamics as well as multicultural topics.

      CFTD 722 - Advanced Therapy with Couples (3 cr.)

      This is an advanced course that focuses on concepts and applications of specific couple therapy issues including, but not limited to, social media and the digital world, domestic violence and intimate partner violence, and childhood sexual abuse and adult intimate relationships.

      CFTD 724 - Advanced Family Therapy with Children and Adolescents (3 cr.)

      This is an advanced course that focuses on therapy with children and adolescents in the context of the family system. Issues covered include, but are not limited to, parental divorce, disordered eating, and growing up in a high-tech world.

      CFTD 725 - Grief and Loss Through the Family Life Cycle (3 cr.)

      This advanced course is designed to familiarize students with both the theoretical and clinical literature on loss, death, and bereavement. Using a family systems and a multicultural perspective, this course will explore death and dying while building on the conceptual framework of the family life cycle. Self-of-the-therapist exploration and reflection is a key component to this course.

      CFTD 726 - Trauma and the Family System (3 cr.)

      This course will address issues of symptomatology, assessment, and treatment of stress-related disorders with a special emphasis on the impact of PTSD or PTSD symptoms on the couple and family systems.

      Advanced Relational/Systemic Applications to Contemporary Challenges (ACA 3) and Advanced Foundations of Relational/Systemic Teaching, Supervision, Consultation, and/or Leadership (ACA 4) – 16 area credits/47 program credits

      In addition to the courses listed below, students must take nine credits of electives that specifically meet these two areas of advanced curriculum.

      CFTD 730 - Diversity & Social Justice in CFT: Issues of Access & Equity (3 cr.)

      This doctoral course is designed to help students critically examine issues of diversity and dimensions of culture as it pertains to families, family therapy, and themselves as therapists and citizens of the world. The course will explore dimensions of culture within a social justice framework.

      CFT 763 - Doctoral Qualifying Exam (0 cr.)

      The qualifying examination provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability to make contributions that advance the field in theory, practice, supervision, instruction, leadership, and scholarly work relevant to their areas of developed expertise. Specifically, students will demonstrate their competency across the program’s student learning objectives (SLOs).

      CFTD 745 - Supervision Couple and Family Therapists (2 cr.)

      This course provides an in-depth overview of the foremost models of clinical supervision, including the unique aspects of supervising clinicians from each of the major theories of couple and family therapy. The student will learn how to structure supervision using a variety of modalities to provide effective case recommendations, facilitate therapist development, and solve problems in the therapist- client relationship.

      CFTD 750 - CFT Professional Development Seminar (1 cr.)

      This professional development seminar provides doctoral students an introduction to the program and department. For students from other behavioral health fields, it also orients students to the field of couple and family therapy. This seminar is also an opportunity for students to explore group dynamics and to build cohort connection through self of the therapist exploration.

      CFTD 790 - CFT Professional Identity Seminar (1 cr.)

      This seminar is taken in the last summer semester of coursework in the program. The focus is to prepare students for successful completion of their degree. Tasks will include securing the dissertation committee, finalizing the topic of research, and developing an outline and timeline to guide students throughout their dissertation.

      Advanced Practical Experience (Practicum, Internship, and Dissertation) – 16 area credits/63 program credits

      CFTD 703 - CFT Practicum: Clinical Practicum & Seminar I (3 cr.)

      CFT doctoral students will complete three consecutive semesters of supervised clinical practicum providing individual and relational therapy for the development of advanced systemic clinical skills while concurrently taking coursework. Students will receive supervision from their site supervisor as well as participate in practicum seminar provided by an AAMFT Approved Supervisor or Supervisor Candidate including individual and group supervision.

      CFTD 704 - CFT Practicum: Clinical Practicum & Seminar II (3 cr.)

      CFT doctoral students will complete three consecutive semesters of supervised clinical practicum providing individual and relational therapy for the development of advanced systemic clinical skills while concurrently taking coursework.

      CFTD 705 - CFT Practicum: Clinical Practicum & Seminar III (2 cr.)

      CFT doctoral students will complete three consecutive semesters of supervised clinical practicum providing individual and relational therapy for the development of advanced systemic clinical skills while concurrently taking coursework.

      CFTD 865 - CFT Doctoral Internship I (1 cr.)

      Following the completion of academic and practicum requirements, doctoral students must complete an internship following the guidelines included in the CFT Handbook. Students are expected to develop their own internship with guidance by the Clinical Training Director.

      CFTD 866 - CFT Doctoral Internship II (1 cr.)

      Following the completion of academic and practicum requirements, doctoral students must complete an internship following the guidelines included in the CFT Handbook. Students are expected to develop their own internship with guidance by the Clinical Training Director.

      CFTD 867 - CFT Doctoral Internship III (1 cr.)

      Following the completion of academic and practicum requirements, doctoral students must complete an internship following the guidelines included in the CFT Training Manual .

      CFTD 875 - CFT Dissertation Prep Seminar (1 cr.)

      This seminar is designed to assist students in the early stages of developing and beginning their dissertation.

      CFTD 862 - Dissertation Literature Review (1 cr.)

      This course will focus on supporting students in making progress on their dissertation literature review. Students will develop an organized search strategy, find resources, and create a concrete outline of their dissertation literature review.

      CFTD 876 - CFT Dissertation I and Proposal Defense (1 cr.)

      Preparation and completion of the dissertation proposal, including the first three chapters: introduction, literature review, and methodology. Once this proposal document has been deemed ready by the Dissertation Chair for review, the student will submit the document to the entire committee for formal review.

      CFTD 877 - CFT Dissertation II (1 cr.)

      Students will submit their study for review by Adler University’s Institutional Review Board (if necessary). Completion of this phase is the goal of CFTD-877. Once IRB approval has been granted, the student will complete the necessary actions to conduct research and write the document.

      CFTD 878 - CFT Dissertation III and Oral Defense (1 cr.)

      Once CFTD students have received IRB approval and/or successfully completed the goals of CFTD 877, they may enroll in the CFTD-878. Completion of the project is the goal, including preparation for oral defense.

      Electives

      Students must take nine credits of electives.

      CFTD 681 - CFT Special Topic 1 (1 cr.)

      This one-credit elective course with focus on a special topic in the field of Couple and Family Therapy providing knowledge and skills for developing CFTs. The Special Topics elective courses are designed to examine special interests, including current and emerging issues for couples and families, areas of social justice, and professional matters for CFTs.

      CFTD 682 - CFT Special Topic 2 (2 cr.)

      This two-credit elective course with focus on a special topic in the field of Couple and Family Therapy providing knowledge and skills for developing CFTs. The Special Topics elective courses are designed to examine special interests, including current and emerging issues for couples and families, areas of social justice, and professional matters for CFTs.

      CFTD 683 - CFT Special Topic 3 (3 cr.)

      This three-credit elective course with focus on a special topic in the field of Couple and Family Therapy providing knowledge and skills for developing CFTs. The Special Topics elective courses are designed to examine special interests, including current and emerging issues for couples and families, areas of social justice, and professional matters for CFTs.

      MCFT 711 - Couples and Families in Crisis: Forensic Work from Systemic Perspective (1 cr.)

      This one credit elective course offers insight into working with couples and families in unique crisis situations and special populations. Topics include: working with victims of intimate partner violence and when children are witnesses; persons who use violence against their partners; children with trauma reactions related to having witnessed violence; childhood sexual abuse and incest survivors; undocumented immigrants; survivors of natural disasters; first responders; and foster families.

      CFTD 728 - Divorce Mediation and Conflict Resolution with Couples (3 cr.)

      This course is about understanding conflict, resolution, and divorce mediation from a relational lens and through a systemic perspective. The framework will be expanded to include the global context of conflict resolution, conceptualizing and applying a social justice orientation.

      CFTD 729 - Sex Therapy: Theory and Techniques (3 cr.)

      This course addresses the current models, techniques, and research in the treatment of intimacy and sexual issues for couples. The course will focus on the clinical skills of assessment including taking a sexual history, creating a sexual genogram, and knowledge of DSM-5 diagnoses and intervention explicitly designed for specific sexual disorders.

      CFTD 732 - Integration of Religion and Spirituality in CFT (3 cr.)

      This course examines the integration of religion and spirituality into couple and family therapy. Students will critically examine the literature on spirituality and religion, explore diverse spiritual and/or religious paths, and discuss the potential benefit/harm of spiritual and/or religious beliefs. Students will develop skills to integrate spirituality into treatment.

      CFTD 735 - Working Systemically with Sexual & Gender Minority Populations (3 cr.)

      The goal of this course is for students to feel more confident working with sexual and gender minority populations in the therapy room. This goal will be achieved by utilizing a systemic lens while learning about these clients and creating interventions to exercise in your clinical practice. Though sexual and gender minority populations are commonly known under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, this course will provide a respectful prominence and balance that 1) the experiences of gender minorities and sexual minorities are very different experiences and 2) represent the umbrella in the significant and powerful way.

      CFTD 736 - Medical Family Therapy (3 cr.)

      This course will address biopsychosocial and spiritual aspects of illness and disability and their impact on the couple and family systems. Self-of-the-therapist work and the impact of dimensions of culture, power, and privilege will be emphasized throughout the course. Also, issues of collaboration between marriage and family therapists and other healthcare professionals will be discussed.

      CFTD 738 - Gerontology Issues in Family Therapy (3 cr.)

      This course examines the impact of aging on family dynamics and relationships including the processes of development in later life, intergenerational issues, and the crises or transitions experienced throughout the family life cycle. The effect of a population that is living significantly longer on these family issues is explored. The course also addresses communication, mediation, and caregiving with aging family members.

      CFTD 746 - 748 - Supervision of Supervision I-III (3 cr.)

      This series of three one-credit courses is for CFT doctoral students and supervisor candidates and can only be taken with special approval by the Clinical Training Director. Students must register for all three credits in consecutive semesters – fall, spring, and summer.

      CFTD 781 - 783 - CFT Instruction I-III (3 cr.)

      This series of three one-credit courses is for advanced CFT doctoral students and can only be taken after all other course curriculum has been completed and with special approval by the Department Chair. It is designed for students who are interested in moving into academia or adjunct instruction in the field.

      CFTD 789 - Creative Intervention with Couples and Families (1 cr.)

      This one-credit doctoral special course covers techniques such as the kinetic family drawing, self-as-animal, the family floor plan, sand tray, build-a-house, video play therapy, family puppet interview, family school, and music therapy. This is a hands-on experiential class.

      CFTD 802 - Hooks & Hardy (2 cr.)

      This course is designed to explore the scholarly works of bell hooks and Ken Hardy. Multiple writings of bell hooks and Ken Hardy provide frameworks to increase critical thinking in examining complex layers of cultural forces that impact lived experience and propose paradigms for impacting systemic change.

      CFTD 804 - Adult Attachment Theory (2 cr.)

      This course will provide students with an overview of conceptual and empirical issues in adult attachment theory and its theoretical application in working with couples. Through the use of vignettes, role-plays, and educational videos, students will be helped to conceptualize dyadic stress with an attachment focus to work with couples to recreate healthier bonds.

      CFTD 805 - Divorce (1 cr.)

      The purpose of this seminar is to examine specific issues for families who are experiencing divorce. Topics include the culture of divorce, the impact of divorce, the aftermath of divorce for men, women, and children, and remarriage and blended families.

      CFTD 807 - Infidelity (1 cr.)

      Infidelity is a common presenting problem in couple, family, and individual therapy with presentation ranging from the aftermath for couples and families to individuals deciding between their partner and their affair. This seminar will define infidelity understanding the critical issues and look at the treatment of infidelity in couples, families, and individuals as well as reflect on the impact of treating infidelity on clinicians.

      CFTD 811 - Pop-Culture and Couple and Family Therapy (1 cr.)

      Popular culture is often absorbed without thinking critically about its content or consequences. This is remarkable given the enormous impact it has on our lives, our identities and our consciousness. We often do not stop to think or question the underlying assumptions of popular culture, nor do we think about for what or whom such assumptions or content may support.

      CFTD 815 - Consensus Rorschach (1 cr.)

      The Consensus Rorschach (CR) is a projective technique for the assessment of couples that has been used to elicit and analyze communication styles, power and control dynamics, emotional processes, and interpersonal stress dynamics. This seminar will provide the history of the technique, training in the administration and interpretation of the protocol, and cutting edge research on the use of the Consensus Rorschach with couples.

      CFTD 821 - Private Practice (1 cr.)

      This one-credit course introduces students to the insides of life in private practice. Whether it be a group practice, co-op practice, or solo business, working in private practice offers unique opportunities and challenges. Students will learn the four areas of being successful in private practice as well as the logistical, administrative, ethical and business aspects that go into starting a private practice.

      CFTD 823 - Building a Psychoeducation Program (1 cr.)

      Psychoeducation is an evidence-based practice (EBP) that can give information and support to families with a member with a diagnosis of mental and/or physical illness, and they also provide opportunities to build your clinical practice and reach clients who may be reluctant to attend therapy. This seminar will walk you through the steps of developing a psychoeducational program on the topic of your choice – developing the content, choosing the delivery mode, and integrating methods for evaluation.

      CFTD 825 - Working with Families with a Child with Special Needs (1 cr.)

      This seminar will focus on meeting the needs and working with families with a child with special needs. Learning objectives include a focus on the impact of a child with special needs on the family including parenting issues, the couple relationship, and on siblings.

      CFTD 827 - How to Publish a Book in the Field of Mental Health (1 cr.)

      One important aspect of a career in the field of mental health is writing and publishing. Whether it be a research paper, essay, book, or blog, putting our insights into written word can be a crucial component of being a clinician.

      CFTD 831 - Becoming a Kink-Aware Professional: An Exploration of Kink & BDSM (1 cr.)

      This course will explore Kink and BDSM practices in sexuality within a systemic framework. Students will be expected to engage in intrapersonal work exploring their own attitudes and biases about Kink and BDSM practices and analyze how countertransference may impact their clinical work.

      CFTD 833 - Perinatal Mental Health (1 cr.)

      Perinatal mood disorders and the special issues that present during the perinatal period are prevalent. This course will examine the unique challenges and special considerations when working with couples and families during this period in the family life cycle.

      CFTD 837 - Introduction to Consensual Nonmonogamy (1 cr.)

      This course will explore various forms of consensual nonmonogamy within a systemic framework. Through didactic learning, the student is expected to gain knowledge regarding the various relational configurations of consensual nonmonogamy and an understanding of the specific vocabulary utilized by those within the community.

      CFTD 841 - Men’s Mental Health (1 cr.)

      While there is a shared need to connect to self and others, the differences between men and women and how they connect are distinct in some ways. Clinical understanding related to the needs of each gender should not be based solely on assumptions and personal experiences but should also include an integration of human development knowledge and empirical research.

      CFTD 843 - Exploring Stereotypes of Women (1 cr.)

      This course is designed to help students critically examine and explore stereotypes specific to women of color. This course will focus on the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and geographical variables that create racialized gender stereotypes for women of color.

      CFTD 861 - Introduction to Mediation for Couples and Families (1 cr.)

      This course will cover the basics of mediation and how to apply these skills to your therapy practice to help couples and families resolve disputes more effectively and communicate in healthy and helpful ways. Course topics will include: types of mediation, aspects of positive communication, how to have difficult conversations, family and divorce mediation, parenting coordination, and how to build mediation into your therapy practice.

      CFTD 863 - Clinical Risk Management: Suicide in Couples and Families (1 cr.)

      This seminar will focus on suicide as an issue of clinical risk management in therapeutic work with families. A self-of-the-therapist lens will be used to help develop the student’s ability to respond to clients in crisis specifically focusing on interpersonal behaviors, reactions, risk factors and intervention strategies. Suicidal ideation as well as working with families after loss to suicide will be reviewed.

      CFTD 870 - International Immersion and Cross-Cultural Studies (3 cr.)

      This course will provide master’s and doctoral students with a cultural-immersion experience outside of the United States. Students will be engaged in a nonclinical service-learning program for a limited period of time.

      CFTD 871 - CFT Research Application (3 cr.)

      This course will provide select doctoral students the opportunity to work on an active research project, applying knowledge and skills from a systems perspective that will contribute to the field. Students will be engaged in all stages of a research project under the direct supervision of a Couple and Family Therapist.

      MCFT 789 - Creative Intervention with Couples and Families (1 cr.)

      This one credit doctoral elective course covers the Kinetic Family Drawing, Self-as-Animal, the Family Floor Plan, Sand Tray, Build-a-House, Video Play Therapy, Family Puppet Interview, Family School, and Music Therapy. This is a hands-on experiential class.

      SEX 690 - A Biopsychosocial Approach to Sexuality Across the Lifespan (3 cr.)

      This course will explore developmental sexuality across the lifespan including sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology, human sexual response cycles, and the normative developmental tasks and challenges related to sex and sexuality from a biopsychosocial perspective. Competency understanding, assessing, and conceptualizing sexuality in a sex-positive way at various life stages including clinical interventions and improved communication skills addressing common challenges will be introduced.

      SEX 691 - Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR) (1 cr.)

      This course is an intensive in-person and experiential workshop designed to allow participants to examine and process their sexual attitudes, values, and beliefs through exposure to various sexual themes. Highly experiential in nature, the SAR involves exposure to films, documentaries, lectures, guest speakers and workshop activities with a focus on processing in both large and small groups.

      SEX 692 - Diversity in Sexuality: Socio-Cultural, Medical, Technological, and Ethical Influences (3 cr.)

      This course will examine the socio-cultural, medical, technological and ethical factors impacting the current landscape of sex and sexuality. Students will explore the impact of race, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender and ability on sexual values, attitudes and behaviors, including an understanding of the impact of a range of pervasive social justice issues on sexual functioning and satisfaction.

      SEX 693 - Sex Therapy in Action: Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Psychosexual Issues and Dysfunction (3 cr.)

      This course will cover the practice of sex therapy through the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of psychosexual disorders in the DSM-V including sexual issues arising from trauma, medical or mental health factors, relational factors, or environmental factors. Students can expect to learn several models and theories from both an individual and relational perspective to effectively diagnose and treat sexual functioning issues, as well as out-of-control sexual behaviors and paraphilic disorders.

      Requisite Credits for the CFTD Program

      Students accepted to the CFTD program may use a maximum of 39 credits from their master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, couple and family therapy, or medical family therapy or other graduate degree programs in the doctorate. Requests must include a transcript and syllabus and will be evaluated on an individual basis. These 39 credits must include the requisite coursework to apply for the (Associate) Marriage and Family Therapy license in the state of Illinois. Students not meeting this requirement will take the requisite CFT courses in the first year of their program which may extend their program.

      Students who did not complete their master’s degree at Adler must also take:

      SJP 513 - Social Justice Practicum I (1 cr.)

      The Social Justice Practicum (SJP) is a first-year, nonclinical and non-discipline-specific experiential practicum that begins in the fall term. Students gain the knowledge, skills, and perspectives to utilize collective power and social justice strategies to build a more equitable society. The SJP is designed to help students learn how to work alongside different communities as agents of social change and serves as the catalyst for students to realize and understand their own strengths and responsibility to contribute to social equity.

      SJP 514 - Social Justice Practicum II (1 cr.)

      The Social Justice Practicum (SJP) is a first-year, nonclinical and non-discipline-specific experiential practicum that continues through the spring term. Students gain the knowledge, skills, and perspectives to utilize collective power and social justice strategies to build a more equitable society. The SJP is designed to help students learn how to work alongside different communities as agents of social change and serves as the catalyst for students to realize and understand their own strengths and responsibility to contribute to social equity.

      MCFT 533 - Fundamentals of Adlerian Theory and Interventions and Family Guidance (3 cr.)

      This course provides the couple and family therapy student with an overview of the core concepts of Adler’s Individual Psychology as complementing systemic work with couples, families, and individuals. Building on this foundation, the course provides an opportunity to develop child family guidance and parenting skills education skills based on Adlerian principles and traditions.

      Social Justice Practicum

      200-hour internship to give students real world experience

      A unique and proven program designed to give students real world experience throughout their time at Adler University, the Social Justice Practicum is a required 200-hour internship that spans four courses (or terms for online programs). Every student is given a number of civic-minded categories to choose from. They submit their desired areas of interest. After which, they are assigned a specific and aligned community outreach site where they will work 8 to 10 hours per week.

      Learn about Adler’s Social Justice Practicum

      Faculty Spotlight

      Cadmona Hall, Ph.D.
      Associate Professor, Couple and Family Therapy

      I believe teaching is a privilege and a great responsibility; therefore, I bring passion and energy to courses I teach. I believe that all students have the ability to achieve. My hope is for students to finish each course having done self-exploration that leads to a new or deeper understanding of themselves and the world.

      Read More on Cadmona

      Admissions Requirements

      In addition to the admission requirements common to all of the Adler graduate programs, the CFTD requires:

      • Clinical master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, couple and family therapy, medical family therapy, or related clinical field, such as social work, psychology, or professional counseling from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or a comparable degree from an international institution.
      • Successful applicants typically have a grade point average of 3.25 or higher on a 4.0 scale for graduate-level coursework.
      • Commitment to the profession of couple and family therapy as demonstrated in their application essay.
      • Completion of clinical practicum* in their graduate degree program.
      • Licensure or licensure eligibility as an MFT in the state of Illinois. Applicants without this can be admitted as a doctoral student but must first complete coursework to meet the foundational curricular areas as required by COAMFTE.
      • Letters of recommendation including at least one from a graduate instructor and one from a clinical supervisor.
      • Approved applicants will be invited to complete an on-campus interview with core faculty.
      • Students with a non-clinical master’s degree are recommended to apply to the MCFT program.

      Applicants are required to submit the following items to be considered for admission:

      • Application and application fee
      • Statement of Intent (2-3 pages, double-spaced) answering the following questions:
        • Why are you interested in your chosen field and program?
        • Why is Adler University’s program a good fit for you?
        • What are your career goals and interests?
      • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
      • Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended (U.S and Canada)
        • Please have official transcripts sent directly to the Office of Admissions
        • Unofficial transcripts may be accepted for any schools in which a degree was not received
        • International transcripts must be evaluated by a transcript evaluation service
      • Two letters of Recommendation
        • These should be from someone who can specifically speak to your academic and professional abilities
        • At least one letter should be from someone with a doctoral degree

      Approved applicants will be invited to complete an interview with faculty.

      *Students with a nonclinical master’s are recommended to apply to the COAMFTE-accredited Master of Arts in Couple and Family Therapy program.


      Please submit all application materials including official transcripts to the Office of Admissions prior to the application deadline.

      Adler University – Office of Admissions
      17 N. Dearborn Street
      Chicago, IL 60602

      Official electronic transcripts should be sent to [email protected].

      Information for International Applicants

      Tuition & Fees

      Tuition for Adler University’s programs is charged each term according to the number of registered academic credits. The number of credits a student will register for varies by academic program and by term. To estimate the amount of tuition and fees that would be charged in a given term, please use our Tuition Estimator tool below, or read about tuition and fees for all Chicago programs.

      Tuition Estimator

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