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Chicago | Doctorate

Couple and Family Therapy (Ph.D.)

Program Overview

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.

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

Demographics

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.

Curriculum

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:

ACA 1: Advanced Research – 13 area credits/13 program credits
  • CFTD-740: CFT Qualitative Research Methods (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-742: CFT Quantitative Research Methods (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-741: CFT Statistics (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-743: CFT Qualitative Data Analysis (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-788: Grant Writing (1 cr.)
ACA 2: Advanced Relational/Systemic Clinical Theory – 18 area credits/31 program credits
  • CFTD-720: Advanced CFT Theory I (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-721: Advanced CFT Theory II (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-722: Advanced Therapy with Couples (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-724: Advanced Family Therapy with Children and Adolescents (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-725: Grief and Loss Through the Family Life Cycle (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-726: Trauma and the Family System (3 cr.)
ACA 3: Advanced Relational/Systemic Applications to Contemporary Challenges
  • CFTD-730: Advanced Issues of Culture and Diversity in CFT (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-763: Doctoral Qualifying Exam 0 cr.
ACA 4: Advanced Foundations of Relational/Systemic Teaching, Supervision, Consultation and/or Leadership
  • CFTD-745: Supervision of Couple and Family Therapists (2 cr.)
  • CFTD-750: Professional Development Seminar I (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-790: Professional Development Seminar II (1 cr.)
Electives

Nine credits of specials* that specifically meet these two areas of Advanced Curriculum

*Currently Available and Developed Specials:

  • CFTD-728: Divorce Mediation and Conflict Resolution with Couples (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-729: Sex Therapy: Theory and Techniques (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-732: Integration of Religion and Spirituality in CFT (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-735: LGBTQ Competent Therapy with Couples and Families (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-736: Medical Family Therapy (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-738: Gerontology Issues in Family Therapy (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-746: CFT Supervision of Supervision I (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-747: CFT Supervision of Supervision II (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-748: CFT Supervision of Supervision III (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-781: CFT Instruction I (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-782: CFT Instruction II (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-783: CFT Instruction III (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-789: Creative Interventions with Couples and Families (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-802: hooks & Hardy (2 cr)
  • CFTD-804: Emotionally-focused Therapy (2 cr.)
  • CFTD-805: Divorce (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-807: Infidelity (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-811: Pop-culture and Couple & Family Therapy (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-815: Consensus Rorschach (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-821: Private Practice (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-825: Working with Families with Children with Special Needs (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-827: How to Publish in the Field of Mental Health (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-831: Becoming A Kink-Aware Professional: An Exploration of Kink and BDSM (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-837: Introduction to Consensual Nonmonogamy (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-841: Men’s Mental Health (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-861: Introduction to Mediation for Couples and Families (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-863: Clinical Risk Management: Suicide in Couples and Families (1 cr.)
Advanced Practical Experience (Practicum, Internship and Dissertation) - 16 area credits/63 program credits
  • CFTD-703: CFT Practicum – Clinical Practicum and Seminar I (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-704: CFT Practicum – Clinical Practicum and Seminar II (3 cr.)
  • CFTD-705: CFT Practicum – Clinical Practicum and Seminar II (2 cr.)
  • CFTD-763: Doctoral Qualifying Exam (0 cr.)
  • CFTD-862: Dissertation Literature Review (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-865: CFT Doctoral Internship I (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-866: CFT Doctoral Internship II (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-867: CFT Doctoral Internship III (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-875: CFT Dissertation Prep Seminar (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-876: CFT Dissertation I and Proposal Defense (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-877: CFT Dissertation II (1 cr.)
  • CFTD-878: CFT Dissertation III and Oral Defense (1 cr.)

Total Credits Required for Two Years of Advanced Curriculum and Practical Experiences: 63

Transferred and/or Requisite Credits: 39

Total Credit Hours Required: 102

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:

  • MCFT-533 Adlerian Theory and Practice in CFT (3 cr.)
  • SJP-513: Social Justice Practicum I (1 cr.)
  • SJP-514: Social Justice Practicum II (1 cr.)

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

Social Justice Practicum

Social Justice Practicum

Doing is learning. 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.

Student Outcomes

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

  1. To role model a clear professional identity as an ethical Couple and Family Therapist with advanced training, knowledge, and experience.
  2. To train students to develop a systemic worldview in their work as a Couple and Family Therapist.
  3. To provide students with experience in scholarship developing competence as researchers who will contribute to the field of Couple and Family Therapy.
  4. To graduate socially responsible professional Couple and Family Therapists sensitive to social justice and diversity.

STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES

  1. To understand and apply advanced knowledge of systems, modern, and postmodern Couple and Family Therapy theories.
  2. To demonstrate cultural competency with diverse populations in the advanced practice as a Couple and Family Therapist across academic, clinical, research, and supervision settings.
  3. To demonstrate knowledge of Adlerian principles that can complement systemic work with couples, families, and individuals.
  4. 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.
  5. To exemplify doctoral-level knowledge, skill, and integration of research in the field of Couple and Family Therapy.
  6. To demonstrate sensitivity and knowledge in application of social justice, social responsibility, and oppression with couples and families.
  7. 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.
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.

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
  • Clinical supervisor for couple, marriage, and family therapists
  • Academic professor
  • Systemic researcher

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.

Admissions Requirements

Admission 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. Please submit all application materials to the Office of Admissions prior to the application deadline.

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

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

Official transcripts should be sent to:

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

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

 

For more information for International Applicants, click here.

Accreditation

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

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

LMFT

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.

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Located in the heart of the city, the Adler Chicago campus was designed to provide and inspire the learning and living experience. To that end, we have created an environment that caters to your mental, emotional and intellectual growth. Our classrooms are bright and spacious with windows to the outside world. Our technology is the very latest and best. In our Library, you will find every resource you need to research, form and shape your journey. At Adler, we have made it our mission to create a space with more than enough room to share your thoughts and flex your intellect.

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