Mission and Student Learning Outcomes

The mission of the Master of Arts program in Marriage, Couple and Family Therapy is to prepare competent marriage, couple, and family therapists who engage in systemic relational therapy in ways that demonstrate excellent therapeutic skills and ethical and socially responsible practice. 

Program Goals

Goal 1. Knowledge: Apply a critical contextual guiding framework that addresses power dynamics and embodied connections across biopsychosocial levels and larger societal contexts.

Student Learning Outcomes for Goal 1: Knowledge
SLO 1.1: Students recognize the impact of power on individuals, families, and communities. 
SLO 1.2: Students recognize the interconnections among biological, psychological, social systems in people’s lived experience. 
SLO 1.3: Students apply systems/relational theories to clinical case conceptualization and treatment planning. 

Goal 2. Diversity and Inclusion: Advance social justice and cultural democracy in the practice of marriage, couple, and family therapy. 

Student Learning Outcomes for Goal 2: Diversity and Inclusion
SLO 2.1: Students self-reflect on the implications of own and others’ social location in clinical practice. 
SLO 2.2: Students’ clinical practice demonstrates attention to social justice and cultural democracy. 

Goal 3. Research: Apply research with critical awareness of the links between the process of inquiry, construction of knowledge, and cultural equity. 

Student Learning Outcomes for Goal 3: Research
SLO 3.1: Students are able to discern the implications of the sociopolitical context within which research is produced and applied. 
SLO 3.2: Students draw on the research literature relevant to family therapy in case planning. 

Goal 4. Practice and Ethics: Demonstrate competence in systems/relational practice according to MFT field standards and ethics. 

Student Learning Outcomes for Goal 4: Practice and Ethics
SLO 4.1: Students apply ethical decision-making processes to clinical dilemmas.
SLO 4.2: Students provide competent service according to the AAMFT code of ethics and core competencies.
SLO 4.3: Students demonstrate integration of family therapy theory, equity, and social location issues in clinical practice. 


Program Overview

The MCFT program at Lewis & Clark is designed to prepare graduates for employment as marriage and family therapists working with individuals, couples, families, and groups from a systemic perspective. Therefore, in addition to the common core curricular experiences in counseling, all students are required to demonstrate knowledge and skill in areas specific to marriage and family therapy, which are acquired through didactic courses and supervised clinical experience. The curriculum for the MCFT program helps students build the knowledge base and skills necessary to provide high-quality, effective therapy. It prepares students to use an active, positive approach to therapy that helps individuals, couples, and families build on their strengths, improve their relationships, increase awareness of their social context, and generate solutions to personal and relational problems.

MCFT is a distinct profession with its own history, theories, models, professional organizations and journals. Students are introduced to and invited to join the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the International Family Therapy Association (IFTA). They are also expected to be familiar with the body of family therapy literature, including the field’s leading journals, including Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Family Process, Journal of Systemic Therapies, Contemporary Family Therapy, Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, and American Journal of Family Therapy.

The program is generally designed to take full-time students three years to complete.

Program Philosophy

The MCFT program is based on an integrative approach to family therapy.  The field of marriage and family therapy flourishes as a result of the synergism between theory, research, and practice. In the Lewis & Clark program, students receive a broad overview of family therapy approaches and related theory from general systems, social constructionist, and critical social theory perspectives. Special emphasis is placed on approaches that are strength based, brief, critical, and contemporary. Course material is continuously applied through practice, with the goal of integrating theory, research and practice into a total learning experience.

The MCFT program at Lewis & Clark is committed to excellence and distinction as a learning and research community. As a program, we:

  • Draw from systemic, social constructionist, critical, and decolonizing approaches unique to family therapy, while integrating knowledge from counseling psychology, addictions counseling, and professional mental health counseling;
  • Value interdisciplinary knowledge and critique, seeking innovative contextual approaches to working with families;
  • Encourage growth of student therapists through awareness of their emotional, psychological, and relational styles, family histories, and social identities (e.g., race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, ability) that contribute to their worldviews and influence their work;
  • Acknowledge that all knowledge is socially constructed within a particular time and place and is therefore socio-centric, encouraging students to critique existing family therapy approaches, recognize themselves as knowledge producers, and responsibly apply ideas in diverse contexts;
  • Advocate for cultural democracy and social equity by infusing the curriculum with multiculturalism, highlighting issues of social justice, encouraging cultural immersion experiences, and promoting global citizenship in faculty, students, and supervisors; and
  • Create a rich learning, research, and practice environment through collaboration with other Lewis & Clark programs and the Portland community, as well as national and global linkages.

Pedagogical Goals

Overall pedagogical goals for all courses in the program include:

  • To teach and evaluate in ways that meet the needs of a wide range of learners diverse in learning styles, age, personality, and culture. 
  • To utilize class time by synthesizing, critiquing, and applying knowledge gained through readings. 
  • To enhance active learning and when possible simulate professional activities in the field (e.g., writing case notes, completing assessments, sitting with families in therapy). 
  • To integrate students’ rich personal and professional experience into the classroom along with their reactions, feelings, values and beliefs. 
  • To integrate skill building into the educational agenda from the beginning of the graduate program and woven in whenever possible. 
  • To make self-of-the therapist growth and awareness an ongoing endeavor that is integrated throughout the curriculum. 
  • To foster opportunities for therapists-in-training to be recipients of therapy and provide a contextual place for them to work through personal issues.
  • To integrate social awareness and equity throughout the curriculum as well as highlight them in specific courses.