OBU’s MFT Counseling Clinic Brings Hope, Healing to Community

May 26, 2017

Transforming lives – a key component of OBU’s mission – is powerfully demonstrated by the University’s Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) graduate program. The students and faculty of the MFT program apply their skills to bring healing to families, couples and individuals.

As part of its MFT master’s degree program, the University currently houses an MFT Counseling Clinic on campus, providing high quality therapeutic services to individuals, couples and families. OBU, in partnership with Avedis Foundation, recently announced the clinic will be moving to a new location on Kickapoo, in the former Pizza Hut facility. A first nail ceremony was held Friday, May 19, to kick off its remodeling.

The new clinic will serve not only the OBU community but also the greater Shawnee community as well, and will feature graduate level therapists in the Marriage and Family Therapy program, who are supervised by faculty. The MFT Clinic commonly treats a range of issues including depression, anxiety, relationship concerns, grief, faith concerns, self-harm, addiction and a variety of other health issues.

The building will be modified to include eight counseling rooms and an office for the counseling clinic’s director. It will also include space for faculty members and students in the university’s MFT program. The remodel of the new MFT clinic was made possible by a $200,000 grant from Avedis Foundation, a local charitable organization with a “vision to measurably improve the health, wellness and quality of life” for local citizens.

Dr. Canaan Crane, director of the marriage and family therapy graduate program and associate professor of psychology, looks forward to benefits the new facility will bring to his students as well as members of the community.

“I know that this remodeled space will provide a welcoming place for individuals, couples and families to work towards healing,” he said. “Our therapists are dedicated to working collaboratively with clients on developing ways to pursue emotional and relational health. We believe that people, working together, can find healing and renewal. We are very grateful for the Avedis Foundation’s investment in this community. We are excited to be a part of making Shawnee a better and healthier place to live.”

Dr. Tara Signs, MFT Clinic director, is excited to bring the clinic into its new home and out into the greater community.

“I think it’s important to recognize the stigma that only individuals with a mental illness or those experiencing a severe interpersonal crisis may benefit from therapy,” she said. “The reality is that we all experience life’s challenges and stresses. It’s inevitable. Sometimes those problems and demands become overwhelming and at times difficult to manage. When this happens, the OBU MFT Clinic is available to provide a safe and confidential space where people can find healing.”

The Marriage and Family Therapy Approach

MFTs are trained to provide a systems-oriented treatment approach to work with mental, emotional, behavioral and interpersonal issues. A therapist may work with couples and families together, or with individuals to address mental health concerns, improve relationships, positively affect the family dynamic and improve communication between loved ones. The job of the marriage and family therapist is to identify factors disrupting the family and work together to resolve them.

The field's growing prominence is partially due to this family-centered approach and demonstrated effectiveness. More than 6.1 million people annually are seen by MFTs, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT).

“Most counseling takes an individual route,” Crane said. “However, in MFT, while we may work with individuals, we always think relationally. We look at enacting systemic change. You get much better and longer lasting results.”

All courses are taught from an MFT perspective, providing systems-oriented training for excellent preparation to work with families and couples.

“The MFT degree equips you with knowledge and hands-on experience to prepare you for licensure as an MFT and clinical practice,” Signs said. “Because of this extensive training, MFTs can be successful in diverse settings, including community and government agencies, hospitals, religious settings, residential/inpatient and outpatient facilities, and private practices.”

The OBU Difference

The MFT program at OBU equips graduates to practice marriage and family therapy from a Christian perspective. Students frequently discuss how faith may be connected with a career in marriage and family therapy.

“Our classes have regular discussions about how faith is important in both our lives and in our clients’ lives,” Crane said. “We strive to equip our students to understand a biblical worldview and we hope that our students will provide excellent services to clients that incorporate a holistic perspective.”

OBU faculty have clinical experience as practicing therapists and teaching experience in MFT programs, giving students a high quality academic experience, resulting in strong licensure pass rates. The expert faculty are not only experienced in the field, but also are AAMFT approved supervisors and licensed as MFTs themselves.

Options are available for OBU undergraduate students to participate in the integrated MFT program, earning up to 12 hours toward their master’s degree while still in undergraduate studies. The University will soon be launching MFT courses in both Broken Arrow and Oklahoma City in addition to the Shawnee campus.