Marriage & Family Therapy  News

Falk College expands graduate merit scholarships beginning Summer 2019


Falk College White and MacNaughton Hall Exterior

Graduate merit scholarships have been expanded for prospective students interested in matriculating into master’s degrees, either full- or part-time, offered in Falk College effective Summer 2019 (includes MAYmester Summer Session I, Summer Session II, Combined Summer Session). Incentives include no application fee, GRE waiver where applicable, and a 25 percent tuition discount incentive, which is applied after any other scholarships, scholarship credits, assistantships and remitted tuition credits are applied.

Eligible matriculated students include:

  • All Syracuse University alumni applying to master’s degree programs in Falk College (see list below), including members of the Class of 2019;
  • Children of current full-time Syracuse University employees (notarized supplemental forms required);
  • Any Advanced Standing MSW-enrolled student from any accredited BSW/BSSW program throughout the nation, and;
  • Current Falk master’s program students who are Syracuse University alumni; children of current full-time Syracuse University employees are also eligible.

Falk graduate programs include:

  • Food Studies, M.S.
  • Global Health, M.S.
  • Human Development & Family Science, M.A., M.S.
  • Marriage and Family Therapy, M.A.
  • Nutrition Science, M.A., M.S.
  • Public Health, M.S.
  • Social Work, Advanced Standing Program, M.S.W.
  • Social Work, M.S.W.
  • Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapy Dual Degree, M.A./M.S.W.
  • Sport Venue & Event Management, M.S.

Interested students should contact Falk Admissions, submit their application, and must formally matriculate. For more information, please contact the Falk College Office of Admissions at 315.443.5555 or email Award is subject to change.

Contact Admissions

Falk announces Graduate Merit Scholarships for Syracuse University students


Syracuse University Students at CommencementFalk College is pleased to announce the Falk College Merit Award Scholarship for current Syracuse University students interested in applying for a Falk College master’s degree.

Incentives include no application fee, GRE waiver where applicable, and a 25% tuition discount incentive, which is applied after any other scholarships, scholarship credits, assistantships, and remitted tuition credits are applied.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a current Syracuse University student in good standing with an overall GPA of 3.4 or higher applying for part-time or full-time study in one of the following degree programs:

Interested students must contact Falk Admissions and submit their application by February 15. Successful applicants will be officially admitted by the academic department and must formally matriculate for a 2019-2020 term.

“Falk College graduate degree programs allow undergraduates of all majors to tailor and enhance their career opportunities,” says Falk College director of admissions, Felicia Otero. “For example, bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology pair especially well with a master’s degree in social work (MSW), marriage and family therapy (MFT), or the SWK-MFT dual program, as well as human development and family science, public health, and global health.

“Undergraduates studying business, management, advertising, and public relations can apply their skills directly to our sport venue and event management master’s program. Students with skills in these disciplines might also apply to public health, global health, and food studies master’s programs, alongside students with bachelor’s degrees in communication & rhetorical studies, English, advertising, and education,” Otero continues. “Undergraduates in biology and chemistry programs often pursue graduate study in nutrition science, as well as public health and global health programs at Falk.”

“Falk graduate degrees lead to a variety of careers and end-credentials,” says Deborah Golia, assistant director of admissions at Falk College. “You’ll find Falk alumni working as counselors, therapists, social workers, community advocates, community educators, public health specialists, nonprofit program directors, managers, nutritionists, dietitians, sustainability program educators, and in limitless other roles.”

“Falk College graduate degrees also lead to research professions and continued study in doctoral programs,” she adds.

Falk Admissions will host a Graduate Information Session on Friday, November 2 in Falk Complex, White Hall, Room 335 at 4:00 p.m. In addition to review of Falk graduate programs, interested students can learn more about Falk Graduate Scholarships. For more information, please contact the Falk College Office of Admissions at 315.443.5555 or email

Three Falk Students Receive Fellowship Honors from the AAMFT


From SU News, By Michele Barrett

Jennifer Coppola, Gift Nleko and Shaelise M. Tor, graduate students in Falk College’s Department of Marriage and Family Therapy and School of Social Work, are recipients of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s (AAMFT) Research & Education Foundation Minority Fellowships. The AAMFT’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) includes a competitive review and selection process of doctoral and master’s students from across the country to support their growth and development as future practitioners in marriage and family therapy.

The AAMFT MFP fellowships include awards for doctoral students at the dissertation completion stage of their curriculum, which Coppola received. Nleko was awarded the Now is the Time MFP fellowship as a master’s student interested in service provision to the nation’s youth. Tor received the doctoral fellowship to support completion of her pre-dissertation core curriculum.

Funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the AAMFT Foundation has created the MFP to support the training of practitioners or practitioner/researchers in culturally competent mental health and substance abuse services, treatment, and prevention.

Jennifer Coppola, a doctoral candidate, has a background in human development from the University of Rochester. Trained on the Transgender Treatment Team at Falk College’s Couple and Family Therapy Center at Peck Hall, her current research investigates couple relational processes, including the impact of gender, sexual, and racial minority stress. Her dissertation focuses on attachment and fairness-related relational experiences of transgender women and their cisgender partners. She hopes to progress her research to include conceptualizing integrative therapeutic models that serve marginalized populations. Clinically, her work is dedicated to the transgender and LGBQ+ communities, and multistressed couples and families. She uses contextual and attachment theories, an affirmative intersectional lens, and emotionally-focused couples therapy (EFT).

Coppola presents her research work and model of couples therapy nationally and internationally. “I believe in utilizing a self-of-the-therapist approach to training. Cultural humility in clinical practice involves a lifelong commitment to reflection and disassembling power and privilege,” she says. Upon graduation, Jennifer plans to continue teaching in the MFT field, and extend her research. She also has a part-time private practice.

Gift Nleko, a native of Nigeria, was diagnosed with polio at age 3. Due to the civil war in Nigeria, she and her family sought political asylum in Houston, Texas, when she was 9. “My experiences as a disabled Nigerian-American refugee inspire my work with diverse, underrepresented and socially disadvantaged populations,” she says. Having graduated from Lamar University with a B.S. in psychology, she immediately enrolled in Falk College’s dual master’s program in social work and marriage family therapy. She has gained hands-on experience providing therapy at the Couple and Family Therapy Center, serving clients with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders at Family Counseling Services- Cortland, and co facilitating the Domestic Violence Group and Healthy Relationships workshop series at the YWCA of Syracuse & Onondaga County.

Gift currently interns at the Syracuse University Counseling Center, providing mental health and substance abuse services, while contributing to a diverse campus environment. Her past research as a McNair Scholar focused on the effect of father absence on adult daughter’s mate selection. She will continue exploring the correlation between father absence, mental health, substance abuse, trauma and relational attachment.

Shaelise M. Tor is a second-year doctoral student who completed an M.S. in marriage and family therapy at the University of Rochester. Her current research interests include participatory research with refugee and immigrant populations; the impact of race and cross-cultural relationships in family therapy and advocacy; families involved with multiple systems of care; and relational ethics and attachment injuries. She currently serves clients in an outpatient couple and family therapy center as well as in a satellite, community-based clinic utilizing a postmodern attachment and experiential approach that emphasizes resilience and the impact of power and oppression.

“I hope to increase access to culturally humble mental health care and decrease barriers to care by utilizing non-traditional modalities of therapy,” she says. Upon completion of her doctoral studies, it is her goal to be on the faculty at a university where she can conduct research, teach, and supervise future generations of therapists.

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) is the professional association for the field of marriage and family therapy, representing the professional interests of more than 50,000 marriage and family therapists throughout the United States, Canada and abroad. The AAMFT Research & Education Foundation funds systemic and relational research, scholarship and education to support and enhance the practice of systemic and relational therapies to advance the health care continuum, and improve client outcomes.

Explore Falk Graduate Programs at November 2 Info Session


Campus pictureSyracuse University’s Falk College will host a Graduate Information Session on Friday, November 2 in Falk Complex, White Hall, Room 335 across from the Falk College Admissions Suite. Faculty, staff, and current students will welcome potential graduate students interested in helping professions in counseling, therapy, public policy, and advocacy; health professions such as public health, epidemiology, nutrition, and wellness; as well as careers in sport and sporting events management. The two-hour event will start at 4 p.m. and will include a brief overview presentation, a question and answer session, and time to meet with faculty and students. Light refreshments will be served.

Detailed information will be provided on graduate programs in human development and family science (MA, MS, PhD), food studies (MS), global health (MS), public health (MS), marriage and family therapy (MA, PhD), social work (MSW) as well as the dual degree program (MA/MSW) in marriage and family therapy and social work, nutrition science (MA, MS), and sport venue and event management (MS).

Details on Falk College Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) programs in addiction studies, child therapy, dietetic internship, global health, food studies, and trauma-informed practice will also be provided.

Admissions staff will be available at the information session to meet with students and provide information on academic programs, housing, and scholarships, including the new Falk College Scholarship Merit Award program for high achieving Syracuse University undergraduate students applying to a Falk College master’s degree program in 2019.

For more information about this event, and to register for it, contact Falk College Admissions at 315.443.5555, email

Department of Marriage and Family Therapy Statement of Support


Welcome to the new semester. Last spring the SU community was involved in an incident that shocked us. At the time, some in the MFT Department met and issued a statement that we attempted to deliver to the wider community. Because we have not seen it in print, we wanted to make sure it was on our website. The statement is below.

In light of the recent horrific videos that showed members of the SU community making statements and performing acts that dehumanize others, we state that we strongly condemn this and other similar behaviors, and the culture that encourages it. These incidents so close to home have harmful impacts on our community. We support efforts to examine and dismantle systems that perpetuate these behaviors, including those within our own campus. In addition to institutional efforts, sometimes being able to talk about how these experiences impact us to someone who will listen and hear your experience, can help the healing process. The Department of Marriage and Family Therapy wants to remind students that we offer culturally sensitive and trauma informed services to the SU community. Our services through the Couple and Family Therapy Center are free, and are at Peck Hall, 601, E. Genesee Street, Syracuse, NY. To contact our services, please call 315 443 3023.

Trans Support Day benefits transgender community

Students at the 2018 Trans Support Day
Students at Trans Support Day April 12, 2018

More than 50 attended Trans Support Day on April 12, 2018, including individuals, couples, parents, and kids. Hosted by the Syracuse University Trans Team, the event included clothing and makeup giveaways, makeup tutorials, legal advice for ID changes. The clothing and makeup giveaways were made possible by generous donations to the Trans Team’s clothing and makeup drive.

The event also included a visit from a speech-language pathologist, Josie Zanfordino, a lecturer and clinical supervisor in the Speech Pathology Department at Ithaca College and the co-founder of the Transgender Voice and Communication Clinic.

The Syracuse University Trans Team is part of the Syracuse University Couple and Family Therapy Center, housed within the Falk College Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, located in Peck Hall, just north of main campus on E. Genesee Street. Students on the Trans Team receive specialized training to provide gender-affirmative therapy for transgender people and their families and assist in the readiness process for medical gender transition.

More information is available online for those who wish to learn more about the Couple and Family Therapy Center and the Trans Team.

SU Trans Team to host Trans Support Day April 12


Flier design for Trans Support DayThe Syracuse University Trans Team will host Trans Support Day to benefit the Syracuse-area transgender community on April 12, 2018 from 2 to 7:30 p.m. in Peck Hall, located at 601 E. Genesee Street just north of main campus.

The Trans Team is part of the Syracuse University Couple and Family Therapy Center, housed within the Falk College Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. Students on the Trans Team receive specialized training to provide gender-affirmative therapy for transgender people and their families and assist in the readiness process for medical gender transition.

The April 12 event will incorporate a clothing drive and makeup giveaways from 2 – 6:30 p.m., legal advice for ID changes and makeup instruction tutorials from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., and a visit from voice expert Josie Zanfordino from 5 – 6 p.m. The event will conclude with networking and refreshments from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The Trans Team will be collecting clothing and makeup donations for the drive from March 26 – April 5 at two drop off sites: Room 300 MacNaughton Hall in the Falk Complex, and Floor 3 of Peck Hall. To support the clothing drive, please donate lightly used clothing. such as shirts, sweaters, pants, leggings, shorts, rompers, and dresses; accessories like scarves, belts, shoes, bags, undergarments, hair accessories, jewelry, and sunglasses. Any size, age, and gender items are welcome. Larger sizes are in high demand.  For the makeup drive, please donate new and unopened makeup items, such as eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick, foundation, and blush.

For more information, please contact Anne Metzger-Wormuth at (315) 443-3023 or

Shipman’s article provides insight on the experiences of transgender therapists

Peck Hall exterior
Peck Hall is home to the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy.

Daran Shipman, MA, LMFT, Clinic Supervisor in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy at Falk College, recently published an article in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy entitled, “Clinical and Supervisory Considerations for Transgender Therapists: Implications for Working with Clients.” The article provides insight on the experiences of transgender therapists and seeks to encourage more conversation around the need for acknowledging and understanding these perspectives.

Read the full article.

January 2018 courses to focus on therapy with military families, LGBTQ relationships


Several January 8-12, 2018 course offerings for graduate students in marriage and family therapy and other mental health professions, among other programs, will be offered. MFT 788-Systemic Family Therapy with Military Families will emphasize evidence-based trauma-informed clinical practice and provide systemic approaches to working with Veterans and military families. Professors Thom deLara, department chair, and Dyane Watson, will teach the course offered at Peck Hall. MFT 642-Couple and Family Therapy with LGBTQ Relationships, also offered at Peck Hall, will provide an overview of the specific issues LGBTQ couples and families face and ways in which these issues impact relationships and other social systems. The course will be taught by Professor Deborah Coolhart.

MFT 788: Systemic Family Therapy with Military Families
For graduate students in Marriage and Family Therapy and other mental health professions, and mental health practitioners

This course will emphasize evidence-based and trauma-informed clinical practice, will provide systemic approaches to working with veterans and military families, and will provide a framework for the course. Students will examine the primary and secondary impact of deployment, conflict and military lifestyle on the social and emotional functioning of the family and its individual members. They will come to understand military culture and language as a context for approaching clinical practice with military families. Students will learn trauma-informed approaches to practice, and evidence-based models for clinical practice. The family life cycle will be explored, as will issues of spirituality and community support systems. Students successfully completing this course will have an understanding of, and an ability to work with, veterans and military families.

MFT 642-Couple and Family Therapy with LGBTQ Relationships
For graduate students in MFT, Social Work, Child & Family Studies, Women’s & Gender Studies, Counseling and related programs

This course provides an overview of the specific issues LGBTQ couples and families face and ways in which these issues impact relationships and other social systems. The self-of-therapist will be examined in relation to sexual and gender identity development and the ways in which therapists’ identities may impact clinical work with LGBTQ couples and families. Students will gain LGBTQ-affirmative clinical skills and explore topics including couple dynamics, heterosexual/cisgender privilege, coming out, internalized oppression, intersection of other cultural identities, the formation of families and parenting, gender transition, polyamory, and intersexuality.

Marriage and family therapy alumna sees rising need for trauma-informed practice

Carrie Land-Steves Portrait
Carrie Land-Steves G’09

For alumna Carrie Land-Steves G’09, marriage and family therapy was an obvious career choice. After completing her undergraduate studies in social science, she looked into graduate school and found Syracuse University to be an “immediate fit,” from the program and courses, to the professors and students.

As a Clinical Supervisor at Vera House, a Syracuse agency offering comprehensive domestic and sexual violence programs, Land-Steves provides support and guidance to the therapist and carries her own client cases, as well. “The most rewarding part for me is being able to witness people heal, grow, and become the versions of themselves that they want to be. I am honored every day to be able to bear witness to survivor’s pain, suffering, resilience, and healing.”

There are ways anyone and everyone can help end domestic and sexual violence, says Land-Steves. To start, “Have conversations. Honest conversations,” she says. “Domestic and sexual violence often happen in isolation, and if we can continue to have some of these challenging conversations, we can continue to change ourselves, culture, and norms.” Or, she says, consider donating your time or resources to an agency like Vera House.

“I see an increase in therapists becoming trauma-informed and this is very hopeful. I would argue that every client who goes into a therapeutic space has experienced a trauma at some point in their life,” says Land-Steves. “Being able to assess and identify what the client is needing to heal from that trauma is something that every clinician needs to be able to address, support, and treat.” Falk College offers a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Trauma-Informed Practice, which can equip mental health professionals with additional skills in trauma response and intervention.

“It is our role [as therapists] to create a space where all individuals, couples, and families can process their history or current events and gain more clarity and find healing,” she explains. “I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.”

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