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Couple and Family Therapy Department

Diversity Thrives Here

Internationally recognized faculty train culturally aware and culturally sensitive therapists dedicated to serving a diverse client base.

Couple and Family Therapy Department

The Couple and Family Therapy Department prepares students to succeed in today's mental health environment through quality education and clinical preparation. 

We train therapists to be both culturally aware and culturally sensitive. Through our programs, students build an excellent foundation on which to build their future careers in couple and family therapy within the context of a highly culturally diverse marketplace.  

Our internationally recognized faculty are highly respected with expertise in areas such as Culture, Trauma, Medical Family Therapy, Health Policy, Supervision and Training, Forensic Family Therapy, Divorce Mediation, Substance Abuse, Youth and Family Violence, Sex Therapy, Interdisciplinary Healthcare Initiatives, LGBT and Mixed Orientation relationships and EFT.

We invite you to explore the degree programs and certificate programs offered through this department that will help you begin or elevate your career in individual, couple and family therapy. Please explore our web pages for a wealth of information about our programs, students, faculty, research and clinical practice.

Selected MFT applicants are eligible for our Dean’s Scholarship. Additional funding opportunities for MFT and PhD applicants can be found at the AAMFT Research & Education Foundation's Minority Fellowship Program webpage.


Master of Family Therapy Degree Program
Family therapy: from family of origin to the global community.

Post-Master's Certificate Program in Couple and Family Therapy
Continue your education in couple and family therapy with Drexel's innovative professional training programs.

Doctoral Degree Program in Couple and Family Therapy
The PhD Program in Couple and Family Therapy will prepare you for a career in academia, research, and behavioral healthcare.

Couple and Family Therapy Faculty

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Department News



On January 11, US News and World Report published their 2017 Best Jobs list and 52 of the top 100 are in health care. Nurse practitioner and physician assistant are number two and three on that list with no surprise as the demand for more skilled health care professionals skyrockets. Susannah Snider, personal finance editor at U.S. News said in a press release about the jobs list, "Health care jobs often require a human element, so they can't be exported or entirely replaced by robots – at least not yet.
“Continued growth in the health care sector, low unemployment rates and high salaries make these jobs especially desirable. Plus, individuals can pursue a range of health care positions that require varying levels of skill and education," furthered Snider. While the opportunities for PAs and NPs expand practically every specialty — orthopedics, endocrinology, cardiology, pediatrics — a reported 80% of nurse practitioners choose primary care whereas a study from the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) states physician assistants tend to practice outside of primary care. 
Regardless of the position a person chooses, it’s all good news for CNHP. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics cited nurse practitioner and physician assistant among the fastest growing occupations with 35% and 30% growth respectively. This expansion can be attributed to a few factors including a move to patient-centered care models and an aging population. But another reason is the expansion of coverage for an additional 20 million people through Affordable Care Act. “The ACA recognized physician assistants as an essential part of the solution to the primary care shortage by formally acknowledging them as one of the three primary care health providers,” said Patrick Auth, PhD, MS, PA-C, CNHP clinical professor and department chair. “They also committed to expanding the number of PAs by providing financial support for scholarships and loan forgiveness programs, as well as by funding the training of 600 new PAs,” he continued.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed millions of Americans to have access to insurance to pay for the cost of their health care. That meant hospitals and providers reduced their cost of indigent care.  While these figures have presented a hopeful outlook on what new health care reform may mean, one recent report has portrayed a potentially much different outcome.
The study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund revealed repealing the ACA, likely starting with the insurance premium tax credits and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility would result in a doubling in the number of uninsured Americans while having widespread economic and employment impacts. In 2019, the study predicts a loss of 2.6 million jobs nation-wide, primarily in the private sector, with around a third of them in the health care industry. Pennsylvania could see around 137,000 jobs lost. 
Elizabeth W. Gonzalez, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, associate professor and department chair of the doctoral nursing program and Kymberlee Montgomery, DrNP, CRNP-BC, CNE ’09, associate clinical professor and department chair of the nurse practitioner program, both suggest that it is too early to tell what any real impact will be to healthcare or employment. “The ACA also lowered Medicare spending by allowing people to enter into share savings plans with accountable care organizations where providers are reimbursed based on the quality, not the quantity, of their services,” Gonzalez said. “This emphasis on quality has resulted in significant savings, lower cost of health care for seniors, individuals with disabilities, low income families, and children. The ACA encourages a focus on the patient experience and this has led to some wonderful innovations because clinicians are being paid to focus on ways to enhance the quality of the care they provide patients,” she added. 
“The Affordable Care Act introduced patients to the role of the nurse practitioner. Patients were forced to see us for primary care — nurse practitioners provided care at a lower cost,” stated Montgomery. “Now patients want to see us because of the level of care we provided.” There are just so many unknowns where the ACA is concerned. While the current administration seems determined to repeal the law, they haven’t yet put forth a replacement that will provide affordable healthcare for those who would undoubtedly lose what they currently have. It’s uncertain whether a new law might be proposed that would guarantee that no jobs created under the ACA are lost or if patient outcomes will decline.” But both Gonzalez and Montgomery feel that advanced practice nursing will continue to be a cost effective way to deliver outstanding clinical services. While it’s tough to speculate, Montgomery thinks opportunities for nurse practitioners will continue to grow regardless. “Who knows, it might make it better for the nurse practitioner especially because we provide high-quality, comprehensive care at lower costs,” she said.

By: Roberta Perry and Kinzey Lynch `17



  • Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, Vice President for Health and Health Equity at Drexel University, has been appointed to Main Line Health’s Board of Governors.


  • Vicki Schwartz, DCN, assistant clinical professor in the Nutrition Sciences Department, was inducted as a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


  • Integrated Health Care for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a book co-authored by Ellen Giarelli, EdD, associate professor in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Department, and Kathleen Fisher, PhD, professor in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Department, was published.


  • Essential Procedures for Practitioners in Emergency, Urgent, and Primary Care Settings: Second Edition: A Clinical Companion authored by Theresa Campo, DNP, associate clinical professor and co-director of the family nurse practitioner track, was published.


  • Helping Children and Families Cope with Parental Illness: A Clinician’s Guide, a book co-authored by Maureen Davey, PhD, associate professor in the Couple and Family Therapy Department, Karni Kissil and Laura Lynch, two alumni of the PhD in Couple and Family Therapy Program, will be published in April 2016.


  • Deeptha Sukumar, PhD, assistant professor in the Nutrition Sciences Department, received a four-year American Heart Association Foundation grant entitled, “Parathyroid Hormone and Cardiometabolic Outcomes in Obesity: Role of Magnesium and Vitamin D Supplementation”.


  • Patty Gerrity, PhD, professor and associate dean for Community Programs, accepted an invitation to speak at the First National Nursing Leadership Conference being held in DC, April 2016.


  • Julie Kinzel, clinical assistant professor in the Physician Assitant Department, is the recipient of the Physician Assistant Educator of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants (PSPA).


  • Megan Schneider, clinical instructor in the Physician Assistant Department, was nominated for the Rising Star Award by the Physician Assistant Education Association.


  • Adrian Banning, MMS, assistant clinical professor in the Physician Assistant Department, was nominated as an outstanding leader in the health field in Philadelphia and was featured on


    CNHP in the media:

  • Drexel’s online Doctor of Nursing Programwas featured on Biz Philly after it is named one of the top 50 in the country by Best Medical Degrees.
  • Adrian S. Banning, MMS,assistant clinical professor in the Physician Assistant Department, was featured among Billy Penn Who’s Next in Health.
  • The Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Serviceswas featured in the Philadelphia Business Journal for receiving a grant from AstraZeneca for its “R-Health: Building Resilience for Life-Long Health” program.
  • Drexel University was named as one of the top 10 best U.S. colleges for a nursing degree by USA Today.
  • Drexel University's Health Sciences Departmentand Salus University's Occupational Therapy Department were featured inAdvance Healthcare Network for their partnership that will offer a sequential degree program.
  • Jennifer Nasser, PhD,associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, was featured in Obesity Society  for her research in the area of brain response to food stimulation.


Since 2013, the Couple and Family Therapy Department has built a relationship with the LGBTQA Student Center at Drexel – from providing student volunteers to developing more understanding clinician advocates. There to oversee the blossoming partnership, enhancing it along the way, was Christian Jordal, PhD, associate director of the Master in Family Therapy Program.

Jordal was a member of the faculty, staff and alumni committee that brought the LGBTQA to life two years ago. “We were tasked with increasing visibility and support for LGBTQA identifying students. In the time we’ve been at it, the department assisted in the creation of the first LGBTQA Student Center at Drexel, which is on main campus,” said Jordal.

His role in the committee aligned naturally with his academic, research and clinical interests all of which meld in the area of LGBTQ identification and relationships. “Being involved in the committee allowed me to further my work in a subject I was interested in, as well as serve an important part of the Drexel community.”

Once the Center was established, Jordal began to see it as a valuable learning opportunity for students in the Master in Family Therapy Program – a program with cultural competency and social justice at the core of its mission. “We want to graduate students who understand how to assess and work with issues of identity, however they are defined; who take advocacy beyond the therapy room to promote justice within the larger society; and who recognize that none of us is perfect,” said Jordal. “Our graduates are mindful of who they are as clinicians and how that informs their work.”

So how does the program support the development of such future clinicians? In order to graduate, students must complete a social justice experience where they serve for approximately 40 hours over the course of two years, doing something to immerse themselves in a community that may be unfamiliar to them. Jordal said, “Ultimately, it’s a non-clinical experience, but our goals is to increase their awareness of others.”

Jordal established a student volunteer relationship with the LGBTQA Student Center, which allows students to accrue those hours at this location, building their experience level and familiarity with the resources available to the community. They are provided with training on how to be an ally and work with LGBTQ students each term, and they hold office hours and interact with the faculty, staff and students utilizing the center.

The student volunteers are benefitting from the experience as much as the Drexel LGBTQA community has benefitted from the Center’s presence on campus. “One of the steps to become culturally competent and socially just as a clinician is to recognize that we as clinicians must develop our own knowledge and understanding rather than burdening our clients with educating us on how they identify,” said Jordal.  “So many of our students are aware of what’s going on in U.S. culture around LGBTQ issues, and they’re curious about that, but they may not necessarily have a lot of knowledge of what it might mean to identify within those communities, nor the discrimination or oppression that those individuals oftentimes experience. It’s something they need to be aware of to develop the base knowledge to best work with LGBTQA clients.”

Jordal believes Drexel as a whole is devoted to increasing connections to others, whether it’s in the community in which we are situated or internationally, he recognizes a broader scope as a priority of the University. But he advises that diversity is a two way street.  “On one level this is about our students building knowledge and giving back, and on the other level continuing to support projects such as the Center that increase the visibility of the diversity that exists within Drexel and increase awareness outside of Drexel that we are a University which promotes inclusion and diversity.”
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