Master's Series and Community Meeting

What is the Master's Series and Community Meeting?

Each academic year, the entire MFT student body is invited and encouraged to attend a number of Master’s Series gatherings facilitated by the MFT faculty. A student, sometimes two, is invited by the MFT faculty to select a family, couple, or individual with whom they are working, and present the case to the MFT faculty and student body. It is up to the student to select a case for presentation. The faculty places no restrictions, although we hope that the student will select a case that he or she has found to be particularly interesting, whether that means successful or unsuccessful, complex, intractable, or challenging.

Following a brief (10 minutes) presentation by the invited presenter, faculty members may ask the presenter questions. Presenters may be asked to talk about their therapeutic work, their philosophical orientation to change, how they are thinking about the client, what they are doing with the client, what has been working, what has not been working, where, if at all, the presenter thinks the therapy is breaking down, where, if at all, the presenter thinks the therapy is facilitating good change.

When the faculty members have enough information, they offer their ideas and begin a discussion between themselves about how the case makes sense while the presenter and the audience listen. At some point, the floor is opened to the rest of the students who can then also ask questions, make comments, and offer observations.

The structure of the Master’s Series, described above, is purposeful. It is not meant as supervision for the presenter, although that may be a side-benefit. Rather, it is designed to offer students a chance to “see” into the minds of the clinical faculty, to hear how they work, to “watch” how they think about relationship, clients, change, and to observe their use of creativity. In addition to working with clients, we think students benefit greatly when they get to hear the way faculty members think about cases, see how faculty members differ from one another, watch how faculty employ differing perspectives and make sense of the same case differently, and how faculty go about facilitating change differently. These can be invaluable learning experiences for students.

Who Can Attend? 

 Anyone who graduated from or is currently a student in the MFT program is welcome.

Requirements for Attendance? 

To attend, you must wear your ethical hat. While the Master’s Series conversations are held as student body/program-wide discussions, as they concern confidentiality, they are no different than small-group, clinical practica, and class discussions. The clients have a right to their confidentiality, and it remains paramount in this venue. In the Master’s Series, as in any and all educational endeavors sponsored by the MFT program, students and faculty maintain the highest level of confidentiality. Students and faculty are legally and ethically obligated to restrict discussion of clients’ treatment to conversations with other MFT students and/or MFT faculty and even then, such discussions must be embedded in a training/learning context that embraces a spirit of greater understanding, respect, and helpfulness. Discussions about clients held outside of such a context are just gossip.

Bring your brown bag lunch. Eat, listen, observe, ask questions, learn, and enjoy!

We ask that if you decide to attend, you stay for the entire case discussion. People walking in and out is distracting and can be disruptive. If you cannot stay for the entire time, please let a faculty member know. We encourage you to clear your afternoon and stay for the entire time. The most benefit occurs when you hear and participate in the case discussion in its entirety.

What is the Community Meeting?

Following the Masters Series, which typically meets from 12noon to 1:30pm, we turn our attention to the MFT program-wide community. The purpose of this meetings is to provide a non-technological space for the entire MFT academic community—students and faculty—to come together face-to-face. While email, text, and other social media are the most common and prevalent means of communicating, face-to-face interaction are context-rich and provide a larger context that makes certain kinds of wonderful connections (humor, warmth, etc.) and learning possible. Technological communication is often stripped of context, such as kinesthetic, paralinguistic, and other subtle means of human communication that bring richness to our meaning-making. During the community meeting, we may exchange information, raise awareness about certain aspects of the program and the clinic, field questions that students or faculty may have about nearly any program issue, ask questions, make suggestions, or offer topics of discussion that are relevant to the student/faculty body as a whole. The community meeting is meant to be positive and solution-oriented. If students or faculty members have identified problems or areas of difficulty, it is assumed that they will also propose a solution or two along with a rationale for how such a solution would be in the best interests of the MFT community as a whole. The community meeting is not the place to address individual faculty or students; rather, this is the time to look at the larger, MFT academic community as a whole.