What is the Master's Series and Community Meeting?

Each academic year, the MFT student body is invited and encouraged to attend a number of Master’s Series gatherings facilitated by the MFT faculty. One or two students may be invited by the faculty to present a case. While no restrictions are placed on the presenter, the faculty desires that the student will select a case that he or she has found to be particularly interesting. Whether or not the student therapist has experienced success, cases that are complex, intractable, or challenging provide fantastic learning and teaching opportunities.

Following a brief (10 minute) 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 worked and not worked; where, if at all, the presenter thinks therapy is breaking down; and where, if at all, the presenter thinks therapy is facilitating satisfactory change.

When the faculty members have enough information, they offer ideas and begin discussion between themselves while the presenter and the audience listen. At some point, the floor is opened for the rest of the attendees to ask questions, make comments, and offer observations.

The structure of the Master’s Series, described above, is purposeful. It is designed to offer students a chance to “see” into the minds of the clinical faculty, to hear how they work, and to “watch” how they think about relationships, clients, and change. Students observe the faculty's use of creativity. The faculty believe students benefit tremendously when they hear the way their instructors think about cases. Students see how faculty members make sense of the same case while each approaches it from differing perspectives. The experience  is used as an opportunity to facilitate change in either the student therapist, the clients' relationship to the problem, or both. These are 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, confidentiality is expected. These meetings are no different than small-group, clinical practica, and classroom discussions. The clients have a right to their confidentiality. Confidentiality 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 are legally and ethically obligated to restrict discussion of clients’ treatment to conversations with other MFT students and/or MFT faculty. Such discussions must be embedded in a training/learning context that embraces a spirit of greater understanding, respect, and helpfulness. Discussions held outside of such a context are considered 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 who are walking in and out of the classroom are distracting and 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 complete session. The most benefit occurs when you hear and participate in the entire case discussion.

What is the Community Meeting?

Following the Masters Series, which typically meets from 12:00pm 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.