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Click here for a list of our many excellent graduates practicing in Georgia and states all across the country. Visit their websites, email, or call. They will be glad to answer your questions.


Shea Walker, Debbie Vizcarrondo, and Nelson Graves presented their research, "COVID-19 Remote Work: Families Adapting to the New Normal" at the 2023 Symposium. Their literature review examined research on how family dynamics and functioning have shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. grad-research-symp-2023-1.jpg
Also at the 2023 Symposium, Terri Funk and Sara Hathaway presented their research, "You Want to Talk About What? Sexual Communication with Couples." Their research revealed how better sexual communication often enhances both sexual and relational satusfaction in couples. grad-research-symp-2023-2.jpg
vsu graduate symposium 2022 Kali Hendricks and Drew Gutierrez presented their research "A Clinical Undergraduate Internship; Moving from Novice to Professinal" at the 2022 Graduate School Research Symposium. Their research aimed to explore how the Marriage and Family Therapy undergraduate internship shaped students' professional development.
Beverley Joseph and Eveny Griffin presented their research, "How Are Perceptions of Intimate Relationships Created and Reified by Social Media," at the Graduate School Research Symposium this year.  Their research aimed to explore the influence social media has on relationships.  Not pictured here are Abriel Blake Farrow and Redonno Carmon, who were also part of this research project.

Bev and Eveny at GSRS

Kristen, Courtney, Sam GSRS

Kristen Carney, Courtney Chaney, and Sam Holly, presented their research at the 2017 Graduate School Research Symposium. Their poster, titled, "Who Pays for What: A Qualitative Study of Recently Married Couples' Experiences with Finances." Their research found that conversations about finances are much more common today, and that finances are often discussed as couples discuss their own values and family expectations
GraduateSymposium_2018.jpeg Emma Becker, Priscilla Thomas and Anna Elyse Yarbrough presented at the 2018 Graduate School Research Symposium, titled "Polyamorous Relationships and the Perceived Self-Worth of Female Partners." Their research found that with thorough communication, partnership and commitment, it supported the self-worth and well-being of female partners



Passing the Torch: Exploring Differing Approaches in the Navigation of Relationships between Adult Children and Aging Parents

- Khushbu Patel & Howard Taylor Jackson

 These students researched how adult children may worry about where their parents will live or who they will live with. Furthermore, they may or may not have help from other family members in taking care of their parents. In the literature thus far, there are a few things missing which include cultural differences, intergenerational gaps, and discovering more strategies for coping with the transitional period. Most of the literature focuses on the American culture and Caucasian individuals, which cannot be applied to other cultures because each culture has their own way of interacting with others. Furthermore, the current literature focuses on researching two generations (adult children and aging parents) but there is a gap in research on multiple generations.

You Are What You (Decide) to Eat: A Literature Review on Food Choices

- Miriam Burton & Elizabeth C. Griffis (not pictured)

These students presented on how it is our natural human desire to conform and perform with one another is a factor that permeates our lives, right down to the food we eat.  While factors such as personal preference or availability may play a role in the selection of daily meals, we found the societal messages surrounding food to be influential in the decision-making process and that those decisions carry emotional weight that can influence the individual.  This understanding is clinically relevant as it provides context for the choices people make surrounding food and highlights the emotional impact of those decisions.


Hooking Up: The Experience of Casual Sex from Post-Collegiate Women

- Alyssa Hedrick, Megan Willard, Kayla Waters (not pictured)

These students discovered hooking up, or casual sex without commitment, has become quite popular among collegiate men and women. Although there is a plethora of data addressing women and men currently in college, the data of post-collegiate women is quite lacking. This semistructured interview process was focused on gathering the narratives of post-collegiate women, between the ages of twenty-four and twenty-seven, who self-identified as actively participating in the hook-up culture through their collegiate years. The themes discovered among the women's stories from participating in hook-up culture were that the women were single by choice, realizing with growing older that they have gained experience about what they desire in a relationship, there are multiple subconscious pressures from friends in their peer group, and focusing on their own accomplishments instead of a relationship is a common goal.

Masculinity and Men: A Systemic Overview

- Michael Serrano-Jones & Kalyn Bowser

These students discovered that current research is concerned with how masculinity is viewed and displayed. The idea conveyed is that masculinity is fluid and viewed on a spectrum, rather than a divisive masculine or feminine dichotomy. Despite the inclusive leaps current research is trending towards, gaps within the research include the lack of in-depth information regarding toxicity and toxic masculinity. More research is needed regarding the process of how men view their own ideas of masculinity considering the new messages they receive from their cultural and societal influences surrounding the evolving definitions of masculinity.


"Let's Have a Sex Talk": How Conversations About Sex Impact The Experiences of Black Women

- Asia Dukes, Chyna Doughty & Kinsey Baughman

Within the African American community, the shame and silence around sex can influence women’s sexual experiences.  Thus, the purpose of this study is to explore the conversations black women have with their friends, family, and community about sex, and how these experiences shape their current and future relationships.  We paid particular attention to how racereligion, and gender shaped black women’s experiences of talking about sex and their sexual decision-making process.  We found three themes: Sexual narratives, Religious influences, and Privilege.  These themes create a continuous cycle, which reinforces the language and behaviors around the topic of sex within the black community.

 "Love and Drugs: MDMA and Couples Therapy"

- Ethan Williams, Lexie Beady, and Terri Funk

Once again, ecstasy, also known as MDMA, is being used as an intervention in psychotherapy since being granted breakthrough therapy status by the US FDA. These students took a look at existing MDMA research as it relates to couplehood and couples therapy. They found that there are many gaps in research around the topic and that more research is needed to see if the MDMA-Assisted Couples Therapy through an MFT lens is helpful, but also that the existing research shows promising results for improving couplehood through feelings of closeness, better sexual experiences, and better communication. 
Virtually Presented by Ethan Williams and Lexie Beady




Congratulations on being part of the AFTA’s 44th annual meeting and conference! Presented by Bianca Simmons, Jennifer Lambert-Shute, and Laurelle Davis

The purpose of this study is to explore the conversations black women have with their friends, family, and community about sex, and how these experiences shape their current and future relationships. We paid particular attention to how race, religion, and gender shaped black women’s experiences of talking about sex and their sexual decision-making process. We found three themes: Sexual narratives religious nfluences, and privilege. These themes create a continuous cycle, which reinforces the language and behaviors around the topic of sex within the black community.



Two MFT students, Dyson Davies and Sara Reed, were honored to co-present a poster at the 2016 American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) Conference in Denver, CO. The poster, titled "Attuning to the Epistemic Complexity of Trans- Clients," offers critical considerations for therapists working with trans- or gender nonconforming (TGNC) clients. Dyson and Sara want to thank Dr. Lana Kim for her exceptional mentorship on this project.



Katelyn Coburn and Ellory Bishop presented at the 2017 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Their presentation, titled "Christian Women’s Revelations from the Church Closet," discussed how to better understand the experiences of Christian women in same-sex relationships who are not out in their church and what we, as therapists, need to know to assist our clients.


Tabitha McCoy, Cindy Urrutia, Alyssa Calderon

Two students, Cindy Urrutia and Alyssa Calderon are joined by Clinic Director, Tabitha McCoy, MS, LMFT. The poster, titled "Bridging the Gap: Transformative Service Learning Experiences in MFT Training," explored students who actively participated in community service engagements while enrolled in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Valdosta State University

Faculty and students collaborate on research examining family therapy journals. The purpose of the research was to provide an overview of the research being published from 2000-2015, assess who is publishing, and investigate the current state of clinical effectiveness research in marriage and family therapy. Two students, Paul Peterson, MS and Annisa Pireshteh, MS, LMFT, assisted in conducting this research with Jennifer Lambert-Shute, Ph.D., and Hoa Nguyen, Ph.D. Paul is a recent graduate from Valdosta State University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program and he is currently working in private practice in Arkansas. Annisa was a graduate in 2012 and currently works in private practice in Atlanta while pursuing her doctorate in MFT at the University of Louisiana Monroe

Paul Peterson


"Hearing the Story Beyond the Words: An Immersive Training Experience in Therapeutic Listening"

Lana Kim, Jennifer Lambert-Shute, Martha Laughlin, Tabitha McCoy, Katelyn Coburn, Ellory Bishop, and Kimberly Mulkey

This presentation discussed the experiences of trainees and supervisors in one MFT program, and their involvement in a mobile interprofessional healthcare clinic that provides medical and behavioral health services for migrant workers in South Georgia. This annual week long, outreach project provided family therapy trainees the opportunity to facilitate single session therapeutic encoutners with persons whom they do not share a common spoken language. We discussed what we have learned about how to connect and attend to another's experience and hear the story beyond the words.

Our students and faculty members head to Atlanta every Februrary for Lobby Day, an annual event that educates and empowers MFT students by orienting them to the legislative process. Students visit Georgia's State Capital where they meet and discuss legislation relevant to the MFT field with the Georgia State Representative and lobby Georgia lawmakers regarding GAMFT's legislative agenda. To find out more about our Georgia representatives, check out www.votesmart.org. Pictured are MFT students at the State Capital during the 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020 Lobby Day. In the bottom right photo (2016), Representative Amy Carter is in the first row, second from the left.


2020 Lobby Day


2019 Lobby Day


2017 Lobby Day


2016 Lobby Day



This award is given to a MFT student who has demonstrated commitment to and excellence in learning, professional development, and clinical practice. 





Bianca Simmons




Becca Haas

outstanding mft student award 2022





Tommy Hampton




Brody Lathem






Kayla Waters




Ashley Lanier

Ashley Lanier COEHS Awards


Michelle C. Brooten Brooks, M.S LMFT, class of 2018. She currently offers online telemental health therapy to adults in the state of Georgia. To learn more about her practice, visit her website. She previously worked in community mental health. Michelle recently published an article titled, "Why Bipolar Disorder Stigma Still Exists". The article explores the stigma surrounding the disorder and integrates systemic concepts with practical texts. The article can be found here.


katelyn coburn 

Dr. Katelyn Coburn is an assistant professor in the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). Katelyn is faculty in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at UNL and is passionate about training students to work in inclusive and culturally attuned ways with diverse populations. Katelyn earned their PhD in Couple and Family Therapy from Kansas State University in May of 2021 and completed their master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Valdosta State University in July of 2017. Katelyn is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state of Kansas and an AAMFT approved supervisor. Katelyn has a small private practice where they work primarily with LGBTQ+ people and families and assist transgender and nonbinary people in navigating gender affirming transition processes. Katelyn utilizes trauma-informed and intersectional frameworks in their research which focuses on affirmative and inclusive therapy with queer, transgender, and nonbinary people with an attention to systemic oppression and the impact of the gender binary. Katelyn also conducts research focusing on how affirmative religious leaders and faith communities can be resources and support for LGBTQ+ people and their families. Katelyn enjoys publishing and presenting their research regularly at national conferences like the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and the National Council on Family Relations as well as applying research findings in therapy practice and with community resources. When not working, Katelyn can be found baking desserts, binging the latest Netflix show, daydreaming about traveling, and spending as much time as possible with their partner and two pups. 

Danesha Deloatch

Denesha Deloatch

Danesha is a graduate of the class of 2015. She is the founder, owner, and clinical therapist at Breaking Barriers Therapeutic Services, PLLC. She has been serving residents in Georgia and Washington State virtually since 2020.  She is the clinical chair for the Washington State Association of Marriage and Family therapy as a Member at Large on the state board as well as sit on the United States Navy Diversity and Inclusion team for the NW Region.  

She works with couples and individual clients, as well as working in a suicide response program and a domestic violence program for the military. She has published several articles and is currently on track to complete her Perinatal Mental Health Certification (PMH-C).

Deloatch, D. B. (2021, July 2). The importance of Maternal Mental Health Conversations: Sharing my Truth. Perinatal Support Washington. https://perinatalsupport.org/black-maternal-mental-health-deloatch/. 

 Deloatch, Danesha, and Tri Nguyen. “Systemic Racism and the Asian American Community.” The American of Marriage and Family Therapy, 27 March 2021, aamft.informz.net/admin31/content/tem

And the most recent podcast: https://pod.co/behavioral-health-integration/mental-health-in-the-us-navy-interview-with-danesha-deloatch-lmft



Dr. A.J. Ramirez, MFT Graduating Class of 2007, has accepted the program coordinator position for VSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) at Valdosta State University. She will start Fall 2022. Dr. Ramirez has a distinguished track record teaching innovative WGST courses from her faculty position with the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice.


khusbu patel

Khushbu Patel is a doctoral student at Virginia Tech in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy, and pursuing a graduate certificate in Gerontology. Her research focuses on caregiving and intergenerational relationships, specifically in understanding the experiences of grandchildren who are caregiving to grandparents with dementia. Currently, she teaches undergraduate students about Adulthood & Aging, collaborates with the VA on a project about mindfulness and caregiving, and contributes to ongoing manuscripts about grandchildren, grandparents, and caregiving.


Justin Muller

Check out this article by two of our alumni, Dr. Racine Henry and Dr. Taimyr Strachan-Louidor


Asia Mya Evans of Bronx, New York, is the recipient of the 2022 Clare Philips Martin Scholarship at VSU. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology in December of 2019. She anticipates graduating from the VSU MFT program in December 2023. The Clare Philips Martin Scholarship is awarded to a student with a minimum GPA of 3.5, who is active in both on- and off-campus activities and organizations and has earned a total of 60 academic credit hours or more. Congratulations Asia! 


Sara Reed

Sara Reed, 2016 VSU MFT Program graduate, is a Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Farmington, Connecticut, where she works to advance health equity and upward social mobility among boys and men of color through neutral strategies, such as art. As a socially-minded therapist, Sara continuously works to expand culturally sensitive practices within her work and within the literature of the mental health field. She is currently a sub-investigator and study coordinator for the MAPS MDMA Clinical Study of PTSD at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Sara’s clinical interests include exploring relational processes and emotional patterns in Black-Americans and identifying sociocultural variables for ethno-racial minority participants in the MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD clinical trials. She will be presenting and speaking about her research in San Francisco next month, November. Sara was recently offered an adjunct faculty position at Southern CT State University, where she will be teaching a diversity course for MFT students. Sara is also in the process of applying to doctoral programs for Fall 2019 admission. She hopes to combine medical anthropology and African American studies and create culturally informed therapeutic interventions outside of a white paradigm. We wish her the very best from the MFT Program at Valdosta State University!


Jihene Ayadi

Jihene Ayadi, a 2012 graduate of the VSU MFT program and currently, a doctoral candidate in counselor education and supervision, won the Outstanding Doctoral Student award at the European Branch of the American Counseling Association conference. The conference was held last week in Athens, Greece. Ayadi, a Fulbright scholar, is currently in Tunisia working with the Southern Mediterranean University to develop a Counseling and Academic Advising Center. At the conference, Ayadi and her adviser Kristin Higgins presented on the center's implementation. They are also working on an article about the project. The center Ayadi developed allows students to receive both advising and counseling in the same place. This is rare, as these functions typically occur in two separate entities on campus. Ayadi previously worked as a graduate assistant in the University of Arkansas Counseling and Psychological Services office. Her experiences there helped guide her research. Ayadi earned the Outstanding Doctoral Student award for the U of A counseling program in spring 2015. She now serves as a research graduate assistant in the program. Ayadi is on track to graduate in May 2019.


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