Faculty & Staff

MFT Faculty

Ellie Cunanan-Petty

  • Assistant Clinical Professor
  • Clinical Director

Dr. Jeffrey Jackson

  • Assistant Professor

Dr. Ashley Landers

  • Assistant Professor

Patricia Meneely

  • Program Coordinator

Adjunct Faculty

Barry Alvarez was born in Long Island and has lived all over the country. He studied Accounting at Brigham Young University and worked in government contracting in the years to follow. From being an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Barry developed a love for therapy. He then pursued a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Virginia Tech, which he earned in 2003. He has held his own private practice for 10 years. He works with couples as well as those with addictions. He enjoys working with couples and just about every sport that exists. He has been married for 31 years and has 5 children.

Esther Boykin is a graduate of Virginia Tech and she specializes in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She has been working as a private practitioner in Northern Virginia for almost a decade.  She has presented and published on a variety of topics including teen marriage, child abuse, and domestic violence.  She has led multi-couple groups as well as conducted pre-marital workshops for military couples at Fort Belvoir.  Her areas of interest are couple dynamics, pre-marital counseling, relationship maintenance, and helping people manage anxiety and trauma reactions.  Her work is rooted in the belief that good mental health begins with compassion.  Her therapy approach incorporates a variety of theoretical perspectives in an effort to fully understand each person’s unique struggles.   She will be teaching HD 5744 Special Topic in MFT: The Business of Therapy.

Claire Dutrow first studied at Virginia Tech in 1986. After earning her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, she worked as a family therapist at a residential treatment center for substance abuse treatment. While there, she focused on clients in crises as well as those diagnosed as severely mentally ill, specifically Central American immigrants. In 1989, Claire first starting working as a family therapist at Second Genesis, where she remained for 5 years. In 1998, she started practicing at Prince William County Community Services, where she is still employed today. She has also worked as a couples and individual therapist at The Women’s Center from 2009-2015. She is currently seeing clients as a therapist at Vienna Behavioral Health and also supervises at the Center for Family Services at Virginia Tech. Claire was born and raised on a cattle ranch in New Mexico. She has been married for 32 years and has a son, daughter, and two cats.

Ed graduated from Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program. He and has provided treatment, supervision, training and consultation in the area of substance abuse, mental health and family treatment since 1971. He worked in the public sector until 2004 and in private practice since. His publications include numerous articles, reports, and two books concerning substance abuse, mental health and family treatment. He supervised at Tech’s Family Therapy Clinic since 1998 and has taught classes on group treatment and working with families who have members with mental health disorders.

Neil graduated from James Madison University with a Master's Degree in School Counseling and Virginia Tech's Post-Master's Marriage and Family Therapy program. He has been in private practice since 1994 and works primarily with families and couples with a special emphasis on parenting issues. He has served as clinical supervisor at Virginia Tech and has guest lectured at various universities. Neil's work with parenting issues has led him to write “Homework – A Parent’s Guide to Helping Out Without Freaking Out!” Neil conducts training on Bowen-based parenting nationally and internationally. His clinical interests include family differentiation issues and emotional regulation in systems work and serves on the Loudoun County Community Services Board as a board member. Neil has developed a graduate course for our department: Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents in a Systems Context.

John graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, Appalachian State's Marriage and Family Therapy program and Virginia Tech's doctoral Marriage and Family Therapy program. He completed his internship with Susan Johnson in Canada, where he conducted research on Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) and couple relationships. Dr. Millikin co-authored publications on basic principles in family therapy, as well as attachment injuries and therapy interventions in EFT. He served as guest lecturer and clinical supervisor at two universities in Iran. He has enjoyed teaching Systems Theory for non-majors, Family Stress and Crisis Intervention, and Human Lifespan Development, and has recently begun to serve on VAMFT. His clinical interests include adult and child bonding processes, anger management, and cross-cultural comparisons on therapy practice. Dr. Millikin is in private practice in Reston, Virginia.

Sheri attended Ohio University from 1983-1987 and earned her degree in Psychology.  She then attended the University of Pittsburgh from 1987-1989 and earned her master’s degree in Social Work with a Health and Mental Health Specialty.  She earned her license in Clinical Social Work in Virginia in 1992 and also become a Registered Play Therapy Supervisor (RPT-S) in 2000.  Sheri also attended the Alexandria Family Therapy Training Program for 2 years as well as the Adoption Competency Program for 2 years.  For a year, she participated in the Early Childhood Mental Health Program at the Washington School of Psychiatry.  She has two years of Play Therapy training and supervision and provides supervision, training, and consultation for Play Therapy. At our campus, she teaches a Play Therapy Course. She is actively involved in the Virginia Play Therapy Association where she also serves as the President Elect. Sheri currently works in her own private practice Crossroads Family Counseling Center, LLC. She has worked in the past at inpatient psychiatric hospitals, Day Treatment Programs and a Special Education School.  Sher has interests and advanced training in attachment issues.

Carl graduated from Virginia Tech’s Marriage & Family Therapy Program in 2011.  Before transitioning into the mental health field, he spent the past two decades working and traveling in the United States as well as in Europe, Africa and Asia.  As a result of his education and training, he has worked for a variety of organizations such as the U.S. Army (active duty), The Washington Times, The World Bank, Central Texas College and the U.S. Federal Government.  Since 2013, he has been working full-time as a family therapist at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, DC Vet Center.  He also has a part-time private practice in downtown DC where he provides individual and couples therapy.  Carl is a Clinical Fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).  He is also a certified sex therapist and professional member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) as well as a full member of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR).  His clinical areas of interest are:  sexual health, military mental health care, substance abuse addiction, couple relationships and self-of-the-therapist.  He also has specialized training in Internal Family Systems (IFS), an advanced mindfulness based approach to improve emotional intelligence and is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work’s post graduate Sexual Health Certificate Program/Sex Therapy Track.

Jamie graduated from Colorado State University’s Marriage and Family Therapy Master’s program and Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy PhD program. She enjoys teaching topics on diversity and substance abuse treatment. Her research focus is on family resilience and substance abuse prevention for at-risk youth. Jamie’s clinical interests include substance abuse, anxiety, OCD, couple’s therapy, parent-teen relationships, trauma, and cultural awareness. She has gained much of her interest in working with and researching diverse populations from her experience living abroad in Romania, South Korea, Mexico, and Mongolia. Jamie has training in EFT, The Gottman Method, and ARISE® Intervention. She is currently in private practice in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia and teaches for Central Michigan University.

Marjorie graduated from LaSalle University with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She also holds a post Masters certificate in Sex Therapy. She completed advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples at  NYCEFT, and is currently completing a doctoral research fellowship at Drexel University where she adapted Emotionally Focused Therapy for an African American couple population. Marjorie’s clinical and research interests focus on increasing the effectiveness of systemic and attachment based interventions with couples of Color.  She works in a private practice in Washington, D.C. where she sees primarily couples and sex therapy clients. Before transitioning into the mental health field, Marjorie spent 17 years as a child welfare and family law attorney in Baltimore. She enjoys being on the healing side of relational and couple distress.

Amy received her masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of New Hampshire in 2012 and is currently a fourth year PhD candidate in Human Development & Family Science: Marriage & Family Therapy at Virginia Tech. Amy has worked in both community mental health and private practice in three states, most recently Virginia. Amy’s clinical specialties include couples, trauma, supervision, behavioral and mood disorders, parent-child relationships, evidence-based practices, severe mental illness and crisis intervention. Amy is currently conducting research investigating factors that promote resilience in families with an incarcerated parent. Amy is also a visiting instructor and currently teaches research methods courses to master’s students at NCR. Outside of clinical practice, teaching, and research, Amy serves as the Virginia state leader for legislative advocacy on issues impacting the profession and the communities we serve. Amy lives in the DC metro area with her husband and their black lab, Senna, where together they enjoy traveling and being outside as much as possible. 

Symphonie earned her master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy/Counseling, a dually accredited program (CACREP and COAMFTE) at the University of Akron in Ohio, in 2013. Also, at the University of Akron, she completed her doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision, Marriage and Family Track, in 2018. Symphonie has experience providing mental health services in various settings such as, community based (outpatient and in-home services), in-patient/psychiatric and most recently, web-based in private practice. Symphonie’s clinical interests include working with couples, anxiety and depression in women, maternal depression and anxiety and depression in racial and gender minorities. Symphonie has a passion for diversity and advocating for cultural awareness and representation, in research, the therapy room and the classroom. Her primary research area of interest is mental health service use of African Americans, highlighting the impact institutionalized racism has on the mental health of African Americans (e.g. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome) and the services/systems available to help them cope. She enjoys helping to increase awareness in this area for professionals in the field, but most importantly, for her actual clients and the overall African American community. Outside of her professional life, Symphonie enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, being a foodie and various forms of dancing!