Student Stories

Katrina Taschman

I chose Virginia Tech’s program because it is COAMFTE accredited and the faculty consists of accomplished, well-published AAMFT-approved supervisors. I was specifically looking for a program that had both an on-site clinic with live supervision, and an internship requirement. Seeing clients at Virginia Tech’s Center for Family services has helped me develop my clinical skills and intuition in real time, while my internship has given me specialized experience and helped me find my niche. My internship involves working with mostly immigrants and refugees, many who have had histories of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Also, since joining the program, I have participated in faculty research projects, such as a meta-analysis of evidence-based MFT interventions.  Currently I am a member of the AAMFT Minority Fellowship program, an outside scholarship that develops clinicians who are interested in working with underserved communities and youth. I appreciate Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Master’s program for how small and intimate it is, and how respected it is in the DMV area. I look forward to graduating in May and joining the alumni community as an official colleague in the Marriage and Family Therapy field!

Meagan Chevalier

After earning my Master’s Degree in Political Science and beginning a career in nonprofit development, I discovered that rather than work administratively to help others, I wanted to work in the direct service of others. I chose to attend Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy program to undertake this career transition because the program offers excellent clinical training. There is no replacement for learning by doing, and at Virginia Tech we are able to practice therapy under the supervision of highly skilled Marriage and Family Therapists. The faculty and supervisors I have worked with at Virginia Tech have provided valuable feedback, support, direction, and positive reinforcement.

I have been offered opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research and my academic interests have been encouraged to flourish. One of the best features of the program is being part of a community of talented clinicians that are dedicated to supporting each other’s growth and development. Faculty, alumni, and current students all make an extended effort to stay connected, provide guidance, and advance the Marriage and Family Therapy network and field. Since joining the program in 2016 I have received the Jean B. Duerr Memorial Scholarship Award based on academic achievement and community service. Receiving this award was both an honor and helpful in offsetting the costs of graduate education. As I reflect on completing the first half of the program I am both proud and grateful. I am proud of the work I have done to gain entrance into the clinical portion of the program and of my work as a new student therapist. I am grateful for the kindness of the programs faculty, staff, and students, as well as their continued leadership and confidence in my development. I trust that Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy program will leave me well prepared to enter the workforce as a resident in Marriage and Family Therapy come graduation.

Jocelyn Terrazas

When choosing an institution to earn my master’s in marriage and family therapy, I was searching for the “perfect package.” I was looking for a program that would give me the best preparation to enter the realm of marriage and family therapy. Among the many reasons that brought me to Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program are the program’s great reputation, the distinguished faculty, and the onsite clinic. Through classroom education, clinical observations, and team collaboration, I have been able to grow personally and professionally. The close-knit community in Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program helped me feel welcomed and facilitated my learning experience.

I also found the smaller classes to be more collaborative and more conducive to my learning.  During my first year of this program, we covered almost all family therapy theoretical models academically and were able to practice the models during role-plays. Our professor was able to supervise us and gave us feedback to make sure we correctly understood the model and its approach.  Working in the Center for Family Services clinic as a therapist intern is what has contributed most to my development as a clinician. I have been lucky to have worked with supervisors of different backgrounds and have even had the opportunity to start seeing clients in Spanish. I have also had the chance to observe and learn from live therapy sessions from some of my professors and supervisors with their real clients. Another great part about this program is being able to work on faculty members’ research projects. I have been lucky enough to work on the TOGETHER Program and on a meta-analysis of empirically supported treatments. Another wonderful quality of this program is the courses it offers. Throughout my time as a student, I have been able to take some of the best elective courses as well as courses that will greatly inform my work as a clinician. The best part of the program, my final deciding factor, was the unity of the staff, faculty, supervisors, and students. This institution welcomes feedback and encourages collaboration among people, resulting in long-lasting friendships and possible future connections.

Paige Frasso

Looking for the perfect Marriage and Family Therapy program was not an easy task. In addition to thinking about the academic, clinical, and professional aspects of a Masters program, I was also thinking about where I wanted to build my adult life and professional career. I chose Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy program for its welcoming environment, alumni connections, and excellent clinical training – being located in the Washington metro area was also a big plus! Coming into the program, I was confident that I would leave with the knowledge and skills important in starting and maintaining a career as a clinician.

As I approach the end of my time in the program, my confidence still remains high.  During my time in the program, I have had amazing opportunities to work on a government-funded grant called the Together Program, gain clinical experience at our onsite family therapy center and at a private practice in Fairfax, Virginia, as well as make valuable connections with alumni and other clinical professionals.  My favorite aspect about our program is its emphasis on clinical training. We have amazing on-site supervisors who have a range of experience in the field – most are even alumni of the program! I’ve appreciated having almost all of our supervisors because I’ve been able to experience their different therapy and supervision styles. As a training clinician trying to find my own therapeutic style, it’s helpful to see how we can all engage in the same job but add our own spin. In addition to seeing clients at our onsite clinic, students who have been seeing clients for a year can start an internship at an offsite clinic or therapeutic setting. I think this opportunity allows us to experience different settings and clients. For example, my offsite opportunity is a small, private practice that offers therapeutic services (specifically play therapy) for children and their families. Other classmates have opportunities at substance use agencies, group practices, emergency services, and home-based agencies. Virginia Tech has been such wonderful place to grow as a person, student, and clinician. While I am excited to graduate and start my residency, I am thankful for my experience as a student, graduate assistant, and therapist intern of this program.

Nicola Vertser

As a late onset career-changer I looked for a program that would provide solid therapist skills training alongside class attendance. I found it in Virginia Tech’s MFT program! Right from the outset I started observing clinical cases in the on-campus clinic that serves the local community. In second year I will have the opportunity to conduct supervised therapy sessions so there will be ample opportunity to build some skills before off-site placement in my third year. Program content aside, the best part of the MFT program is the support students receive from the teachers and faculty. It is clear that they are invested in our success and ready to offer guidance, support and inspiration.

Avery Campbell

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2016, I began the search for a master’s program in marriage and family therapy. I wanted to join a program where I would feel equally challenged and supported by the faculty, staff, and fellow students. When I was introduced to Virginia Tech’s program in Falls Church, I could sense that balance of feeling challenged and supported. The faculty, staff, and alumni are determined to foster a community of clinicians who often remain connected even after completing the program. My first year in the program reaffirmed the very reasons why I chose this program. The program has a strong reputation within the broader field of marriage and family therapy.  

It is evident that the faculty are passionate about supporting their students and propelling them forward in their careers through challenging coursework, exceptional clinical training, research opportunities, and community engagement.  Since becoming a student in the program, I have been able to advance my own area of research and clinical interests related to law enforcement families. In the fall of 2017, with faculty guidance, I developed an abstract proposal for the 2018 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Annual Conference. My abstract entitled, Family Therapy with Law Enforcement Couples, was selected for inclusion and I am honored to be presenting at the national conference in Louisville, Kentucky in November, 2018. Following the inclusion of my abstract in the conference program, I was invited to contribute an article to the May/June 2018 Issue of the AAMFT Family Therapy Magazine. In this article, I highlight the current context for law enforcement families, police culture, stress and trauma exposure, and the impact of law enforcement work on law enforcement couples. My hope is that this topic will eventually become the focus of my master’s thesis.