Archive for February, 2011

Students Prepare Research to Present at TAMFT 2011 Conference

4 Commentsby   |  02.28.11  |  Uncategorized

Next week is a big week for Texas MFTs and students. All 32 students from ACU’s MFT program will be joining professionals from around the state at TAMFT’s 2011 Conference in Austin. In addition to the conference, many students will also be attending Day at the Dome, where they will join with other professionals to deliver a unified message to state legislators regarding marriage and family therapy and client welfare.

The second year class will be presenting the results of their various research projects at Thursday evening’s President’s Exihit Hall Reception and Social. The following are the various groups and the abstracts of their research. If you are attending the conference, be sure to check out the poster presentation. Students will appreciate your interest and be happy to share more about the results of their hard work.

A Phenomenological Study of Family Adjustment of Refugees, by Emily Savage, Amie Campbell, and Scott Rampy

This presentation covers a study which examined the experiences of refugee families in West Texas. The study assessed areas of strength and need as well as determined risk and protective factors that affect the adjustment of refugees related to their relocation to the United States. In particular the study explored the changes in relational dynamics between generations within refugee families. This study provides an understanding of the experience of refugee families so that community resources and therapeutic interventions can be designed to better meet the needs of the population thus helping Marriage and Family Therapists be more effective in treating such families.

How Personal Values Shape the Marital Sexual Experience, by Elizabeth Brown, Sarah Musick, Jacqueline Roberts, Sybil Vess

Personal values may have a direct effect on what an individual considers to be sexually taboo. The perceived  boundaries of what is permissible sexual behavior may have an effect on overall marital satisfaction. With this research we will attempt to answer the following question: How do religious attitudes/values/beliefs impact choice of sexual behavior and sexual marital satisfaction? We hypothesize the following three outcomes: (1) there will be a significant negative correlation between religious emphasis and sexual and marital satisfaction; (2) there will be a significant difference in sexual and marital satisfaction between those engaging in conventional or unconventional sexual behaviors; (3) there will be a significant difference between men and women on marital and sexual satisfaction. Couples will anonymously complete the Sexual Behavior Checklist, Revised Dyadic Adjustment Scale, Religious Emphasis Scale, Pinney Sexual Satisfaction Inventory, and the Miller Measure of Spirituality. Descriptive data anaysis as well as regression anaylses will be employed to test the hypotheses. Researchers hope to identify possible associations between values and sexual behaviors and how both impact marital satisfaction. Researchers also hope that results may lead to further questions and research opportunities regarding the connections between healthy sexual behaviors and marital satisfaction.

The Impact of Spirituality and Religiosity on Divorce Adjustment, by Tara Stephens, Blake Berryhill, Kelsey Waskow

This presentation will focus on the results of a study examining the relationship between divorce adjustment,  religiosity, and spirituality. Research participants completed demographic questions, the Divorce Reaction Inventory (DRI-46), the Religious Emphasis Scale, and the Miller Measure of Spirituality. Participants were also asked to respond to qualitative questions regarding their experience of the divorce process and how it impacted their spiritual/ religious well-being. Previous research has indicated that many people experience divorce as a sacred loss or desecration and struggle spiritually with their divorce (Krumrei, Mahoney, and Pargament, 2009). Spirituality is also used as an adaptive coping method (Krumrei et al., 2009). The hypotheses guiding this research were as follows: (1) There will be a positive correlations between spirituality and level of divorce adjustment; (2) There will be a significant difference between participants who feel accepted by their faith community and those who do not after divorce on measures of spirituality and religiosity; and (3) Length of time since participants’ divorce will significantly impact divorce adjustment. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistical analysis, correlation analysis, t-tests, and analysis of variance (ANOVA).method of presentation.)

A Study of Men’s Pornography Addiction in Group Therapy, by Kevin Burnette, Sabrina Johnson, Tommy Johnson, and Dean Pye

Patrick Carnes’ book, In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior addresses the issue of sexual addiction, specifically regarding internet pornography. This is thought to be a common problem among college-age males. Accountability groups have been one common, informal way of addressing this problem. Therefore the investigators believe that formal group psychotherapy would be an effective way for the mental health community to respond to this issue. The current study seeks to examine whether different delivery formats influence the effectiveness of psychotherapy groups for treatment of internet pornography addiction. Participants will be college-age men (18-25 y/o) who identify themselves as excessive viewers of internet pornography. The formats that will be examined include same gender therapeutic dyads, mixed gender therapeutic dyads, and a solo therapist of the same gender as participants. Participants will engage in 8 sessions of group therapy. Participants will take the Internet Sex Screen Test to determine the effectiveness of each group’s therapeutic value.

Kent Akers, Morgan Myrick, Ashley Roan

This presentation will focus on the result of a study examining the relationship between the level of involvement of social support systems, including the family of origin, and the stress levels in the lives of athletes. An understanding of the correlation between the levels of social support and levels of stress, in athletes, will better equip therapists to operate under a more holistic framework when athletes present to therapy with stress related problems. The participants completed the Stressful Life Events Scale and used self report methods to describe levels and variables of support (Holmes, & Rahe, 1967). The hypotheses guiding this research were as follows: (1) There will be a negative correlation between the level of support and levels of stress for athletes; (2) Players who report to have a supportive family of origin will subsequently report significantly different stress levels from those who do not; (3) The time spent at a given level of athletic organization will have the effect of lowering stress levels.

Students Attend Yarhouse Workshop

2 Commentsby   |  02.11.11  |  Uncategorized

ACU students and faculty were recently given another opportunity to learn from an accomplished researcher and author in the marriage and family therapy field. Dr. Mark Yarhouse presented a workshop for interested MFTs, counselors, and students Wednesday, January 26 entitled Sexual Identity Therapy: A ‘Third Way’ Model for Clinical Services to Sexual Minorities. As the title suggests, Dr. Yarhouse presented a new therapeutic model for addressing the clinical concerns of sexual minorities.

Gay affirmative therapy, a model which emphasizes that a homosexual orientation is reflective of the individual’s whole identity, and Reorientation therapy, also called conversion or reparative therapy, have been the go-to models for mental health professionals responding to client’s distress around sexual orientation issues. However, neither of these models allows room for clients to address the incongruence between their religious sexual identities, an issue that is especially important for many religious clients and Christians in particular.

Dr. Yarhouse presented his and other relevant research on sexual orientation, treatment models, and efficacy in addition to teaching the Sexual Identity Therapy framework. This model attempts to resolve sexual identity conflict by helping the client synthesize a wholistic sexual identity that promotes personal well-being and integration with other aspects of the individual’s personal identity such as cultural, ethnic, relational, and spiritual self.

Students were impressed by Dr. Yarhouse’s presentation as he offered an alternative framework that is respectful of the client’s unique position and viewpoints. Since so much of the research about homosexuality is often inconclusive, contradictory, and confusing, it was refreshing to learn about a model for working with sexual identity concerns that does not polarize sexual identity against religious beliefs, but instead offers clients a way to address this tension and create a holistic and more confident identity for themselves which can include both their religious and sexual identities.

Mark A. Yarhouse, Psy.D., is the Rosemarie Scotti Hughes Endowed Chair of Christian Thought in Mental Health Practice and Professor of Psychology at Regent University. He is also the director of the Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity. Dr. Yarhouse has written several books including Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate, Sexual Identity Synthesis: Attributions, Meaning-Making and the Search for Congruence, and Family Therapies: A Comprehensive Christian Appraisal. For more information about Sexual Identity Therapy, visit: