Strategic Planning

Student Achievement Criteria

(offered in accordance with the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Recognition Standard 12B and COAMFTE policies and procedures)

Current Strategic Plan 2010-2015

Strategic Planning Process Documents

Assessment Tools

Each year, prior to the annual MFT Strategic Planning Retreat, the MFT program director prepares the various databases that are used to assess the programs achievement of our Educational Outcomes. The MFT Strategic Planning Cycle Flow Chart provides a bird's eye view of our strategic planning process and the databases we employ.The MFT Database Descriptions & Sources describes information about each database and how the data is collected and populated. The MFT Educational Outcomes Assessment Schedule lays out the scheduling for each area of evaluation, the instrument used to measure the area, and the assessment cycle.
During the annual MFT Strategic Planning Retreat, the MFT faculty first juxtaposes the Professional MFT Principles with the VSU Mission and the program's Educational Outcomes to be sure that our program curricula meets our purposes and aims and that they are in concert with the overarching purposes and aims of our accrediting body, the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage & Family Therapy Education.
Next, the faculty use a variety of databases and surveys such as the following: Choosing VSU Survey; Student Demographics Database; Exit Survey; Alumni 1 year and 2 year surveys; FamilyWorks Database; Faculty Outcomes Assessment; Curriculum Map. These are used to inform the following assessments: Program Outcomes Assessment; Faculty Outcomes Assessment; Student Learning Outcomes Assessment; FamilyWorks Diversity Assessment; Curriculum Map; Infusion of Diversity into the Curriculum Assessment. These assessments are analyzed to discern how well the program is achieving the Educational Outcomes and to identify areas for improvement or enhancement.
Beginning in 2013, two additional surveys—Internship & Employer Satisfaction and FamilyWorks Client Satisfaction (currently in preparation) will also be added to the above listed databases.
Following the above described analysis, the faculty conducts a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to evaluate the program’s position inside the educational and mental health training landscape. This analysis is used to insure that the program remains competitive and responsive to changes in educational and employment environments.
The faculty reflects on what is learned through the analysis of the various assessments and the SWOT analysis. This reflection leads to the creation of specific goals, action steps, and tasks that are placed in the current Strategic Plan. A leader is assigned to every goal, and target dates for completion are entered into the plan. Each goal is linked to the VSU mission and the resources needed are noted. We share the Strategic Plan with our Department Chair and place it on our Strategic Plan webpage where VSU administrators, students, alumni, perspective students, internship site supervisors, employers, and other stakeholders can access the information.

MFT Program Educational Outcomes

The MFT Program Educational Outcomes, which are congruent with the university's mission, are embodied in the interwoven relationship between the MFT program mission, program philosophy, program goals, program objectives, program outcomes, faculty outcomes, and student learning outcomes.

MFT Program Mission Statement

The mission of the Valdosta State University Marriage and Family Therapy Program is to provide students the academic and clinical training required to practice relationally informed clinical work and ready graduates for work in a variety of mental health settings.

MFT Program Philosophy Statement

The philosophy of the Valdosta State University Marriage and Family Therapy Program is guided by a commitment to diversity and the belief that the differences that make up the weave of humanity must be embraced and cherished; a relational understanding that all human behavior and meaning-making are context-dependent; thus, a deep appreciation of each client’s context is a prerequisite for respectful treatment; and, the belief that students' uniqueness should be respected and developed through active, engaged learning with an accessible and supportive faculty.

MFT Program Goals

  • Recruit, train, and graduate students from diverse backgrounds
  • The program will educate students by promoting an understanding and respect for diversity.
  • The program will provide education from a relational perspective that values the importance of context in making sense of human behavior.

MFT Program Objectives

  • Recruit, train, and graduate students from diverse backgrounds
  • Train graduates who report that the program helped them develop an understanding and respect for diversity.
  • Graduate students who embrace a professional identity as Marriage & Family Therapists
  • Graduate students who obtain licensure in MFT or related mental health field.
  • Graduate students who work in mental health careers that help individuals, couples, and families

MFT Program Outcomes

  • Recruit, train, and graduate students from diverse backgrounds
  • Graduates students who report that the program helped them develop an understanding and respect for diversity.
  • Graduate students who claim the professional identity of Marriage & Family Therapist
  • Demonstrate that at least 70% of graduates will be pursuing doctoral degrees or employed in a mental health field within three years of graduation
  • Demonstrate that at least 70% of graduates will pass the AMFTRB or become licensed as a mental health professional.
  • Demonstrate that at least 80% of enrolled students will graduated within the advertised length of program completion.

Faculty Outcomes

  • Recruit, train, and graduate students from diverse backgrounds
  • Participate in scholarly activities that contribute to the field of Marriage and Family Therapy in accordance with university, college, and departmental requirements
  • Establish and sustain a professional identity as an MFT as demonstrated by obtaining and maintaining licensure in the state of Georgia as a Marriage and Family Therapist or mental health provider (or associate licensure for not more than four years while working toward full licensure).
  • Establish and sustain a professional identity as an MFT as demonstrated by obtaining and sustaining status as an AAMFT Approved Supervisor or an Approved Supervisor Candidate.
  • Establish and sustain a professional identity as an MFT by regularly providing supervision that promotes and evaluates the following clinical skill areas: (1)the a relational assessment and conceptualization of client problems, (2) implement a systemic perspective, (3) develop interventions that reflect a relational understanding of human dilemmas (4) articulate a coherent therapeutic stance that is grounded in a variety of philosophical or theoretical informed frameworks, (5) discuss cases in ways that are informed by relevant contextual factors, and (6) demonstrate professionalism, including adherence to legal and ethical standards as well as follow policies and procedures relevant to each clinical setting.

MFT Student Learning Outcomes 

  • Practice from a culturally sensitive lens.
  • Practice from a systemic lens.
  • Be prepared to obtain entry-level employment in mental health agencies.
  • Claim the professional identity of Marriage and Family Therapist
  • Recognize the way research shapes the field of Family Therapy.
  • Practice informed by ethics. 

A Note About the Way We Think about the Value of Difference
The VSU MFT program curriculum and faculty members place a strong emphasis and value on diversity. We feel that mere tolerance of difference is not sufficient—we set a higher standard for our students. We believe that the differences that make up the rainbow of humanity must be embraced and cherished. As Mary Catherine Bateson reminds us, it is contrast—the relationship to “otherness”—that makes learning possible.

We believe that to be successful, MFT’s must have a genuine interest in their clients, possess therapeutic curiosity, be aware of ethical and therapeutic limitations, and be willing to talk openly about anything a client might wish to discuss regardless of age, sex, sexual practices and preferences, religion, race, sexual orientation, physical disadvantage, political leanings, and level of education.

Students learn that problems and attempts to solve problems make sense when viewed through contexts such as age, culture, environment, ethnicity, gender, health, physical ability, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, spirituality, socioeconomic status, and languaged meaning. These give shape and meaning to clients’ lives. That these contexts are embedded in more encompassing cultural contexts of privilege, power, subjugation, and susceptibility is a notion that is infused throughout the entire curriculum. Through coursework, practica, and internships, we emphasize the way these contexts inform human experience and meaning systems, giving rise to multiple perspectives.

Embedding diversity in the curriculum
The relationship between diversity and the variety of dominant cultural discourses such as ageism, classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and gender are woven throughout the fabric of our curriculum. MFT faculty members strive to explore with our students the ways that cultural and institutionalized discrimination are embedded in culture and language, exacerbating the treatment issues that clients present. We also examine the ways that issues of diversity and discrimination shape the context of therapy. By the time students graduate from our program, they are able to situate themselves in the relational web of issues—class, privilege, and disenfranchisement—that are always at work in the therapy room.

Valuing & Creating a Diverse Student Body
In addition to attending to issues of diversity in therapy, the MFT program attends to issues of diversity in the classroom. We work hard to assemble a diverse student body. We have students who are grandparents and students who have not yet begun to build families. We have students who are well traveled and those who have not strayed far from home. We have students who are active in religious communities and those who do not claim a faith. We have gay and straight students. Some of our students are affluent students; others keep their cars together with hope and bailing twine! We have students in their early 60’s, who have owned businesses, raised families, and returned to school for a second career and students in their early 20’s, who have traveled straight from high school through undergraduate school to our program. We have black, white, female, and male students. The complex ways that students bring diversity to the classroom is intrinsically immeasurable.

Four important areas that the MFT Program emphasizes

  • The Student/Trainee
    • A success based approach
    • Available, supportive faculty
    • Build on strengths
  • Context
    • Teach an eco-systemic/relational perspective
    • Understand developmental issues
    • Understand language in interaction
  • Multiple Perspectives
    • Develop critical thinking
    • Develop a unique clinical style
    • Develop respect for varying value systems
    • Work collaboratively with client systems
  • Diversity
    • Develop awareness and sensitivity to difference
    • Develop awareness of issues of social justice
    • Seek diversity among trainees and in clinical experiences