Research can be pain-staking, requiring enormous amounts of time, energy, willpower, caffeine, and attention to detail. To provide avenues for tackling the challenge of research, the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program offers a research course that provides the opportunity to join the MFT research team. Both allow MFT students to design a research project, collect data, perform data analysis, and present their findings. In particular, the research team (comprised of three faculty members and six students) engage in a hands-on experience where students learn about the research process and guide a project from beginning to end. In prior years, student team members have led their own projects and used the projects to gain experience for their doctorate degree. Others have valued the parallel between growing as a researcher and as a therapist. For instance, an unyielding curiosity, an investigative mind, and the ability to create comfort and openness with research participants were skills that also apply directly to the therapy room.
The interest of different teams of researchers vary greatly, from understanding the evolving relationships between adult children and their aging parents to research on how women in the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) community make decisions around food. Khushbu Patel, who is a member of a research team stated, “Presenting at the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (GAMFT) conference helped me understand why this topic [relationship between adult children and aging parents] is important to research because there is little information on how to navigate this stressful and sensitive time period. Many of the attendees related to this topic on a personal level which in turn motivated and reassured me in doing good research and contributing to the field.”
Members of the MFT Research Teams have gained new insight from the experience including gaining hands on experience, presenting at the state level, the interview process, file maintenance, collaboration, and how to conduct a research project from start to finish.
The MFT Research Team has provided an opportunity for students to learn and engage on how to effectively collaborate with a team, a heightened appreciation for multivocality, and an understanding for the value of feedback from supervisors and colleagues. Research conducted by the department could be very beneficial to communities and families if a more thorough and experiential understanding is brought to light using a systemic, qualitative, and postmodern lense.
For more information or to apply to participate in a research team, please contact Dr. Nguyen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Written by Michael Serrano-Jones, student member of the MFT Research Team.