Dr. Suzanne Coyle at the XXII World Family Therapy Congress in Panama

Dr. Suzanne Coyle, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Marriage and Family Therapy, Executive Director of the CTS Counseling Center, and Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at CTS spoke at the International Family Therapy Association’s (IAMFT) XXII World Family Therapy Congress in Panama City, Panama, March 5-8. The conference theme was “Technology, Families and Effective Therapy.”

Dr. Coyle presented her peer-reviewed research paper, “Engaging Differences: Race, LGBT and Spirituality in a MFT Training Program.” During her presentation, Dr. Coyle shared how the CTS Counseling Center is focusing its practicum to include rotations focused on race, ethnicity and sexual identity along with spirituality. “I received many positive comments from attendees about how CTS is addressing the areas of race and sexuality as they relate to spirituality. There also was considerable interest in how the CTS Counseling Center is engaging “self of therapist” models to prepare future therapists,” said Coyle who is IFTA’s current president-elect.

In addition to her research report, Dr. Coyle also delivered a workshop presentation titled, “Uncovering Family Narratives of Spirituality.” The 45-minute program explored how families are impacted by a cultural discourse driven by a quick-fix mentality. “We see families expecting an immediate solution to many problems they experience, instead of taking the time to explore the problem from a broader perspective,” said Dr. Coyle. She noted that the desire for fast solutions is particularly characteristic of Western and industrialized regions. Regardless of region, every family has a unique spiritual narrative, and Dr. Coyle addressed how therapists can work with families to engage their narrative as part of a therapeutic journey.

The 2014 conference was not Dr. Coyle’s first time addressing the annual World Family Therapy Congress. She spoke at the 2012 congress in Vancouver, British Columbia about her research on Appalachian mental health issues. “One of the great things about the IFTA Congress is that it provides an opportunity for mental health researchers, scholars and practitioners to interact with professionals outside of their area of specialty,” Dr. Coyle said. “It’s a wonderful learning experience and I look forward to CTS engaging connections developed at the Congress as our counseling center plans future programs.”

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