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Medical Family Therapy


Family and Community Medicine has been awarded a $1.87million grant to strengthen behavioral health training!

October 18, 2016
The Medical Family Therapy Program is proud to be a part of this project: Saint Louis University has received a $1.87 million grant to strengthen behavioral health training for family physicians, who often are the primary physician seen by many adults and children, and for medical family therapists who practice alongside them. The five-year Primary Care Training and Enhancement Award from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will train family medicine residents and medical family therapy students in a Family Medicine Behavioral Health Collaborative Curriculum. For more information, visit SLU Newslink.

Medical Family Therapy Program Receives HHS Grant for Behavioral Health Training!

November 1, 2016
The Medical Family Therapy Program in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at SLU was awarded a  Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The principal investigator, Craig Smith, Ph.D., LMFT (Program Director), and co-investigator, Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., LMFT (Assistant Professor) proposed the use of grant monies to financially support the program's masters students during their internship year. Also, a portion of the funds will be used to support outreach to potential new students and to other health professionals about the role of family therapy for improving the lives of at-risk children, adolescents, and transitional-age youth and their families.

“The (HSS) Administration is committed to ensuring that Americans of all ages have access to quality mental health and substance abuse services,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “These grants are an important step toward that goal by creating an educational pipeline for future behavioral health providers so people in need can get the care they deserve.... The program emphasizes integrating behavioral health, primary care, violence awareness and prevention, and the involvement of families in the prevention and treatment of mental and substance use disorders,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae. “This emphasis helps strengthen the next generation of behavioral health workforce providers so they can work more effectively in a variety of 21st century health care settings.”

Read the official press release

Medical Family Therapy Students Named as Winners in Interprofessional Geriatric Case Competition

November 9, 2016
Two of our Doctoral students, Lauren Wilson and Kristin McDaniel, were named as first place winners in the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gateway Workforce Enhancement Program's second annual Interprofessional Geriatric Case Competition. The professions represented by the students included clinical psychology, dentistry, medical family therapy, medicine, nursing, nutrition and dietetics, physical therapy, social work and speech/language pathology.

The competition was divided into three groups of four teams. The students collaborated with three to five health professions students and a faculty mentor on a geriatric-based case, which focused on creation of a discharge care plan for an older patient with multiple, chronic health challenges. The students then created and offered an innovative 20-minute electronic case presentation.

Coaches and judges for each group included faculty from physical therapy, nursing, nutrition and dietetics, social work, medicine, psychology and pharmacy.

Read Saint Louis University's press release about the event

Read the case presentations that were given

New Article Published by Medical Family Therapy Faculty

November 30, 2016
Research from Saint Louis University finds that male and female same-sex partnered patients fail to identify as such in medical records and that failure may contribute to poorer health outcomes. The research by Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., assistant professor of Medical Family Therapy in Family and Community Medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, calls for more consistent screening of the sexual partnering of patients to identify patients at greater risk of adverse health problems.

“Comparison of Medical Diagnoses among Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex-Partnered Patients” was published online Nov. 9 in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.


 MedFT Faculty and Students to Present at MOAMFT Conference 2017

February 28, 2017
The Medical Family Therapy Program is pleased to announce that several of our faculty and students will be presenting during breakout sessions during MOAMFT's 2017 Conference. MOAMFT, the Missouri Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, will have their annual conference April 21-22, 2017, at the Lake of the Ozarks. 

Presentations by faculty and students include:

  • "Trauma Informed Care: Hearing the Voices of Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors" - Max Zubatsky, Ph.D., LMFT and Randy Gallamore, M.A.
  • "Couples Coping with Cancer and the Experience of Boundary Ambiguity" - Valentina Penalba, M.A., M.S.
  • "Competency Among Therapists When Working with Sexual Diversity" - Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., LMFT and Dasha Carver, B.A.
  • "Sexual Dysfunction: What Goes Unsaid in Clinical Practice" - Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., LMFT and Kristin McDaniel, M.S.
  • "To Say or Not To Say: Working with Couples on the Brink of Divorce" - Max Zubatsky, Ph.D., LMFT
  • "Risk Factors and Protective Factors for LGB Adult Mental Health: Religious Fundamentalism, School Environment, and Family Relationship" - Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., LMFT, Ashley Wiegand, MS, LMFT, & Danielle Bono, MS, LPC
  • "Addressing Money Issues in Family Therapy: What Makes it So Hard for Clinicians?" - J. Douglas Pettinelli, Ph.D. and Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D. LMFT
  • "Sleep Paralysis" - Jackie Barnes, MSW, LCSW

SLU Family Medicine Residency Program Honored for Improving Racial Equality, Social Justice

March 6, 2017
FOCUS St. Louis will honor the Saint Louis University Family Medicine Residency program, which includes Medical Family Therapy students and faculty, as one of four organizations making a difference in the St. Louis community by improving racial equality and social justice. The honorees were nominated by the public and selected by a panel of community judges for their commitment to promoting diversity and opportunity for all. Other honorees in this category include Sophie Bernstein, founder of Go Healthy St. Louis; The Ferguson Collaborative; and North Side Community School. 

Training began in January for medical family therapy students and residents. The program will swing into full gear in July with day-long workshops in behavioral health and coordinated inpatient and outpatient behavioral health care for patients.
The mission of the Saint Louis University Family Medicine Residency is to "develop clinically skilled, academically trained family physicians who are committed to practicing in an urban setting and improving the health of underserved families and populations."

FOCUS St. Louis’ 20th annual What’s Right with the Region awards celebration is May 11.

Read SLU's press release

Memory Clinic Now Open!

March 16, 2017
The Medical Family Therapy Program is proud to announce that it is now open to taking new clients for The Memory Clinic, which is offered through the Center for Counseling and Family Therapy. The Memory Clinic is a comprehensive care service that addresses the needs of individuals with dementia and their families. A range of services are offered to meet the emotion, physical, and familial challenges that go along with this diagnosis. The clinic has master's and doctoral-level therapists providing these services on a sliding scale fee, supervised by Max Zubatsky, Ph.D., LMFT.

The Memory Clinic offers Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (part of a new research project), caregiver support services, individual and group therapy, as well as geriatric screenings. For more information, please visit our page about The Memory Clinic. To book an appointment or for further inquiry, please call (314) 977-2505.

Marriage and Family Therapist Rated as a Best Job by U.S. News and World Report

April 25, 2017
U.S. News and World Report has ranked Marriage and Family Therapist as the #2 Best Social Services Career – outranked only by School Psychologist. It is also #51 in the 100 Best Jobs. 

They state, “As the stigma that was once associated with therapy vanishes, more people are seeking professional assistance in managing their mental and emotional problems.” The report also says that the “field is … expected to see growth as insurance companies refer more clients to marriage and family therapists rather than psychiatrists or psychologists. … By 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this occupation will grow by 15 percent, which is faster than the average for all occupations.”

The report also lists job satisfaction, future growth, salary, and quality training as reasons for putting marriage and family therapist among the best jobs in the nation.

For more information, view the full report.

Article about the Marriage and Family Therapy Practice Research Network (MFT-PRN) Published

April 25, 2017
An article about the Marriage and Family Therapy Practice Research Network (MFT-PRN) has been published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.  The Medical Family Therapy Program began to use this network in the Center for Counseling and Family Therapy in Spring 2017. 

The MFT-PRN is designed to build a professional community based on practice-informed research and research-informed practice, increase the diversity of participants in MFT research, and unify researchers and clinicians. Clinics choose measures from a list that best represent their clinic needs. Clients' outcomes are assessed regularly, and therapists receive immediate graphical feedback on how clients are progressing or digressing. Data are pooled to create a large and diverse database, while improving client outcomes. The MFT-PRN has many benefits for researchers, therapists, clients, and agencies, and will inform other collaborative clinical-research models in the field of marriage and family therapy.

The article can be read online now.

New Article by MedFT Faculty and Students Published

July 13, 2017
Medical Family Therapy Associate Professor Dixie Meyer Ph.D., Adjunct Professor Brittany Robinson, Ph.D., and Ph.D. students Aaron Cohn, Fatima Muse, and recent graduate, Dr. Rachel Hughes, had an article published. "Persistent Complications of Child Sexual Abuse: Sexually Compulsive Behaviors, Attachment, and Emotions" was published in the Feb-March 2017 Journal of Child Sexual Abuse: Research, Treatment, & Program Innovations for Victims, Survivors, & Offenders. The retrospective study examined differences in adult romantic attachment, sexually compulsive behaviors, and emotion regulation by history of child sexual abuse in a large, nonclinical sample.

Read the article

Medical Family Therapy Program Joins St. Louis Mental Health Collaborative

July 20, 2017
For many years the Medical Family Therapy Program has been actively involved with providing mental health services through Casa de Salud.  Casa de Salud is renovating a building as a home for its Mental Health Collaborative to provide behavioral health services primarily for immigrants and refugees who are uninsured.

Once the renovation is complete, the Mental Health Collaborative will provide space for four partner organizations to deliver behavioral health services: Bilingual International Assistant Services; Saint Francis Community Services; Saint Louis University Medical Family Therapy Program; and St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute. 

The facility also will include incubation spaces for individual practitioners who, in exchange for devoting a portion of their caseload to Casa’s patients, will receive cost-free space and back-office services.

Read more about these exciting plans

MedFT Faculty Has New Publication

July 31, 2017
Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., has had a new paper, "Differentiation of Self and Clinicians' Perceptions of Client Sexual Behavior as 'Problematic,'" published in Contemporary Family Therapy.

The abstract for the paper is: Clients regularly come to psychotherapy wanting to discuss sexual concerns. Clinicians (across mental health professions) often lack training and comfort in addressing sexual concerns. Empirically, it is still unclear how clinicians manage their own level of comfort, values, and implicit beliefs about client characteristics associated with sexuality. Differentiation of self may be a useful construct for understanding the influence of (dis)comfort with sexuality, value commitments, and client characteristics (e.g., gender, marital status, exclusivity) on clinicians’ perceptions of client sexual behavior; though no study to date has empirically explored this possibility. To test the role of differentiation of self, participants, both licensed mental health professionals (n = 89) and clinicians-in-training (n = 109) were recruited from across the United States (M age = 36.40; 83.8% female; 80.3% White). Participants were asked to respond to a vignette about a client presenting with sexual behavior concerns and then completed a series of measures on differentiation of self, comfort with sexuality, personal values, and demographic items. As hypothesized, participants’ level of differentiation had nonlinear and linear conditional effects on how participants rated the client’s sexual behavior described in case vignettes. Implications emphasize the role for differentiation of self in clinicians’ management of sexual comfort, personal values, and client characteristics when encountering clients’ sexual concerns.

Read the publication

Medical Family Therapy Faculty Article Quoted in Australia's "The Herald Sun"

August 23, 2017
"The Possible Trajectory of Relationship Satisfaction Across the Longevity of a Romantic Partnership: Is There a Golden Age of Parenting?," an article written by Medical Family Therapy faculty Dr. Dixie Meyer and Dr. Brittany Robinson, along with current students Aaron Cohn and Stephanie Barkley, and program graduate Dr. Limor Gildenblatt has been quoted in an article appearing in Australia's The Herald Sun.

The article focuses on the stresses put on relationships with young children vs. the easing of those stresses once children reach age 8-12. The study of 421 adults showed that relationships change when children arrive and continue to change as the children grow up.

Read the journal article in full, which originally was published in 2016 in The Family Journal.

Medical Family Therapy Doctoral Student and Alumi Publish Article

September 27, 2017
Dr. Rachel Hughes, Medical Family Therapy graduate, and current doctoral student Catherine Damin, along with faculty Dr. Katie Heiden-Rootes, have published an article. "Where's the LGBT in integrated care research? A systematic review" can be found in the most recent issue of Families, Systems, & Health.

The abstract for the article states: "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals experience more negative health outcomes compared with their heterosexual peers. The health disparities are often related to family and social rejection of the LGBT individuals. Integrated care, and Medical Family Therapy in particular, may aid in addressing the systemic nature of the negative health outcomes. Method: To better understand the current state of the integrated care literature on addressing the health needs of LGBT individuals, a systematic review of the research literature was conducted from January 2000 to January 2016 for articles including integrated health care interventions for LGBT populations. Independent reviewers coded identified articles."

For more information or to read the full article and discover the study's implications on integrated care.


Medical Family Therapy Faculty and Students Publish New Article

February 16, 2018
Congratulations to Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., doctoral student Kristin McDaniel, and Master's student Dasha Carver on their recent publication in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Their article, "Sexual Dysfunction in Primary Care: An Exploratory Descriptive Analysis of Medical Record Diagnoses," was also written with several Family and Community Medicine faculty.

The aim of the article is "to explore the relation of SDx diagnosis, chronic health conditions, and prescription medications commonly associated with SDx for men and women in primary care using medical records diagnoses."

Read the article

Medical Family Therapy Faculty and Students Published in Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

February 16, 2018
Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D. and doctoral students Ashley Wiegand and Danielle Bono were recently published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. The article is titled "Sexual Minority Adults: A National Survey on Depression, Religious Fundamentalism, Parent Relationship Quality & Acceptance."

From the abstract of the article: "Sexual minority persons from religious families may experience low acceptance by parents, however, little is known about the relationship of religiosity and parent relationships on mental health into adulthood. This study sought to test a moderated mediation model predicting depression based on religious fundamentalism, parent acceptance, and parent-child relationship quality. Sexual minority adult participants (n = 384) from across the U.S. completed a web-based, anonymous survey. Results found a conditional indirect effect of religious fundamentalism on depression through parent acceptance with the parent-child relationship quality moderating the relationship between parent acceptance and depression. This was significant up to age 52. Clinical implications and future research with sexual minority adults and their families are explored."

Read the article 

MOAMFT 2018 Hosted by SLU

February 20, 2018
April 20-21, 2018 Saint Louis University will host MOAMFT's 2018 Conference. This year's conference theme is "Speaking of Sex:" Addressing Sexuality and Intimacy Topics in Practice. This conference is a great way to learn more about practice skills, assessment and topics that arise with individuals, couples and families around sex and sexuality. The two-day conference will be held on the Medical School campus of Saint Louis University. The conference is open to not only MFTs, but also all mental health, medical and healthcare providers. Dr. Barry McCarthy, an internationally-recognized clinician, researcher and author, will be the plenary speaker for the conference.

Memory Clinic Featured on Local News

April 10, 2018
Medical Family Therapy faculty Max Zubatsky, Ph.D., LMFT, was featured on the news for his work and creation of The Memory Clinic for Alzheimer’s patients. The Memory Clinic is a comprehensive care service that addresses the needs of individuals with dementia and their families. A range of services are offered to meet the emotion, physical, and familial challenges that go along with this diagnosis. The clinic has master's and doctoral-level therapists providing these services on a sliding scale fee, supervised by Dr. Zubatsky.

See the segment

SLU to Host Conference Exploring Power, Privilege, Oppression

September 13, 2018
Medical Family Therapy faculty Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D. is one of the organizers of the 2018 Liberation Based Healing Conference: Resist. Unite. Thrive. The Conference will be October 12-13, 2018.

According to the conference website: "Whether you are an educator, student, administrator, clinician, or activist these challenging times call for clarity in solidarity-work with families and communities towards equity. Effectively doing so requires that our practices engage in understanding the multiplicity of personal, social and institutional locations that frame identities within historic, economic and political life. The paradigm of Liberation-based Healing locates these complexities within a societal matrix that shapes relationships of: power, privilege, and oppression- building on the foundations of Critical Consciousness, Empowerment and Accountability in order to interrupt White, Cis-Hetero- Patriarchy as a dominant discourse within a Capitalist context of Coloniality."

Some of this year's themes will include:

  • Reclaiming LGBTQ Youth Work - Julie Tilsen and Kenden Elliott
  • The Interruption of Coloniality: Social Determinants of Health - Jennifer Bello Kottenstette, M.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, and second-year SLU medical students Abou Kaba, Monica Goodland and Kelsey Kennedy
  • Performance by the Meta Theatre Company
  • Creative Pathways to Liberation: Healing Wounds of Coloniality - Lisa Dressner, Diana Melendez, Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical family therapy at SLU, and Rhea Almeid
  • Bridging Social Activism, Art and Music with Healing Initiatives - Kira Banks, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at SLU, and Amber Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of communication at SLU.
  • Emerging Liberation through Decolonizing - Damayanthi Niles and Rebeccah Bennett
    Creative Healing Systems at the Colonial Wound - Elizabeth Vega, Alex Ojeda and Farooq Alihassan
  • Black and brown voices: Resisting toxic masculinity and embracing gender fluidity - Richard Marks, interim director of SLU’s Cross Cultural Center; Leonard McKinnis and Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., vice president for diversity and community engagement at SLU.
  • Coloring outside of the lines: Sisters speak out on Sexuality - Afrosexology, Bamby Salcedo and Mabel Quinones
  • Decolonizing the Academe - Jose Paéz, Willie Tolliver and Deborah Taffa

More information about the conference and registration links can be found on their website, Facebook, or through SLU Newslink.

MedFT Faculty Featured on KBIA

September 20, 2018
Katie Heiden-Rootes, Ph.D. has been featured in an article on KBIA news radio - University of Missouri. The study revealed an increase in the number of women receiving breast cancer diagnoses over the past 11 years - finding that the percentage of women receiving their diagnoses over the phone has increased from 25% to over 60% since 2007. The feature is based on a recent article Dr. Katie Heiden-Rootes published with Jane McElroy at UofMO-Columbia.