Doctoral Roundtable – March 12, 2020

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On March 12th, six students attended the Doctoral Roundtable with Dr. Ashleigh Louis and Dr. Jerrian Peters. The students were very happy to have a more intimate setting as they were able to dialogue back and forth with Dr. Ashleigh Louis and Dr. Jerriann Peters. The following is a list of questions students came prepared with: 

  1. What is the main difference between a Ph.D. and a Psy.D.?
  2. How many years were you a licensed MFT before you pursued your doctorate?
  3. How did you keep up with your social life?
  4. What is the shift like being a master’s student compared to a doctoral student?
  5. What does it mean for a program to be APA accredited?
  6. Is it worth it to get your 3000 hours as an MFT if you are planning on pursuing a doctorate?
  7. Would I be more limited if I was only licensed as an MFT?
  8. How do you make yourself competitive to get into a doctoral program?
  9. Do you have any tips on financial aid or financial help?
  10. Is the doctoral program full time?


Both speakers are current professors in the Pepperdine Irvine graduate program; the following paragraphs are brief summaries of their journey through mental health.

Dr. Ashleigh Louis’ experience is along the Ph.D. track.  She pursued her masters at Chapman University and her Ph.D. at Capella.  She has been licensed as an LMFT since 2012.  She did a vast majority of her hours in the schools; she worked at elementary schools, high schools, and community colleges. Teaching was her primary goal while she was in her Ph.D. program.  After all those years with kids, she realized that her true passion was working with individual adults with anxiety and ADHD.  So two years in, she decided to work towards licensure, she just finished her second 3000 hours to be licensed as a Psychologist.  She did those hours exclusively in private practice.  

Dr. Jerriann Peters’ experience is with the Psy.D. track.  She received her masters and Psy.D. from Alliant University and finished in 2013.  She has a private practice in Orange, she also works at the Village of Hope as a therapist where she also runs a women’s support group.   She supervises at Anchor Tides Recovery, she has also supervised at Loma Linda and the Pepperdine clinic.  She completed her 3000 MFT hours at the Pepperdine clinic and finished in 2009.  She identifies as a narrative therapist.  She has been teaching at Pepperdine since 2014.  


Doctoral Roundtable November 12, 2019

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Doctoral Roundtable

November 12, 2019

Speakers: Dr. Kim Cox, Dr. Shannon Wilson, Dr. Kristen Miller-Burton

In a packed room at the Irvine Graduate Campus, the doctoral roundtable began with students ready with their questions for the panel. Questions that were asked included: 

  1. “How important is having research experience prior to getting your PhD?”
  2. “What are the options for continuing with the Masters/MFT track and then wanting to get your PsyD?”
  3. How did you afford your doctorates? 
  4. If you could go back, would you still get your doctorate degrees?

Dr. Kim Cox’s experience is along the PhD track, she pursued her MAP degree here at Pepperdine University and realized along the way that she was interested in remaining in academia, got her PhD and has been working as a researcher/professor ever since. She is a full-time faculty member at another university and has published two textbooks, one published this year! She notes that your doctorate program will be harder than a Master’s as it is focused around independent-study rather than guided assignments. You have to be very self-motivated to stay on track, in regards to the dissertation,“if you’ve only written chapter one in a year, no one’s going to be telling you to hurry up”.Dr. Shannon Wilson also began her journey on the MAP track at Pepperdine University and then continued onto the PsyD program. For her, she knew she wanted to do assessments so the PsyD program was more suited to her interests and future career path. Her comment is to make sure students are aware of the time and money commitment that goes into your doctorate programs. Dr. Kristen Miller-Burton received her MACLP/MFT degree from Pepperdine University. She then began counseling within the school system and after continuing her career, is now pursuing her PhD. The professors helped ease the anxious minds of the students who are trying to sort out the rest of their academic journeys. In regards to funding, they discussed other options including grants and scholarships. One of the biggest emphasis points was to do your research in choosing a school, finding a format that fits your schedule as well as financially and geographically.

Please click the link provided to view the actual footage of the panel discussion:

Doctoral Roundtable November 12, 2019:

Private Practice Visit with Melanie Coughlin

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Students were eager to attend the Private Practice Visit  hosted by Melanie Coughlin, LMFT and Pepperdine alumna, located in her office in Laguna Hills.

Eight students sat in her office in chairs and on couches and enjoyed wonderful conversation about what it is like to own and run a private practice. Students arrived with questions they had thought of prior to their arrival, and the topics spanned areas such as maintaining professional boundaries, accepting insurance vs. not accepting insurance, the benefits of using sand tray therapy, and more. Melanie was transparent with the students and didn’t shy away from answering; she made students feel welcomed and comfortable and even had cookies and beverages out for students! Melanie’s dog, Sophie was present as well which was a nice treat for many of the students.

We have continuously received positive feedback regarding how insightful private practice visits have been for our students, we look forward to future private practice visits with clinicians in our community!


Student Mentor Fair – September 24, 2019

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On September 24, a handful of students at the Irvine campus attended a student based mentor fair. This provided students looking for a practicum site the opportunity to meet students that are currently placed at site and gain insight into what their site is like, pro’s and con’s, and a better understanding of how they run their program. We received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from both students and professors. Students reported that it was really comforting to be able to talk to other current students, and professors reported they felt it was a great opportunity for students to connect and network. 

Clinical Connections: EFT – A Way of Being – April 5, 2019

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We so enjoyed having Carla Rather, Past President of OC-CAMFT presenting the other evening. Carla is a certified Emotionally Focused Therapist (EFT) with private practices located in Orange County and South Bay. She provides EFT supervision for EFT certification that is approved by the International Centre of Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy.

Carla had a very interactive presentation that included various tips, tricks, and technique building skills for attendees. While she presented an overview of the 3 stages of EFT and the ABC’S of EFT (A= Acceptance, B= Belonging, C=Comfort, and S=Safety), she also included a video clip of herself using EFT to work with a couple (unable to upload due to client privacy), and she had attendees work together through role play.

Linked below are two fliers Carla had passed out to attendees, one flier is in EFT FAQ sheet that includes various frequently asked questions, and the other is Carla’s personal contact for you if you or someone you know is interested in EFT and would like to reach out.


EFT Center_Rather


Clinical Connections: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Psychotherapy – March 29, 2019

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This Clinical Connection was a personal reflection on how each panelist got involved in the mental health field, what they have discovered over time, and what they see as the developments for the future. Attendees were encouraged to ask questions and participate in the overall discussion.

We had three amazing panelists, Dr. George Nalbach, PhD, and Adjunct Professor, Dr. Steven M. Sultanoff, PhD, Professor, and Adriane Nada, M.S. LMFT, LPCC, Adjunct Professor. Each panel member was able to provide insight into their professional world and what they’ve faced throughout the years.

Listed below are some of the topics discussed:

  • Therapist training in regards to supervision, populations of clients, and skill level
  • Department of Mental Health sites
  • Insurance and it’s place throughout the current therapeutic intervention
  • The Medical Model
  • Implementation of religion/spirituality and art with clients
  • Working with clients that have experienced various types of trauma
  • Self-care and the importance of debriefing

We’ve received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from students in regards to this event. It was stated that the students appreciated the opportunity to discuss certain topics in regards to mental health and see the various opinions and responses. It was also noted that while the professors didn’t always agree on each idea or topic, it was encouraging to see that they respected one another and their differences in a polite, professional manner.



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Private Practice Visit – Ashleigh Louis February 17, 2019

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We had a great response from students showing interest in the Private Practice Visit  hosted by Ashleigh Louis, LMFT and Pepperdine professor, located in her office in Laguna Beach.

We had a great number of student show interest in attending this event! Ashleigh came with bagels and spread and had students in the waiting room of her office where she sometimes facilitates group therapy.

Students had a great dialogue with her as she went through her topics for the full amount of time and even a little more! Students remained engaged for the duration of the time. Students came prepared with questions in regards to the path she took to her current career, the population she works with, what it is like working in a private practice, her thoughts on practicum, and how she practices self care, and so much more.

Ashleigh was very open and honest, which many of the students appreciated. Students again reported that holding a private practice visit on a weekend day versus a weekday was much better for them as many of them work during the week and attend classes.


2019 MFT Trainee and Associate Job Faire

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The 4th annual OC-CAMFT & MFT Consortium MFT Trainee and Associate Job Faire was another success! In total, there were roughly 40 Pepperdine attendees that had signed in, and 26 community mental health agencies at their fingertips. It was a great opportunity for students to come regardless of their place in the MFT program as they are able to meet with various agencies in Orange County and gain insight into what’s available to them and where they might want to go for a traineeship position or an associate position.

In student feedback it was noted that many students used their time to network and lay the foundation for their future career in the mental health field. The Board of Behavioral Sciences was also in attendance which provided students with a clear understanding of rules and procedures; it created an awareness for many students that the BBS is not only for procedure but can be used as a resource throughout their career. Our students found this really valuable and utilized their time efficiently, even until the agencies were packing up tables!IMG_0898.JPG


Coffee Talk January 14, 2019

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Coffee Talk with Kathleen Wenger is a great opportunity for students to stop by and ask any questions regarding the program, classes, practicum sites, and to learn about any opportunities available within the community.

During this coffee talk, Kathleen placed a lot of emphasis on making sure students were familiar with the student handbook which can be found online at all times. We found that students came prepared with questions that were geared towards finding a practicum site and clarification of Pepperdine’s requirement of hours and the Board of Behavioral Sciences requirement of hours. Students are to reference Handshake when looking for a practicum site as they must be approved by Pepperdine University in order to count towards the 300 hour requirement for the practicum courses.

Students were also curious about out of state licenses and dual licenses. It is important to remember that each state has different requirements and regardless of being licensed in the state of California, you must check with the sate you intend on working in on their requirements as they may be different. The program here at Pepperdine allows students to work towards their Marriage and Family Therapy license as well was their Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor license. Kathleen encouraged students to take advantage of both licenses as it can be helpful in your future career.

Kathleen also placed an emphasis on attending workshops within the community as they are a great way to network and connect with others in the field. As a reminder, some workshops may not count towards your hours, but they are insightful and a great way to help you find your place in this field.


Private Practice Visit – Ann Goldman December 8, 2018

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We had a great response from students showing interest in the Private Practice Visit  hosted by Ann Goldman, LMFT and Pepperdine alumna, located in her office in Orange.

We were permitted to have 10 students total, we ended up having 21 students respond with interest, 11 students on the wait-list, and all 10 confirmed students in attendance showed up! Ann came fully prepared with topics to go over and even made cookies!

Students sat in her office in chairs and on couches and had a great dialogue with her as she went through her topics for the full hour and a half. Students remained engaged for the duration of the time. Students came prepared with questions in regards to having clients that have Borderline Personality Disorder, supervision, and how to manage clients that are suicidal and not cross boundaries.

Ann was very open and shared she was previously a supervisor and really enjoyed having students back in her office! Students reported that holding a private practice visit on a weekend day versus a weekday was much better for them as many of them work during the week and attend classes.