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Martha LaRiviere

Student Profiles

A New Career Path in Couples and Family Therapy for Former Swim Coach

By Robert Ortega, Forensic and Counseling Psychology Student

Thursday, we were able to meet up with Martha LaRiviere, a first year student in MSPP's Couples and Family Therapy program. After her undergraduate studies, Martha had a full career as a swim coach, but decided that she wanted to pursue a graduate degree in Couples and Family Therapy. This led her to apply to MSPP, where she was accepted and is currently a first year student working towards here master's in Counseling Psychology and Couples and Family Therapy.

Along with the program's style and coursework, two major factors in MSPP's process attracted Martha to the program. She liked the fact that MSPP's admissions process ran later than any of the other programs she had looked at. This allowed her to start working on her degree a full year sooner than if she had started at other programs. She also liked that MSPP offered blended courses which allow her to complete a large amount of coursework from home, while coming to campus once a week. "It was something I could manage, coming from Maine. It's a good thing for non-traditional students."

While many of MSPP's students take the more traditional route of starting graduate school right after graduating from their undergraduate studies, the school also prides itself in attracting students from less traditional academic routes. Martha considers herself a prime example of this less traditional route. Along with having raised five children, Martha had a successful career as a swim instructor. After eighteen years, she decided that she needed a change of setting. "I coached for eighteen years and it consumed my life. I liked being in charge and managing, but in the end it ate me up, the management end of things."

At that point (less than a year ago), Martha made the decision to make the switch from managing over 100 swimmers to studying Couples and Family Therapy, which has always been an interest to her. "Families mean a lot to me; it's a subject I really care about. To me it seems like something I'm doing for the sheer joy of it." One of the classes Martha is currently enjoying is her course in collaborative therapy. She finds the approach in this class empowering, as it focuses on the client's own ability to come up with solutions. "You don't need to know all the answers. You're learning to get them to develop their own solutions, and I think that's a great approach, instead of having the expert tell them what to do with their lives."

Along with enjoying the coursework, Martha loves going to her field practicum site. She works with homeless populations, along with people with substance issues, populations that she never directly interacted with before. "At practicum, you really get attached to the people there. I really feel like my eyes have been opened." The blending of coursework and field work has been one of the aspects of her program which she most values.

Martha is on track to graduate in the spring of 2015 with a master's degree in Counseling Psychology and Couples and Family Therapy. She will then be eligible to sit for licensure both as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

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