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Pfeiffer announces accreditation of its Marriage and Family Therapy program

MFT graduate degree program is one of only three COAMFTE accredited statewide, 110 across the U.S.hispanic20family3

Pfeiffer announced today that it has received professional accreditation of its Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program in collaboration with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Pfeiffer's MFT Master of Arts degree program, which is located on the university's Charlotte campus, is now an accredited MFT Graduate School approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

To meet the state's critical demand for advanced training and continuing education for marriage and family therapy professionals, Pfeiffer began this unique program in 2007. This significant milestone makes the MFT program at Pfeiffer one of only three COAMFTE accredited MFT programs in the state of North Carolina and one of 110 accredited MFT graduate programs in the U.S. As she congratulated the program's director and faculty, Dr. Tracy Espy, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Pfeiffer, explained how this specialized accreditation is a testament that a program has met exemplary standards of professional practice in its field and is committed to training skilled family therapists. 

“Accreditation is a very rigorous process that requires professionals within the university and the accrediting agency to carefully analyze, and in some cases scrutinize, programs to ensure they are offering a high-quality education,” explained Espy. “Accreditation is an important stamp of external declaration that the program appears to be doing what is necessary to prepare very competent marriage and family therapists. I am extremely proud of our extraordinary director and faculty for their commitment, diligence and hard work.”

Led by Dr. Susan Wilkie, MFT program director, the inaugural MFT class at Pfeiffer began with 11 students in August 2007, and increased to 55 full-time students in just three years.  Wilkie independently wrote and developed the program in 2006, and soon added three new faculty: Dr. George Bitar, assistant professor of MFT, Dr. Faith Drew, clinic director of the Pfeiffer Institute and assistant professor of MFT, and Dr. Pearl Wong, assistant professor of MFT.

During the last 18 months, MFT faculty members have worked to expand the program, which now includes a new Graduate Student Association, a service organization that provides a voice for the MFT student community, sponsors special MFT events, and supports one charity each year at the annual MFT graduation banquet. MFT faculty also started a student chapter of Delta Kappa, a Marriage and Family Honor Society, and an onsite counseling clinic, the Pfeiffer Institute. The Institute provides intensive clinical training for MFT graduate students. It is one of few university-based clinics that offers affordable counseling for individuals, couples, marriage, and family counseling for community members. For information about the clinic, call (704) 945-7324.

Wilkie said it takes a very special team to willingly meet the rigorous standards of expectation required by a professional accrediting agency.

“We are so proud of the hard work and focused academic aspirations of our collaborative faculty, consultants, administration, staff, and students who committed to supporting this monumental achievement,” she said. “I am so grateful and thankful to all who have generously offered their time, resources and tireless support.”

happy-coupleWilkie said she and the faculty are also proud of the program's students. Last August, a dozen students comprised the program's first graduating class. Those who complete the degree program will be fully prepared to work in mental health centers, hospitals, health-maintenance organizations, family services clinics, churches and private practice.

“The MFT program at Pfeiffer has helped me to develop the skills necessary to become a competent and effective marriage and family therapist,” said student Britney Mobley, a third-year MFT student from Monroe. “Now, as I gain valuable experience working at the Pfeiffer Institute, I am able to hone my skills and work to bring assistance to individuals, couples, and families seeking healing and growth. With the support and direction of the program's passionate and dynamic professors, I have been empowered to take what I have learned in the classroom and apply it to my experiences with clients, offering understanding, support, and a safe environment in which clients can learn and grow.”

“For me, I see a future that includes working for an agency, as well as working to start my own business,” said Cynthia Seaforth, a mother and grandmother, who is part of an advanced MFT internship program, currently serving at United Family Services in Charlotte. “I value the learning, friendships and time I have spent with the program. My willingness to make the commitment and sacrifice that it takes to complete this rigorous program will definitely pay off in the long run.”

COAMFTE was established by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the accrediting agency for the accreditation of clinical training programs in marriage and family therapy at the master's, doctoral, and postgraduate levels.  COAMFTE accreditation is a required element in enabling programs to establish eligibility to participate in federal programs. 

Established in 1885, Pfeiffer University is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. A comprehensive United Methodist-related institution, Pfeiffer is committed to providing educational excellence, service and scholarship across North Carolina, from Charlotte to Misenheimer to Raleigh, and online. Visit Pfeiffer at or


Media contact: Natasha A. Suber, (704) 463-3040 or

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