Mary Read, Ph.D.
Clinical Training Director
As an alumna of this program (1984), I feel very proud and happy to have been involved with the department for over thirty years. I love the variety of my position here, as teaching several classes, overseeing the fieldwork practica as the Clinical Training Director, and being the advisor for the Counseling Alumni Association all allow me to keep in contact with current and former students, watching them grow and develop in the field.
Raised in a small village in southeastern Wisconsin, I went to college to study music, first in Kansas City, then Philadelphia, graduating with a performance degree in voice. My musical background gives me an appreciation for harmony, balance, and the therapeutic use of vocal tone. I moved to California in 1980 intending to go to nursing school, but chose a different caregiving profession. Having lived here longer than anywhere else, I consider myself a "transplanted native" Californian. My life-partner (a gerontological social worker) and I live in Long Beach and enjoy camping, walking by the beach, working for social justice, and socializing with our friends, relatives and 'family of choice' in a vibrant community.
When I attended CSUF I was an older, working student, as are many of our students today. I first heard about the program because some of my friends were attending, and I liked the changes they were making in their lives. Although I didn't know much about the counseling field at that time, I was drawn to the sense of self my friends were finding from their participation in classes and counseling experiences. One of the things I appreciate most about this field is the chance (and challenge) of continued personal growth. My humanistic/existential stance informs my growth, as I believe we are constantly faced with choices about freedom and responsibility, and that we will naturally change when we see that the benefits outweigh the costs.
I have been teaching in the Counseling program since 1990, the year I also began private practice as a licensed MFT in Los Alamitos. I enjoy the balance of bringing my own clinical examples into the classroom, and taking what I learn by teaching and doing research back to my clients. My passion is mentoring students into finding and expressing their own authentic selves in their therapeutic work, by lifting judgment and allowing compassion within clear boundaries.
The teaching philosophy of the College of Health & Human Development (CHHD, of which our department is a part) mirrors my own: that knowledge is evolving and socially constructed, and learning is produced through an interaction of different perspectives that enable students to connect their education to their own experience. Based on this belief, I facilitate a collaborative learning style in my classes, where all voices are valued and no question is ever foolish. Students are encouraged to self-reflect, and to share their experiences in order to enrich everyone's learning.
Over the years, I have taught most of the courses we offer in the program at one time or another. I enjoy the broad view of counselor education that this variety of experience has brought. Currently, I teach the Career Counseling class (502). Watching students light up as they discover more about the wonderful career options open to them, and helping them sort out some of their priorities is a delight to me. In addition, I teach a course on family systems (527), focusing on the systemic theories that are central to the professional identity of the MFT field, and one of the counseling fieldwork practica, either the first (530) or second (584) semester.
In my role as the Clinical Training Director I enjoy strengthening relationships with the non-profit counseling agencies already familiar with the program (many of whom employ our alumni), while forging new ones. After working with these agencies for many years as a practicum instructor, I am enthusiastic about the level of growth and support for students and the surrounding communities offered by the fieldwork practica. I also participate in several regional and statewide committees providing leadership to the MFT field, including co-chairing the MFT Consortium of Orange County. Involvement in these organizations lets me share my expertise and passion for the field, and also qualifies our students to compete for stipends funded through the Mental Health Services Act. In the past few years, 14 of our graduates won stipends totaling $259,000, a fact of which I’m very proud.
Having always been an intensely curious person, it's no surprise that my research interests are varied. Underpinning my research is a commitment to feminist theory and qualitative methods, as I believe that sharing the power generated by research is essential for social justice, and that hearing the voices of real people's lives-as-lived is the most natural source of knowledge. I am interested in many aspects of identity/identification, including professional/career identity, LGBT issues, and aging with dignity. I am also involved in projects in the areas of service learning, women's health, and disability issues.