March 23, 2023

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.


This conference will take place remotely. The access link will be sent to registrants by email the day before the event.

The State and Future of Systemic Therapy in the United States

In an increasingly crowded landscape of psychotherapy approaches and modalities, it is important to identify the factors that will ensure the longevity and relevance of systemic therapy at a macro global level and at a micro national level. This presentation will focus on the current state of systemic therapy in the United States – including the challenges facing the education and practice of systemic therapy – and the factors that will help shape and secure the future of systemic therapy in the United States. These factors promoting advances and developments in systemic therapy include the scientist-practitioner approach in education and service delivery, social justice, policy, global collaborations, and interdisciplinary collaborations. We will also discuss the key roles of outcome-based educational frameworks, evidence-based practice, and practice-based evidence in fortifying the future of systemic therapy.


Extensive clinical and supervisory experience in community and academic settings informs my approach to my administrative role as Clinic Director of the Family Therapy Center at Virginia Tech, as well as my approach to research and teaching. My current research focuses on relationship education for low-income and ethnic minority individuals and couples. This aligns with my clinical interests in helping individuals, couples, and families with negative childhood experiences, substance use disorders, grief and loss, and transitions issues. of life. I am a Clinical Member and Licensed Supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), Licensed Supervisor of the Virginia Board of Counseling, and Florida Qualified Supervisor for Registered Interns seeking a Marriage and Family Therapy License or mental health counselling. I am licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in Florida and Virginia, and I am also trained to facilitate the relationship education program PREP (Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program).


The goal of my research is to improve the psychosocial health of people belonging to sexual and gender minorities and their families. I use qualitative and mixed-media analytical strategies to understand the processes by which individuals and their families experience non-heterosexual sexualities and diverse gender identities, with a focus on decision-making and well-being related to disclosure of sexual orientation. I draw on traditional and critical theories to emphasize relational processes informed by human development and embedded in larger contexts. My clinical research focuses on LGBTQ+ positive family therapy practices. I regularly teach traditional family therapy theories, qualitative methods, and HDFS: Family and Systems Theories at the Higher Level. I love involving undergraduate and graduate students in my research team: SGM Thriving Lives.



As a researcher-practitioner in the field of marriage and family therapy (MFT), I value application and translation in research, learning, and engagement. My ultimate goal, in each of these areas, is to help clinicians help their clients improve their personal well-being and the quality of their family relationships in the following areas: Improved couple relationships and well-being being partners by understanding the impact of protective and risk factors on the quality and stability of couple relationships; and clinical intervention research on the effectiveness of couples therapy, brief strategic therapy (an approach that focuses on identifying the mechanisms that maintain or exacerbate people's problems and providing strategies to circumvent these mechanisms) , and eating disorders. In keeping with the translational nature of my research, the goal of my classroom teaching and clinical supervision is to engage students in constant reflection on the application of approaches and interventions learned in class, so that they can integrate their knowledge and adapt it for application in their clinical work with individuals, couples and families.  

Likewise, my engagement efforts are about translating my knowledge and that of others to provide accessible and practical applications to clinicians and public interest groups. My clinical specializations include couple relationship distress, eating disorders, depression, anxiety disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder, disability, ambiguous loss, singleness, premarital counseling, adolescents and parent-child relationships, and reactive attachment. I frequently present on therapeutic approaches for couples and families, brief strategic therapy for a wide range of clinical issues, enrichment of couple relationships, treatment of eating disorders, ambiguous loss and families of children with developmental disabilities.


My research focuses on grandfamilies, that is, families in which grandparents raise their grandchildren. Grandparents raising their grandchildren have been described as an at-risk population due to the stressors (e.g. financial, legal, parental) associated with raising grandchildren and the well-documented negative outcomes in physical and mental health they suffer. I use qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods to generate knowledge related to the impact of family dynamics on the well-being of grandparents and grandchildren, the effectiveness of family interventions for grandfamilies, and contextual and intersectional influences on custodial grandparents and their grandchildren. I am also committed to translating the results of my research into policy and practice. My clinical expertise relates to couples therapy, children in therapy and the applications of family therapy to aging families. As a supervisor, I help students develop their skills in case management, theory-based interventions, and using process (as opposed to content) to facilitate change. At the PhD level, I regularly teach MFT research methods, clinical supervision of MFT, traditional models in MFT, and internship supervision.


Dr. Russon is a translational scientist contributing to the fields of family therapy and suicidology. Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) is a core value of its approach to science, practice and education. Dr. Russon's line of research focuses specifically on the adaptation, dissemination and implementation (AD&I) of suicide prevention interventions and strategies. The goal of adaptation, dissemination and implementation science is to translate, disseminate and improve the quality of empirical interventions to bridge the gap between research and practice in the professions. of health. Dr. Russon has two overlapping areas of research that form the basis of his AD&I efforts to address suicidality and associated mental health symptoms in youth (adolescents and young adults) vulnerable to suicide: l adaptation and testing of suicide intervention models supported by empirical data and understanding of systems needs in interfacing with youth with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Dr. Russon leads a transdisciplinary research initiative, called ASPIRE (Alliance for the Study of Suicide Prevention and Intervention through Relationship Enrichment). The goal of ASPIRE is to develop and study prevention and intervention strategies targeting mental health disorders among populations vulnerable to suicide. The approaches explored by ASPIRE aim to strengthen relationships, empower communities and develop collaborative partnerships. Dr. Russon's teaching and supervisory experience focuses on applied skills for family therapy researchers and practitioners. She has a particular interest in mixed methods research (MMR) and has developed a doctoral level course to train students in conducting MMR. Dr. Russon is an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Certified Supervisor and Person-of-the-Therapist Instructor (POTT; Aponte & Kissil, 2016). She is also a certified ABFT trainer and supervisor and has received advanced clinical training in emotion-focused therapy for couples (EFT; Johnson, 1996, 2019).