National University

Alumni Profile: A Marriage and Family Therapist Intern

Alumna Mary Roberts (MA, Counseling Psychology, 2012) is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern at Tri-City Medical Center in Vista, California.

In that role, she facilitates daily support groups for patients in the behavioral health unit there, providing empathetic support and behavioral skill building opportunities. Many of them are Foster Care children and victims of domestic violence.

Before she earned her master's degree at National University, Ms. Roberts was a credentialed teacher for 15 years, so she says she was already familiar with the issues facing many high risk kids, as well as the potential that they all have to overcome the challenges and obstacles in their lives.

“I see myself as a calming influence and an encourager,” she explains.  “Part of my job is to be warm, nurturing, at ease; and kids seem to feel comfortable taking to me."

In her job, Ms. Roberts observes the raw edges of society; often dealing with the consequences of excessive pain and anger inside the home. She says it is something that has become more prevalent with the added stress and pressures of these uncertain economic times. It isn’t something that is easy to quantify and communicate with statistics, but Roberts has a personal connection to her work. Recently the issues she deals with professionally struck very close to home. Closer than many may care to come.

Recently an extended relative of Ms. Roberts was removed from her home by Child Protective Services, and the National University graduate became her care provider.

“She came to live with me,” says Ms. Roberts. “I adopted her. All of this happened as I was attending National University.”

In her line of work, the Marriage and Family Therapist Intern says she has to have a big heart; and sometimes she wonders if it’s too big.

“I left a really good job to pursue this, and every once in a while a part of me says ‘Oh no!’ It’s been financially tough, but one thing that keeps me going is knowing that someday I'll have my own private practice.”

Ms. Roberts has 800 hours invested into the 3,000 hours required to be a licensed marriage family counselor, but she sees the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s her job. She helps people to believe in themselves and realize their goals and dreams, so she appreciates the value and importance of having confidence in herself.

“It’s going to make me that much better in helping to instill confidence in others,” she adds.