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TODAY news for Thursday, April 30, 2007

School of Science & Technology news

Counseling and family sciences professor authors book

Suzanne Midori Hanna, PhD, professor, department of family and counseling sciences, SST, has 30 years of experience as a marriage and family therapist.
Suzanne Midori Hanna, PhD, professor, department of family and counseling sciences, SST, has 30 years of experience as a marriage and family therapist.
For many years, she has made the learning process for students of family therapy as clear and helpful as possible. Suzanne Midori Hanna, PhD, professor, department of family and counseling sciences, School of Science and Technology, has recently added to her passion of teaching by authoring her fourth edition of The Practice of Family Therapy: Key Elements Across Models.

“This book is my attempt to provide students with enough structure to give them a sense of direction,” says Dr. Hanna, “and enough encouragement to enjoy the creative process as part of good marriage and family therapy.”

According to Dr. Hanna, the book is for family therapists and explains how to get started as a beginner. It is also an aid for experienced therapists by discussing how to troubleshoot problems in therapy. The Practice of Family Therapy: Key Elements Across Models addresses psychological, emotional, and social problems using an interpersonal framework.

“One of my hopes is that human service professionals can learn the process described in my book as a way of understanding life’s challenges from many directions,” says Dr. Hanna, who has worked at Loma Linda University for five years.

Every problem has multiple dimensions, according to the professor. These dimensions include the impact of one’s closest relationships and the hopes and dreams people bring into these relationships. Other dimensions include the transitions individuals make in life and how those actions may produce a “domino effect” that can lead to burnout and emotional distress.

“When therapist trainees are guided through a process that explores these dimensions with their clients, they enter the sacred world of another human being with all of its drama, suspense, and inspiration,” shares Dr. Hanna. “Family therapists are in a position to provide help, hope, and healing. I hope my book can offer some small help in such important work.”

The federal government recognizes marriage and family therapists as one of the five major mental health professionals. In chapter nine of the book, Dr. Hanna writes about her experiences she has had in her career about medical family therapy—an integration of family therapy and medicine.

“We’re finding excellent opportunities to help patients and their families more effectively,” says Dr. Hanna. “We look at the impact the disease has on the family, as well as the family’s impact on the person with the disease for the best possible outcome.”

The field is becoming a growing trend as primary care patients with complex medical issues have the benefit of working with mental health professionals.

Her colleagues at Social Action Community Health System assisted with this latest edition. According to Dr. Hanna, Donna Smith-Burgess, MS, director of behavioral health at SACHS, reviewed the book and helped make it more “real world” in places where it was too “ivory tower.” They also discussed how the book could become more useful in their work with SACHS clients.

Dr. Hanna’s research assistant, Nancy Edwardson, doctoral student in marriage and family therapy, updated the film list in the back of the book. Many films of interest to the study of family therapy are included in the list. One of Dr. Hanna’s favorite films is “Avalon,” which traces the story of an immigrant family through three generations, while exploring the themes of assimilation and how modernity has changed American family life.

The Practice of Family Therapy: Key Elements Across Models is available through Amazon and by special order in any bookstore. Ten years ago, Dr. Hanna also co-edited the book The Aging Family: New Visions in Theory, Practice and Reality.

By Patricia Thio

TODAY news for Thursday, April 30, 2007