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Graduate School partners with Egyptian university to create the country’s first family therapy program

October 03, 2008

  • Andrae Brown, Hanan Hosny, and Teresa McDowell

(Portland, Ore.)—For most Muslim families in Egypt, problems are solved within extended families. Family therapists did not even exist in Egypt until about three years ago.

As importantly, Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling recognizes a need to develop cultural competency in its education and training of future counselors to meet the needs of Muslim communities in the United States.

To expand these efforts, Lewis & Clark has developed a partnership with faculty at Menoufiya University (MU) in Shebin El-Kom, Egypt, to help them build a marriage and family therapy program there. By taking a collaborative approach,  Lewis & Clark faculty and students will learn from the expertise of MU’s faculty, and enhance their own cultural competency education at home.

“This is a win-win situation for both communities,” said Professor of Counseling Psychology Teresa McDowell. “By working on an international scale we are improving our students’ abilities to effectively meet the needs of an increasingly diverse community while also providing greater access to family therapy in a culturally appropriate way to an entire community of people.”

McDowell first made a connection with MU’s psychology faculty in 2006, while working on a Women in Development project at the University of Connecticut. Upon McDowell’s arrival at Lewis & Clark, in 2007, she arranged for eight graduate students in the Marriage, Couple and Family Therapy (MCFT) program to travel to MU for a series of intensive learning experiences in and out of the classroom.

McDowell hosted MU faculty member Adel Haridy, Ph.D., to work on the collaboration and Hanan Hosny, Ph.D.,  to teach an MCFT class at Lewis & Clark. In September, Hosny made a second trip to Lewis & Clark and presented a public lecture titled, “Understanding Islam.”

“We’re sharing therapy concepts that are brand new in the United States, while learning from the family practices in the oldest civilization on earth,” McDowell said. “By way of an exchange program for students and faculty, we are hoping to learn from indigenous practices in Egypt, and our Egyptian colleagues will be transferring the components of family therapy that fit for them with their culture.”

Joining McDowell in her efforts to establish the MU family therapy program is Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology Dr. Andrae Brown. Brown, who specializes in liberation-oriented therapies, will be reaching out to local Muslim leaders to find ways that Lewis & Clark can support Portland’s Muslim community.

“As we build the MU family therapy program in Egypt, we are also building a local network,” Brown said. “With online discussions, symposia, and workshops, we can create a brain trust of cultural consultants through our collaboration with local Muslim leaders.”

McDowell and Brown submitted the family therapy program grant proposal to MU in August of this year, and it is currently under review by the Egyptian government. Once approved, Lewis & Clark will begin fundraising efforts to launch the program.

For more information:

Vanessa Fawbush
Communications Officer


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