In 2004, Catherine Newell and her family moved to Hawaii. Once she settled into her new home, Newell decided she wanted to complete her master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, but there were few programs offered by Hawaiian universities. Instead, she enrolled in the Masters of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northcentral University.
In 2007, she became the first graduate of the program. “I did my research and Northcentral offered great courses that met my needs. I had exceptional instructors, and Dr. Branden Henline is terrific – he’s the type of detail oriented person that you look for in a leader,” laughs Newell, a LAMFT with 23 years of experience in problem resolution. “My master’s degree from NCU has taken my career from a steady point to skyrocketing.”
Today, Newell specializes in working with couples and families to maintain marital integrity and offers useful tools to support personal growth as well as family closeness. She uses empirically supported methods of family systems dynamics along with individualized therapy to meet each family’s unique needs.
“I really like to think that I fix the troubles that families get stuck in,” relates Newell. “Families have a ‘waltz’ that they do, the dynamics that they go through as a unit – and I’m all about teaching those ‘new steps.’ It can be painful and involve a lot of discomfort on the front end of the process, but it can also really help shake things up and change families in a positive way,” adds Newell.
She currently teaches parenting, communications and childhood development classes along with psychology courses at Mesa Community College, in Mesa, Ariz. Newell emphasizes that the work of a MFT really is like “rocket science,” and not just some philosophy based on opinions.
“Of course there can be frustrations, and you can feel pretty beat up, especially when families prematurely withdraw from therapy. You tend to take it personally and it can be extremely hard on the therapist,” relates Newell. “The up side is that there are tremendous rewards and peoples’ lives are constantly being changed for the better through therapy.”
Newell highly recommends NCU’s MFT program, but she also notes that you have to be self-driven to succeed. She also counsels that students should constantly be mindful of passing licensing exams.
“Know and understand the state that you want to practice in… [don’t] rush your studies… because the state board exams are often a rigorous evaluation of what you’ve learned and what you need to know to effectively practice.”
Newell recently accepted a position at Family Strategies and Coaching in Mesa, Ariz., where she is excited to continue her lifelong journey of helping families heal.