Family counseling program gets $1.2 million boost

SF State has received a $1.2 million grant that will boost the University's efforts to train counselors to work with families from diverse populations.

The three-year grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration will primarily fund scholarships for students in SF State's master's of science in marriage, family and child counseling program, known as MFT.

Professor and Chair of Counseling Graciela Orozco

Professor and Chair of Counseling Graciela Orozco

"There's a huge need to have trained providers who can work with all populations, especially at-risk children, adolescents and transitional-age youth," said Professor and Chair of Counseling Graciela Orozco. "The population of the United States is changing dramatically. The kids coming up through the schools have very diverse backgrounds, and we want to make sure our MFT counselors know how to work with all children and their families."

The bulk of the grant will be passed along to students in the form of a $10,000 scholarship that helps defray the cost of studies. Students who are in their final internship prior to graduation will be eligible for the scholarship. Twenty-four students will receive funding this year, but Orozco said the plan is to increase that amount in subsequent years. The program, which typically takes two to three years to complete, currently has 62 students at all levels.

The grant is in part a validation that SF State's MFT program has proven effective in training culturally sensitive counselors, Orozco noted. Students in the program are required to spend two years in the field, giving them hands-on experience in the diverse San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, a portion of the grant money will fund recruitment efforts to attract students who reflect that diversity into the program.

But the main benefit, according to Orozco, is that it will make attending SF State more affordable for students. "They may not have to work at an outside job as much, or wonder how they will pay for college," she said. "That's a huge plus, to be able to help our students have a little peace of mind while they're going to school here."

To learn more about SF State's Department of Counseling and the MFT master's program, visit

-- Jonathan Morales