Fairfield professor helps Silesian University of Ecuador to launch marriage, family therapy program

Silesian University in Ecuador is launching that country's first university degree program to train marriage and family therapists. And if the program looks similar to Fairfield University's, it's no surprise. Dr. Ingeborg Haug, assistant professor of marriage and family therapy education at Fairfield, has been active since 1990 in bringing professional training to Ecuador.

As a result, Fairfield and Silesian University, officially Universidad Politecnia Silesiana Sede Quito, have signed a proposal for the exchange of graduate students to attend classes at either university and for faculty to consider joint research projects. The first classes toward a master's degree at Silesian University will begin in October with 25 students and Dr. Haug has been invited to serve as honorary visiting professor for a series of consultations and teaching. In its invitation to Dr. Haug, Silesian University commented, "Your expertise has been invaluable and we look forward to continuing mutually rewarding collaboration between our universities."

Silesian is located in Cuenca, Ecuador, but the new program will be based at a branch campus in Quito.

In addition to teaching in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, Dr. Haug is director of Fairfield's Marriage and Family Clinic, is a consultant to the Westminster School in Simsbury, an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Family Therapy Academy.

The collaboration of students and faculty continues the University's ongoing undergraduate and graduate school international contacts that now include exchanges with colleges and universities in China, England, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Russia and Spain.

Dr. Haug, who has an international reputation presented more than 20 papers in more than 10 countries met representatives of the Centro de la Familia at a conference in Finland in 1990. Dr. Haug explained, "Centro's mission is to provide counseling support to families within a caring ecumenical-pastoral context. Its founders expressed their desire to strengthen their clinical effectiveness and expand their training component."

Due to her background as a licensed professional and ordained clergy as well as her experience as a clinician, teacher and administrator, Dr. Haug was in a position to help Centro. They invited her to Ecuador where she assisted in developing a curriculum, revising the clinical training and provided textbooks. She also encouraged Centro de la Familia to link with a university in order to establish counseling as a profession. Since then she returned to Ecuador several times and shared educational materials including Fairfield syllabi, procedures and admission and graduate policies, some of which Silesian modified.

Dr. Haug said Fairfield University was particularly supportive, citing the assistance and encouragement of Dr. Rona Preli, chair of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program, and Dr. Antonio Simoes, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions.

Dr. Haug explained that family therapy seeks to build on people's strengths and resources. "Individuals are seen not as sick but as stuck in unhelpful and repetitive interaction. This concept is of great interest to people in Ecuador since it makes accessing health care easier. We hope to learn from our South American colleagues how they adapt these concepts in their conditions and create unique ways to be helpful to families."

During the first year of the Silesian University's marriage and family therapy program, the collaboration would consist of clinical and administrative consultation. After a review in the summer of 1998, further exchanges might be explored and implemented as appropriate.

"I hope that this international collaboration might lead to mutually rewarding exchanges between the two Catholic institutions and to enriching multicultural experiences for faculty and students," Dr. Haug said.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 1, 1997

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