Preparing Counselors-in-Training to Work With Couples: Using Role-Plays and Reflecting Teams

W. Matthew Shurts, Craig S. Cashwell, Shawn L. Spurgeon, Suzanne Degges-White, Casey A. Barrio, Kerrie N. Kardatzke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The use of experiential learning practices is a cornerstone of marriage and family training. In this article, two novel experiential approaches for teaching couples counseling are detailed. Specifically, the evolution from the original format to the final version of the learning experience is described. The two primary components of the experiences include (a) a semester-long role-play enacted by doctoral student graduate assistants and (b) student reflecting teams. The authors found that students benefited from these experiences and were able to provide validation, offer encouragement, and act as catalysts for change both with their classmates and in mock couples sessions. The reflecting team format was especially helpful in promoting a safe, interactive learning environment. In addition to describing the experience, suggestions are made for adapting the approaches to fit other programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-157
Number of pages7
JournalThe Family Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • counselor education
  • couples counseling
  • experiential learning
  • reflecting team
  • role-play


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