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Marriage and Family Therapy Faculty Members' Balance of Work and Personal Life


  • Jennifer L. Matheson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University; Karen H. Rosen, EdD, is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Human Development at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

  • This research was completed when Dr. Matheson was a master’s student at Virginia Tech. Preliminary results were presented at the AAMFT annual conference in 2002. A portion of the research was funded by a Human Development graduate research award in 2001.

  • We wish to thank Drs. Eric McCollum and Sandi Stith for their guidance on this project. We would also like to give our sincere gratitude to the faculty members who participated in this study. Their experiences have helped us learn and grow, and we hope they will do the same with all who read this article.

Address correspondence to Jennifer L. Matheson, PhD, Colorado State University, 1570 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523-1570; E-mail:


A sense of imbalance is common among both professors and therapists, though few studies have been published examining the work and personal life balance of those who work in both professions simultaneously. Using in-depth telephone interviews, this study examined the work and personal life balance of 16 marriage and family therapy (MFT) faculty members. Results showed that six were satisfied with their balance, six were dissatisfied, and four were “middle of the road.” Men, older participants, and those who were in their career longer were more likely to report feeling satisfied with their balance. Internal indicators of their balance included family and workplace messages, health indicators, feelings of contentment, and congruence with personal values. Child and relationship status, tenure status, and gender issues also impacted their sense of balance. Specific balance enhancers and reducers were highlighted, and participants discussed coping strategies and recommendations for other MFT faculty members. Clinical, training, and career implications are discussed.