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NIU Sees Spike In Minority Students Interested In Marriage And Family Counseling


There’s a strong need for marriage and family therapists despite overall divorce rates leveling off in the country.

That's according to Mark Killmer, a professor and director of the Marriage and Family Therapy counseling program at Northern Illinois University.

He says there’s been an influx of minority students wanting to join the program, and has gotten a couple new international applicants from Taiwan and India. Killmer says there's high demand for diversity in the field.

"We get calls all the time about whether we have Spanish-speaking candidates, for instance," he said. "Because there’s a strong Latino community in DeKalb.”

Killmer says counseling can be useful at different stages of a relationship.

“You don’t have to be at a disaster point or a high-level conflict to say, ‘We have a couple things to work out. We’d like things to go smoother. We would like to be closer,’” he said.

Credit Emily Reed/WNIJ
Dr. Mark Killmer

Killmer says students may choose the major because of positive experiences with therapy – or interest in changing family structures. He says others may be trying to smooth out personal struggles.

Dr. Mark Killmer discusses divorce trends, the effects of marriage/family therapy, and social media's impacts in an extended interview

“It’s very important that we’re relatively healthy if we’re working with other people – and personal issues aren’t so raw that they would spill into therapy," Killmer said.

He says his department is planning more “marriage enrichment” programs.