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Kevin Lyness, PhD

Antioch University New England

I have been at Antioch University New England since 2004, and was drawn here because of the mission of social justice at the University and in the department, and by the opportunity to build a Marriage & Family Therapy PhD program that had a focus on social justice as well as on teaching, supervision, and quality scholarship. During my time here, I’ve been Program Director for both the MA and PhD programs and have also directed the Antioch University Couple and Family Therapy Institute (occasionally all at the same time). I’m currently Director of the PhD program.

I have been teaching graduate-level MFT courses since 1999, and I’ve also been quite involved in service to the field. I’ve served as the Secretary for the Board for the New Hampshire Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and I also spent six years on the Board of the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, including two years as Chair of the Commission. Currently, I serve as a consultant on accreditation issues nationally and have presented at several conferences on accreditation and assessment. I am very interested in leadership, both in academia and in the field at the national level.

I am an AAMFT Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in NH. My initial clinical training was in substance abuse (I was a Certified Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselor in Texas and then Indiana, starting in 1988), and I continue to have a strong interest in addiction issues. I am very interested in researching issues related to couple and family therapy and worked with a number of students and colleagues on projects with wide-ranging topics. I enjoy teaching a wide range of subjects and most recently have focused on teaching research methods and statistics, but I’ve taught almost everything in the curriculum at some point.

On a personal note, I am an avid photographer and maintain a website of my personal photography. I also love to spend time outside and you may find me mountain biking, hiking, or kayaking all over New England whenever I can (and snowshoeing and skiing in the winter).

Educational History

  • PhD, Purdue University
  • MS, Family Studies, Texas Tech University
  • BS, Family Studies, minor in Substance Abuse Studies, Texas Tech University

Social Justice in Family Therapy: A Brief Research Report
Kevin P. Lyness, PhD, LMFT,
Director, Marriage and Family Therapy Program

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a town hall meeting at the annual conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy listening to folks talk about social justice and what it means for our field. It seemed that even though people were using the same wordssocial justicethey seemed to be talking about different things. I also realized that I had not ever read anything in the family therapy literature actually defining social justice. As a professor of marriage and family therapy working for a university known for social justice, I wanted to promote a social justice stance in family therapy. But what does that mean? How do family therapists and students think about social justice?

Being a good academic, I decided to do a research project, and since I was coming from a social justice perspective, I chose a methodology that would give primary voice to the participantsI chose to do a short qualitative questionnaire. My primary question was What does social justice mean to you? I also asked people to share a story of their experience of social justice. I then sent this questionnaire to program directors of accredited MFT programs in both the United States and Canada, asking them to extend the invitation to participate to their students. I also asked program faculty to complete the survey. I received sixty surveys from around the country (respondents came from twenty-two states). About two-thirds of the respondents were students, evenly split between master’s and doctoral programs, while the remaining respondents were faculty. About 70 percent were female and about 70 percent identified as White, European, or Caucasian. Other ethnicities identified were African American, Latina, Asian and Asian American, Native American, and Middle Eastern. Through a process of coding statements and then looking for patterns, I found five general themes that encompass social justice for marriage and family therapists.

  • The first has to do with targets (i.e., who should be considered in social justice). Social justice should apply to all people, but particular focus was placed on groups that experience oppression, discrimination, and bias, who are denied access to resources, and who have less social power. Specific mention was made of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, age, class, ability and health status.
  • The second focuses on the outcomes of social justice (i.e., what should social justice result in). The primary outcomes were equity and equality, fairness, and access to resources; groups experiencing oppression should be afforded equity and fair access to resources and power. In addition, many felt that one consideration of social justice should be giving a voice to those groups who have been denied that opportunity. Finally, many felt that social justice should be about correcting injustices.
  • The third involves an action orientation. Social justice is an active process of fighting for justice. For some, this action orientation was rooted in a service orientation (this was particularly true of those coming from a religious orientation). This action orientation was not just external, however. Many respondents talked about the need to look internally, to match words to action, and to practice what you preach. These respondents particularly talked about awareness and responsibility.
  • The fourth involves the systems where social justice operates. Not surprisingly, many mentioned the societal or cultural level, that social justice should be part of cultural change. In addition, many mentioned family policies and that political action should be taken. Not only is social justice a societal concept, but for many it also operates at the interpersonal levelit isn’t just about changing society or policies, but is about personal interactions and actions.
  • The final theme has to do with the origins of social justice. While this was the least mentioned theme, several respondents talked of social justice as being a moral and ethical issueit is what is right. Respondents also felt that social justice is about the common goodthat equity and fairness at these multiple levels benefit all of us. So, to simplify, for marriage and family therapists social justice is an active process of fighting for equity and fairness for all who experience oppression and injustice at multiple levels for our
    common welfare.

One of the participants in the study:
I was overwhelmed by the complexity and immensity of the social injustices I encountered or observed in the city. But I also saw how one person’s actions could have a ripple effect that positively affects others. I ultimately sought to live my life in the same way, to make small differences in the lives of individuals so that positive changes in them could lead to positive changes in others. Asian American female student

Selected Recent Publications (peer reviewed articles and books and book chapters)

Fischer, J. L., & Lyness, K. P. (Eds). (in prep). Gender, sexual identity and families: The personal is political. Groves Monographs on Marriage and Family. Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing.

Crowe, A., Lyness, K. P., et al. (in prep). The validation of the Mental Illness Distress Scale (MIDS).

Karam, E., Starrett-Hong, E., & Lyness, K. P. (in prep). Preparing for the reality of the first job setting: infusing social work skills into MFT training.

Akyil, Y., Prouty, A., Blanchard, A., & Lyness, K. P. (2016). Experiences of families transmitting values in a rapidly changing society: Implications for family therapists. Family Process, 55, 368-381.

Akyil, Y., Prouty, A., Blanchard, A., & Lyness, K. P. (2014). Parents’ experiences of intergenerational value transmission in Turkey’s changing society: An interpretive phenomenological study. Journal of Family Psychotherapy. 25, 42-65.

Lyness, K. P., & Koehler, A. N. (2014). Effect of coping on substance use in adolescent girls: A dyadic analysis of parent and adolescent perceptions.International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 21, 449-461.

Crowe, A., & Lyness, K. P. (2014). Family functioning, coping, and distress in families with serious mental illness. The Family Journal, 22, 186-197.

Smith, K. R., & Lyness, K. P. (in press). Multiracial families and the intersectionality of mental health and social justice in the foster care system. In B. Masciadrelli & A. Zvonkovic (Eds.) Families at the Intersection of Mental Health and Disabilities: Groves Monographs on Marriage and Family. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Publishing.

Lyness, K. P., & Fischer, J. L. (2016). Families coping with alcohol and substance abuse. In C. A. Price, K. R. Bush, & S. J. Price, (Eds.) Families and change: Coping with stressful life events (5th ed.) (pp. 315-240). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.

Weiler, L. M., Lyness, K. P., Haddock, S. A., & Zimmerman, T. S. (2015). Contextual issues in couple and family therapy:  Gender, sexual orientation, culture, and spirituality. In L. Hecker & J. Wetchler (Eds.), An introduction to marriage and family therapy (2nd Ed.) (pp. 65-116). New York, NY:  Routledge.

Storm, C. S., Brooks, S., & Lyness, K. P. (2014). Keeping systemic supervision in focus in educational contexts. In C. S. Storm & T. Todd (Eds). The Complete Systemic Supervisor: Context, Philosophy, and Pragmatics (2nd Ed., pp. 85-107). New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.

Lyness, K. P. (2012). Therapeutic considerations in same-sex divorce. In J. J. Bigner & J. L. Wetchler (Eds.), Handbook of LGBT-Affirmative Couple and Family Therapy (pp. 377-391). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Akyil, Y., Cunningham, N., Lowe, W., Lyness, K. P., & Pham, B. H.* (2009, October). Promoters and barriers for considering a PhD in MFT. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Sacramento, CA. *Equal authorship.

Lyness, K. P. (2007, May). Social justice in marriage and family therapy education: A qualitative study and implications for teaching and practice. Roundtable presented at Groves Conference on the Family, Detroit, MI.

Lyness, K. P. (2006, October). Genetics of Alcoholism: Implications for Family Therapists. Workshop presented at the Annual Conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Austin, TX.

Lyness, K. P. (October, 2005). Family functioning, differentiation, and identity development. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Kansas City, MO.

Lyness, K. P. (October, 2004). Utilizing attachment theory in family therapy across the lifespan. Workshop presented at the annual meeting of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, Keystone, CO.

Lyness, K. P. (September, 2004). Parent and child perceptions of risk and protective factors. Poster presented at the Annual Conference of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, Atlanta, GA.

Kevin Lyness

Department Chair,

Applied Psychology

Program Director,

PhD in Marriage & Family Therapy


Applied Psychology


Courses Taught

AUNE Courses

  • PYB527 – Human Development across the Lifespan
  • PY576 – Postmodern Family Therapy
  • PY576 – Survey of Family Theory (Fall 2004)
  • PY678 – Substance Abuse and Family Violence
  • PY674A – Research Methods
  • PY608 – Ethics in Family Therapy
  • PY648A – Couple Therapy from a Systemic Perspective Doctoral Courses
  • MFTR711 – Quantitative Methods in MFT Research
  • MFTR705 – Statistical Methods in MFT
  • MFT711 – Appraisal and Assessment in MFT

Past courses (Colorado State University): Family Studies Marriage and Family Relationships Adolescent Development Adolescents and Families Marriage and Family Therapy Techniques Applications of Marriage and Family Therapy

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