Member Spotlight: Debra Orbuch Grayson

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AAMFT members are a diverse group of individuals. We have members who work in a wide variety of fields, from healthcare to academia to private practice. Each of our members has a unique story that shapes them as people and as therapists. For most, these shared stories create a sense of community. Especially in these challenging times, sharing one’s story is an opportunity to connect with your peers and foster unity while cultivating diversity and making each one feel that they are a part of a very active, diverse, relevant and dedicated professional membership community. Please email us at and help us build those connections.

This issue’s spotlight is on Debra Orbuch Grayson. Debra has been an AAMFT member since 1985 and during her 33 years of clinical practice has worked to support and strengthen marital and family relationships as well as connect clients to community resources. She has practiced in Maryland, Kansas City and now practices in Minnesota.

Debra works from a Family Systems Model, which believes each family is unique and has its own system and each individual functions within that system. She believes that change comes from addressing dynamics of individuals within that system. She received her Master’s degree in MFT from the University of Maryland-College Park and her Bachelors degree in Education and Behavioral Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin- Madison.

AAMFT recently sat down with Debra to hear her story.

AAMFT: What attracted you to the field of marriage and family therapy?

Debra: I have always been interested in helping children and families and building healthy relationships. After graduating college with a degree in education, I knew I wanted to educate parents as well children to create greater change within the family system. I became interested in the child guidance movement and then the field of marriage and family therapy. Throughout my career, I have worked in school-based and community mental health settings, blending my skills in education and therapy.

AAMFT: What is your favorite client population and why?
Debra: My favorite population is teenagers and their parents. They generally don’t hold back and it’s a time of transition for all family members with their children moving toward independence.

AAMFT: What aspect of MFT interests you most?
Debra: I have been interested in training, ethics, supervision and building community partnerships in order to provide a variety of resources to clients. I’m interested in continuing to make marriage and family therapy accessible to families and continuing to find new ways of connecting clients to mental health through telehealth, EAP, worksite trainings, school-based therapy services and walk/talk therapy combining movement and the outdoors and talk.

AAMFT: How have you seen the practice of MFT change and evolve over the years?
Debra: The practice of MFT over the 33 years I’ve been in it has become even more relevant and diverse in its training and areas of expertise. Many say they provide marriage and family therapy in the community without having any training. I continue to be grateful for the excellent training I received in my MFT program at the University of Maryland-College Park.

AAMFT: What do you feel are the particular strengths of MFTs?
Debra: The strengths of MFTs are their clinical training, number of hours seeing families and couples, their systemic thinking and their knowledge of ethics and professional issues in the field.

AAMFT: What do you do for self-care?
Debra: For self-care, I exercise regularly, connect with colleagues regularly and participate in multiple consultation groups and make time for friends and family as well as continuing to learn new things in the field and in life.

AAMFT: Why did you get involved in AAMFT?
Debra: I became involved in AAMFT as a student in an AAMFT accredited program in MD, to lobby for licensure in the state (there was only certification in 1985) and to build a community of colleagues and stay connected to research and new and evolving trends.

AAMFT members are a diverse group of individuals. We have members who work in a wide variety of fields, from healthcare to academia to private practice. This profile appeared in the November 20, 2021 edition of AAMFT’s Family Therap-eNews. 

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