Member Spotlight: Lisa Rene Reynolds

By Membership

Clinical Fellow and Approved Supervisor, Lisa Rene Reynolds, PhD, has been a member of AAMFT since 1992, when she was still a student in her graduate program. She is currently the Program Director and Associate Professor in Iona College in New York. She also just completed her third year of working as Chair of AAMFT’s Ethics Committee and is one of the contributing authors of AAMFT’s upcoming ethics textbook. Dr. Reynolds’ membership with AAMFT continues to provide her with connections, resources and support. She works to promote effective change within the field of MFT in several different ways. She writes articles for AAMFT’s Family Therapy Magazine, and authors many different articles, chapters, and books.

Continue reading AAMFT’s one-on-one interview with Dr. Reynolds to learn more about her journey as an MFT, an AAMFT member, Program Director and how COVID-19 has impacted her and her work.

Where did your journey begin?
“I started as a Psychology undergrad and fell into a marriage and family therapy master’s program by default. I had applied to medical school and was wait-listed everywhere; I wanted to do autopsies; I wanted to be a forensic pathologist.” After being faced with possibly having to take several sciences courses to pursue her dream of attending medical school, Dr. Reynolds thought about what she really wanted to do and stumbled across marriage and family therapy, which at the time was something she hadn’t truly heard of. She decided that MFT was the route to gamble on and it paid off! She loves what she does and thrives off teaching the unique systemic piece MFT has to offer to the next generation.

How has COVID impacted you?
For Dr. Reynolds, a licensed MFT in New York and Connecticut, COVID-19 meant facing two very real challenges. One, in her private practice, she needed to immediately transition her practice to online therapy, losing a few clients in the process that telehealth was not a good fit for. The second part, is taking 2 levels of students, “some of them have never seen a client before and their first client was through telehealth and at this point all of their clients had been telehealth.” She also added that it was really hard for these grad students to find appropriate private spaces to conduct telehealth therapy that would be in alignment with HIPAA confidentiality [rules]. Despite all these challenges, she says the students “were troopers and we’re really proud to say that our program didn’t really have to reduce the live supervision.” She also says that as an accredited program they have very strong requirements. However, she also added, “dealing with your own anxieties about COVID, your family, and having to take that all and your own livelihood over and help your clients and to do it for all those students, it was overwhelming.” Dr. Reynolds admitted that they’ve had a really hard year and a half being in the epicenter where the first cluster of COVID cases happened. They lost one of their graduate students, Hailey Herrera*, last year in April. She has continued to keep in touch with Hailey’s parents. With everything the program has experienced, Dr. Reynolds knew that the adjustments made to protect students were extremely important and with those changes, Iona continued to thrive. Though it was very challenging to move all of the curriculum online and her practice to telehealth, she also saw the upside to working from home as it allowed her to cut back a little. Their program will also keep the telehealth component as it has proven to really work for their clients and students.

* Hailey Herrera became an AAMFT student member in 2018 and would have graduated this year. AAMFT is deeply saddened by her loss and all others who have experienced loss due to COVID-19. Dr. Reynolds informed us that they will be planting a tree in her name and her mom also gave a scholarship to one of their students in Hailey’s name.

What is your favorite client population to work with?
Dr. Reynolds admitted that she likes working with couples, “I found that very difficult in the beginning but that is the population that I love most to work with and I have for lots of years.” Dr. Reynolds also says that there are few therapists who are really trained in couples work and so a lot of couples counseling ends up falling flat, not because it’s anyone’s fault, “it’s just that the systemic view of things and intimate relationship work is very specialized.” She also says she works a lot with LGBTQ couples and has learned about some of the struggles with this community. She truly loves to continue working with couples.

What is some advice you would give yourself if you could go back in time?
“The advice I would give myself is the exact same advice I give my students. Two that come to mind, [one] the idea of Teflon; a lot of times students feel like they have to pick who is right. I always tell them that things should slide right off of you and slide back onto them… and the second thing is being comfortable with not being all knowing… If you get it wrong that is okay!”

What are some challenges you see in the MFT profession?
Dr. Reynolds recognizes that as the Director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Iona College, many students enter the program because like her, they stumbled into MFT while they are “looking for something else.” The idea that marriage and family therapy is not well acknowledged is a theme that many MFTs see in their own local places of employment and schools. Dr. Reynolds is working hard to change this by authoring several books, articles and engaging with AAMFT. She also thinks that it’s important to take opportunities to educate and speak to what MFTs do differently. Another challenge for MFTs is that some of the newer generations are missing out on the unique influences of MFT pioneers since their passing; “keeping the masters in the field and older school models relevant without having their physical presence [is important].” She also says, “watching Minuchin and Insoo Kim Berg was just amazing, what they do live, and now [you] just read about them or watch dated videos.”

What do you value most with your AAMFT membership?
“Through AAMFT you [get to] swim in a pool with amazing other people around the country.” Dr. Reynolds feels the connection with dear friends and colleagues that she’s met through AAMFT events or workshops has been incredible and something she values. She also mentioned loving the opportunity of being in the Ethics committee which she said was wonderful to experience as a practicing clinician. She also appreciates all opportunities to write for the Family Therapy Magazine which she’s done for years. She adds, “they’re really supportive because they trust that we’re clinicians and we know what therapists want to know about, are struggling with or experiencing. Those have been my favorite things about AAMFT, it’s a great organization.”

Dr. Reynolds has authored several articles published in AAMFT’s Family Therapy Magazine including:

May/June 2015 issue: How Does Marriage and Family Therapy Look Around the World? Interviews with practitioners around the world give us a glimpse into systemic work with families in other nations. Countries highlighted are Brazil, India, Norway, Sweden, Germany, and China.

Sept/Oct 2016 issue: Managing Multiple Relationships.
What do you do if you find yourself in multiple relationships with a client to whom you are providing therapy services? Some thoughts and excerpts from the AAMFT Code of Ethics provide an informed framework for guidance.

March/April 2018: Matching Clients with Student Clinicians of Similar Backgrounds.

July/August 2018: Assessing the Need for Increased Self-Care in Therapists.


Spotlight: A Member’s Journey is a series that showcases AAMFT members and the unique story that shapes them as people and as therapists. This profile appeared in the June 11, 2021 edition of AAMFT’s Family Therap-eNews. 

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