Member Spotlight: Steven Douglas Troxtell

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I was introduced to a world that far exceeded my expectations and became part of my everyday practice.

From the United States military to the practice of marriage and family therapy, Steven Douglas Troxtell is redefining the treatment approach for clients suffering from maladaptive and addictive behaviors. His ongoing 15-year research project effort aims to “develop a unified treatment approach that can be replicated at the private, public, and federal levels” and make MFT a major competitor in the realm of behavioral treatment.

In 2011, Steven found himself in his master’s program choosing MFT courses because of the “in-depth [curriculum that understood] complex behavioral disorders.” Steven saw marriage and family therapy as the vehicle to “answering an incurable, unanswerable, and spiraling out of control global epidemic” that has affected and taken lives more than any other known disease. Steven set out to single-handedly tackle the root cause of all maladaptive/addictive behaviors. AAMFT had the honor of sitting down and speaking with veteran and MFT Steven Douglas Troxtell.

What attracted you to the field of marriage and family therapy?
When attending Webster University for my master’s degree, I was informed [that with] three additional classes, I could also obtain preliminary requirements for licensure in marriage and family therapy. I was introduced to a world that far exceeded my expectations and became part of my everyday practice. Over 10 years, I have understood a complex and challenged population that without the MFT skills learned in supervision may not be possible.

What is your favorite client population, and why?
The complex, resistant, and has been through treatment at least once. Once I have the patient “buy-in” to the treatment approach and expectations have been accepted by the patient, the outcome is an agreed motivation to change.

What is a piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you started?
Find a population you are passionate about and challenge yourself to exceed where others might have failed. Reflection on your past events and concentrated areas of interest are a culmination of life experiences and challenges you have faced uncertainly. The more therapists deviate away from their population of interest, they stretch the outcome to a watered-down therapeutic approach that, sometimes, does not benefit the patients served.

What gives you the most joy as a therapist?
It is fulfilling to provide an intake/assessment on a patient using acute defense mechanisms to avoid, deflect, and minimize reoccurring behavioral health concerns. Over the years, the amount of inherited patient resistance and successful outcomes has motivated me to research and develop innovative treatment approaches.

What has been your favorite part of AAMFT membership?
I recently completed the AAMFT supervision course and felt connected to fellow MFT providers at various experience levels. The overall impression was being part of an organization that is focused and driven on change. When accessing the online tools, the availability of broadening the knowledge level is both rewarding and overwhelming of how much information you may not be aware of. The legal/ethical references and updated information has [also served as a] reference point as the effort to complete my PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy [continues].

What are some major takeaways you wish mainstream society could understand regarding maladaptive and addictive behaviors?
In some cases, the only way to address and hopefully correct current negative projective is to scrap everything and start over.

Why was obtaining a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy of importance to you?
Malcolm X once said in his attempt to change the community belief /value system, get educated and place yourself in a position that forces overall productive changes when you feel society is against your core beliefs. The years of late-night research and studying for my MFT exam caused an ideological change in the treatment approach to maladaptive and addictive behaviors. After documenting nearly 100 pages of MFT treatment approaches and hypothesized solutions that deviate from current policies and procedures, the only other solution was to return to graduate school and accomplish what years of theoretical equations could not answer.


Spotlight: A Member’s Journey is a new feature that showcases AAMFT members and their unique stories that shape them as people and as therapists. This profile appeared in the February 12, 2021 edition of AAMFT’s Family Therap-eNews. 

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