Imagine being at a national convention when, all of a sudden, a book publisher approaches you with a request to write a book about the journey of becoming a marriage and family therapist. That’s exactly what happened to Jessica ChenFeng, PhD, LMFT, alumna of the Loma Linda University School of Behavioral Health’s Counseling and Family Sciences Department.
Jessica was attending a national American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy conference, where she and fellow professor Dana J. Stone, PhD, MA from California State University, Northridge (CSUN) were presenting on the process of becoming a marital and family therapist. An editor from Routledge was impressed and requested that a book be written on this subject. The resulting work, Finding Your Voice as a Beginning Marriage and Family Therapist, was released this summer. Jessica and her co-author worked on the book over the course of almost three years. They would each write chapters for the book and then swap chapters, having enriching dialogue along the way and making any necessary edits. Several universities have now incorporated the book into their curriculum.
Jessica’s journey as a therapist began when she received her MFT MS degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in 2007. Then, while pursuing her doctoral degree at Loma Linda University, she worked at the LLU Behavioral Health Institute, seeing clients and supervising trainees. There, she had the opportunity to be supervised by Assistant Professor of Counseling and Family Sciences Randall Walker, MS, LMFT. She thoroughly enjoyed his mentorship and appreciated the quality of supervision that he provided. She felt that Loma Linda University was a "healing environment" for her, both professionally and personally. With mentorship from Dr. Carmen Knudson-Martin and Dr. Douglas Huenergardt, Jessica focused her doctoral research on issues of race, gender, spirituality and power within relationships. After graduating in 2014, she began teaching at CSUN.
Through her clinical and teaching experiences at both CSUN and LLU, Jessica developed a very personal understanding of the many issues involved in becoming a marital and family therapist, particularly from a cultural perspective. She understood that students at times feel marginalized, depending on their background and work experiences. Jessica felt that it was important to help students feel empowered, and the book, in part, discusses this issue.
Currently, Jessica is working for Loma Linda University Health as Associate Director of Physician Vitality and Associate Professor in the School of Medicine. The Office of Physician Vitality offers support for physicians, ranging from medical students to residents and attendings.