Texas Tech University

Brie Turns Alumni Profile


Brie Turns MFT Alumni TTU

Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) alumna Brie Turns, Ph.D., takes an innovative approach to autism research by trying to understand the relationship between the family members of an individual with autism. Brie said that her book, "Systematically Treating Autism: A Guide to Empowering Families," is the first to address the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from a systematic, family-focused lens.

Dr. Turns and her co-editors, Julie Ramisch, Ph.D., and former Texas Tech MFT professor Jason Whiting, Ph.D., decided it was time for mental health clinicians to learn about the strengths and challenges that other family members face while raising and living with an individual with ASD.

"The book combines meaningful research studies and innovative approaches to help treat the parents, siblings, and extended family members of an individual with autism," Dr. Turns said.

Dr. Turns' book will diversify current literature on ASD treatment by extending treatment beyond the individual to include the family as well. The tentative publish date for the book is December 2018.

Brie began her education at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Human Services Counseling in 2010. Brie then completed a master's degree in Child and Family Studies with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy at Purdue University in 2013. In 2014, Brie was accepted into the Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Program at Texas Tech University.

"When making my decision to pursue my Ph.D. at Texas Tech, I was greatly influenced by a faculty member in the Marriage and Family Therapy program, Dr. Sara Smock Jordan."

Marriage and Family Therapy Associate Professor Sara Smock Jordan, Ph.D., LMFT focuses on research that dives in to therapeutic communication, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), and substance abuse. While attending Texas Tech, Dr. Turns wrote numerous journals with Dr. Smock Jordan and collaborated on several conference presentations.

Dr. Smock Jordan encouraged Dr. Turns to apply to Texas Tech University's Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship and the Solution-Focused Brief Therapy Association's Student Research Award, which ultimately funded her dissertation. The mentorship and encouragement provided by Dr. Smock Jordan was invaluable to Dr. Turns during the completion of her dissertation. Brie says she still keeps in touch with Dr. Smock Jordan to collaborate on book chapters and journal articles.

"Brie had an amazing work ethic," Dr. Smock Jordan said. "She took her role as a student very seriously and applied herself. Brie found a specific research area, autism, and focused all her work on ASD."

Brie's favorite aspect of the College of Human Sciences' Marriage and Family Therapy program was the mentorship she received from Associate Chairperson Nichole Morelock, Ph.D., LMFT. While Brie taught in the Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences Department, Dr. Morelock made herself available to guide Brie as she navigated teaching and graduate school.

"Although I had previously taught at Purdue, Dr. Morelock taught me a great deal about how to personally and professionally connect with my students, create timely and interesting lesson plans, and manage the many hats I wore as a graduate student, part-time instructor, clinician, and researcher," Brie said. "Dr. Morelock provides remarkable mentorship for the students in the MFT program."

Brie graduated from Texas Tech's Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Program in 2017 and is currently an assistant professor of Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona. Brie teaches marriage and family therapy to master's level therapists, and supervises her student's counseling work with individuals, couples, and families.

"What I love most about my career at Fuller is my ability to watch students grow and develop into ethical, caring clinicians who have been called to help others."

Dr.Turns' research primarily focuses on families raising children with ASD. She has recently been invited to Yale's Developmental Disability Clinic and Brigham Young University to speak about her unique approach to autism treatment.

"I intend to continue educating clinicians about the importance of the family dynamics and how a diagnosis of autism is not an individual, but a family diagnosis."