Faith Drew and George Bitar Alumni Profile
Marriage and Family Therapy Alumni Couple Reflect on How the Program Helped Shape Their Careers
2007 and 2008 graduates, George W. Bitar, Ph.D., and Faith Drew, Ph.D. of the Marriage and Family Therapy program, now referred to as the Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy (CMFT) program at Texas Tech University (TTU) have a unique perspective on couple therapy. As married partners in the same professional field, they have learned to not only grow together in marriage but in their business as co-owners of Connect Couples Therapy, PLLC.
Both Faith and George are Certified Gottman Therapists. According to the Gottman approach, therapy techniques often include increasing friendship behaviors, addressing conflict effectively, and building a life based on shared meaning. The couple provides 2-day couple workshops, called The Art & Science of Love, which is based on Gottman concepts. Faith and George are one of 3 married couples in the country that provide these workshops, including the original developers, John Gottman, Ph.D. and Julie Schwartz Gottman, Ph.D.
Becoming certified in the Gottman approach is no easy task, and is something that sets the team apart in their field.
"Being certified is an honor and you must go through extensive training and testing to earn these designations," Faith said. "I had to show I could implement specific Gottman Interventions with a real couple in distress - the entire process probably took a little over 3 years."
George echoes his wife's comments, explaining that the deeper he gets into his field, the more he enjoys the combination of the intellectual challenge and meaningful connections that come from a therapeutic relationship.
"I've always wanted to do something professionally that directly impacted people's lives for the good," George said. "My experience at TTU added rocket fuel to this initial interest."
Faith currently serves in her full-time role as EAP Director at McLaughlin Young Group where she provides leadership to her clinical team and oversees the Employee Assistance Program. Her secondary role as co-owner and therapist at Connect Couples Therapy allows her to specialize in working with couples to reconnect and heal after an incident occurs within a relationship.
Faith's background as a former bilingual kindergarten teacher provided her the insight into the lives of neglected and abused children, an experience that ultimately led her to pursue therapy as a career.
"My time at Texas Tech was invaluable," Faith said. "The program was solid and gave me a strong foundation for the future ahead of me. Although I left academia for corporate and private positions, I still use skills acquired through my research courses."
Faith and George had only been married a few months when they both joined the marriage and family doctorate program at Texas Tech.
"The entire experience of learning how to be married while simultaneously growing so intensely in intellectual and personal ways was such an energizing and dynamic time that we both miss," George said.
For a few years, the couple stayed in Lubbock where they worked at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in the same department, before moving from Lubbock in 2009 for academic positions in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although the couple has since left academia, they still call Charlotte home.
Recently, George obtained his Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist certification and is primarily focusing on running their private practice. George serves as a clinician, providing couples therapy and therapy workshops. Looking back on his experience as a Ph.D. student, George credits the Texas Tech Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy program with shaping his current career.
"The courses and internships at TTU offered such diverse experiences that really pushed us both to grow intellectually and as human beings," George said. "Essentially, all of our career responsibilities trace directly back to the skills we learned and the development we experienced at Texas Tech."
The couple looks back on graduating with their Ph.D. as a great accomplishment, having worked so hard to reach their dreams together. Lately, Faith and George both are celebrating new life changes, with the addition of their baby girl.
"I have found that spending time as a family is my new favorite activity," Faith said. "We love the sense of adventure and travel; you can find us roaming the East coast, until our daughter turns 5 and drops naptime, then we'll consider exploring other time zones and longer flights."
Looking to the future, Faith and George are looking forward to running their business in the flexibility and autonomy that ownership provides.
"We also both enjoy specializing in a specific area (i.e., couples) and working toward honing a craft," George said.