In the field of marriage and family therapy (MFT) professors teach a variety of topics from couples counseling, individual therapy methods and therapy theory. But one professor in Chapman’s MFT program has a very specialized area within the program: infertility. Dr. Brennan Peterson has been at Chapman University for 14 years now, and he is considered one of the leading experts in this field. Dr. Peterson started his MFT career at Virginia Tech where he graduated in 2003 with a PhD in Human Development, Marriage and Family Therapy.
Dr. Peterson credits the fact that he formed good collaborative research relationships during his program and dissertation for the advances he has made in the research field. When asked why he chose to study this field in particular Dr. Peterson said “I wanted to research a topic that had real-world applications, I wanted to study something that had practical applications that could help couples who were going through something challenging.”
Dr. Peterson was asked to be a guest speaker by the Psychology and Counseling Special Interest Group who sponsored the ESHRE conference in Vienna in October 2016. There were clinicians from over 11 different countries who attended his workshop on how gender differences can be used as a resource in counseling couples coming for fertility counseling. He described that this conference is “psychologists and counselors who get together and help educate other mental health professionals and medical professionals on psychosocial aspects of infertility.” When reflecting on what an honor it was to be invited to present at an ESHRE conference Dr. Peterson
said, “Being invited to present at an ESHRE conference is always a pleasure. It is a first class organization and they have tremendous international influence. At my workshop, the attendees were from several different countries including Austria, Ireland, Poland, the Netherlands, Romania, South Africa, and the UK. It is exciting to think that the information you present during the conference will be used to help couples facing the challenge of infertility throughout the world.”
Dr. Peterson always takes what he learns at conferences, such as the ESHRE one he presented at, and brings it back to the Chapman community. On Friday April 21st Dr. Peterson conducted the April advanced clinical training session. The audience was primarily made up of Chapman faculty and staff, MFT students,and members of the local community who were looking to obtain clinical CEU’s. Dr. Peterson admitted this presentation was the first all-encompassing comprehensive presentation he has ever given on all of the research he focuses on. What was one of the most interesting parts of his presentation was explaining how he became interested in researching infertility to begin with. Like many researchers and scholars, his interest was sparked by a personal situation, or in this case, his friend who were struggling with infertility. Since then Dr. Peterson has taught,encouraged and mentored countless MFT students,expanded the research field of infertility, and been a lecturer and speaker at several international conferences. Dr. Peterson talked about the history of infertility and fertility treatments, the diversity of topics and sub-specializations in fertility counseling, and provided practical counseling strategies that can be used to help couples during their difficult journey through the infertility experience such as improving communication and coping strategies. He also addressed the impact of advanced age on fertility and discussed the implications of new assisted reproductive technologies such as oocyte and cryopreservation as they related to professionals and patients.
To further highlight Dr. Peterson’s accomplishments, he has been personally invited to speak at the pre-congress meeting of the annual ESHRE conference which will be held in Geneva, Switzerland in July 2017. This annual conference draws over 9,000 health professionals from all over the world. The topics chosen for the pre-congress reflect those at the forefront of the field and help set the future agenda for the profession. When asking Dr. Peterson how he feels about being a part of this he stated “Talking about fertility awareness is a global issue, and being able to address how patients and doctors communicate about fertility issues is an understudied area that needs more attention to study. Being able to present on it at the pre-congress should create new opportunities to advance our knowledge in this area.” Dr. Peterson was also invited to present in March 2018 at a conference in Israel on fertility and the transitions and barriers to parenthood. When asked about this conference Dr. Peterson commented “I’m very excited about this conference, it will be a totally new experience. I have never met any of the presenters and it should be a great opportunity to further discuss this important field.”
Crean College is proud to have a professor who focuses on research on a global, national, and local level that is paving the way in this research field as Dr. Peterson is doing in the MFT field here at Chapman University.