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March 16, 2007

ULM therapist and wife receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Charles Cole, Ph. D., LMFT, and wife Anna Cole, LMFT, were selected as the 2007 Distinguished Marriage & Family Therapy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients at the Louisiana Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Conference in Baton Rouge Feb. 22.

Charles, a professor in the University of Louisiana at Monroe Marriage and Family Therapy program, and Anna, a frequent guest lecture in MFT courses at ULM, are nationally regarded as one of the top husband-wife co-therapy teams specializing in working with couples. The Coles, pioneers in the area of marriage enrichment and family wellness, help couples develop their marriage potential and a marital growth plan to meet their unique needs. Both collaborate on conference presentations, leading workshops, and research.

A nationally recognized family therapy trainer and researcher, Charles founded the Ph. D. Marriage and Family Therapy program at Iowa State University and served on the faculty there for 22 years. He transferred to ULM in 1997 to help establish the Ph. D. training program and served as the Hanna Spyker Endowed Chair for two terms.

LAMFT President Annie Forsythe described Charles as “a creative and prolific scholar in the truest sense of the word. He lives and breathes teaching and training marriage and family therapy students at ULM.”

Throughout his career Charles has conducted cutting-edge research on the ingredients of happy, stable marriages and strong families. In the 1980s he conducted a seven-year longitudinal study of healthy families in Iowa, and he identified factors that strengthened families. In the Iowa Healthy Family Study, Charles examined the interaction patterns that help healthy families stay connected even in stressful times.

Charles’ current research focuses on factors that contribute to positive outcomes in marriage and family therapy. His research on medical family therapy collaborations with Katherine Wilson, Ph. D. and Cathy Parker, who will receive her Ph. D. in May, examines how incorporating physical, emotional, and family relationships into health care can enhance a patient’s care.

He is the founder of the International Marriage and Family Therapy Honor Society, has served on the boards of directors of three national organizations in the marriage and family field and as president of four marriage and family professional organizations. He is the author of more than 80 publications and has directed 16 major research projects on marriage and family relationships and therapy.

“The accomplishments of my students and former students that I have trained are my greatest contribution,” Charles Cole said. He has trained over 200 marriage and family therapists at the masters and doctoral level. Sixty of his former students currently hold positions as faculty members at universities throughout the world.

Anna is a pioneer in the marriage and family therapy field. She was the first person elected to serve as a student member of the AAMFT Board of Directors. Anna established and served as the founding chair of the AAMFT Student and Associate Association.

Anna currently serves as chair of the Elections Council of the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. She has also served at the national level in other prestigious marriage and family organizations such as the National Council on Family Relations. She served as vice chair of the Family Therapy Section, and her husband served as chair of the Family Policy Section and deputy chair of the Education and Enrichment Section of the National Council on Family Relations.

The Coles served as the founding co-chair of the Marriage Enrichment Focus Group of the National Council on Family Relations. They have served as the co-chair and co-directors of national and international conferences on family wellness. Anna is the author of more than 20 journal articles and numerous chapters in prestigious books.

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