by Lane Vanderford 16’
Award-winning Marriage and Family Therapist, David Ward, landed his way into Pacific Lutheran University’s MFT program back in 2005. Since then he has used his remarkable therapist skills to help his students thrive in PLU’s very own Marriage and Family Therapy masters program.
David Ward advises students, “When you have found your vocation, it is more of thriving than surviving. While studying in undergrad, you might feel more like you are surviving, but once you have found what you love to do, it is important to thrive.”
David Ward learned this at a young age from two extremely important influences: “My parents always supported us and encouraged us to do whatever it was we dreamed of.” David’s parents supported this thriving young man along with five other children, in a encouraging Mormon home. “My religion is still something that keeps me close to my core, and is a form of my personal self care.”
Through support within the home and his church, David Ward spent a year in Brazil, which has influenced his personal work as a therapist. “Spending a year in Brazil, where I was the minority and had to learn their language, was an incredible human experience. However, since we live in such a diverse country as it is, I don’t believe one needs to travel outside of their country to have that same experience.”
Along with David’s trip to Brazil, his mentors and colleagues in graduate school at Texas Tech University not only encouraged David’s success, but were also an outlet of support to continue that thriving journey through graduate school and into Marriage and Family Therapy.
David Ward has thrived throughout his career and says his proudest achievement would be the reward for his dissertation on Hope in Couples Therapy, received in 2007. This was acknowledged as the dissertation of the year by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. “Out of all my dissertations that were submitted I was honored that my dissertation on Hope won the dissertation of the year,” said David.
Ward expresses to students in undergraduate study, “Everyone has their own journey, and the most important piece of advice I could give is to find what you believe in and follow that road. For example, I personally believe people are influenced by their surroundings and their close relationships, which is why I chose Marriage and Family Therapy. Find what you believe in and go for it, and you will find yourself no longer surviving, but thriving.”