Develop Expertise in Rural Mental Health Care

The Oregon Tech Marriage and Family Therapy Program is offered in Klamath Falls, Oregon, on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountain range in beautiful rural Southern Oregon. Individuals and families residing in rural communities across the country are faced with unique obstacles and access to resources when it comes to emotional and mental wellness. Mental health practitioners providing services in rural settings are also faced with unique challenges and opportunities. MFT Faculty and Adjuncts are cognizant of the many facets of rural mental health care. Rural mental health care best practices and considerations are integrated throughout the MFT curriculum at Oregon Tech. Graduates of our program develop skills and expertise in providing ethical mental health care in rural settings. 

Unique Needs of Individuals and Families Living in Rural Areas

Students in the MFT Program learn how to address concerns unique to clients living in rural areas. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Access to services
  • Access to transportation
  • Access to health care coverage
  • Fear of stigma
  • Lack of trust in confidentiality

MFT Students are also trained to identify strengths and resiliency factors when working in rural communities. Examples may include:

  • Close proximity to friends and family
  • Community support
  • Communal healing
  • Access to nature


Why Rural Mental Health Care at Oregon Tech?

Klamath Falls, Oregon, is identified as a Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. HPSAs are geographic regions that lack enough mental healthcare professionals to meet community needs. Mental health care needs in rural communities differ from those in urban areas - which requires specialized training to provide ethical care. 

In Klamath County, there is a specific need for mental health providers with a strong emphasis in understanding family issues - especially in areas strongly impacted by intergenerational issues related to substance use, poverty, and trauma. Oregon Tech MFT Students spend a year-long clinical practicum experience providing therapy in the community, helping individuals and families heal using their advanced training in best practices for providing rural mental health care. 

Rural Suicide: Jefferson Public Radio interview

with Dr. Kevin C. Garrett, Assistant Professor


COVID-19's silent threat: Suicide

"It is hard not to get depressed reading the media reports and watching the pandemic play out in newscasts showing the many victims of COVID-19. As the numbers of deaths and positive cases have risen in our communities, our spirits have fallen, pushed down even further by the necessary distancing from loved ones.

For those who are already experiencing mental illness, the pandemic, with its forced isolation, is an accelerant for self-harm and suicide. These are the less reported, silent causalities of the virus."

Dr. Kevin Garrett writes more about COVID-19 and suicide in an opinion-editorial piece for the Mail Tribune (July 2020).

National Health Service Corps Student Loan Repayment Program

Oregon Tech MS MFT graduates who become licensed and practice in HRSA identified underserved rural areas, like Klamath County, are eligible for student loan repayment opportunities.