If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Constantinople.
-Alphonse de Lamartine, 19th-century French writer and politician
The above quote is one that I frequently stumbled upon during preparation for my trip to Istanbul. I didn’t fully grasp its meaning until I had the amazing opportunity to gaze on Constantinople (present day Istanbul) myself. To put the experience into words is an insurmountable task, but I shall try to give a taste of some of the highlights. Dr. Todd Edwards and Dr. Jo Ellen Patterson planned the trip as part of the curriculum for this spring’s Family Development Class. In addition to seeing breathtaking sights and going on historic tours, we visited three Universities: Bilgi University, Süleyman Şah University, and Doğuş University. During our educational exchanges with these Universities we learned about contemporary Turkish families, public policies concerning families, divorce, and the current state of the field of marital and family therapy in Turkey.
We had many amazing opportunities for touring and sight seeing while in Turkey. We visited some awe-inspiring historic destinations such as the Topkapi Palace, the Hagia Sophia, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque), the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, the Galata tower and numerous others. Another highlight included taking a ferry ride across the Bosphorus, which afforded beautiful views of both European and Asian sides of the city. One of my favorite experiences on the trip was a walk we took through the streets of a historic neighborhood where we were able to have a glimpse of every day life and see children at play.
Marital and Family Therapy in Turkey:
Our educational exchanges at the three Universities we visited far exceeded any expectations I could have possibly had. Our first exchange was with Bilgi University. We met Emre Konuk and Eda Arduman and learned about the state of the marital and family therapy profession in Turkey. We also learned about the Couple and Family Therapies Association or Çift ve Aile Terapileri Derneği in Turkish, and the work of its members to formalize a licensure for MFTs in Turkey. Our second exchange was with Süleyman Şah University where sociologist Dr. Serap Kavas presented on Family and Change in Turkey. Dr. Patterson and Dr. Edwards also gave a presentation, which was on American Couples Considering and Coping with Divorce. It was extremely interesting to hear the two presentations back to back and to see the commonalities between American and Turkish families as well as the differences.
Our day at Doğus University began with the opportunity to meet Sibel Erenel, Nilufar Kafescioglu and Yudum Akyil who presented on Family Therapy and Research in Turkey. They were extremely knowledgeable and it was easy to see that they were passionate about their profession and cared deeply about their students. They are also part of the Couple and Family Therapies Association and the work being done to formalize a licensure for MFTs in Turkey. A highlight of the day was the opportunity to watch a live therapy session. One of the students was brave enough to allow us to watch her therapy session and provide feedback during a post session discussion. Another highlight of the day occurred when Dr. Patterson and Dr. Edwards gave a presentation on Family Therapy in Primary Care. The president of the International Family Therapy Association, Fatma Torun Reid, introduced them and discussed one of their books, Essential Skills in Family Therapy. It was exhilarating to be reminded that our professors are leaders in our field and their works are known worldwide. We ended our eventful day by going to dinner with faculty and students from Doğus University. The opportunity to have dialogues with leaders in the field of marital and family therapy, not only in Turkey but worldwide was an extremely humbling experience. I realized how truly blessed we are to have these amazing opportunities afforded to us as part of our education at USD.