BYU Alum Returning: School of Family Life Professor Shayne Anderson

Photo by Savanna Sorensen/BYU
Photo by Savanna Sorensen/BYU

Initially, the idea of pursuing a career in marriage and family therapy was non-existent in the mind of our newest professor, Dr. Shayne Anderson. He had never heard of the field of study before his college days, which he began by pursuing a degree in wildlife conservation biology. After returning home from his mission, Anderson switched to accounting with the idea that if he was going to support a family, he needed a more financially stable career.

But fate led Anderson down another path. For him, this was literally down a different BYU hallway where Anderson came across a map labelled pre-MFTSA. “I thought, I wonder what that is. I like maps, maybe it’s a map club,” said Anderson. “So, I went and it was a pre-marriage and family therapy meeting.” It was the idea of viewing people in their contexts and illuminating how they are all interconnected with each other that hooked Anderson. “I realised I actually like helping people, much more than I like numbers.” Anderson graduated with his bachelor’s in Family Science, and his master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, both from BYU. He then went on to receive his doctorate in Child and Family Development from the University of Georgia in 2007.

Since then Anderson has worked as assistant professor for the department of human development and family studies at the University of Connecticut, before moving on to become the acting program director of their Marriage and Family Therapy Program. During the extent of his career Anderson has received numerous awards, including the AAMFT Dissertation Award and the Reviewer of the Year Award from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, Anderson’s research focuses primarily on the change process in couples. While it may be evident that therapy works in most cases, Anderson endeavours to discover exactly how. His time is also spent running a program that works with high-conflict co-parents, i.e. divorced couples that are still figuring out child custody. As a result, Anderson has numerous publications on family therapy. Excited to be back at BYU, Anderson is a highly active professor in student mentoring. “There’s resources [here] that I don’t think are available anywhere else for the study of the family,” said Anderson.

After completing the majority of his education here at BYU, Shayne Anderson told himself that he would never return to work here. “I thought I could be more useful and valuable being the LDS professor…somewhere else,” said Anderson. “But as the way things aligned I came out here for an interview and just fell in love.”

Anderson and his wife, Sarah, whom he met while at BYU, are kept busy with their five children, but all are excited to be back in Utah.

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