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Faculty & Staff

Christine Beliard, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
(954) 262-3044

Christine Ajayi Beliard is an assistant professor in the Department of Family Therapy. Her research centers on marriage and family therapy’s collaborative assessment and treatment of intimate partner violence and the influence of historical racial trauma on couples of color. Additionally, she is committed to social justice and the provision of relevant mental health services to minority families through best practices in training and service delivery.

Beliard provides several community trainings and serves as a consultant and board member for several groups that align with her areas of interest. She is an alumna of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, as well as the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Minority Fellowship Program. She has served as a mentor for the program and is a member of the program’s advisory committee.

Courses: Diversity, Ethics, Teaching Supervision, Group, Couples, Doctoral Seminar, and Quantitative Research

Tommie V. Boyd, Ph.D., LMFT

Professor/Interim Senior Administrative Adviser
(954) 262-3027

Tommie V. Boyd has been in a private practice for more than 30 years and is involved in community outreach projects and consulting. Her work includes couples and family therapy, consulting with medical professionals and patients on illness and wellness issues, developing collaborative care between medical and mental health professionals, and teaching in her present position as an NSU professor. Boyd was one of the awardees of a 2004 NSU President’s Faculty Research and Development Grant Award that funded a collaborative project with the Department of Physical Therapy and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences on Parkinson’s patients and caregiver therapy.

She served on the Florida Association for Marriage and Family Therapy board for 10 years, including the role of president. Her passion for legislative and parity issues have been evident on both the state and national levels. Boyd received a leadership award from the American Association for Marriage and Family for her successful role in legislative issues, including attaining marriage and family therapist status to the Baker Act.

Courses: Systemic Supervision, Couples Therapy, Medical Family Therapy, Strength-Based Solution Oriented and Narrative Therapy, and Research

Christopher Burnett, Psy.D.

Associate Professor    
(954) 262-3010

Christopher F. Burnett is increasingly recognized for his work in the application of systems thinking to social and organizational systems. His work focuses on “human systems” in the areas of government, business, education, community development, and health care, with the goal of illuminating and improving the quality of the human relationships necessary for success in each.

During the past six years, he has worked as an independent human systems consultant in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Burnett was a featured presenter at the 2001 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Summer Institutes for Advanced Clinical Training in Vancouver, Canada, where he presented a seminar on “Developing a Corporate Consulting and Systems Training Practice.”

Courses: Natural Systems Theory, Advanced Bowen Systems, Relationship Systems, Research, Supervision, and Couples Therapy and Family Therapy

Ron Chenail, Ph.D.

NSU Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
(954) 262-3019

Ronald J. Chenail, Ph.D., is the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, professor of family therapy, and director of the Graduate Certificate in Qualitative Research Program at Nova Southeastern University.

Kara Erolin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor/Director of Doctoral Programs
(954) 262-3055

Kara S. Erolin is passionate about social justice issues for marginalized populations, especially for individuals, families, and communities impacted by trauma. She has extensive experience working with culturally diverse populations as an educator, clinical supervisor/practitioner, and researcher. She is a certified trainer in narrative exposure therapy (NET)—an evidence-based treatment posttraumatic stress disorder—and has conducted multiple trainings on NET for clinicians.

Douglas G. Flemons, Ph.D., LMFT

Professor Emeritus/Codirector of the NSU Office of Suicide and Violence Prevention
Professor of Family Therapy    
(954) 262-3012

Douglas G. Flemons is the author of books on writing (Writing Between the Lines), hypnosis and therapy (Of One Mind; The Heart of Hypnotherapy), psychotherapy and Eastern philosophy (Completing Distinctions), and coauthor on suicide assessment (Relational Suicide Assessment).

Flemons is also coeditor with his wife and colleague Shelley Green, Ph.D., LMFT, of three editions of a book on brief sex therapy (Quickies: The Handbook of Brief Sex Therapy). Flemons maintains a private practice in Fort Lauderdale and presents widely on hypnosis, psychotherapy, sexuality, suicide, writing, and other topics.

Courses: Systems Theory, Hypnotherapy, Academic Writing, Suicide Prevention (also provides live supervision of family therapy)

Arlene Brett Gordon, Ph.D., LMFT

Director, Brief Therapy Institute
Director, Health and Wellness Coaching Program    
(954) 262-3032

Arlene Brett Gordon is the director of NSU’s Brief Therapy Institute (BTI) and the director of the B.S. in Health and Wellness Coaching program. The BTI houses both the Family Therapy Clinic and the Medical Family Therapy Clinic in the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Her clinical practice has been greatly influenced by the work of Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer, the founders of Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SBFT). Gordon collaborated with Insoo for more than 15 years, providing SFBT trainings and consultations to community service agencies nationally. Gordon has participated in three of NSU’s Quality of Life Grants and one Chancellor’s Faculty Research and Development Grant on topics focusing on family members’ support for children or adults living with a chronic challenge.

Courses: Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Clinical Practice, Medical Family Therapy and Supervision

Shelley K. Green, Ph.D., LMFT

Professor Emeritus    
(954) 262-3028

Shelley K. Green is active in clinical practice in the community. She serves as the codirector, with Douglas Flemons, Ph.D., LMFT, of Context Consultants, Inc., where she specializes in working with couples regarding issues of sexuality and intimacy. Green’s research and teaching interests are in the areas of sexuality, clinical supervision, and equine-assisted approaches to clinical work. She has published numerous articles and book chapters and is the coeditor with Flemons of Quickies: The Handbook of Brief Sex Therapy (W.W. Norton, 2018).

Green developed and directs the equine-assisted therapy program at NSU, teaching two graduate-level courses in equine-assisted family therapy each year since 2012. She cofounded a local nonprofit organization, Stable Place Equine Assisted Therapies.

Through collaboration with Stable Place, she and her colleagues offer training and education in the community, as well as clinical services for underserved and at-risk populations. In collaboration with Stable Place and the Florida International University BRIDGE Program, Green received funding from the Ware Foundation for a two-year clinical and research project evaluating the effects of the equine-facilitated therapy model for foster care youth.

Green also received funding from the Quell Foundation to examine the impact of the equine-facilitated approach for at-risk youth. The Quell Foundation also currently supports scholarships for family therapy master’s students, with half of the scholarships awarded to students enrolled in the Equine-Assisted Family Therapy courses Green developed.

Courses: Equine-Assisted Family Therapy, Systems, and Sexuality

Pei-Fen Li, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Director of Accreditation    
(954) 262-3052

Pei-Fen Li’s research interests include dyadic analyses of couples’ communication and relational well-being, application of marriage and family therapy models in Eastern cultures, acculturation process of immigrant families and international students, and solution-focused brief therapy with parents of children with autism.

In 2017 and 2019, she received a grant from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and Quality of Life to study the effectiveness of solution-focused group brief therapy with parents of children with autism in Taiwan and South Florida. Li’s supervision style is strengths-based, system-informed, and solution-oriented. She also highlights the importance of the self of therapist in providing effective therapy services for clients.

Courses: Ethics, Research Methods, Quantitative I and II, Internal and External Practicum, Theories in Family Therapy, International Perspectives of MFT, and Crisis Management


Kristi Messer, M.P.H., M.S.W., LCSW

Director, KPCOM Undergraduate Programs
Assistant Professor, Master of Public Health
Assistant Professor, Master of Science in Disaster and Emergency Management
(954) 262-1072

Kristi Messer relocated to Florida from Washington D.C., where she spent years working with the Department of Health and Human Services to successfully launch community health centers across the nation. As a passionate public health professional, Messer currently serves the KPCOM as an academic administrator and professor in the Bachelor of Science in Public Health program.

Messer is also an assistant professor of disaster and emergency management and assists community health centers across the state with developing robust emergency preparedness plans. She has dedicated her professional life to underserved and vulnerable population groups through her involvement with the homeless, individuals with disabilities, communities affected by disasters, and persons impacted by mental illness.

During the past seven years, Messer has presented her research and academic achievements at more than 40 international, national, state, and local conferences. Messer is also a licensed clinical social worker and is dedicated to positively impacting children, families, and adults.

Fariha Niazi

Interim Chair
Assistant Professor    
(954) 262-8212

Fariha M. Niazi is particularly interested in teaching and training clinicians on how to work with individuals and families who are living with chronic behavioral and physical health conditions, especially those who have experienced social injustices and disadvantages, such as socioeconomic disparities and lack of access to health care. She has experience in using, training, and teaching clinical framework of integrated care, as well as the biopsychosocial model, when facilitating care for different cultural groups.

Before joining the Department of Family Therapy as a visiting faculty member, she was actively working in the community for more than 15 years. In addition to teaching, supervising, and training in graduate programs, Niazi has worked as a regional director for a community mental health agency and a training manager for an integrated managed care health plan.

Courses: Introduction to Systems Theories, Clinical Practice, Psychopathology, Couple Therapy, Supervision, Group Therapy, and Medical Family Therapy


Alina M. Perez, J.D., M.P.H., LCSW

Professor of Public Health
(954) 262-1655

In addition to 17 years of experience in academia, Alina M. Perez brings more than 15 years of practical experience as a licensed clinical social worker in the areas of inpatient and outpatient mental health, inpatient oncology, emergency care, and hospice care. Her clinical practice, scholarship, and community involvement has focused extensively on addressing legal, ethical, and public health issues of the aging population, minorities, and the underserved. She has presented at many local, national, and international conferences and frequently provides lectures and continuing education sessions for students and professionals in the community and other NSU colleges.

Michael D. Reiter, Ph.D., LMFT

(954) 262-7921

Michael D. Reiter’s therapeutic and theoretical interests range from the use of brief experiential therapeutic techniques and therapeutic integration to therapist expansion and case conceptualization. He has written seven books and coedited two books.

These books include Systems Theories for Psychotherapists (Routledge, 2019); Family Therapy: An Introduction to Process, Practice, & Theory (Routledge, 2018); Therapeutic Interviewing (Pearson, 2007); Case Conceptualization in Family Therapy (Pearson, 2014); Substance Abuse and the Family (2nd ed. Routledge, 2019); and coauthored The Craft of Family Therapy (Routledge, 2014) with Salvador Minuchin, M.D., one of the most important figures in the field of family therapy.

Reiter also coedited books with Ronald Chenail, Ph.D.: Behavioral, Humanistic-Experiential, and Psychodynamic Approaches to Couples Counseling and Constructivist, Critical, and Integrative Approaches to Couples Counseling (Routledge, 2017). He has also presented at many state, national, and international conferences on various issues in psychotherapy and family therapy.

Sweta Tewary, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
(954) 262-4015

Sweta Tewary is an experienced health care professional with specific training in the field of health care and technology. She is an assistant professor with the Department of Geriatrics and is also the administrative director of a federally funded Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant—the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program. She has worked on multiple grants funded through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the Children’s Trust, HRSA, and the Retirement Research Foundation.

Most of Tewary’s work involved developing program evaluations, measurements, identifying data trends, opportunities for program services improvement, making recommendations for future funding opportunities to enhance services, using data to explore and develop sustainability, and collaborating with health care providers for project implementation. She is passionate about data analytics and investigating questions that can help improve the health of the community, promote health equity, and contribute to a culture of health.

Tewary has been involved in multiple projects with innovative outcomes that have led to the success of many organizations. Some of her strengths are designing evaluation protocols, conducting statistical analysis to employ the best available data using appropriate social-science research techniques, curriculum development, and developing quality-improvement measures.

Jamie West, Ph.D., LMFT

Assistant Professor
(954) 262-8204

Jamie West teaches topics related to diversity, ethics, trauma-informed care, and substance-abuse treatment. Her research and clinical focus are on family resilience and substance-abuse prevention and intervention for at-risk youth. She has extensive clinical experience working with diverse populations and presenting problems. West is trained in emotionally-focused therapy and the Gottman Method. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a Certified ARISE® Interventionist.

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