Counseling Psychology — MFT
Mary M. Coombs

Mary M. Coombs, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.

Adjunct Faculty, Counseling Psychology

Professor Coombs has been a USF adjunct faculty member since 2004. For over a decade, she served as adjunct faculty member at University of California-Berkeley, in the School of Social Welfare. She is a core faculty member at the Sanville Institute (CA Institute for Clinical Social Work), a Ph.D. program for advanced MSW and MFT clinicians where she mentors doctoral students, and supervises dissertations.

She received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She received a NIMH post-doctoral fellowship in mental health research at UC-Berkeley, where she was a core member of the Berkeley Psychotherapy Process and Outcome Research Group, in the department of Psychology. She has researched and published on the role of emotion in both psychodynamic and behavioral therapies, and the factors correlated with continuance and discontinuance in therapy.

Mary’s clinical, teaching, and research interests are in the areas of: comparative analyses of different psychotherapy modalities, integrative psychotherapy, cross cultural understandings of human development, including concepts of mental health and mental illness, emotion and psychotherapy, and psychotherapy process and outcome research.

In her teaching, she encourages students to develop their own views about ways to integrate multiple treatment modalities in their work.

A current project of Dr. Coombs focuses on childrens’ fairy tales, and their usefulness in understanding the meanings, experience, and development in childhood.


Ph.D., School of Social Work, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

Courses Offered
  • Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy
  • Counseling across cultures
  • Individual and family lifespan development
  • Family systems therapy
  • Group work in clinical settings
  • Problem solving therapy and couseling
  • Traineeship
  • Couples Counseling - Brief interactional systems therapy

Castonquay, L., Holtforth, M., Coombs, M. M., Beberman, R., Kakouros, A., Boswell, J., Reid, J. J., & Jones, E. E. (2006). Relationship factors in treating dysphoric disorders. In L. Castonguay & L. Beutler (Eds.), Principles of therapeutic change that work (pp.65-81). NY: Oxford University Press.

Austin, M., Coombs, M. M., & Barr, B. (2005). Community-centered clinical practice: Is the integration of micro and macro social work practice possible? Journal of Community Practice, 13, 9-30.

Coombs, M. M. (2004). [Review of the book Creative conversations; Meetings with family therapists and their ideas, Gustaf Berglund and Erik Abrahamsson, 2000]. International Journal of Social Welfare, 13, 189-190.

Coombs, M. M., Coleman, D., & Jones, E. E. (2002). Working with feelings: The importance of emotion in the NIMH Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program. Psychotherapy: Theory/Research/Practice/Training, 39, 233-244.

Ying, Yu-Wen, Coombs, M. M., & Lee, P. (1999). Family intergenerational relationship of Asian American adolescents. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5, 350-363.

Echenhofer, F. & Coombs, M. (1987). A brief review of the research literature and controversies in EEG biofeedback and EEG meditation research. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 19, 161-171.

Coombs, M. M. (1987). Dropping out of treatment in the 1980's: Factors associated with adult client continuance and discontinuance in adult outpatient psychotherapy. Dissertation Abstracts International, 47(11).

Coombs, M. & Echenhofer, F. (1985). Dream content analysis of individuals experiencing loss and its relationship to the healing process. 24th Annual Conference of the International Council for Autonomous Professional Practice of Clinical Social Work, Separation, Loss and Healing: Psychological, Social and Cultural Issues. (Proceedings). Opatija, Yugoslavia. August 17-31, pp. 93-111.