Sean Davis, PhD, LMFT
I know that finding a therapist can be tough. How do you pick someone that you’ll potentially invite into the most private parts of your life just from looking at their website? What if you spend all that time, money, and emotional energy, and you end up not liking them? Thoughts like these may be going through your mind as you look for a therapist – they’d certainly be going through mine. I hope that by reading this page, you’ll know a little bit more about who I am.Dr. Davis
I received a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies with a minor in Psychology from Brigham Young University. During my undergraduate years I gained a love for helping people through their struggles. I wanted to stay at BYU, because with a rejection rate of over 90% (i.e., they accept less than 10% of their applicants) and the most extensive faculty in the nation at the time, BYU’s Masters Marriage and Family Therapy(MFT) program is widely considered one of the best in the nation. Somehow (I still don’t know how…I had a really bad cold on the day of interviews!) I was accepted into the program, and graduated two years later. Two articles from my master’s thesis on enactments (a technique in marital therapy) were published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, the top family therapy journal in the world, and are used in training programs around the world.
From there I moved to Blacksburg, Virginia to get a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in MFT at Virginia Tech. My family and I had a lot of fun enjoying the southern hospitality of the Appalachian mountains and Hokie football. While at VT, my dissertation proposal won the nationally competitive 2004 Graduate Student Research Award presented by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, my field’s national professional organization. A year later my completed doctoral dissertation won the nationally-competitive 2005 AAMFT Dissertation Award. That was a real honor for me, because nobody had ever won both awards before, nor have they since. I have since published several professional articles and two books based on my dissertation.
From Virginia Tech my family and I moved to Lexington, Kentucky to complete my doctoral internship and post-doctoral training as a visiting faculty in the MFT program at the University of Kentucky. We loved all of the green, rolling hills and immaculate horse farms (and basketball!) in Lexington.
Even though the East coast is beautiful and we’d made a lot of friends out there, my family and I were excited to come back west (we’re west-coasters at heart) to take a job as Assistant Professor and Clinical Coordinator in Alliant International University’s Sacramento Campus. The program had only been open for one year, and there was only one other core faculty member, so there was plenty of work to do! Alliant is one of the foremost MFT training programs on the west coast, and the only COAMFTE Accredited (the highest level of MFT accreditation in the United States) MFT Training program in Northern California, so I was honored to be invited to join their faculty.
A year later I accepted a promotion to the role of program director. I directed the program for five years, during which time I was fortunate enough to oversee the hiring of several new faculty, the opening of our doctoral program, and substantial growth in our master’s program. I was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure in the middle of all that. I also co-authored several popular books during that time. A year after I stepped down from the director role I was promoted to the rank of Full Professor, which is where I remain today.
Today I enjoy teaching classes, helping students with their dissertations, writing and conducting research, and serving on different university committees. My university has an international focus, so I take advantage of as many opportunities to take students abroad as possible. The picture below is from a class I co-taught in Italy.
Though I have helped people with most challenges over the years, lately I do a lot of couples therapy and individual therapy for anxiety, depression, and overall life adjustment issues.
Are you considering couples therapy or marriage counseling? Has your connection to your spouse or partner drifted over the years? Maybe there’s nothing huge that has happened, but the little annoyances have grown over the years until you don’t feel anything when you look at each other. Or perhaps your marriage took a big hit – an affair, addiction, or some other betrayal – and you’re not sure how to put things back together. Or maybe you’re not sure if you want to stay together. Regardless of what you need help with in your relationship, I can help. I have worked with thousands of couples in therapy over the course of my career, most of those in the greater Sacramento area.
Perhaps you’re looking for individual therapy instead. Maybe life feels flat – nothing majorly wrong, but you don’t feel much purpose. Or perhaps you’re struggling with anxiety and can’t stop worrying or obsessing about something. Maybe you’ve fallen into a depression that you can’t seem to get out of – everything seems dark and hopeless. If so, I can help.
As you probably gathered, I’m a bit of a workaholic. I’m also a big believer in the “work hard, play hard” mantra, so my family and I are always off on some adventure. My wife and I have been married since 1998, and have four beautiful children that are growing up way too fast! I love traveling with them; we’ve been all over the United States. I also enjoy traveling around the world for various professional opportunities. I was raised in a beautiful rural corner of Utah, so I enjoy anything outdoors – hiking, camping, cycling, rafting, snowboarding, etc. I’ve also been obsessed with cars since I was a little boy, so I’m always scheming ways to own fun cars (I’m very lucky in that regard to have a supportive wife!) I’m a big fan of European motorsport, in particular Audi’s racing team. On my bucket list is to attend the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France before 2020. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Availability & Rates
- Wednesday 9-5
- $170 per 50-minute hour
Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications
Laszloffy, T. A., & Davis, S. D. (in press). Nurturing nature: Exploring ecological self-of-the-therapist issues. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.
Grady, J., Banford Witting, A., Kim, A., & Davis, S. (in press). Differences in Unit Cohesion and Combat-Related Mental Health Problems Based on Attachment Styles in US Military Veterans. Contemporary Family Therapy.
Wilson, K. L., Glebova, T., Davis, S. D., & Seshadri, G. (2017). Adolescent mothers in foster care: Relational ethics, depressive symptoms and health problems through a contextual therapy lens. Contemporary Family Therapy, 39, 150-161. Doi: 10.1007/s10591-017-9417-y
**Karam, E., Blow, A., Sprenkle, D. H. , & Davis, S. D. (2015). Strengthening the Systemic Ties that Bind: Integrating Common Factors into MFT Curricula. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 41, 136-149. Doi: 10.1111/jmft.12096.
Karam, E., Davis, S. D., & Sprenkle, D. H. (2015). Targeting Threats to the Therapeutic Alliance: A Primer for MFT Training. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 41, 389-400. Doi: 10.1111/jmft.12097.
Dattilio, F. M., Piercy, F. P., & Davis, S. D. (2014). The divide between “evidence-based” approaches and practitioners of traditional theories of family therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 40, 5-16. Doi: 10.111/jmft.12032.
**Fife, S. T., Whiting, J. B., Bradford, K., & Davis, S. D. (2014). The therapeutic pyramid: A common factors synthesis of techniques, alliance, and way of being. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 40, 20-33. Doi: 10.1111/jmft.12041.
Davis, S. D., Lebow, J., & Sprenkle, D. H. (2012). Common factors of change in couple therapy. Behavior Therapy, 43, 36-48.
Blow, A. J., Davis, S. D., & Sprenkle, D. H. (2012). Therapist-worldview matching: Not as important as matching to clients. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38, 13-17.
Woolley, S. R., Wampler, K. S., & Davis, S. D. (2012). Enactments in couple therapy: Identifying therapist interventions associated with positive change. Journal of Family Therapy, 34, 284-305.
Butler, M. H., Davis, S. D., & Seedal, R. (2008). Common pitfalls of beginning therapists utilizing enactments. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 34, 269-286.
*Davis, S. D. & Piercy, F. P. (2007). What clients of MFT model developers and their former students say about change, Part I: Model dependent common factors across three models. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33, 318-343.
*Davis, S. D. & Piercy, F. P. (2007). What clients of MFT model developers and their former students say about change, Part II: Model independent common factors and an integrative framework. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33, 344-363.
*Blow, A. J., Sprenkle, D. S., & Davis, S. D. (2007). Is who delivers the treatment more important than the treatment itself?: The role of the therapist in common factors. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 33, 298-317.
Davis, S.D. (2005). Beyond technique: An autoethnographic exploration of how I learned to show love towards my father. The Qualitative Report, 10, 532-541.
Huebner, A. J., Shettler, L., Matheson, J. L., Meszaros, P. S., Piercy, F. P., & Davis, S. D. (2005). Examining ethnic differences in predictors of female adolescent smoking in rural Virginia. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, 15, 27-61.
Davis, S. D., & Butler, M. H. (2004). Enacting relationships in Marriage and Family Therapy: A conceptual and operational definition of an enactment. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 30, 319-334.
Davis, S. D., Piercy, F. P., Meszaros, P. S., Huebner, A. J., Shetler, L., & Matheson, J. L. (2004). Female adolescent smoking: A Delphi study on best prevention practices. Journal of Drug Education, 34, 295-311.
Huebner, A. J., Shettler, L., Matheson, J. L., Meszaros, P. S., Piercy, F. P., & Davis, S. D. (2004). Factors associated with former smokers among female adolescents in rural Virginia. Addictive Behaviors, 30, 167-173.
*Three of the five most cited journal articles of all articles published in the top-ranked Journal of Marital and Family Therapy between 2005-2008.
**Awarded the 2014 and 2015 Journal of Marital and Family Therapy article of the year award.
Lebow, J., Chambers, A., & Breunlin, D. C (Eds). Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy, New York: Springer. (I was an associate editor for this project, in charge of editing approximately 75 chapters)
Nichols, M. P., & Davis, S. D. (in press). Essentials of family therapy (7th ed.). Columbus, OH: Pearson.
Davis, S. D. (in press). Sprenkle, Douglas. In Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy.
Davis, S. D., Gonzalez, V. & Sahabzadi, S. (in press). Therapeutic alliance in couple and family therapy. In Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. New York: Springer.
Lou-Barton, G. & Davis, S. D. (in press). Systems theory. In Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. New York: Springer.
Davis, S. D. (2017). Common factors in couple and family therapy. In Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. New York: Springer. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_515-1
Davis, S. D. (2017). Piercy, Fred. In Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy. New York: Springer. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_790-1
Davis, S. D. (2016). Enactments in five developmental stages. In Weeks, G., Fife, S., & Peterson, C. (Eds.) Techniques for the Couples Therapist: Essential Interventions. New York: Routledge.
Davis, S. D. & Espinoza, S. A. (2016). Enactments. In Weeks, G., Fife, S., & Peterson, C. (Eds.) Techniques for the Couples Therapist: Essential Interventions. New York: Routledge.
Davis, S. D., Dattilio, F. M., & Gonzalez, A. (2014). Family Therapy. In Cautin, R., & Lilienfeld, S. (Eds), Encyclopedia of Clinical Psychology, New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
Davis, S. D., & Gonzalez, A. (2014). A new experience with the family of origin. In Bean, R. A., Davis, S. D., & Davey, M. P. (Eds), Clinical Supervision Activities for Increasing Competence and Self-Awareness, New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
Piercy, F. P., Soekandar, A., Limansubroto, C., & Davis, S. D. (2005). Family therapy with Indonesians. In M. McGoldrick, J. Pearce, & J. Giordano (Eds.), Ethnicity and family therapy (3rd ed. pp. 332-338). New York: Guilford.
Benningfield, A. B. & Davis, S. D. (2005). Family business consultation: Opportunities for MFTs. In S. M Harris, D. C. Ivey, & R. A. Bean (Eds.), A practice that works: Strategies to supplement your stand alone therapy practice (pp. 211-223). New York: Taylor & Francis.