Manijeh Daneshpour

Academician, Clinician and Researcher

Manijeh Daneshpour, Ph.D., LMFT, is a professor and systemwide director of the Alliant International University Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) programs with more than two decades of academic, research, and clinical experience. Dr. Daneshpour, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is a recognized leader in multiculturally sensitive therapy, third-wave feminism, and the foremost expert on family therapy with Muslim families. The themes that are central to Dr. Daneshpour’s career have shaped her influence on the field of family therapy. For example, she has emphasized the importance of family therapists being their authentic selves, being true to who they are, and never forgetting the importance of the person-of-the-therapist.  Dr. Daneshpour has attempted to be a bridge between Eastern and Western cultures and has been willing to challenge the assumptions or stereotypes that each group has had about the other. As the majority of her education has occurred within Western cultures, she is perfectly positioned to be an ambassador between two cultures that historically and currently have little understanding of each other.

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What I Do and not limited to


As an academician, I teach various courses in family therapy theories, couples therapy, family in multicultural contexts, and supervise students’ internships both at the masters and doctoral levels.  I provide mentorships and chair dissertations and engage graduate students to publish their research projects. I am also part of the ongoing program development within the couple and family therapy program, serving on faculty committees, and establishing collaborative relationships within the University and the broader community.


I use family therapy theories as a lens to look at all interactions in the therapy room.  My theoretical orientation is mainly Bowenian and contextual family therapy, but I use all models as I see fit.  I use the self of the therapist, differentiation of self, as well as relational ethics as the core of my clinical work with individuals, couples, and families.  I try to be authentic and trustworthy in my personal and professional work and believe that being true to myself and caring for others are the best ways for human to have meaningful interactions.  I use a culturally sensitive approach to promote greater understanding, respect, and compassion for families’ relational realities within this era of globalization.



My main areas of research, publications, and presentations have been centered on issues of premarital and marital relationships, multiculturalism, social justice, third-wave feminism, and Muslim family dynamics. I have spent more than two decades of training therapists to provide multiculturally sensitive therapy and had a grant training therapists to work with immigrants and refugees.  I have spent many years working and studying Muslim families not as a religious group but as individuals, members of family units, and a distinct group within their own societal context.

An Interview with Dr. Manijeh Daneshpour – The MFT Feminist

Feminism is believing in the fact that patriarchy has dampened women’s ability to use their full potentials to contribute in many positive ways to their societies and both men and women should fight for women equality.  I don’t believe that the U.S. is less patriarchal than many other countries and American women have more rights than many other places.  I also believe that the feminist movement is very important because without equality between men and women both gender suffer the consequences of their gender socialization.  I strongly believe in any praxis that can help women use their true and full potentials in any arena they want

Episode 10: Manijeh Daneshpour: Culturally Competent MFT

Dr. Manijeh Daneshpour is an LMFT with over 20 years of academic research and clinical experience centered around multiculturalism, social justice, premarital and marital relationships of Muslim family dynamics. Eli sits down with Manijeh as she tells powerful stories about her family of origin and her work with clients as it pertains to multiculturalism and cultural diversity. She discusses how being the only girl in an all-boys school has shaped her for her future. She defines what a third-wave feminist is and how it shaped her approach to the classic models of therapy. Lastly, she discusses what factors are important for the field to move forward in cultural competency.

Faculty and researcher

Couples and Family Therapy

Discourses about gender dynamics, power and cultural differences, as well as issues related to relational justice and fairness are often not part of the couple and family therapy treatment even though they are all fundamental aspects of our everyday relationship. Thus, treatment that uses gender and power dynamics, as well as fairness and justice as active and tangible co-participants, may lead to the discovery of much more acceptable solutions. Rather than seeing gender and power as incontrovertible truths, this course will demonstrate why it is better to use the dynamic and constantly evolving structures as a way of maximizing a client’s range of relationally bound choices.

Areas of Expertise


Multicultural Couples and Families




Race and Ethnicity


Couple and Family Therapy


Marital Satisfaction


Social Justice

Upcoming Presentations

The Movie Documentary


What People Are Saying

“I am always challenged and empowered when Dr. Daneshpour speaks! She was one of the reasons I returned to the national conference and is the only teneo lecture I paid for out of pocket myself. Her words give me the energy to do this work throughout the year and permission to address inequity in session with clients. Thank you so much Dr. Daneshpour for continuing to speak and inspiring many therapists to move our field towards equity.”
“Manijeh is in a class of her own. Deeply authentic and real and not afraid to ruffle feathers while presenting and educating. The only standing ovation that I was a part of. Everyone stood up to applaud at conclusion. Why? Because she kept it real and sometimes raw. Perfect.”
“Appreciated the call for MFTs to be a voice and force for social justice.”
“Thank you. Thank you for such a powerful presentation. Your workshop was my favorite of the conference and is the most inspirational training I have been to in a long time. As a social worker, I took several classes focused on cultural diversity and sensitivity. As a member and advocate of the MFT field, I have felt torn in regards to addressing cultural, gender, class, and/or political topics in session. Thank you for giving me the permission to talk about things I have felt were taboo as a therapist yet I was trained to address as a social worker. I hope to learn more from you in the future!”

My Achievements

Professional, Academic, and Research Association Memberships

Editorial Board, Journal of Preventive Counseling
Board of Directors, Family Process Institute
Editorial Board, Journal of Family Process
Editorial Board, Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy
Minority Fellowship Program Advisory Board: AAMFT
Senior Advisor for Clinical Research: Institute for Social Understanding (ISPU)
Reviewer: Journal of Family Therapy Research
Reviewer: Journal of Family Theory
Guest Editor: Journal of Muslim Mental Health
Chair: Minnesota Board for Marriage and Family Therapists
Board Member: Minnesota Board for Marriage and Family Therapists
Clinical Member: American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy
AAMFT Clinical Supervisor: American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy
Clinical Member: Minnesota Association for Marriage and Family Therapists
2008- Present
2002- Present
Professional Member: National Council of Family Relations
Clinical Member: International Family Therapy Association

Awards Received

Iranian Psychotherapy Association Appreciation Award
KAIRE. Inc. Multicultural Clinical Contribution Award
Kente Circle Contribution of MFT Field Award
Major Contribution to the Field, St. Mary University of Minnesota
IMPACT Award: Alliant International University
Family Therapy Legacy Award. National Council on Family Relations
Iranian Psychological Association Appreciation Award
Distinguished Service Award-Minnesota Association for Marriage and Family Therapists
Iranian Psychological Association Appreciation Award
Honorary member of University of Tehran, Department of Psychology Faculty
Iranian Psychological Association Appreciation Award
University of Shahid Beheshti Academic Contribution Award
Multicultural Women Award
MFBSA President Award
Editor’s Award, Minnesota Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Head Start Volunteer Award, Head Start Program, Minnesota

Family Therapy with Muslims

Family Therapy with Muslims is the first guide for mental health professionals who work with Muslims in the family therapy setting. The book opens with a section defining the similarities across Muslim cultures, the effects of postcolonialism on Muslims, and typical Muslim family dynamics. The author then devotes a chapter to different models of family therapy and how they can specifically be applied to working with Muslim families. Case studies throughout the book involve families of many different backgrounds living in the West—including both immigrant and second generation families—that will give professionals concrete tools to work with clients of their own.

Get in touch with me

(949) 812-7468 (work)

(612) 845-6111 (mobile)

2855 Michelle Dr. #300, Irvine, CA 92606

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