Dr. Benesh appointed interim program director for MFT program

Dr. Benesh smiles for the camera

MACON/ATLANTA — Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) Dean Jean R. Sumner, M.D., FACP, announced the appointment of Andrew Benesh, Ph.D., as interim program director for the Master of Family Therapy (MFT) program effective Feb. 1.

Dr. Benesh, who formerly served as assistant program director for the MFT program, earned his master’s degree in family therapy from Mercer in 2012 and completed his Ph.D. in family therapy at Florida State University in 2017. He succeeds Ben Beitin, Ph.D., LMFT, after serving as program director since 2022.

Dr. Benesh is a certified trainer for QPR Suicide Prevention and GA Mandated Reporter Training and holds licenses as a marriage and family therapist, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) clinical fellow, and AAMFT-approved supervisor.

During his tenure at Mercer, Dr. Benesh has served as Master of Family Therapy clinic coordinator and faculty advisor for the Aid for the Impaired Medical Student (AIMSS) Program. He provides clinical oversight for student therapists participating in the Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center’s Pediatric Mental Health Initiative.

“Dr. Benesh is a highly-valued member of our department,” said Angela Hale, M.D., psychiatrist and chair of MUSM’s department of psychiatry and behavioral science. “His mentorship of our students over the last seven years has been indispensable, and I look forward to continued work with him in his new role. I would also like to express our appreciation to Dr. Beitin for his dedicated service. His contributions have been invaluable, and we extend our gratitude for his leadership and commitment to our department.”

Dr. Benesh’s diverse clinical background includes experience in psychiatric emergency and inpatient facilities, intensive in-home family therapy services, juvenile justice facilities and outpatient mental health clinics. At Mercer Medicine, he provides supervision and training for pre-licensed and associate clinicians and supervision mentoring for AAMFT Supervisor-in-Training candidates.

Beyond Mercer, Dr. Benesh is active in community mental health outreach and has held leadership roles in non-profits focused on mental health and child welfare. He served as vice president of the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and board chair for Camp to Belong Georgia.

Dr. Benesh’s research focuses on families in the child welfare system, with an emphasis on foster parent training, relational factors influencing youth outcomes, community-based preventive care, mental health care for rural populations, relational approaches to suicide prevention and response and non-traditional therapy interventions.

Mercer University School of Medicine’s MFT program aims to transform MFT students into competent, compassionate and ethical professionals who work collaboratively to meet the needs of individuals, couples, families and communities, including the rural and medically underserved. The MFT program has been preparing high-quality practitioners to work in various settings, including community mental health centers, substance abuse treatment agencies, hospitals, schools, private practice and academia for more than 35 years.

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)
Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened additional four-year M.D. campuses in Savannah in 2008 and in Columbus in 2021. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School’s primary teaching hospitals: Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center and Piedmont Macon Medical Center in Macon; Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master’s degrees in preclinical sciences and family therapy and Ph.D.s in biomedical sciences and rural health sciences.