Dr. Jim Rentz and Dr. Jim Pruett had been trained in counseling in the late 1960’s through the 1970’s, but each had a personal interest in the relatively new idea of working with people from a systems (or family) perspective. They believed that treating a person while taking their whole life experience into account would be more healing than just looking at the individual problem at hand. They discovered that there were others as well who wanted to know more about this approach. In 1980, the two doctors founded WestGate Training and Consultation Network, now known as West Gate Family Therapy Institute.
Soon after its founding, WestGate became an accredited Post-Degree Institute. This means that clinicians who already hold an advanced degree can come to WestGate to take additional coursework, receive a certificate of advanced training, and go through the process of being licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of South Carolina. Providing an institution which allows students to receive additional training, in turn, allowed Dr. Rentz and Dr. Pruett to accomplish their foremost goal, to heal those in our community.
In order to grow the program and offer a more comprehensive training program, Dr. Rentz sought out colleges in the state to see if any were interested in such a degree program. Fortunately, Converse College believed in Dr. Rentz’s vision and agreed to sponsor an Educational Specialist Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Today, Converse College and West Gate Family Therapy Institute work hand in hand to provide students the best education as they pursue a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT). West Gate currently serves the community by holding true to Dr. Rentz’s vision to train up therapists using the family systems approach through quality counseling services for clients and superior clinical experiences for students and post graduates. The Converse program has grown leaps and bounds thus West Gate has been issued the challenge to keep up! Even though these changes have ushered a new era, we continually hold fast to the heart of what Dr. Rentz and Dr. Pruett set out to accomplish – the healing of those in our community and simultaneous training of new clinicians in our field.
EMERGE Family Therapy Center & Teaching Clinic
138 Dillon Drive, Spartanburg, SC 29307