Professor honored for work in marriage and family therapy, sex therapy

State association recognizes Twist for contributions to field
​Jerry Poling | September 8, 2020

A UW-Stout faculty member is being honored with a statewide award from the Wisconsin Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.

Professor Markie Twist, from the human development and family studies department, will receive the Carl Whitaker Award on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the organization’s virtual fall conference.

The award honors a WAMFT member “who has distinguished themselves by contributing to the field of marriage and family therapy in creative or innovative ways,” said Chairperson Christopher Wirth.

Markie TwistIn 2016, Twist started “Sex Speak Sessions,” at which people can meet with sexuality-based educators for confidential, frank and nonjudgmental discussions. Several Sex Speak Sessions have been held on campus, and students have reported greatly benefiting from them, Twist said.

In 2020, Sex Speak Sessions was awarded a UW-Stout Qubie for LGBTQIA+ Friendly Organization of the Year.

Twist teaches in UW-Stout’s Master of Science in marriage and family therapy and is coordinator of the graduate certificate in sex therapy program.

“We feel that your contributions to our field embody the spirit of the award and are thrilled to be able to present you with this award,” Wirth said.

Twist also co-coined the term “digisexuality” in 2017, which has garnered Twist global attention. Twist defines digisexuals as “people whose primary sexual identity comes through the use of technology.”

Twist is proud to be the Carl Whitaker Award recipient.

Markie Twist teaches a class at UW-Stout.“During my Master’s in marriage and family therapy at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, I became truly fascinated by the experiential therapy work of Carl Whitaker. I appreciated his transparency, use of humor and ability to therapeutically join with everyday people. He referred to his practice as ‘therapy of the absurd,” Twist said.

“When I learned that I am to be honored with the 2020 Carl Whitaker Award by the WAMFT I was shocked. I am beyond moved to be recognized by for this award, especially the graduate student part of me, who honestly is in disbelief of being likened to such a unique and talented therapist. The more seasoned clinician in me, however, can definitely see where my absurdness intersects with Whitaker’s, so it feels really fitting looking at it from where I currently am situated.”

Previously, UW-Stout faculty Dale Hawley and Bruce Kuehl have received the award.

More recognition, accomplishments

In 2019, Twist was one of 13 UW System honorees for the Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People.

Twist has received seven grants and given 21 international, 16 national and 20 invited on-campus and community presentations since beginning work at UW-Stout in 2013.

Markie Twist, left, with Sydney Edman, an assistant in the UW-Stout graduate certificate in sex therapy, when Twist was a keynote speaker at the WAMFT Fall Ethics Conference held in 2014 at UW-Stout.Twist also has co-authored four books, one of which was translated into Korean, and 12 book chapters; and published 27 journal articles and 21 journal editorials. Since 2018 Twist has also served as editor-in-chief of the journal of Sexual and Relationship Therapy, and most recently she was named editor of the newsletter for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Queer and Trans Advocacy Network.   

Twist has a doctorate in human development and family studies from Iowa State University; a master’s in marriage and family therapy with an emphasis in sex therapy from University of Louisiana at Monroe; and a master’s in education and bachelor’s in psychology from Northern Arizona University.


The mission of WAMFT, part of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, is to advance the profession and practice of marriage and family therapy and to improve the quality of life for individuals, couples, families and communities throughout Wisconsin.

Whitaker is considered a pioneer in the marriage and family therapy field. “Through his experiential family therapy, he was personally engaged in helping families bring about change and flexibility in the family system,” Wirth said.

Twist noted that Whitaker helped co-found the marriage and family therapy program at UW-Stout. It’s the second oldest continuously accredited program in the country.



UW-Stout Professor Markie Twist

Markie Twist teaches a class at UW-Stout.

Markie Twist, left, with Sydney Edman, an assistant in the UW-Stout graduate certificate in sex therapy, when Twist was a keynote speaker at the WAMFT Fall Ethics Conference held in 2014 at UW-Stout.

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