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MFT License Requirements in Alabama

Alabama’s marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Marriage and Family Therapy. ABEMFT regulates all levels of practice, beginning with the supervised experiences attained in graduate school. Designations include Marriage and Family Therapy Intern (MFT Intern), Marriage and Family Therapy Associate (MFT Associate), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). There are additional designations for those who supervise trainees.

Capella University, offers one of only two online Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) - accredited master's programs in Marriage and Family Therapy. This program prepares you for MFT state license eligibility. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their program.

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LMFT Education Requirements in Alabama

Full licensure as an LMFT requires graduate education, post-degree supervised experience, and examination.

Professionals are eligible for credentialing if they have attended a COAMFTE-accredited marriage and family therapy program or a program in an allied field that included sufficient coursework in marriage and family therapy. The program must be housed in a school that holds regional accreditation.

The board mandates graduate coursework in six areas. The candidate needs two courses each in human development and marriage and family studies, three courses in marriage and family therapy, and one course each in research, mental health diagnosis, and professional issues/ ethics. Coursework in marriage and family studies and therapy should emphasize systems theory and systematic interventions.

There are limits on what can be counted toward each content area. For example, one cannot count religious ethics towards the professional ethics requirement, or tests and measurement toward the human development requirement. A description is available in section 536-X-5-.01 of the rules (http://216.226.177.99/rules.aspx). Graduates of COAMTE programs are assumed to have met the curricular requirements, but other candidates will need to provide course descriptions or syllabi upon application.

The board considers a course to be three semester hours, four quarter hours, or 45 contact (lecture) hours.

MFT and LMFT Field Experience and Supervision Requirements

In addition to the above didactic coursework, MFT candidates must have field experience. They must complete a 12 month internship that includes at least 500 hours of direct client contact. At least 250 of the client contact hours must be in sessions that include families or couples. A 50 minute session may be counted as a contact hour. The internship may be done as part of the degree program or post-degree.

During the practicum time, the intern will receive 100 hours of direct supervision by a professional who has been approved by the board. While meeting this requirement, an Alabama student or graduate will be credentialed as an MFT Intern.

Supervision must meet requirements set by the Board. Interns who are not enrolled in COAMTE-accredited programs must submit a supervisor contact and have board approval before beginning. (All prospective interns will submit applications, but not all will need to complete every form in the application packet.)

Internship status is granted for two years. It may be renewed for another two. One of the requirements for renewal is continuing education: ten contact hours earned during the 24 month period. Continuing education must include at least three contact hours each in the following areas: diagnosis and treatment, professional issues and ethics, and clinical workshops. The maximum time that an individual can hold intern status is four years.

LMFT Requirements: Supervised Experience

In order to achieve full licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a professional will need at least two years of post-degree supervised experience. The board considers experience to be full-time if it is at least 30 hours a week. The associate MFT must have at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact, 250 of them with families or couples in attendance.

Generally, supervision hours must be provided by an approved supervisor, supervisor candidate, or supervisor mentor. (A supervisor mentor is someone who is approved to supervise supervisors.) The board will consider alternate supervision in cases of considerable hardship, for example, when there is no approved supervisor within fifty miles. The board may allow an experienced LMFT who has not met supervisor training requirements to carry out the clinical supervision.

If the candidate comes from an allied health field, a full 200 hours of post-degree supervision will be required. If he had an MFT practicum that met all requirements set by the Alabama Board, 100 hours of practicum supervision can be applied toward the 200 hour total.

In order to renew the associate license, the MFT-Associate must demonstrate 20 continuing education/ experience contact hours, with at least three in professional issues and ethics, three in diagnosis and treatment, and five earned through marriage and family therapy clinical workshops.

LMFT Exam in Alabama

The National Examination in Marital and Family Therapy is required before a professional can be licensed as an LMFT. An individual is eligible to take the exam once he has met all requirements necessary for associate status. The candidate must seek board approval; he will receive information about payment and scheduling after he has been approved.

The candidate should be aware that there may be only a few testing windows available during the year; in 2012, there were three four-week windows. Candidates paid a total of $295: $220 with their registration and another $75 when scheduling.

Upcoming testing cycles are published in the ABEMFT newsletter (http://216.226.177.99/news1.aspx).

The LMFT Application Process

All required forms are available on the Board site (http://216.226.177.99/Applications.aspx). Applications are to be notarized. Application packets include a checklist of required supplemental materials. References are required. They should be from supervisors if the supervisory period was recent; if supervision was in the more distant past, colleagues will suffice. Candidates will need to provide official transcripts before they can be approved to sit for the licensing exam.

There is a $150 application fee due of anyone who is applying for the first time (at whatever stage he first comes under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Board). This is separate from the licensing fee which is due after a candidate is approved for licensure.

A candidate should have the application in two weeks before the next scheduled meeting so that it doesn’t get pushed back to the following one. The candidate may find a list of upcoming ABEMFT meetings in the newsletter (http://216.226.177.99/news1.aspx).

An intern who needs to renew their status will pay $25. He will pay an additional $25 when transferring from intern to associate status.

LMFT by Endorsement

Professionals licensed in other states are eligible for endorsement provided the other state has requirements that are equivalent or higher. The MFT will need to obtain certification from the current licensing agency; it must include information about examination as well as about the applicant’s disciplinary history. On the application, the MFT will list prior employment and answer qualifying questions.

Nonresident MFT professionals who are licensed in another jurisdiction may perform marriage and family therapy services in Alabama only on a very limited basis without Alabama licensing. The maximums are fifteen days in a calendar year and five days in any given month.

Contacts and Additional Information

The licensing agent is Amanda Lozada. Candidates with questions can call 334-215-7233. Additional contact information is available on the board site (http://mft.alabama.gov/staff.aspx#contactus).

The Alabama Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is a professional organization (http://www.alamft.org/ohana/website/?p=95575656248). ALAMFT does not handle licensing.

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Alabama

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