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MFT License Requirements in Arizona

Arizona’s marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, or AzBBHE. There are two levels of licensing. Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, or LMFT, is an independent license. A professional qualifies only after they have completed a graduate degree, passed a licensing exam, and put in two years of post-master supervised work experience.

Licensed Associate Marriage & Family Therapist, or LAMFT, is the license worked under while completing a supervised practice requirement.

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Arizona LAMFT Education Requirements

An MFT must complete a graduate program that is either accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education or judged substantially equivalent. The program must include three three-semester hour courses in each of the following content areas:

  • Human development
  • Marriage and family studies
  • Marriage and family therapy

One three-semester course is required in the following areas:

  • Research
  • Professional studies

The program must also include two courses of practicum or internship. The field experience must include 300 client content hours. It is expected that an LMFT will supervise the internship; however, the applicant may request an exemption from this requirement. The practicum or internship will need to be verified by the educational institution.

A candidate who applies within 12 months of the time that she graduates is eligible to begin work under a temporary license while waiting to take the exam. There is an additional $50 charge for the temporary license.

LMFT (Licensing) and Supervision Requirements

The associate must earn 3,200 hours of supervised post-degree experience. At least 1,600 must involve client contact. The supervisee may count sessions with individuals toward this total. However, at least 1,000 of the credited hours must be with families or couples.

During this time, the associate will have a clinical supervisor. Unless granted an exemption by the board, the supervisor will be an LMFT with Arizona licensing. The board may, at their discretion, approve a professional who has comparable experience and training. They will expect to see a curriculum vitae and transcripts. (Supervision by a substance abuse counselor, however, is expressly prohibited.)

It is permissible to work with a supervisor who is not employed by the same agency, but additional paperwork will be required (http://www.azbbhe.us/Forms/outside%20clin%20supv.pdf).

The associate marriage and family therapist will need 200 hours of supervision meetings over the course of the experience period. The meetings must be spent reviewing and discussing clinical practice. The Board does accept supervision done in small group settings (with two to six supervisees) but notes that staff meetings generally don’t qualify. Supervision should include observation or review of video or audiotaped client sessions – a candidate who is submitting hours obtained after July 1, 2006 should have ten such hours documented.

Up to 25% of supervision may be carried out by telephone in sessions of no less than half an hour each.

At the end of the supervision period, the clinical supervisor will provide an evaluation to the board. Areas of evaluation include personal integrity, insight, maintenance of boundaries, diagnostics, and adherence to confidentiality standards, among others. A satisfactory evaluation is among the requirements for licensing. The verification provided to the Board will also include a description of work duties.

Arizona MFT Examination

The required exam is administered through Professional Evaluation Service, but the candidate will need the permission of the board to test; she can obtain this by turning in an application packet with all required supplemental materials.

The exam is given at computerized testing centers during several four-week periods each year (http://www.amftrb.org/examdate.cfm).

The candidate has 12 months to pass the exam. She may make two attempts during this time. A candidate who has not passed at the end of this time will need to re-apply to the board if she is still interested in pursuing credentialing.

The Application Process for MFT's in Arizona

Candidates fill out two applications: a general behavioral health application and a marriage and family therapist supplement. The general application includes questions about legal and professional background.

Applications are available for download on the AzBBHE site (http://www.azbbhe.us/node/25). Applicants who have difficulty printing may leave a message at (602) 542-1864.

Official transcripts will be required upon first application. Transcripts should be included in the application packet itself, but in sealed envelopes. The application fee is $250. This is separate from the licensing fee. (An LAMFT pays $100 for licensure while an LMFT pays $250.)

Applicants must submit either a DPS clearance card or a fingerprint card. Fingerprints must be on the correct agency card – applicants can request one at 602-542-1882. The fee for the background check is $40; it should not be combined with the application fee. The applicant must also do a self-query of the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank and the National Practitioner Data Bank. This can be done online at http://www.npdb-hipdb.hrsa.gov. There is a $16 fee. This step can be done in advance; however, the board will only accept reports that were processed in the 90 days prior to the date they received the licensing application.

An applicant must disclose any professional licenses she has held – not just MFT ones. Official license verification is required. There is a form in the application for general licensure; the professional can send it to the appropriate licensing agency.

Out-of-State Candidates

A candidate who did her supervised experience in another state must request an exemption from the regulation that supervision must be carried out by an LMFT with Arizona licensing.

An MFT who is licensed by another behavioral health agency, and in good standing, can apply for a temporary license which will allow her to get started sooner.

Reciprocal Licensing

A professional who is licensed in another jurisdiction may apply by reciprocity, but should be aware that it is a two-step process.

The reciprocal license application packet does not ask for verification of supervised experience, but does ask for employment verification. In order to qualify for the license, the professional must have an out-of-state license in good standing. She must have worked at least 6,000 hours in the preceding five years.

The reciprocal license has practice limitations. The license holder must work under supervision. However, the time period is shorter than it is for most candidates. The MFT must do at least 1,600 hours of work (800 involving direct client care) before upgrading. She must receive at least 50 hours of clinical supervision/ consultation. A professional is not allowed to maintain a private practice while she holds the reciprocal license. At the end of the supervision period, she will be evaluated.

After working under supervision for a minimum of 12 months, the MFT can apply for an upgrade to independent level licensing.

Additional Information

Arizona’s marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, or AzBBHE.

The Arizona Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, AzAMFT, is an additional resource for MFT professionals.

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Arizona

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