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MFT License Requirements in Arkansas

Arkansas marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. In order to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or LMFT, a professional attends graduate education, goes through a two-stage examination process, and then works under supervision for about three years. While completing the supervised practice requirement, he is credentialed as a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, or LAMFT.

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Some candidates opt for dual licensing as counselors and marriage and family therapists. The Board also offers various specialty certifications to counselors and therapists. Some are obtained by meeting standards of national organizations like the Association for Play Therapy (as well as applying to the Arkansas Board to have the specialization added to the credential); others have more state-specific requirements.

An associate may shorten (but not eliminate) his post-degree practice requirement through post-master education and examination.

Educational Requirements for LAMFT's and LMFT's in Arkansas

An applicant must meet educational requirements before he can be licensed as an LMFT or LAMFT. There is a requirement for three courses (nine semester hours) in each of the following:

  • Marriage and family studies
  • Human Development
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Internship or practicum

Additionally, students need one course (three semester hours) in the following:

  • Assessment
  • Research
  • Psychopharmacology
  • Professional ethics

Psychopathology must be addressed as part of the human development requirement. Marriage and family studies and therapy courses must emphasize a systems perspective; the Board does not accept survey courses where systems, or marriage and family therapy, are among multiple theories covered. The practicum/ internship experience should be at least a year and include at least 500 hours of direct contact with clients.

Arkansas requires a total of 60 semester hours of graduate coursework. The core adds up to 48 semester hours; additional coursework must be related to counseling and to the degree earned. The Board counts 4 quarter hours or 45 didactic hours as a semester hour. Traditional or distant learning is acceptable if it meets standards set by the Board. Students must earn at least a B in each course they apply toward licensure.

LMFT Examination in Arkansas

Examination is a two stage process. The candidate first takes a nationwide licensing exam (administered by computer), then appears before the Board for an oral examination. It is usually scheduled for the next meeting following passing of the national examination. In cases where there are unresolved questions, the Board may ask for additional information in the form of a recording, Skype, or live demonstration; this is termed a situational examination.

The student may apply to the Arkansas Board for permission to take the national licensing exam as early as his final term. He will need a letter from his program verifying that he is on track to complete all requirements.

The examination is currently available during four annual testing windows. A candidate should submit his application four weeks before the application deadline established by the testing company. If he is approved, he will register with the examination company, following the directions he received. He can visit the site of the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards to see upcoming testing dates and application deadlines (http://www.amftrb.org/).

Post-master Supervised Practice

To attain full licensure, the associate must complete a post-master practice requirement. The clinical supervisor is to be an LMFT approved by the Arkansas Board. It is to be someone other than an employer. The Board considers it a dual relationship if a supervisor has the power to fire a supervisee. There is a list of approved supervisors on the Board site; the Board has noted which are able to supervise both counselors and marriage and family therapists. The associate and his supervisor must be under a supervision agreement.

If the MFT has no education beyond his master’s degree, he will need to work under supervision for three years. The Board considers 1,000 client contact hours (CCH) to be a year.

The requirement is divided into three phases, each with different requirements. At least half of the credited hours must be with families or groups. Phase I requires an hour of supervision for every ten client contact hours; no coursework substitutions are allowed. The associate must petition to change phases.

Phase II requires an hour of supervision for every 20 hours of client contact; Phase III requires one for every 40. During these phases, substitution is allowed. The associate may count 30 semester hours of more advanced coursework for a year of supervised practice. He may count 60 semester hours as two years. Coursework will first be applied toward the phase III requirement, then the phase II one.

There is one additional possibility for Phase III. Eligible candidates who take the NCMHCE, a mental health counseling examination, may substitute it for 500 CCH. In order to be authorized to take the NCMHCE, the Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist must secure the recommendation of his supervisor; this is done upon completion of phase II. A limited number of indirect service hours may be counted as CCHs during each phase. The maximum is 200 during the first phase and 300 during each of the second phases.

Supervision reports are due every six months. The supervisor rates the associate on 30 different skills, ranging from basic to advanced professional. The Board emphasizes that this is a developmental process and notes that scores of four to seven are considered to be in the effective range for a professional; not even an experienced professional would be rated at the highest level on most items. A supervisee can lose credit for his hours, though, and eventually have more serious consequences, if he fails to turn these in when they are due.

The associate license may be renewed. However, a marriage and family therapist is not eligible for associate status for more than six years unless he documents extenuating circumstances. Renewal beyond this point is at the discretion of the Board.

The LAMFT and LMFT Application Process in Arkansas

A candidate will first apply when seeking associate status. He must petition later for license change.

License applications may be filled out online or printed and mailed to the Arkansas Board. (The Board will also mail out application packets upon request, but charges $20 for this service.)

There is a course worksheet to be submitted with the application. If an applicant wishes to have his transcripts evaluated before making formal application, he must pay $25. A fee of $200 is due upon application. The candidate must have transcriptions and recommendations sent to the Board. Two references should be familiar with the candidate’s work; the third should be able to speak to his character. These supplemental materials should not arrive before the application.

A criminal background check will also be required. The Board will send instructions after the application is received.

A list of fees is available on the Board site (http://abec.arkansas.gov/Licensing/Pages/FeeSchedule.aspx).

Out of State and International MFTs

An out-of-state MFT will submit, in addition to other licensing materials, documentation of his experience; this will determine what level he can be licensed at. A candidate for reciprocity may be issued a provisional license pending results of a criminal background check.

The Arkansas Board may accept supervision hours completed in another jurisdiction and apply them toward phase II and phase III. International applicants must have their credentials professionally evaluated. The Board asks that they contact the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services. The candidate should submit, along with the evaluation certificate, transcripts translated into English.

Additional Information and Resources

Rules and regulations may be viewed on the Board site:

(http://abec.arkansas.gov/aboutUs/Pages/LawsRulesRegulations.aspx).

Proposed rule changes may be viewed there as well.

The Arkansas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is an additional professional resource.

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Arkansas

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