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The Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists licenses MFTs at two levels (http://sos.georgia.gov/plb/counselors). There are currently 697 Georgia professionals with full licensure as MFTs and another 72 working under associate licensing.
The Marriage and Family Therapist license requires graduate education, passing scores on a national board exam, and at least two years of supervised practice. The associate license is a lesser status granted to those who are meeting supervised practice requirements.
Candidates who did their graduate education in allied fields sometimes achieve professional licensure without first being licensed at the associate level.
A master’s degree or doctoral degree is necessary for licensure at the associate level. Master’s degrees must come from institutions that hold regional accreditation. There are several options: Any degree that is earned through a COAMFTE-accredited program is acceptable. It is also possible to be licensed with an MFT degree from a program that holds other accreditation; the candidate will need to demonstrate that the content was equivalent. A third route, typically longer, is to earn a degree in a related field. A candidate with a degree in a related field will need to do additional coursework to establish equivalency.
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. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their program.
Northcentral University offers the only other COAMFTE - accredited online Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy in the country. Click here to contact Northcentral University for information about the program.
Qualifying master’s degrees include counseling, pastoral counseling, social work, applied psychology, applied sociology, applied child and family development, medicine, and psychiatric nursing. A degree is considered “applied” if the student completed sufficient clinical coursework either as part of the degree or post-master. A theology degree, moreover, is considered pastoral counseling if the applicant completed sufficient clinical coursework post-master.
Any candidate who did not graduate from a COAMFTE-accredited program will need to document courses that meet Georgia’s specific coursework requirements. There must be three courses in each the following core content areas:
The human development requirement can be met through a variety of courses, emphasizing concepts like personality development, learning theories, psychopathology, and human sexuality. Additionally, there must be one course in each of the following areas:
The research requirement may be met through coursework that emphasizes concepts like study design and statistics. There are other options. The requirement cannot be met through preparation of one’s own thesis or dissertation.
The candidate should have a full year of practicum work in marriage and family studies. As part of his practicum/ internship, he should do 500 hours of clinical contact in marriage and family therapy.
Having a qualifying MFT practicum is a factor in determining the length of the post-degree supervised practice period. The field where the degree was earned may determine this.
Once a candidate has submitted an associate application to the Board, he will be made eligible to take the national board exam. After receiving notification of eligibility, he will register directly with the organization that developed the exam (http://www.amftrb.org/examdate.cfm). He will pay his testing fees to them.
The candidate will need to take the examination during one of the scheduled examination windows. However, he can opt for the Prometric-Thomson testing site of his choice. (Another smaller fee will be due to Prometric-Thomson.) Candidates are generally expected to complete licensing requirements within a year of submitting the application.
In order to achieve full licensure, the master’s educated therapist will need the equivalent of three years of post-master experience. However, if he met Georgia’s requirements for associate licensing, he can expect to get credit for a year of approved practicum work, reducing his requirement to two years, or 2,000 hours. In all cases, the candidate will need to accrue at least 2,000 clinical contact hours. He must have a minimum of 100 hours of supervision during this time. At least 50 supervision hours must be individual.
A professional who holds a qualifying doctoral degree has lower supervised practice requirements. She will need to accrue a minimum of 1,000 hours of post-degree clinical work under supervision. She will need a minimum of 50 hours of supervision. (Again, this requirement will be higher if her education was in a related field and she did not first meet associate requirements.)
An associate may not accrue experience hours practicing independently. She will need both a supervisor and a director. The director provides administrative oversight and ensures that services are delivered appropriately; she is someone who is on-site at the associate’s workplace. The clinical supervisor guides the associate’s professional development and assumes clinical responsibility for clients. She may discuss cases, view audio and video recordings of sessions, and observe care directly. She does not have to be stationed at the associate’s workplace.
The clinical supervisor is to be someone who has been approved by either the AAMFT or the Georgia Board. In order to be approved, supervisors must meet requirements beyond those required for licensure.
The candidate who is working as an associate will submit a contract affidavit to the Board. Both the supervisor and the director will need to sign. The contract affidavit is included in the associate application package, but a candidate who has not yet secured employment or made the necessary arrangements may turn in an application and send the affidavit later.
Both the supervisee and supervisor must maintain documentation of sessions. The supervisor will later verify the experience and submit an assessment. It is acceptable to work part-time. However, an MFT may work under an associate license for a maximum of five years.
Applications can be downloaded from the Board site (http://sos.georgia.gov/cgi-bin/plbforms.asp?board=41). Applications are fairly lengthy, and require multiple supplemental materials.
Transcripts are to be sent directly from the school. The applicant will also need two references who are familiar with her work. They may be instructors or supervisors. The applicant will need to sign a consent form that authorizes a background investigation. She will attach a passport-type photograph and have her application notarized. There is a $100 application fee for candidates at either level (http://sos.georgia.gov/acrobat/PLB/41%20Fee%20Schedule.pdf). Candidates can check application status online.
A marriage and family therapist should submit license verification from all states where he has held licensing.
Alabama will license an out-of-state LMFT by endorsement if the state where he earned his credential had substantially equivalent licensing requirements. The Board notes that so far, the following states have been found to have substantially equivalent requirements: Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Utah.
An MFT who wishes to be considered for endorsement should send a copy of his state’s statutes with his application. If the applicant has taken the required exam, but does not have an MFT license, he can apply by examination waiver.
The Board may be contacted by phone at (478) 207-2440. Rule changes, and proposed changes, are found on the Board site. Notification is sent to those who have made written request.
The Board also has a very useful FAQ section: Click Here
The Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is an additional practitioner and student resource.
Find MFT License Requirements in Your State:Learn more about becoming an LMFT in your state: