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Marriage and Family Therapist Requirements in Illinois

The Illinois marriage and family therapy profession is regulated through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Illinois licenses MFT professionals at two levels. Once a person has finished a qualifying graduate program, they are eligible for licensure as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. This, however, is a temporary status. In order to be eligible for licensure as an LMFT, the associate must work under supervision for at least two years and then pass a licensing exam.

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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MFT Education Requirements in Illinois

A student can be assured that she meets curricular requirements if he or she enrolls in a COAMFTE- or CACREP-accredited marriage and family therapy program. Because the Department has approved all MFT programs with these accreditations, they are sometimes referred to as Department of Professional Regulation Approved Comprehensive Programs.

It is also an option to enroll in a program that holds different accreditation or in a program in a related field -- so long as it is housed in a regionally accredited university and meets general requirements set by the Board. The graduate degree program must include at least 48 semester hours of coursework.

If the degree is in another mental health or behavioral science field, additional coursework may be required in order to establish equivalency. The following coursework is mandated:

  • Individual development/ family relations (one course)
  • Theoretical foundations/ clinical practice (six courses)
  • Professional studies/ ethics (one course)
  • Research (one course)
  • Clinical practicum (300 hours)

Because courses go by different names, the Department has put together a brief description of the material that is to be covered (as well as what is, and is not, allowable for inclusion) under each of the core content areas. The theoretical foundations and practice requirement should include a balance of individual and conjoint therapy methods; group sessions should also be covered. The research requirement may include research design and methodology, statistics, and/ or mental health research. Independent study and correspondence courses may not be counted toward any of the coursework requirements. Section 1283.30 describes curriculum standards in detail. Whatever course of study a candidate selects, it must be substantially equivalent.

If a candidate does not have a qualifying practicum (for example, if they did their studies in a related field), the candidate can count their first 300 hours of supervised post-graduate practice toward this requirement. However, if the practicum does meet standards set by the Board, the candidate can lessen the number of post-graduate supervision hours required for licensure. (Supervision, in this case, is something other than administrative oversight; it means meeting with a designated individual for the purpose of professional guidance.)


MFT Supervised Experience Requirements

An associate will work under supervision for a period of two to five years. During this time, the associate will accrue 3,000 total work experience hours. The associate must put in 1,000 hours working directly with patients or clients. The associate may count individual assessment and therapy as well as family therapy. The minimums are 350 hours of conjoint therapy and 350 hours of therapy where there is only one patient in attendance.

A wide variety of activities fall under the scope of clinical practice: among them, psychotherapy, assessment of mental and emotional conditions, consultation, crisis intervention, sex therapy, and testing and evaluation. The Board notes that an MFT may employ only those methods in which the associate has had adequate training.

A candidate will have at least 100 hours of supervision during their post-graduate work period. (A total of 200 hours of supervision are required pre-licensure, but up to 100 hours of supervision from the student period may be counted, provided said supervision meets the Board’s requirements.)

All 200 of the credited hours must be provided by a licensed mental health professional. At least 100 must be provided by a professional who meets a more specific set of requirements. An LMFT qualifies under this rule if the LMFT has had five years post-license practice, has been a clinical member of the AAMFT for at least five years, or has been approved as a supervisor or supervisor-in-training by the AAMFT. A mental health professional who was licensed as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor could also qualify if she had sufficient experience in MFT (including conjoint therapy) and had additional training as a supervisor.

Group supervision sessions may include up to six supervisees.

The associate license is issued for five years. It cannot be renewed.


LMFT Requirements: MFT Examination

A candidate will need to take the national marriage and family therapy exam developed by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (http://www.amftrb.org/exam.cfm). This is typically the last step before LMFT licensing. The exam is currently administered four times a year, during four-week testing windows.

The candidate will first apply to the Illinois Board – the candidate must be aware of upcoming testing periods and apply 90 days in advance of the time he or she wishes to test. If the candidate is currently licensed as an associate, they will not need to submit as much paperwork as they would if they were coming from another state. However, the candidate will need to verify that they have met supervision requirements. The candidate will also need to pay the appropriate fee.

Assuming the candidate is found eligible, the candidate will be sent instructions about registering for the national examination. The candidate will remit the appropriate fee to Professional Examination Service.


The Application Process

The candidate can find applications packets on the Department site (http://www.idfpr.com/Renewals/apply/MarFamTherapy.asp); the candidate will select the correct one for their license level and method of licensing.

A candidate applying for license by examination pays a $100 fee with their application.The application packets are lengthy, but not all the forms will apply to all candidates. There is a checklist; some items are noted ‘if applicable’.

Applicants who hold clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy will need less paperwork to establish that they meet Illinois standards. This is because there are high standards for clinical membership. MFTs who are not licensed in an approved jurisdiction are eligible for clinical membership only after equivalent education and supervised practice has been established. (This avenue is mainly for professionals with training in related mental health disciplines, but international candidates may be found eligible after a credential review.)


Out-of-State Applicants

Any applicant who has held licensing in another jurisdiction should provide license verification from the state where they were first licensed, as well as from the current one (if different).

An out of state LMFT has similar requirements for education, examination, and hours of experience. If the out of state LMFT is a clinical member of the AAMFT, verification will be accepted in lieu of documentation of having met education and experience requirements.

An LMFT applying by endorsement pays $200 (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/).


Additional Information and Contacts

Applicants can email the Board with questions: (http://www.idfpr.com/profs/info/marrfamtherapy.asp).

Illinois Association for Marriage and Family Therapy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ILAMFT

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Illinois Division: http://www.iamft.org/

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Illinois

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