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MFT License Requirements in Massachusetts

Massachusetts marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals.

The agency licenses marriage and family therapists at only one level: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or LMFT. Licensure requires a graduate degree, passing scores on a national board exam, and two years of supervised practice. The supervised practice may be done at a Department of Mental Health facility or other similar agency, but not in a private practice setting.

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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Massachusetts LMFT Education Requirements

A candidate may qualify with a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy or in a related field – so long as they have completed any additional coursework that may be required in order to meet credit hour and curriculum requirements. The Board considers the following to be related fields: community mental health, counseling psychology, counselor education, law, nursing, psychology, social work, and theology. Education degrees are acceptable if the concentration is in psychology or counseling.

Recent graduates need to have 60 semester hours in their graduate programs. Those that don’t meet this requirement may make up the difference through post-master coursework.

Candidates who completed programs before July of 2010 must have at least 45 semester hours in their programs. For those who fall short of this requirement, it will not be enough to take individual courses to total 45. It will be necessary to enroll in a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study, or other equivalent program, and bring the total to 60.

Whatever their qualifying degree, MFTs must meet specific coursework requirements. There must be three courses in each of the following areas:

  • Human development
  • Marital and family studies
  • Marital and family therapy

There must be one course in each of the following area:

  • Professional studies
  • Research

Psychopathology, personality development, and human sexuality may be counted toward the human development requirement. The lifecycle of the family, sociology of the family, cross-cultural families, and marital, parental, and sibling relationships are among the concepts that can be included in the marital and family studies requirement.

The student must have a clinical practicum or internship. The practicum is to include at least 300 hours spent face-to-face with clients – and at least 100 hours spent face-to-face with a supervisor. At least 25 of the supervision hours should be observation; the approved supervisor may watch sessions live or via audio or videotape.


Supervised Practice

After graduation, the MFT must work under supervision for at least two years and until such time as she or he has accrued 3,360 experience hours. At least 1,000 of these hours must be spent face-to-face with clients. The therapist may count hours spent with individuals and/ or groups toward this requirement; however, at least 500 of the credited hours must be in face-to-face sessions with couples and families.

AAMFT Supervisors/ AAMFT Credentialing Option

A candidate who has already attained clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) will not need to show, at the time of application, that they meet Massachusetts supervision requirements – clinical membership is only awarded to those who have post-graduate supervised experience under a qualified supervisor. MFTs are granted membership on the basis of either of two things: licensure in another jurisdiction or equivalency; the latter path is primarily those who hold licensing in a related mental health field. International candidates are also eligible for the equivalency pathway -- if their training is indeed equivalent.

Having an AAMFT-approved supervisor ensures that a candidate meets Massachusetts supervision requirements – regardless of whether she actually plans on pursuing the credential. Massachusetts approves supervisors who have been approved by the AAMFT. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other professionals out there who can legally perform supervision duties. Massachusetts also approves mental health professionals who hold certain types of teaching and supervisory positions and those who have sufficient past experience supervising MFTs.

It is important that practitioners understand the regulations before they begin supervised practice – this ensures that they get credit for their hours.

MFT Examination

MFTs must take and pass the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy (http://www.amftrb.org/exam.cfm). State approval is required. Candidates should seek permission from the Massachusetts Board before completing their supervision hours. (This means turning in an application before all licensing requirements have been met.)

Four four-week testing windows have been scheduled for 2013 and another four for 2014. Current registration deadlines can be found on the site of the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. Candidates should be aware, however, that these are the testing company’s registration deadlines – they should mail their Massachusetts applications well in advance of this date.

Those who are approved to take the exam don’t necessarily have to test in Massachusetts – they can opt for a Prometric testing center anywhere in the nation.

The Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy notes that candidates should expect to wait four to six weeks after the close of the testing window to receive official results. Candidates should be prepared to pay close to $300 for testing.


The Application Process

Application packets are available on the Board site (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh/forms/). Several supplementary materials will be required. Official transcripts must be submitted from all schools where the candidate took graduate level coursework.

There is also an educational verification form to be signed by the director. It includes a few basic questions like whether the institution was accredited and whether the practicum met Massachusetts standards.

Additionally, there are reference forms to be filled out by supervisors. The candidate must sign a release before giving the reference forms to the individuals who will be filling them out.

A checklist can be found in the application package. Not all supplemental materials apply to all candidates. Those who are in the process of meeting supervised practice requirements will not submit their supervision forms until later. They may also opt to send their professional references later, after completing all requirements.

There is a nonrefundable $117 charge for application.


Out-of-State MFT License by Endorsement Candidates

A marriage and family therapist who was licensed in another state on the basis of equivalent (or more stringent) requirements is a candidate for endorsement.

The Board will need a copy of the licensing regulations that were in effect when the MFT was licensed; they request that this information be included in the application packet.

Official license verification will be required. The MFT will need to verify that he has passed the required examination.


Additional Information and Contacts

The Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is the state division of the AAMFT; it is an additional professional resource (http://www.mamft.org). The site includes information that will be useful to those at the pre-licensure stage as well as those who have earned the LMFT credential.

Massachusetts Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/mh)

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Massachusetts

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