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Marriage and Family Therapist License Requirements in Montana

In 2009, Montana initiated legislation to license marriage and family therapists. The state was the 50th in the nation. Montana’s therapists are licensed by the Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors.

There is just one level of credentialing: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or LMFT. There are two paths to licensure as an LMFT. If a candidate does not already hold a license in a related field, the candidate must complete a graduate degree, pass a licensing exam, and complete a postgraduate practice requirement. If the candidate is already licensed as a social worker or professional counselor in Montana, the candidate will not be required to take the marriage and family 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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Education Requirements for MFTs in Montana

A candidate may earn a master’s or doctoral degree from a COAMFTE-accredited marriage and family therapy program or a CACREP-accredited marriage and family counseling program. It’s also possible to become an LMFT with a degree in a related field. The candidate must have at least 48 semester hours in his graduate program. The candidate must have 36 semester hours in the following core MFT content areas:

  • human development
  • family development and dynamics
  • marriage and family systems/ systems theory
  • marriage and family therapy
  • MFT ethics
  • MFT research

The candidate should also have nine semester hours of supervised practice: six hours of practicum and three hours of internship or externship. The candidate should have a total of at least 500 hours of client contact.

The Board considers 72 quarter hours to be the equivalent of 48 semester hours.


Supervised Experience

The candidate will need a total of at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience, but the candidate may carry over 500 hours earned in qualifying practicum and internship experiences. The candidate must have at least 1,000 post-degree clinical contact hours. The candidate may count individual counseling toward the total. However, at least 500 hours must be spent supporting couples or families. The 1,000 hours must be accrued in the five year period before the candidate applies for licensure.

During the pre-licensure period, the MFT candidate will be employed as an intern. As an intern, the candidate will need one hour of supervision for every five clinical hours. At least half of the supervision must involve raw data from the therapy sessions. Observation can be direct; audiotape, videotape, and live camera are also acceptable.

At least 75% of the supervision must be individual. Small group sessions with up to six supervisees are acceptable for the remaining hours.

The candidate will submit a reference from the supervisor when the candidate applies for licensing. The supervisor will provide the dates of supervisory sessions, make a recommendation for licensure, and attest to the veracity of the information he provides.

Montana accepts clinical supervision by mental health professionals in a variety of fields including social work, counseling, psychiatry, and psychology. It is acceptable to have more than one clinical supervisor.

Having a supervisor who is approved by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) can be an asset. It can help ensure that the candidate meets supervision requirements that will qualify the candidate for licensure either in Montana or another state. The AAMFT can be a professional resource as early as the student stage (http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/).


MFT Examination

After completing the supervision requirement, the candidate will apply to the Montana Board. If everything is in order, the candidate will be granted permission to take the National Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing Examination. The candidate will also be eligible for a temporary permit. This will allow the candidate to work while waiting to take the exam and receive notification of passing. The candidate’s status during this time will be Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Candidate.

There are four testing windows a year. The candidate will need to register and pay examination fees approximately four weeks before testing. The candidate will remit $220 to Professional Examination Service. The candidate will be allowed to schedule the exam at any Prometric site, either in Montana or another state. The candidate will need to pay an additional $75 to Prometric.

Exam information is available on the site of the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (http://www.amftrb.org/exam.cfm). Upcoming registration deadlines are listed. However, a candidate should wait for authorization before attempting to register.

A candidate who does not pass may reattempt the examination. After three failed attempts, the Montana board may require remediation.


The Application Process

The application process has several steps. The candidate will need to have official transcripts sent directly from the institution where the candidate got a degree. The candidate will need three professional character references; these are to come from mental health professionals and graduate level mental health professors. The candidate should fill out the top portion of the form and send it to the references. The candidate will also submit contact information for their supervisor; this will allow the Board to contact the individual to verify information.

The applicant must have criminal background checks through the FBI and Montana Department of Justice. The applicant for MFT licensure will have the agency send the fingerprint card to the Department of Justice in the envelope provided by the Board. A $29.25 processing fee will be required. The agency that does the fingerprinting will probably also charge a small fee.

The application may be completed online (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/swp_board/board_page.asp). There are also forms available on the Board site. The applicant may call 406-841-2391 if the applicant has questions that cannot be resolved.

The application fee is $200. The fee for the initial permit is included.

Applications are kept on file for a year. During this time, the candidate is expected to meet all requirements. If the applicant does not, but still wishes to continue the process, the applicant will need to reapply.


Out of State Candidates

An out-of-state MFT must provide license verification from each state where the MFT has held a license. The license cannot have current disciplinary sanctions.

There is a verification form included in the licensing application. The MFT will send it to the licensing agency, along with whatever fee the receiving agency may require.

The candidate should provide an affidavit stating that the MFT has 3,000 hours of supervised work experience. It is expected that the supervision came from qualified mental health professionals.

If the initial review indicates that the MFT is qualified, the MFT may be issued a temporary permit. This will allow him or her to begin work sooner.

The fee for license by endorsement is $200


Contact Information

Regulations do change periodically. A person can ask to be placed on the list of interested parties; this will ensure that the student or candidate receives updates. Contact information for the board is found in the application packet. There is also an email link accessible from the main page of the board site (http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/swp_board/board_page.asp).

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Montana

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