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Marriage and Family Therapist License Requirements in South Carolina

South Carolina marriage and family therapists are regulated by the Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psycho-Educational Specialists. The Board contracts with the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE) for review of applications.

There are multiple levels of practice. After graduation, a candidate applies for intern registration. The title at this point is LMFT/I. After a candidate completes a supervised practice requirement, they are eligible for licensure as an LMFT.

The nature of the therapist’s experiences under supervision will determine whether the candidate is qualified to treat serious mental illness in her later practice.

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 South Carolina

The MFT may have a master’s, doctoral, or specialist degree. The future MFT will be required to demonstrate at least 48 semester hours of coursework. The following must be included.

  • Theoretical foundations (9 semester hours)
  • Individual development/ family relations (6 semester hours)
  • Clinical Practice (15 semester hours)
  • Legal and ethical issues/ professional identity (3 semester hours)
  • Research (3 semester hours)
  • Clinical experience (9 semester hours)

The Board considers 4.5 quarter hours to be the equivalent of 3 semester hours.

There are two specific courses that a student must take as part of his 5 course clinical practice requirement: psychopathology and psychopathology diagnostics. The latter must cover use of the DSM. Other coursework in this content area could include family assessment, treatment methods, and major MFT theories.

The student must have, as part of the theoretical foundations content, an introductory course covering historical foundations and current conceptual directions. Courses in this block should bridge theory and clinical practice.

The clinical experience requirement must be met through client contact in a clinical setting. The minimum requirements are 300 total client contact hours, 150 couple/family client contact hours, and 50 hours of supervision.

A thorough discussion of what can and cannot be included under each content area can be found in the application packet.

In most cases, the graduate degree must be completed at a university that holds regional accreditation or a seminary that is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States. Post-master programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education are acceptable whether or not they are housed in regionally accredited institutions.

Qualification to Treat Serious Mental Illness

In order to be qualified to treat serious mental disorders as an intern, the student will need a 600 hours internship that includes assessment and treatment of these populations. There is a practicum verification form in the application packet; it includes a question about whether these issues were an explicit part of the internship experience.

An intern who has met lesser practicum requirements may be allowed to work with these populations eventually, but will need to “move slowly” into this area of practice.


LMFT Requirement: Supervised Experience

The intern will need to work under approved supervision for at least two years. The intern will need to accrue at least 1,500 hours of clinical experience. 1,350 hours of client care will be required. Assessments are considered client contact in some instances; brief phone calls are not.

The intern will need at least 150 hours of direct supervision by a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Supervisor. This is a license category with the state. LMFTs who have supervisor candidate status are also acceptable. Prospective interns can find a list of licensed supervisors on the Board site (https://verify.llronline.com/LicLookup/Counselors/LMFMFTS.aspx).

The approved supervisor will provide guidance and oversight for all clients in the intern’s caseload; the approved supervisor will review the intern’s case notes and other raw data (or example, audiotaped sessions) and discuss them. This professional does not necessarily have to be present at the worksite while the intern is working. However, the intern will need to be under the general supervision of a qualified mental health professional; this could be a psychiatrist or psychologist.

The intern must submit a detailed supervision plan as part of her initial application. The intern should pick a start date approximately three months in the future.

Supervision sessions may include one or two supervisees and last for one hour or include three or four supervisees and last for an hour and a half. The South Carolina Board (and many other state boards) will accept sessions with two supervisees as a form of individual supervision. At least 100 of the required 150 hours must be individual.

The intern may download a supervision session log from the Board site.

The initial intern registration is for two years. If requirements are not yet complete, the intern may apply for a two-year extension.


MFT License Application Process

The application is available on the Board site (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/Counselors/index.asp?file=pub.htm). A graduate will complete their first application before taking the licensing exam or beginning supervised practice. The candidate will be authorized to take the exam if the candidate meets educational requirements. The candidate will send course descriptions as well as official transcripts to assist CCE in determining eligibility.

CCE will send a postcard upon receipt of application materials. The review typically takes four to six weeks. An applicant may check application status online. CCE can be reached by phone at (888) 817-8283 for general questions, but any inquiry about one’s own application should be made in writing.

MFT License Exam

The required exam is the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy (http://www.amftrb.org/exam.cfm). A list of upcoming testing dates can be found on the site of the Association for Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (http://www.amftrb.org/exam.cfm). However, a candidate should submit their application to CCE a full nine weeks before the window in which the candidate wishes to test. The candidate will remit a $170 application fee. Once approved, the candidate will pay $224 to Professional Examination Service.

The South Carolina Board will make a final review after receiving the candidate’s file; at this point, the license can be issued.


Out-of-State Marriage and Family Therapists

An LMFT must meet South Carolina’s educational requirements even if the LMFT has been licensed elsewhere. Deficiencies can be made up through post-graduate coursework. Endorsement applications will be submitted to CCE; after an initial screening of educational requirements, they will be forwarded to the South Carolina Board. If the candidate has already taken the board examination, the LMFT must have scores sent to CCE.

Since some states require candidates to finish their supervision before taking the licensing exam, they may arrive in the state having completed supervision but not yet having been licensed. It will be necessary to go through the application process first as an intern. Once registered, the intern can petition the Board to accept hours already completed. Hours will be accepted only if they were completed under supervision acceptable to the Board. All endorsement candidates should fill in the clinical supervision log.

The South Carolina Board allows interns to go into private practice so long as they are receiving the mandated supervision.


Additional Information and Contacts

The South Carolina Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is an additional professional resource: http://www.scamft.org/ohana/website/index.cfm.

Board of Examiners for Licensure of Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psycho-Educational Specialists (http://www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/Counselors).

Marriage and Family Therapist Programs in South Carolina

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