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Marriage and Family Therapist License Requirements in Tennessee

Tennessee marriage and family therapists are known as Licensed Marital and Family Therapists, or LMFTs. They are licensed by the Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marital and Family Therapists and Licensed Pastoral Therapists (http://health.state.tn.us/boards/PC_MFT&CPT).

Permanent licensure depends on attainment of a graduate degree, passing scores on two examinations, and completion of supervised work experience. A candidate may be granted a temporary license after graduating from a master’s program; this will allow them to complete their practice requirement.

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MFT Education in Tennessee

A marriage and family therapist will need a graduate degree from an institution of higher learning that is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools or another regional accrediting agency. The program should emphasize MFT; however Tennessee does not require a particular programmatic accreditation.

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.

The program must include three courses in each of the following content areas: personal and human development, marriage and family therapy, and marriage and family studies.

There must be one course each in research and professional ethics.

The candidate must have a practicum or internship of at least 300 hours. It must include experience in treating, diagnosing, and assessing problems that are classifiable by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).


Supervised Practice

The candidate must work under approved supervision until the candidate has accrued at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience. During this time, the candidate will use a title like ‘intern’ or ‘trainee’ that denotes the candidate’s status.

As an intern, she will need a board approved supervisor. The supervisor will have at least once of the following qualifications:

  • Five years of clinical experiencing as a marriage and family therapist
  • Two years of experience supervising MFTs
  • 36 hours of training in supervision
  • Training in supervision provided by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)

A list of AAMFT supervisors can be found on the site of the Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (http://www.tnamft.org/ohana/website/).

The intern will need 200 hours of direct supervision during the time that the intern holds the temporary license. If the intern needs to change supervisors before requirements are met, the intern will again need to seek Board approval.

The temporary license is issued for three years and is nonrenewable.


National and State MFT Examinations

The candidate will need to take the National Examination in Marital and Family Therapy (http://www.amftrb.org/exam.cfm). The candidate will need board approval in order to register; the candidate can attain this by submitting an application for temporary licensure, along with all supporting documentation.

The exam is given four times a year; each testing window lasts four weeks. The candidate will need to register at least a week before the start of the testing window. The candidate will pay $220 to Professional Examination Service (PES) and another $75 later to Prometric. The candidate will take the exam via computer at a Prometric Center.

The candidate will need to make an examination attempt within nine months of receipt of the temporary license. The candidate temporary license will not be rescinded if the candidate fails an attempt. However, the candidate does need to pass within two years of issuance.

After the candidate has finished supervised practice and applied to the Board for permanent licensure, the candidate will take the state oral exam. The cost is included in the licensing application fee.

Criminal Background Check

The Board requires Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) and FBI background checks. All candidates must have their fingerprints made at first application. The procedures will be different depending on whether the applicant is currently residing in-state. In-state applicants will visit the approved vendor, Identogo, on the web or call (855) 226-2937. They will select their preferred fingerprinting location, make an appointment, and bring required documentation. The prints will be submitted electronically and results of the background check will be available relatively quickly: generally five to eight working days.

Out-of-state applicants will use a ‘hard copy’ fingerprint card and have their fingerprints made at a local law enforcement agency. They will register with Identogo for online services and pay a $42 fee. They must take down their confirmation number. They will then send the fingerprint card to Identogo where it will be scanned. The background check will take approximately seven to ten days.


The Application Process

The application form and instructions can be found on the Board site (http://health.state.tn.us/boards/PC_MFT&CPT/applications.htm). The candidate will fill out the full application and submit all required documentation at whatever stage the candidate first comes under board jurisdiction. The candidate will need to list the coursework on the course worksheet and answer questions about their legal and disciplinary history and physical and mental health. ‘Yes’ answers will require supporting documentation; the Board notes that they will decide on a case by case basis whether a candidate with a condition that limits the ability to practice will be issued a restricted or unrestricted license, or denied licensure.

The application fee is $210. If the candidate seeks temporary licensure, the candidate will submit a notarized statement of responsibility signed by her supervisor. The candidate will remit an additional $150 fee.

The candidate will need to submit a copy of her birth certificate and a recent passport-type photo. The candidate will need to provide a notary with evidence of her citizenship or lawful presence in the United States, then submit the form with her application packet. (If the candidate is not physically present in the U.S., the candidate may note this on the form; documentation will not be required.)

The candidate will also need at least two character references on letterhead; these must address her professional ethics.

The candidate must fill out the state’s mandatory practice profile online. This information is made available to the public. It includes information about licensure, training, participation in managed care plans, and any disciplinary action faced within the preceding ten years. Malpractice settlements above $10,000 also must be made available for public scrutiny.

Official transcripts should be sent directly from the issuing institution. The Board asks that all steps be carried out in advance; supplemental materials must arrive within 60 days or the application will be closed.

All materials will need to arrive at least 30 days in advance of a board meeting in order to receive consideration at that meeting.


Out-of-State LMFTs

An out-of-state LMFT will need to provide verification from every state where the out-of-state LMFT has held a license. The LMFT may opt for license by endorsement or by reciprocity.

The LMFT may choose to provide documentation that they have already met the requirements in another jurisdiction. The Board refers to this as reciprocity.

The LMFT may instead use clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy to demonstrate that they have met the qualifications for a Tennessee license. This is referred to as endorsement.

In order to be eligible for clinical membership through the traditional route, a marriage and family therapist must have a current license. There is also an alternative pathway for therapists who hold licensing in another field. The AAMFT requires graduate education and a period of supervised experience. Internationally educated LMFTs may be found eligible for clinical membership following a credential review.

Candidates with clinical membership will not be required to provide the Tennessee Board with the following documents: transcripts, proof of supervised experience, or examination scores.


Contact Information and Additional Resources

The Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marital and Family Therapists and Licensed Pastoral Therapists can be contacted at 615-532-3202 or 1-800-778-4123.

Tennessee Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: http://www.tnamft.org/ohana/website/index.cfm?

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