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Marriage and Family Therapist Requirements in Texas

Texas marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mft).

There are two levels of licensure, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate. In order to be licensed at either level, one must earn a graduate degree and pass a licensing exam.

LMFT Associate is a status for relatively new graduates. After fulfilling a supervised practice requirement, they earn the independent license.

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Education

A prospective LMFT should earn a master's or doctoral degree from a marriage and family therapy program that is either 1) accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or 2) holds institutional accreditation through some agency that is under the banner of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

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.

If the program is not COAMFTE-accredited, it should have a practicum that is equivalent in length; the candidate will need to show evidence of having had 12 months or nine semester hours. If a candidate completes a shorter practicum, he will still be eligible for associate licensing, but will have additional requirements before he can receive full licensure as an LMFT. (The Board will allow a deficit of up to four months to be made up while under associate licensing.)

Graduates who earned their master's or doctoral degree in other related mental health fields are also eligible for licensure provided they take additional coursework to establish equivalency. The coursework must be taken as part of a planned curriculum.

The following coursework is required for LMFT licensing:

  • Theoretical foundations (3 semester hours or 5 quarter hours)
  • Human development, family studies, multicultural and gender issues (6 semester hours or 9 quarter hours)
  • MFT assessment and treatment (12 semester hours or 18 quarter hours)
  • Professional ethics (3 semester hours or 5 quarter hours)
  • Applied professional research (3 semester hours or 5 quarter hours)
  • Psychopathology (3 semester hours or 5 quarter hours)
  • Practicum (9 semester hours, 4 quarter hours, or 12 months)

Students who complete COAMFTE-accredited programs at the doctoral level are allowed to apply some hours toward their post-graduate practice requirement.


MFT Board Examination

The National Examination in Marital and Family Therapy is required for licensure at either level. Students in MFT programs are eligible to take the exam when they are in their final term. A student will need, in addition to standard application materials, a letter stating when the student is expected to graduate and what courses he or she still needs to complete.

The candidate will register with Professional Examination Service after the candidate obtains their authorization. The exam is administered by computer four times a year. Each testing cycle is four weeks. There is a list of application deadlines available on the Board site (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mft/mft_exam.shtm).

Additional testing information is available on the site of the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (http://www.amftrb.org/).

The candidate should be prepared to pay $295 in testing fees to third parties.

Exam results can take four to six weeks. In the event the candidate does not pass his first attempt, Texas will place him on the eligibility list for the next cycle.

Jurisprudence Examination

The candidate will also need to take a state jurisprudence exam (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mft/mft_jurisprudence.shtm). This is a quick online process. The candidate pays a fee, answers the questions, and then prints out a certificate.

Texas rules and laws can be accessed online. They can also be downloaded in printable form from the “forms” section of the website.


The Application Process

The candidate will apply for an associate license and later for an upgrade. The has the option of submitting their application by mail (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mft/mft_amail.shtm) or via the internet.

The will have official transcripts sent to the Board at first application; the candidate may request transcripts sent from the university or mail them in original sealed envelopes.

An applicant at the associate level will pay a $47 application fee. After the applicant is approved, the applicant must remit an additional $90. If the applicant applies online, the applicant will pay both fees together.

The fee for license upgrade is $90.

Determining Eligibility: The Criminal History Letter

An applicant will need to disclose any criminal history beyond minor traffic violations, though a conviction will not necessarily bar an applicant from licensure. Texas has a procedure for allowing a candidate to find out whether they will be eligible before they even enroll in an educational program. A criminal history evaluation letter can be obtained for $50.


Supervised Practice

The candidate will need a supervisory agreement on file with the Texas Board before the LMFT Associate license can be issued. The candidate must submit the paperwork within 60 days.

The LMFT associate must receive supervision hours from a supervisor who has been approved by either the Texas Board or the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). A list of potential supervisors is available on the Board site (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mft/mft_supervisor.shtm).

The associate will need to accrue at least 3,000 total work experience hours. At least 1,500 must be spent providing direct services; at least 750 must be spent providing direct services to families or couples.

Although 200 hours of director supervision is required, a candidate may carry over up to 100 from a graduate practicum. The candidate will need at least 100 individual supervision hours (at least 50 of them post-graduate).

The associate license is issued for two years and can be renewed twice, if necessary, for a total of six years. The associate will need to do 15 continuing education hours during each renewal period. The Board notes that all associates will need to renew at least once as a permanent license cannot be issued to a candidate who has not yet completed a full 24 months of practice.

It is recommended that LMFTAs who take leave for a month or longer provide the Board with written notification. If a license is allowed to lapse, it can be renewed upon payment of late fees. If it is allowed to lapse for more than a year, however, this is not an option.

When supervision is completed, a verification form will be submitted to the Board.


Out-of-State Marriage and Family Therapists

Out-of-state candidates must demonstrate that they have met the same requirements.

If a candidate did not take the national examination to receive initial licensure, the candidate will need to do so when applying for Texas licensure. The exception is if the candidate took the California licensing exam and still holds current California licensing; the candidate must get verification of passing directly from the California licensing agency.

The Board notes that out-of-state marriage and family therapists often do need to complete additional courses and/or supervision hours before they are eligible for licensure at the LMFT level.

An LMFT will need to submit license verification as well as evidence of supervised experience. Endorsement candidates will pay a $47 application fee; the Board will assess an additional $90 licensing fee upon determination that the therapist meets licensing requirements at the LMFT level.


Additional Information

The Board can be reached by phone at (512) 834-6657. Additional contact information can be found on the Board site http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mft/mft_contact.shtm

There are two professional organizations serving the states marriage and family therapy professionals: the Texas Division of the AAMFT (http://www.tamft.org/) and the Texas Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Counselors (http://www.txca.org/tca/TAMFC_Home.asp).

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