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MFT License Requirements in Virginia

Virginia’s marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Virginia Board of Counseling. Credentialing as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or LMFT, is depending on earning a degree at the master’s level or higher, completing a post-graduate residency, and then passing a licensing exam.

Although there is just one level of licensure, graduates come under Board jurisdiction when they begin their residencies.

LMFTs may seek adjunct certification in treatment of sex offenders; this certification comes from the Virginia Board of Psychology.

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 Virginia

An LMFT must have a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field. While the Board does not define ‘related field’, the Virginia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (VAMFT) speculates that clinical counseling, clinical psychology, and clinical social work might be considered related.

The course of study must include at least six semester hours in each of the following content areas:

  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Marriage and family counseling

There must be at least three semester hours in each of the following areas:

  • Human development
  • Assessment and treatment
  • Ethics, professional identity, and function
  • Research

VAMFT has provided a list of possible MFT courses that would fall under each of the content areas. You may click here to see the list of courses.

In addition to didactic coursework, the student must have a practicum of at least 600 hours. A minimum of 240 hours must be spent in direct client contact. Half the required clinical contact hours must be with couples and families. The internship should not begin until the student is halfway through the program (with 30 semester hours completed). Graduate degrees must come from regionally accredited universities; COAMFTE accreditation is adequate for post-degree training programs. It is not a mandate that graduate programs be accredited by CACREP or COAMFTE, but the Board notes that marriage and family therapy programs with either accreditation are recognized as meeting educational requirements.

Supervised Practice Requirements in VA

The candidate must complete a 4,000 hour residency. At least 1,000 must be clinical client contact hours; of these, 500 must be with families and couples. The candidate may carry over hours earned as part of his university internship provided his supervision met Board requirements. Graduates of COAMFTE- and CACREP-accredited programs may carry over up to 900 hours. Candidates who graduate from other programs are allowed to carry over a maximum of 600 hours.

The Board mandates experience in a number of areas including counseling and psychotherapy, appraisal and diagnosis, and case management.

The candidate will need 200 hours of professional supervision. These must be provided by a professional who has at least two years of experience and has completed training in supervision. At least 100 of the supervision hours must be provided by a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. The other hours may be provided by an LMFT or by a professional with any of the following licenses: professional counselor, school counselor, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, or substance abuse treatment practitioner. Up to half the supervision hours may be conducted in a group setting. The graduate may carry over a total of 40 hours of supervision from his internship (20 hours individual, 20 hours group).

The supervisor will fill out quarterly reports; the supervisee is to keep these and submit them when he applies for licensure.

Marital and Family Therapy Examination

When supervision requirements are complete, the candidate will take the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy (http://www.amftrb.org/exam.cfm). He will need to submit a license application in order to be authorized to test.

The candidate must take the exam within two years of approval. He will register with Professional Examination Service and pay a $220 fee. Later he will schedule at a Prometric site and pay an additional $75. The exam is offered four times a year; each testing window lasts four weeks.

The candidate is allowed one retake before remedial measures are imposed. In the event of a second failure, the candidate will need to do 45 clock hours of additional education. (The exam report will note the specific areas of deficiency that need to be addressed.) Exam dates through the end of 2014 can be found on the Virginia Board site.

The Application Process for MFTs in Virginia

The first application is registration of supervision. This step is now required of all pre-licensure candidates, including those who work in license-exempt settings. Application at this stage includes a supervisory contract. The Board will require information about intended job duties, including the breakdown of hours to be spent in clinical, case management, and administrative work. There must be an explanation of how the candidate will practice diagnosis and counseling on the job. The attestation must be signed by both the supervisor and supervisee.

The candidate will submit transcripts and fill out a form outlining what coursework met specific content requirements; he should have his school submit internship verification. The application must also include a certificate or transcript that shows that the supervisor has met training requirements.

There is a $50 fee at this stage. There will be an additional $25 fee if the candidate needs to add a supervisor.

When the candidate applies for licensure, he will need to remit a $140 fee. All needed paperwork is available on the Board site. Click here to download the appropriate forms. Materials are to be mailed to the Board of Counseling in Henrico.

Licensure by Endorsement

There are two endorsement routes. Out-of-state LMFTs who have been in active practice five of the six years preceding application do not need to show that their education and supervised practice met Virginia's licensing standards. Instead, they may show that they met the requirements that were in place in their own state at the time of licensing. They will need to submit an active practice verification form and a copy of their license file. Candidates who cannot verify sufficient recent practice must provide evidence of practicum and post-graduate residency.

All endorsement candidates are required to submit license verification from each state where they have held a credential. They will need to pay a $140 fee and provide transcripts and evidence of having passed the licensing exam.

Contact Information

Virginia Board of Counseling (http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/counseling/default.htm)

The Board may be reached by phone at (804) 367-4610.

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Virginia

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