Post-Graduate MFT Training Programs
You already have a graduate degree or are in the process of obtaining one, and now you want to pursue licensure as a marriage and family therapist. Your degree isn’t in MFT, and it doesn’t meet all the requirements of the state you live in or are intending to move to. So what are your options? Another master’s? A doctoral degree?
If your degree is “closely related”, you may consider a post-master training program or certificate program.
The Purpose of Post-Degree MFT Training Programs
Post-master clinical training programs are designed for students who have master’s degrees in MFT or related fields like social work, psychology, or nursing. There are several reasons you might opt for one: Your coursework and/or practicum may not meet MFT licensing requirements of the state you are going to. You may be vying for dual licensure. You may need some assistance obtaining appropriate supervision for your post-degree supervised practice. In each case, the training program can fill in the gaps.
Some programs are flexible. Some post-degree students are taking academic coursework in core areas while others are enrolled only for supervision of practicum or post-degree work.
There are several reasons you might enroll in a training program for supervision of your internship. States have different requirements regarding the number of hours a therapist must accrue and who is qualified to provide supervision.
Accreditation of Post-Graduate MFT Training Programs
In most cases, you should seek programs with accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) if you are doing academic coursework that is required for licensure. This is especially important if the training program is not part of a regionally accredited higher learning institution. Some states specify that they will accept either regional accreditation or COAMFTE accreditation; some specifically note that COAMFTE-accredited post-graduate training programs are an exception to the usual requirement for regional accreditation.
A list of accredited post-graduate programs can be found on the COAMFTE site (http://www.aamft.org/cgi-shl/twserver.exe?run:COALIST). If you have questions about the accreditation of a particular program, you can use the COAMFTE email address found on the directory page.
Acceptability for Licensing Purposes
Will post-master training programs count for MFT licensure in all states? In most cases, they will, but this is not an absolute. Make sure your state board does not have language that specifies that candidates must have master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy. Most states will accept master’s degrees in related fields with additional coursework to establish equivalency.
Secondly, make sure that the particular program you are enrolling in meets the requirements for your jurisdiction. States generally agree that marriage and family therapy programs must include multiple courses in marriage and family studies, human development across the lifespan, and family marriage and family therapy; they must also include some coursework in research and professional studies or ethics. However, states may set different semester hour requirements for coursework in core areas. They may also have slightly different policies about what can be accepted under each content area.
Training programs tend to develop where they’re needed. Pennsylvania, for example, requires candidates to have 60 semester hours of coursework and mandates that candidates who are below a certain threshold meet requirements through a master’s degree or “planned program”. All coursework is to be done through a regionally accredited institution or a program that has been accredited by a “nationally recognized” accrediting agency. Not surprisingly, the COAMFTE site lists three accredited post-graduate programs operating in Pennsylvania.
MFT post-degree training institutes are geographically based, so the school itself should be a resource about licensing matters. Other resources are your state board and your professional organization.
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