MFT License Requirements in Hawaii

Hawaii’s marriage and family therapists are regulated by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, or DCCA.

There is just one level of licensing within the state: LMFT. A professional must earn a graduate degree, complete a post-graduate practice requirement, and pass a licensing exam. A graduate can use the title ‘Marriage and Family Therapy Intern’ while working to meet supervised practice requirements; this type of post-degree practice represents one of the few license exemption categories in Hawaii statutes.

Candidates are responsible for making sure that their supervised practice meets the state’s requirements.

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Students may earn their graduate degree in marriage and family therapy or in another field that is related to mental health counseling.

A candidate must have all of the following coursework, either as part of his degree program or through supplemental graduate level courses.

  • Human development
  • Marriage and family studies
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Professional and ethical studies
  • Research

There must be one three-semester course each in research and in professional studies. There must be three three-semester courses in each of the other content areas (making a total of 33 semester hours of required courses). Four quarter hours are considered the equivalent of three semester hours.

In addition to didactic coursework, the student needs a supervised practicum at the master’s or doctoral level. It must include 300 client contact hours.

Supervised Practice

The intern will work under supervision for a minimum of 24 months post-degree. During this time, he will accrue at least 1,000 hours of direct service in MFT. While accruing supervision hours, the intern must have a clinical supervisor. Clinical supervision is different than administrative supervision. The supervisor helps develop treatment plans and offers consultation about assessment and diagnosis.

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The supervisor should be someone who has either been licensed as an LMFT for two or more years or been a clinical fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy for two or more years. The Hawaii Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, HAMFT, has a list of professionals who are qualified to act as supervisors ( The list is organized by island and includes contact information.

A total of 200 hours of supervision is required over the course of the practice period. Group supervision sessions may have up to six supervisees in attendance.


LMFT candidates must also pass the National Marriage and Family Therapy Exam. This is typically the last step – by submitting their licensing applications with all supporting documentation, candidates are also seeking permission to test.

They must submit their applications to Hawaii well in advance of the date they intend to take the exam. The Department posts upcoming application deadlines (

The 2013 schedule is currently posted. A candidate can see testing dates all the way through 2014 by visiting the AMFRTB site (

It will be necessary to submit a $220 fee to Professional Examination Service.

The test is administered electronically in Oahu (and in other sites around the nation).

The Application Process

Application forms are available in Adobe Acrobat form on the DCCA site ( There are some preliminary steps. The candidate will have his or her supervisors (both practicum and post-master) verify their experience. He or she will need an official transcript. He or she must fill out a training outline, indicating which of the courses on his transcript meet particular curricular requirements.

If an applicant answers “yes” to particular questions (for example, indicating that he has been convicted of a crime in the prior 20 years) he or she will need to provide additional documentation.

If an LMFT is a current clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, he or she will not be required to submit verification of their education or of the internship or practicum; instead he or she may submit a letter verifying his status.

In order to become a clinical fellow, one needs to either hold licensing in a state or province that has standards approved by the AAMFT, or go through the evaluative track ( In order to be eligible for clinical fellowship through the evaluative track, a professional needs a qualifying degree and coursework in specific content areas, plus a clinical practicum and two years of supervised practice. This track was designed for mental health professionals from related disciplines. An MFT who is going this route will need to keep his or her membership active throughout the licensing process.

Whatever path candidates take toward licensure, they must submit the appropriate fees with their application packets. There is a $50 nonrefundable processing fee. The licensing fee will depend on what stage it is in the three year license renewal cycle.

Applications may either be mailed or hand delivered to the PVL Licensing Branch in Honolulu. (Addresses are found in the application packet.)

An application will remain open for two years. It can be kept open longer if the applicant communicates to the Board that he is working on meeting licensing requirements — e.g. passing the licensing exam.

Out of State Applicants

Hawaii has an endorsement process, but does not have reciprocity with specific states. LMFTs who have passed the national exam in another jurisdiction can visit or call (212) 367-4342 to have an official score report sent by the Interstate Reporting Service.

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An international LMFT may be found eligible for fellowship through the AAMFT; she must have her education professionally evaluated for equivalency. Even a clinical fellow must pass the exam required in Hawaii — if he or she has not already done so.

Additional Information

Applicants may call Professional and Vocational Licensing at (808) 586-3000. Additional contact information, including an email address for an MFT representative, can be found on the DCCA site (

Candidates may obtain a copy of applicable statutes (Chapter 451J) by sending a written request. Statutes are also available online (

HAMFT is an additional professional resource, at both the licensure and pre-licensure stages. The latest addition of the newsletter (Volume 13, Issue 1) has an article that addresses licensing myths (

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Hawaii

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