Marriage and Family Therapist Requirements in Rhode Island

Rhode Island marriage and family therapists are regulated by the Board of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. Applications, rules, and regulations are found on the site of the Department of Health.

There is just one level of licensed practice. In order to be credentialed as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, or LMFT, a professional must complete a graduate degree, work under supervision, and pass a licensing exam.

A person typically comes under jurisdiction when they are nearing completion of all requirements. There are agency settings where licensure is not legally required. An individual may work in one of these settings while completing their practice requirement.

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LMFT Education Requirements

A marriage and family therapist may have a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy or a graduate degree in an allied field, along with additional coursework required to establish equivalency. The Board considers psychology, counseling psychology, counselor education, and community mental health to be allied fields. MFT degree programs should be housed in regionally accredited schools of higher learning. Rhode Island schools are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; there are five equivalent accrediting agencies in other parts of the nation.

The candidate will need 60 semester hours of relevant coursework. The following content must be covered:

  • Human development/ family relations (3 semester hours): This coursework should cover the family life cycle and the interrelationship between interpersonal and intrapersonal development. Sexual orientation and sexual discrimination should be covered.
  • Theoretical Foundations of MFT (6 semester hours): This coursework should give students a grounding in the historical foundation of MFT and the current conceptualization.
  • Clinical knowledge (18 semester hours): Courses will prepare future clinicians to diagnose and treat dysfunction. Students will learn to consider issues of gender, social class, and ethnicity, and to help clients with issues ranging from stress and life cycle transitions to violence.
  • MFT professional studies/ ethics (3 semester hours): The course must cover professional socialization, legal issues, and the AAMFT code of ethics.
  • Research (3 semester hours): Students will need a foundation in qualitative and quantitative research.

The candidate must have at least one additional three semester hour elective that will support their professional goals.

The student must have 12 semester hours of practicum and a year of internship. The internship should be 20 hours a week.

The candidate should do at least 500 hours of direct work with clients as a student; at least 250 hours should be spent in session with families or couples. The student MFT will need 100 hours of supervision during this period. The MFT student should meet with a supervisor either individually or in a dyad at least once per week.

Coursework and internship may be done as part of the degree program or as part of a postgraduate training program. A postgraduate program is acceptable if it is COAMFTE-accredited or housed within an appropriately accredited school.

A full description of the required coursework is found in Appendix B of the rules and regulations.

Post-Graduate Supervised Experience

The candidate will need at least two years of postgraduate clinical experience. The candidate must accrue at least 2,000 direct client contact hours.

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During this time, the candidate will need 100 hours of supervisory sessions under an approved supervisor. The candidate will require the services of a professional who has either been approved by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) or meets alternate requirements set by Rhode Island. A therapist who has five years of experience and whose license has been in good standing for five years is approved provided the candidate takes a course in supervision; it can either be a graduate level university course or a course offered through the AAMFT or its state affiliate, the Rhode Island Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (RIAMFT).

When the candidate applies to the Board, the candidate will need records of supervision and experience hours.

The Application Process

An in-state candidate will apply when the candidate has completed most requirements but still needs to take the licensing exam. The candidate may access the application on the Department of Health site (

The applicant will need a birth certificate or documentation of citizenship or lawful presence.

Two character references will also be required. They must be written in the six months prior to application.

The applicant will need a passport-style photograph to affix to their application.

The application will need to be notarized. It must be accompanied by the correct fee (currently $130) made out to the Rhode Island General Treasurer.

Official transcripts are to come directly from the school.

The candidate should submit their license application at least 30 days in advance of the Board meeting at which they wish to have it reviewed.

The licensing process typically takes four to eight weeks. Malpractice claims or disciplinary history may extend the process by two or three months. Licenses are verifiable online well before the wallet card arrives in the mail.

If an application packet is incomplete, it will be held open for a year.

MFT Examination

The required exam is the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy. The Board will take steps to register the candidate for the exam. The candidate should expect the required information, including fees, to arrive in the mail.

Fees are currently running close to $300. A candidate bulletin, along with a list of upcoming examination cycles, is available on the site of the Association for Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (

The candidate will receive official exam results from the Department of Health approximately six weeks after testing.

Out-of-State LMFTs

An out-of-state LMFT may be licensed by endorsement if she holds licensing in a state that has at least equivalent requirements. Out-of-state candidate will need to submit the license verification (found in the application) to each state where they have ever held a license.

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The other state will note the candidate’s degree and verify whether the candidate passed the national exam. Any reprimands or suspensions will be noted.

Additional Information and Contacts

Candidates with questions may call the Board of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists (401) 222-2828.

The Rhode Island Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is an association for practitioners and students that provides many more resources. Check it out: (

Rhode Island Department of Health – Board of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists Forms and additional contact information (

Marriage and Family Therapist Programs in Rhode Island

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