Marriage and Family Therapist Requirements in South Dakota

South Dakota marriage and family therapists are licensed by the Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners. In order to be credentialed as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), a person needs to complete a graduate program, pass a board examination, and work under supervision for at least two years.

Pre-professionals are exempted from licensure during the period of time that they are working toward licensure, but must be under board approved supervision. An individual working toward licensure may use a title such as family therapy intern to denote status.

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MFT Education in South Dakota

An LMFT who completes a program accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) can expect to meet all requirements.

It is also an option to complete an equivalent degree from a regionally accredited institution. The following accrediting agencies are accepted:

  • Middle States
  • New England
  • North Central
  • Northwest
  • Southern
  • Western

A qualifying degree must include at least 48 semester hours of coursework. If the program is not accredited by COAMFTE or CACREP, the candidate will fill out a worksheet later listing coursework that meets each content area requirement. The candidate will include syllabi or course descriptions if the title alone does not make it clear that the requirements were covered. (The Board asks that candidates highlight sections which match content requirements.)

There must be nine semester hours in each of the following content areas:

  • Marriage and family studies: This coursework should have a systems theory orientation and may include concepts like family systems, family development, and special issues.
  • Marriage and family therapy: This should include advanced systems interventions and major treatment approaches.
  • Human development: There must be a course in psychopathology and assessment. The other required course may be personality development, human sexuality, or human development.

There should be three semester hours in each of the following core areas:

  • Professional studies: This course should include professional ethics.
  • Research concepts: This can include statistics, research design and methodology.

The practicum should be 15 hours a week. It should include about 8 – 10 hours of clinical contact each week. There must be a total of at least 300 client contact hours.

The initial degree may be supplemented with additional coursework if needed.

Supervised Practice

The intern will need to accrue 1,700 hours of experience providing therapy. The intern may count hours spent providing individual therapy as well as those spent with couples and families. All hours must be post-master and take place after the first qualifying degree was conferred.

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Clinical supervision should be provided by an LMFT with at least three years of experience. This individual is to follow guidelines set by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

The intern will need 200 hours of supervision. At least 100 hours must be individual.

The candidate will need to have their supervision plan approved before starting. The candidate must file additional paperwork within 30 days if a change occurs. The LMFT candidate will summarize hours at the end; the supervisor will review the candidate’s statements, provide a brief evaluation (ranking performance from poor to outstanding), and submit it to the Board.

MFT Examination

The candidate will need to take the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy ( The candidate may do so either before or after completing the supervision requirements. The candidate will need, at the minimum, to have a supervision plan in place before the candidate can be approved. If the candidate has not yet met the other requirements for licensure, the candidate will submit an application for examination.

The candidate should be aware that the process takes some time. There are four annual testing cycles. Professional Examination Service sets a registration deadline a week before the start of the testing window; the candidate will need to have the application materials submitted in advance so the Board can make him eligible.

The candidate will remit $220 to PES and additional $75 when the candidate schedules the exam at a Prometric center; the candidate may opt for any participating center, either in South Dakota or another state. The Board will provide details about the examination after approving the application.

An unsuccessful candidate may retake the exam after six months, but will need to pay additional fees. The South Dakota Board will assess a $20 fee, so the total charge will be $315. Three retakes are allowed.

The Application Process

The application may be filed after the candidate has met all requirements with the possible exception of examination. It is available in Word form on the Board site.

The application asks a series of professional fitness questions, for example, if the candidate has been disciplined by a mental health licensing board or certification agency, has been convicted of a crime that could carry a penalty of a year or more in jail, or is behind in child support by $1,000 or more. Any ‘yes’ answer to a question about legal or disciplinary history will require written explanation.

There is a $100 application fee. South Dakota will accept personal checks. In order to apply, one must be a resident of South Dakota. The LMFT candidate must include must a copy of a driver’s license/ ID and have the application notarized.

Out-of-State Marriage and Family Therapists

An out-of-state LMFT may be endorsed into South Dakota if the out-of-state LMFT has met similar requirements elsewhere.

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A candidate who has already taken the national exam should have his test scores sent directly by PES.

Contact Information and Additional Information

Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners (

The Board of Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners can be reached at (605) 331-2927.

The South Dakota Division of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy serves as an additional professional resource:

Marriage and Family Therapist Programs in South Dakota

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