Marriage and Family Therapist Requirements in West Virginia

The West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling licenses the state’s marriage and family therapists.

Full licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) requires a graduate degree, a board examination, and two years of supervised practice. A candidate who has met all requirements except supervised practice is issued a provisional license that will allow him to accrue his experience hours.

Featured Programs:
  • Featured Online Marriage and Family Therapy Program Options:
  • Capella University offers an online MS in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program that is accredited by COAMFTE (Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education). The curriculum incorporates current MFT education standards and is designed to help you prepare to pursue state licensure eligibility. Click here to contact Capella University and request information about their program.
  • Grand Canyon University (GCU) offers a variety of Master’s programs in Mental Health Counseling including an online M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Marriage and Family Therapy and an online Post-M.S. in Counseling: Marriage and Family Therapy Certificate. Each state has specific education requirements as they pertain to MFT licensure. Confirm with your state that this program will meet licensure requirements. Click here to learn more about the GCU programs and course descriptions.
  • Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers a CACREP accredited online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Click here to learn about the psychology and counseling programs at SNHU.
  • Pepperdine University offers an online Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program designed to prepare students for licensure in their state. Click here to learn more.
  • University of West Alabama offers a Master's of Science in Family Counseling as well as several additional Master's programs and a Bachelor's in Psychology undergraduate option. Graduates are prepared to pursue positions in counseling, research, education and other industries. Click here to learn about the University of West Alabama and their programs.

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MFT Education Requirements

The MFT candidate must complete a master’s or doctoral program; the candidate will need at least 60 semester hours of graduate coursework. Accreditation by either the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education or the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs is acceptable. The Board will also accept MFT programs housed in schools accredited by regional accrediting agencies. The major or concentration should be identifiable as marriage and family therapy.

When the graduate applies, they will submit a transcript review worksheet as well as transcripts. The master’s program graduate will need to attach course descriptions. (This is required of all applicants – having a particular accreditation does not exempt a person.) http://www.wvbec.org/images/MFT_Transcript_Review_Instructions_Sheet.pdf

The candidate must have four courses that build knowledge of theoretical approaches and develop skills in MFT and systemic therapeutic interventions.

Additionally, the candidate will need at least one three-semester hour course in each of the following:

  • Marriage and family studies: This course should introduce the student to family structures and presenting issues.
  • Systems theory: This course should include the history and underpinnings of the profession as well as its current conceptualization.
  • Professional ethics: This course must include the AAMFT code of ethics. Religious ethics may not be used toward this requirement.
  • Research: This course will help the future professional carry out research and understand existing research.
  • Individual and family appraisal: Here the student will learn how to gather and interpret data.
  • Human growth and development: Normal and abnormal personality development and human sexuality may be included in this content category.
  • Mental and emotional disorders: This course should cover etiology and prevention as well as diagnosis and treatment.
  • Practicum: The practicum should be twelve months and include at least 300 client contact hours; at least half the required client contact hours should be with couples and families.

The remaining semester hours may consist of additional courses in any of the above content areas. Electives that are related to marriage and family therapy are also acceptable. Most MFT programs, it should be noted, include more than three semester hours of practicum.

A full description of course content can be found in the rules (http://www.wvbec.org/mftlegislativerules/feesruleseries9.html).

The Application Process

A candidate typically applies to the Board when he or she has finished the educational requirements, but not yet taken the national board examination. Board approval is required for examination. If a candidate has already taken the exam in another jurisdiction, however, the candidate can have an official score report sent to accompany the application. Scores are considered valid for five years.

An applicant may send $30 to the West Virginia Board to receive application materials on CD (http://www.wvbec.org/becominganmft.html). The request should include email and mailing addresses, as well as a phone number. It should be sent to WVBEC, 815 Quarrier Street, Suite 212, Charleston, West Virginia 25301.

The application fee is currently $200 (http://www.wvbec.org/images/Series_9_-_MFT_Fees_-July_1,_2010.pdf).

Recommendations and References

The candidate will need two professional recommendations on forms supplied by the Board. They are to be filled out by mental health professionals: LMFTs, counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers. The professionals will evaluate the candidate’s skills and return the evaluations in sealed envelopes.

The candidate will also need three character references to attest that the candidate merits public trust. The Board does not supply forms for these; letters will do.

The candidate will need to write a professional disclosure statement, outlining their qualifications and areas of competency. The statement must also include contact information for the West Virginia Board of Nursing; copies are to be provided to clients.

MFT Examination

The candidate will need to pass the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy before the provisional license can be issued. The exam is administered via computer at Prometric centers.

The candidate will need to wait for authorization before registering. However, the candidate can visit the site of the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards to download a candidate bulletin and view preparatory materials ( http://www.amftrb.org/stateboards.cfm). A list of testing windows is available for the current year and the following one.

A candidate who fails is allowed to take the exam twice during the next 18 month period without seeking further approval or having additional requirements imposed.

Experience Requirement

After completing education and examination requirements and submitting all required paperwork, the graduate is eligible for provisional licensure.

A provisional licensee who holds a master’s as their highest degree will need to work under supervision for at least two years and until such time as he or she accrues 3,000 experience hours. A licensee with a doctoral degree will need to work under supervision for at least one year and until such time as the provisional licensee has accrued 1,500 hours.

At least half of the required hours must be earned through direct clinical contact. A systemic theories approach should be utilized with all clients. Half of the clinical contact hours should be with couples or families. The Board states that the supervisee should make an effort to work with these populations as much as possible.

The provisional license is good for three years. It may be renewed for an additional two years.

The provisional license holder must remain under supervision until his LMFT license is issued.

Supervision Requirement

A provisional marriage and family therapist must be under board approved supervision at all times. The provisional marriage and family therapist will need an hour of direct supervision for every 20 hours worked.

The supervisor may be an LMFT, Licensed Professional Counselor, or other qualified professional. The supervisor must have five years of therapy/ counseling experience as well as training in MFT supervision. Additionally, the supervisor must have held a license for at least two years.

West Virginia will accept supervisor certification through the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy in lieu of documentation of having met the above requirements. The supervisor does not necessarily have to be a full-time employee at the provisional licensee’s workplace. However, the supervisor must be “reasonably available” by telephone. The supervisor will need to meet with the supervisee at least twice a month.

Paperwork must be submitted to the Board at regular intervals. The supervisor will assess the candidate before licensure.

The candidate will need to seek approval from the Board if there is to be a change in supervision.

License by Endorsement

An MFT may be licensed without further examination if the MFT has met equivalent requirements in another state. The MFT will need to provide official transcripts as well as a certified file from the state of licensure; the file should include exam results. Two professional recommendations are required.

Additional Information

The West Virginia Board of Examiners in Counseling licenses the state’s marriage and family therapists (http://www.wvbec.org).

The West Virginia Division of the Association for Marriage and Family Therapy serves as an additional professional resource (http://wv.innovativeassociations.com/).

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in West Virginia

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