MA in Marriage & Family Therapy
Table of Contents:
- What Makes an MAMFT Degree at Evangelical Unique?
- Helpful MFT Videos
- New! Earn Your MAMFT Degree Online
- 26 Questions You Should Be Asking
If you are passionate about helping others build healthy relationships and strong families, then God may be calling you to start your journey toward a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT). Our program will help you develop competent professional skills as beginning marriage and family therapists, and prepare you for Pennsylvania State Licensure (as well as any other state with similar requirements to PA).
Down a copy of our COAMFTE Student Achievement Criteria Data.
Where Relational Formation Flows
Through Presence, Person, & Practice
The distinctions of our program include:
- COAMFTE accredited (aamft.org)
- 65 credits plus 300 or 500 supervised practicum hours, (depending on student’s goals)
- Cohort-based classes Tuesdays and Thursdays, late afternoon and evening
- Student intern placement at one of our counseling centers or collaborative sites during the first year of practicum
- Integration of biblical principles and Christian faith with marriage and family theories
- Only one of a very few faith-based programs in the United States
The cohort model helps to foster a safe and supportive environment where you will develop close relationships with other students and your professors. As you address your personal foundations from within this framework, you will find yourself transformed and well equipped to serve as a beginning professional marriage and family therapist.
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We will be offering both on-ground and a synchronous online option to future Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy students, beginning Fall 2019! Online students will join students in our on-ground class offerings, in real time. Our state of the art classrooms allow us to offer the convenience of online classes, while allowing for the richness of personal interaction with faculty and other students.
Our on-ground program offers the prestigious COAMFTE accreditation, and we are in the process of working with COAMFTE with hope that the synchronous online format will also become COAMFTE accredited. Until this occurs, the synchronous online portion of the program is not COAMFTE accredited, but you will take the exact same classes that are accredited on-ground.
- How much money does a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) make?
- If I become an LMFT and work from a Christian perspective, will the state keep me from practicing my faith?
- What kind of jobs do MFTs and LMFTs do? Who hires them?
- What is the job outlook for marriage and family therapists?
- What is Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT)?
- What is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)? Is it important to be licensed?
- Can I “practice” marriage and family therapy (MFT) without a license?
- How long does it take to become a licensed MFT? What’s the process for getting your license?
- Is there reciprocity of licenses between states?
- Who is allowed to call themselves a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)?
- What does an MFT do? What does a typical day look like?
- What is the difference between counseling and therapy?
- What’s the difference between a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?
- What’s the difference between a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)?
- Can I “practice” marriage and family therapy without a degree?
- What is a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree?
- What does “practicum” mean in a masters-level MFT program?
- How does one accumulate hours toward practicum?
- Do I have to find my own practicum site?
- What is the difference between doing the program part-time or accelerated part-time?
- What does “supervision” mean in a masters-level MFT program?
- What does “cohort” mean?
- What does it mean for a master of marriage and family therapy program to be accredited?
- What does it mean for a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program (MAMFT) to be COAMFTE accredited?
- What’s the difference between COAMFTE and CACREP accreditation?
- What is required once I graduate with my masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy? What else is needed and what does it cost?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other websites, the average starting salary for an MFT varies somewhat but is around $48,790, with a range from $35,000 to $67,000 depending on location and experience. For a LMFT, the average salary is around $58,973, with a high of around $81,960 depending on location and experience.
If I become an LMFT and work from a Christian perspective, will the state keep me from practicing my faith?
Like all Americans, MFT’s are protected from undue governmental interference, as stated by our First Amendment rights, which read: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech” (see www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment). Unless a therapist is behaving in an inappropriate fashion, the “state” will not interfere in his/her expression of faith.
Nevertheless, therapy is never to be used as a platform for proselytizing. Therapist’s must always respect the faith of their clients, and discuss in an upfront and respectful fashion whether and/or how faith issues are to be incorporated into the therapeutic process, in service of the client’s movement toward health/recovery.
A typical entry level position for a new, unlicensed graduate is often as a “mobile therapist” or “family based therapist” within an agency. These positions work in a team format and visit the homes of their client families where therapy is given in a variety of ways.
MFT’s typically work in and are hired by the following places of employment:
- Outpatient Care Centers
- Offices of Health Practitioners
- Social Service Agencies
- Private Practice
- Churches and Religious Settings
- Substance Abuse & Addiction Treatment Centers
- Medical Centers and Mental Health Centers
- Other possibilities might include the government, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the military, HMOs, and legal and correctional systems.
The job outlook is very strong according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their projection is a 23% growth rate between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average of all other occupations! A driving force behind this increase is the increasing integration of mental health and medical.
MFT has been designated by the federal government as a core mental health profession (along with psychiatry, psychology, social work, and psychiatric nursing). A family’s patterns of behavior influences the individual and therefore may need to be a part of the treatment plan. In marriage and family therapy, the unit of treatment isn’t just the person – even if only a single person is involved – it is the set of relationships in which the person is imbedded.
In Pennsylvania, the “practice of marriage and family therapy” means: The professional application of psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques to the evaluation, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, affective or behavioral. The term includes the evaluation and assessment of mental and emotional disorders in the context of significant interpersonal relationships and the delivery of psychotherapeutic services to individuals, couples, families and groups for the purpose of treating such disorders (Act 76 of 2018).
LMFTs are those who hold a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, who are mental health professionals trained in family systems and psychotherapy, and licensed by the state to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of individuals, marriage, couples, and family systems. MFTs treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including: depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems.
It is important to be licensed, because in most states, including Pennsylvania, a person must be licensed (or working toward licensure) in order to call him/her-self a marriage and family therapist. Without being licensed, an individual is unable to refer to him/her-self, in any way, as a MFT. When licensed, an individual is also able to work with insurance companies by becoming one of their “providers” who can then bill an insurance company for payment.
This varies from state to state, but many if not most states have what is called a “Practice Act” for MFT. This means that there are regulations set by each state that determines who is able to Practice MFT and who may call themselves a marriage and family therapist.
In Pennsylvania, a person does not have to have a degree in order to do “therapy” or “psychotherapy.” However, no one is able to call him- or her-self a marriage and family therapist/counselor without having a degree in MFT AND who is actively working toward becoming a LMFT.
In Pennsylvania, a recent law, Act 76 (Senate Bill 539), went into effect on October 24, 2018. Act 76 of 2018 prohibits the independent practice of marriage and family therapy without a license as a marriage and family therapist (LMFT). “Independent practice” means that the individual: 1) styles him or her-self as a marriage and family therapist; 2) regulates and is responsible for his or her own practice and treatment procedures; and 3) is not affiliated with any other practice, health care facility, government agency or government-regulated social service agency. For MFTs, those practitioners who have completed their education to obtain a license to practice marriage and family therapy and who are actively working toward licensure as a marriage and family therapist by accumulating the required 3,000 of “supervised clinical experience” as set forth in the Board’s regulations at 49 Pa. Code § 48.13(b) are not considered to be engaging in “independent practice” as defined in Act 76 of 2018 if they are receiving regular supervision by a supervisor who meets the Board’s regulations on “Qualifications for Supervisors” as outlined in 49 Pa. Code § 48.3 and the “Standards for Supervisors” as outlined in 49 Pa. Code § 48.14. These practitioners must continue to receive the required supervision until they are issued a license to practice marriage and family therapy by the Board.
Act 76 of 2018 can be viewed at the following link.
In Pennsylvania, a person is able to apply for a license after having spent a minimum of 2 years, but not more than 6 years, in acquiring the required 3000 clinical hours and 150 supervision hours needed for licensure.
Once a person has graduated from a master’s program, she or he is able to begin to accumulate the required clinical hours by providing therapy to clients, while under supervision with a supervisor who meets the state board’s requirements for supervisor. The required 3000 clinical hours and 150 supervision hours must be accrued within 2 to 6 years from the date the person began to count the hours. After meeting the requirements, the person must then apply and be approved for licensure before being able to take and pass the national exam. Once the exam has been successfully passed, a license will be issued.
At this point in time, there is little actual reciprocity between states. Each state sets its own requirements for licensure, with some states having higher standards than other states. Just because one is licensed in one state as a LMFT does not automatically mean that the license will be accepted for transfer to another state. However, there is a movement across the USA to make “portability” of licenses (LMFT, LPC and LCSW) more possible, meaning that when licensed in one state (sometimes for a certain length of time) obtaining a license in another state would be possible. Needless to say, each state has its own rules and regulations on portability.
In order to be able to call oneself a MFT in Pennsylvania, one will have needed to graduate with a Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy AND be actively pursuing licensure as a LMFT, meaning that the graduate is receiving supervision, from a supervisor who meets the Commonwealth’s requirements for a supervisor, for the clients for which the graduate is providing therapy. (See Act 76 and Senate Bill 837) Not just anyone is able to call him- or her-self a MFT, since this is protected by a “Practice Act” (Senate Bill 837 of 2015).
According to Senate Bill 837, “Only individuals who have received licenses as marriage and family therapists under this act may style themselves as licensed marriage and family therapists, marriage and family therapists, family therapists, marriage therapists, or couples therapists and use the letters “L.M.F.T.” or “M.F.T.” in connection with their names. It shall be unlawful for an individual to style oneself as a licensed marriage and family therapist, marriage and family therapist, family therapist, marriage therapist, or couples therapist or use any words or symbols indicating or tending to indicate that the individual is a licensed marriage and family therapist without being licensed as a marriage and family therapist in good standing under this act.” This shall not apply to a person who is working to meet the supervised experience requirement to become a licensed marriage and family therapist and whose duties are supervised by a licensed marriage and family therapist or other licensed mental health professional, as long as the person does not represent himself or herself as a licensed marriage and family therapist.
MFT’s, like other helping professionals (social workers, professional counselors, psychologists), will be engaged in all aspects of therapy work with clients, including such tasks as assessment, diagnosis, and creation of treatment plans. MFTs will help clients who seek assistance for a variety of behavioral, emotional, and relational issues such as depression, anxiety, couple conflict, family matters, etc. In most cases, the “average day” of the “average MFT” will include hour long sessions with individuals, couples and/or family clients, assisting them toward accomplishing their goals, in resolving their problems.
Counseling is the application of wisdom, in the context of care, against the problems of life. Simply stated, it is the process by which a counselor helps an individual understand and solve problems to help him or her cope with mental or emotional stressors. This tends to highlight the wisdom of the counselor and, to that degree, is limiting and may create dependence on that counselor. Therapy, on the other hand, usually involves talking about a situation/problem in order to gain more understanding about that issue/problem so as to regain health. Therapy, as derived from the Greek word “theraeuo,” is restoration toward wholeness, restoring that which is broken to it’s original whole state. Therapy seeks to assist clients in finding THEIR inner strengths and God-given abilities, and with help/coaching from the therapist, access those strengths so that that the client can move from states of inadequacy toward agency and empowerment.
What’s the difference between a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?
While both are considered mental health practitioners, and approach mental health from a broad environmental perspective, these disciplines grew out of different traditions. While there may be some overlap, with LCSWs providing counseling in a relational context, they are employed in a wider variety of settings and roles than LMFTs are, and have broader training, while LMFTs have a more specialized training. Clinical social work is based on theories and methods of prevention and treatment in providing mental-health/healthcare services, with special focus on behavioral and bio-psychosocial problems and disorders, along with case management. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are “relationship experts” whose approach is from a “systemic” perspective, which broadens the traditional emphasis on the individual to attend to the nature and role of individuals in other relational networks (work school, community, etc), especially the primary relationship networks of marriage and the family.
What’s the difference between a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)?
While both are considered mental health practitioners, who assess, diagnose and treat patients for a variety of mental health issues, their underlying philosophies, and how they approach a situation, are vastly different. LMFTs are generally considered “specialists” and operate within a narrower scope of practice. Whereas LPCs have a wider scope of practice and operate more generally within the field of mental health, approaching problems from an individual development standpoint and focusing on a client’s overall ecological systems, MFTs tend to focus more on couples and families. When treating clients, LMFTs look at behavior from a social and relational context, focusing on the client’s microsystems: settings and groups that directly impact a client’s well-being, such as family, school or the workplace. They operate under the assumption that no person lives in a social vacuum, and that as such, our relationships with those around us have a profound impact on our behavior and mental well-being. When treating a client, Marriage and Family Therapists look to identify problems that arise from relationships.
In Pennsylvania, while a person is not required to have a degree in order to do “therapy” or “psychotherapy,” no one may “practice” marriage and family therapy without having a degree in MFT and without being engaged in active pursuit of licensure as a LMFT. It is unlawful for an individual to style oneself as a licensed marriage and family therapist, marriage and family therapist, family therapist, marriage therapist, or couples therapist without being licensed as a marriage and family therapist in good standing (see Senate Bill 837, 2015).
The MAMFT prepares someone to work as a Marriage and Family Therapist, helping individuals, couples, and families to have more healthy relationships, and to live in recovery from emotional pain such as depression and/or anxiety.
A practicum is an “internship” – or a prescribed period of time – during which the graduate MFT student (referred to as an “intern therapist”) sees clients in an agency just as a professional MFT would. Intern therapists learn how to join with a client(s), do assessments of the client’s family system, and develop case conceptualizations and treatment plans. They meet with the clients weekly over time to help the clients achieve their therapeutic goals.
Each session hour that an intern therapist spends with a client counts toward the total hours that are required for students to have in order to graduate with a MAMFT degree.
At Evangelical, the MFT Program provides a practicum site for students to accumulate their necessary clinical hours. It is an option for student interns to add another site of their own choosing (which is cleared by the Clinical Director), in order to accumulate the needed hours.
The main difference is the length of time it takes to finish the program. Doing the program part-time takes 3.5-4 years, while the accelerated part-time takes 2.5-3 years. In essence, the first year for accelerated part-time students is actually the first two years of the part-time program collapsed together, thus reducing the overall length of the program by one year.
Throughout the duration of the practicum, each student intern meets weekly with an appointed supervisor to review his/her client sessions and to hone her/his skills through real life practical learning. The supervisor encourages, supports, advises, and challenges the student intern in his/her learning process. When clients have given permission, the intern therapist records the therapy sessions. As recordings are reviewed with the supervisor, the intern can understand better the process happening between her/him and the client(s). Through these weekly meetings, the supervisor is able to help interns improve their skills as therapists.
The MFT cohort is a group or “family” of students who remain together throughout their course of study.
The purpose of accreditation is to ensure quality in higher education. Accreditation is a voluntary process that encourages programs to engage in self-evaluation, development and innovation. This process helps to ensure that students receive knowledge and skill necessary for entry into a chosen field.
What does it mean for a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program (MAMFT) to be COAMFTE accredited?
The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage & Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is THE accrediting agency for marriage and family therapy education and training! It’s recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only accrediting agency for graduate degree and clinical training programs in Marriage and Family Therapy in the US and Canada. As such, COAMFTE accreditation is a significant marker of quality. It also:
- Certifies that students are equipped with knowledge and skills to be effective clinicians within our diverse communities
- Ensures that degree programs are housed in an institution that qualifies students for federal financial aid
- Helps ensure sufficient resources for programs, faculty and students
- Ensures that your program does what it promises on its website and promotional materials
- Facilitates licensure for students
- Gives you an advantage in obtaining employment, since COAMFTE-accredited programs report high job placement rates.
Counsel for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is the recognized training standard for counselors, by the Institute of Medicine and the Veteran’s Administration. In most states, it meets the curriculum required for educational training for counseling licensure. This curriculum, which is VERY different from the curriculum for Marriage and Family Therapists, meets requirements for counselors, who have a wider scope of practice and operate more generally within the field of mental health than MFTs do.
The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage & Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is THE accrediting agency for marriage and family therapy education and training! It’s recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the only accrediting agency for graduate degree and clinical training programs in Marriage and Family Therapy in the US and Canada. As such, it ensures that: 1) you will receive a quality education in marriage and family therapy that has been evaluated and has met accepted standards established by the profession; and 2) your program does what it promises on its website and promotional materials. It also certifies that students are equipped with knowledge and skills to be effective clinicians within our diverse communities.
What is required once I graduate with my masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy? What else is needed and what does it cost?
First of all, in Pennsylvania you must have at least a master’s degree of 48 semester credits in MFT to qualify, but you must have a total of 60 semester credits of graduate study that meet the educational requirements of the state. Our MAMFT Program meets all of these requirements.
Once graduated with the necessary degree and credits, there are state requirements that must be met in order to get licensed as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. In Pennsylvania this will take a minimum of 2 years and no more than 6 years (from the time you begin to “count hours”) to accumulate the necessary 3000 clinical hours, 1500 of which must be face-to-face with client(s). While accumulating these hours, you must be involved in supervision with a supervisor who meets the qualifications set by the state board. The total number of supervision hours that you must have is 150 hours, at a ratio of 1:20, meaning that for every 20 clinical hours you accumulate, you must have 1 hour of supervision.
All of this will be an additional cost to you. Supervision rates run between $50 – $100 per hour, but remember that clients will be paying for therapy with you. In the long run, this is a worthwhile investment.