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Before obtaining the MFT license, Marriage and Family Therapists must first complete a two-year masters or doctoral degree program accredited by a regionally accepted body such as the Western Association of Schools and Colleges or approved by the California Bureau on Private Post-Secondary and Vocational Education. The law specifies an integrated course of study that includes "marital and family systems approaches to treatment," "developmental issues and life events from infancy to old age," and "a variety of approaches to the treatment of children."
Marriage and family therapists earn their license through a rigorous education, training and licensing process similar to other mental health professionals.
Applicants for the license must also complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience. Many often choose to complete a portion of the hours during the degree program to integrate their coursework with insights born of practical experience and apply the coursework while it is being learned. Post-degree registered interns may train with a qualified supervisor in governmental entities, schools, colleges, or universities as well as licensed health facilities, non-profit and charitable corporations and private practices.;
An emphasis of the marriage and family therapist's training is diagnosis and treatment of psychopathology from a family system and relationship perspective. The MFT's integrated course of study also trains generally in a variety of other theoretical frameworks and in the use of various psychotherapeutic techniques. Students also have specific training, amongest other things in alcoholism and chemical dependency issues, human sexuality, psychopharmacology and child abuse detection and treatment. They may also obtain experience in administering and evaluating psychological tests.
Marriage and Family Therapists are licensed by the State of California pursuant to the Healing Arts Division of the California Business and Professions Code (beginning with Section 4980). The Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) is the licensing and regulatory body for LMFTs as well as for clinical social workers and educational psychologists. The MFT licensing exams, which are occupationally-oriented competency-based tests, are a challenging undertaking. Among other key competencies, applicants are tested for their ability to assess, diagnose and treat a range of presenting problems.;
If you would like to read more about how the qualifications of Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists compare to other mental health practitioners, such as Clinical Social Workers and Psychologists, read Education.