Attorney Articles | Not a Trainee But Not Yet an MFT How to Advertise

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Not a Trainee But Not Yet an MFT How to Advertise

Many graduates who have applied for their intern registration are interested in marketing their services to the public. Learn how applicants for intern registration can comply with advertising laws and regulations.

Ann Tran-Lien, JD
Staff Attorney
The Therapist
May/June 2014

Individuals who have graduated from a master’s program and who have applied for the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Intern Registration within 90 days from completion of the master’s program may gain hours of experience working in exempt settings (e.g. non-profit counseling centers; governmental agencies; schools; churches). Many of these individuals and their employers are interested in marketing their services to the public. How do these individuals comply with advertising laws and regulations? The law and regulations are clear in terms of how MFT Registered Interns and MFT Trainees must lawfully advertise. However, nothing in the law or regulations specifically address advertising guidelines for individuals who have applied for intern registration within 90 days from completion of their master’s program.

Advertisements for professional services cannot contain a false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement. 1 The law considers advertisements to include, but are not limited to: business cards, communications by means of mail, television, radio, motion picture, newspaper, letterheads, e-mail addresses, and websites, list or directory of healing arts practitioners, and office signs.

Accordingly, advertisements for an applicant who is waiting for his or her intern registration number should be truthful and not misleading. It is important that these applicants, with the oversight of their employers and supervisors, make a good faith effort to advertise truthfully. The advertisements should include an appropriate title and specific disclosures regarding supervision and employment. After conferring with the Board of Behavioral Sciences, CAMFT believes a title for these applicants that evidences a good faith effort to substantially comply with truthful advertising is “MFT Intern Registration Applicant.” Additional relevant information that should be included is 1) the name of the applicant’s employer or the name of the entity for which he or she volunteers and 2) the fact that he or she is supervised by a licensed person.

Applicants and supervisors/employers who make a good faith effort to advertise truthfully will ensure consumers and the public are fully informed of the applicant’s non-licensed status.

Ann Tran-Lien, JD, is a staff attorney for CAMFT. Ann is available to answer member calls regarding legal, ethical, and licensure issues.