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5 Hallmarks of a Quality MFT Program

Quality MFT Program Hallmarks

  • Length of the Program
  • Success Rate
  • Clinical Experience
  • Accreditation
  • Program Features

When it comes to choosing quality marriage and family therapist programs, several factors will affect the decision. MFTs are required to pass a licensure examination in the state in which they hope to practice. The program they choose must adequately prepare them for this test. MFT degree programs consist of classroom learning and client interactions. The more aware prospective MFT students are of the hallmarks of a respected MFT program, the more likely they are to succeed.

Related resource: Top 30 Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling Online Degree Programs

1. Length of the Program

The shortest program, which boasts the least time between beginning studies and obtaining licensure, is not always the best option. This may be a primary consideration when a student needs to quickly start earning a paycheck. Most programs require two and three years to complete. As part of the requirements, students must finish a predetermined number of hours of a therapy internship. In general, the more respected programs require more of this hands-on learning when compared with other programs. The more real-world experience obtained in the academic years, the easier it will be to pass the licensure exam.

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2. Success Rate

Reputable schools are proud to publish the success rates of their students. Frequently, these statistics relate to the number or percentage of students who pass their licensure examination. Other metrics also may be of use to the prospective student. Data concerning where graduates were able to obtain employment, which ones continued on to a further academic program and which ones have attained distinction within the professional MFT community similarly may be valuable.

3. Clinical Experience

When considering things to look for in an MFT program, this aspect is of particular importance. Requirements vary between states, so it’s critical for the student to be aware of the standards within the state in which they hope to practice. Between 300 and 500 hours of contact with clients and between 100 and 200 hours of supervision are mandated in most states. A post-graduate clinical experience measuring between 1,000 and 2,000 hours further may be required. Before choosing a program, it’s crucial to confirm that the state minimums will be met. Moreover, it is vital to consider in which settings and with what type of clients these sessions will occur. Are they in line with the student’s particular area of interest?

4. Accreditation

The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or COAMFTE, and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, or CACREP, are the organizations that provide accreditation for MFT programs across the country. Accreditation indicates that the program has met and maintained professional standards that are in line with best practices in the field. Some states do not allow graduates of an unaccredited program to obtain licensure. Accordingly, it is essential to ensure accreditation before enrollment.

5. Program Features

MFT programs are a product not only of the overall institution but also of that department. This means that the philosophies espoused by a particular program may vary widely from those espoused by another. Additionally, some programs may place an emphasis on serving a certain segment of the population or take a specific clinical approach. The student may want to consider these elements before choosing a program.

Choosing the right degree program is central to the personal and professional development of the prospective MFT. By evaluating each of these aspects of marriage and family therapist programs for graduate students, it is possible to make a wise and well-informed decision.