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10 Steps to Become a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist!

One of the top questions that I get as a Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT) is, "How can I become an MFT?" followed by, "How long does it take?" I remember having these questions for years with no clear answers, so I hope that today's blog helps you get one step closer to deciding if being an MFT is the right path for you. If you're more of a visual learner, I have a YouTube video with the same breakdown in greater detail here!

It's important to note that these steps can greatly differ based on your state. My list is based on the requirements in Georgia.

  1. Get your bachelor's. One myth is that you have to major in psychology or a related field in undergrad to become an MFT. That's not true. I'm the proof! I majored in Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and minored in Sociology. (I've actually found those 2 fields really helped me in graduate school, but we can talk more about that in another post.)

  2. Research the best grad program for you. (I have a video to help you narrow this down here!) I single this out because it took me years to find the right program for me due to a lot of misinformation. My top advice to you- make sure that your grad program is COAMFTE-accredited! This is the golden standard that verifies that a program can adequately prepare you for licensure. For a directory of COAMFTE-accredited schools, click here!

  3. Begin graduate school. Once you've found the perfect program for you, apply and interview. Once you're in, you'll begin taking foundational courses that will introduce to the concepts unique to Marriage and Family Therapy, assessments, diagnosing, etc. It was all so fascinating to me, but the real fun starts in our next step.

  4. Begin practicum/internship. After about a year in your program, you'll typically be eligible to begin seeing clients under supervision (this was so exciting for me). Most programs will have a requirement of how many hours you'll need of direct client contact and/or a minimum of credit hours before you'll be eligible for graduation.

  5. Prepare & Present Capstone. As your internship comes to a close, most programs will want to know more about how you've developed as a therapist while working with clients. A capstone presentation will often include things like your preferred approach when working with clients, soundbites or video clips of a session, and your future plans. Many students take months developing these presentations because passing your capstone is likely an important requirement for our next step.

  6. Graduate! Once you have completed all of your degree requirements, you attain your Master's degree and can move on to our next step.

  7. Apply to your state board to sit for the licensure exam. I found it so weird that I had to get permission to even take the exam, but that's the process here in GA as well as many other states. The application is long and took me several weeks to complete. Some of the things that were included: the amount of hours that I completed both of supervision and of direct client contact, notarizations, supervisor reference, a contract of employment, my transcript etc. It's a lot! My recommendation is to start as soon as you can by filling out the information that won't change like your personal information, school information, supervisor name, etc.

  8. Take the exam! Once the state board approves your application, they'll give you a code to sign up for the licensure exam. This exam has historically been 200 questions that you have 4 hours to take, but some states are changing the requirement and lessening the number of questions. It's a toughie, and it's not uncommon to have to take the exam multiple times. Fortunately, I only had to take it once. If you'd like to see my study process for taking it, that video is here!

  9. Once you pass the exam, you will be granted associate or partial licensure. With this type of licensure, you still have to practice under supervision. During this time, you'll need to accrue additional hours (it's 2,000 for me) during a certain period of time (minimum of 2 years for me). Once that is completed, you move on to our next step.

  10. Apply for full licensure! In an application process that is very similar to the first, you will share information that emphasizes your time as an associate licensed therapist. However, you will need to also include information from graduate school, so be sure to stay in contact with your supervisors and hold on to that original application. Once approved, CONGRATS! You're fully licensed as a Marriage & Family Therapist.

I hope this helps! Feel free to write your questions below or book a one-on-one consultation on the "Book" tab.

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Stephanie I need help so bad me and my husband are on the verge of a divorce my name is Brandi I'm 28 I'm on disability poor no doctor will help us we been married four years struggling to communicate and everything last two years he has been having an affair in denial I feel so alone i don't have any friends or my parents I have no one else to turn to every moment of the day I'm so depressed and lost and it's getting worse I need help plz I been watching ur videos and I truly feel like u could help our marriage please idk what else to do I love my husband please help me Stephanie…


Do you have any youtube videos on social theories or lifespan?

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