Becoming a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist in California

Marriage family therapists work in a variety of settings such as colleges, hospitals, government offices, mental health centers, private practices, and substance abuse treatment centers. The role of the marriage family therapist is to listen to their clients and help them understand their role within the family dynamic. The marriage family therapist helps families, couples, and individuals work through problems that they may have in their relationships in order to better their lives.

In the state of California you are required to meet certain standards before becoming licensed as a marriage family therapist. These standards are outlined below.

Educational Requirements for Marriage Family Therapists in California

There are certain educational requirements that a person must complete in order to be considered for licensure as a marriage family therapist in the state of California. A person must attend and complete a master’s degree or doctoral program. This program must be accredited by a regionally accepted organization like the California Bureau of Post-Secondary education or vocational education or the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. It is specified in the requirements that the course of study must include a marital and family group approach to treatment as well as courses in developmental concerns and life events from birth through old age as well as a number of different methods for the treatment of children.

MFT Educational TrackEducation RequirementsEducation LengthAvailable Programs
Undergraduate WorkEarn a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling4 YearsOnline or Campus
Graduate WorkEarn a Master's Degree in Counseling5-6 YearsOnline or Campus
PHD or Doctoral WorkEarn a Doctorate in Counseling7-8 YearsOnline or Campus

The graduate degree program must consist of at least sixty semester hours or ninety quarter units of instruction time. No less than twelve semester units of the coursework must be in principles, theories, and methods of psychotherapeutic orientations that are directly related to marriage family therapy and the marriage family systems approach to treatment and how these theories can be applied to clients including individuals, families, and couples.

Learn more about California MFT Degrees.

Additional Requirements for Family Therapy License in California

In addition to the educational requirements a person must also finish a set of training requirements. A license applicant must have completed 3000 hours of experience, which must be supervised. This experience must be obtained in no less than 104 weeks. The experience must be obtained within the first six years after graduating from an approved program.

Many people choose to begin completing some of the hours while they are working on their graduate degree. This helps to integrate the coursework that they are doing for their degree into practical experiences. A person that has earned their degree may choose to train with a supervisor that is qualified either in a school, college, government entity, licensed health facility, charitable or non-profit corporations, or at a private practice.

The experience hours can be broken down into the following categories:

  1. Minimum 1500 hours of direct counseling work
  2. Individual therapy and counseling
  3. Maximum 500 hours in group therapy or counseling
  4. Maximum 375 hours in telemedicine counseling
  5. Maximum 250 hours administering and evaluating tests, writing progress notes and process notes, and writing clinical reports.
  6. Maximum 1250 hours non counseling work experience: this includes seminars, workshops, training sessions, conferences, personal psychotherapy received, client centered advocacy, and supervision.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Career Outlook In California

The job growth in the field of marriage family therapy is expected to be higher than the average job growth for all careers with an expected increase of 41% from 2010 through 2020. Jobs in the mental health counseling field are expected to increase by 36% during this same time. As of May, 2012, there were 9120 licensed family therapists in the state.

The average wage in the nation for those working as marriage family therapists is $45,720 as of May 2010. While the average wage for those employed as marriage family therapists in California was $47,230 as of May 2012.

Research Additional Psychology Professional Licenses Granted by California:

Schools with MFT Degree Programs Accepting Students from California