Becoming a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist in North Carolina

How to Become a Marriage Family Therapist in North Carolina

Marriage and family therapists are state licensed mental health professionals who are trained in psychotherapy to provide evidence-based therapy to individuals, couples, and families. The goal of this sort of therapy is to resolve relationship issues and the conflicts that arise from them over a relatively short period of time. Their expertise allows them to diagnose and treat clients with any number of mental and emotional disorders people experience within the context of the family setting.

North Carolina’s marriage and family therapists work in many different mental health settings, including hospital systems like Duke University in Durham, as well as mental health centers like New Day Behavioral Health Center in Fayetteville. But most often, people get to know LMFTs as private practice therapists who offer services independently.

Learning how to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in North Carolina first involves understanding educational and licensing requirements:

Educational Requirements for Marriage Family Therapists in North Carolina

To earn a state license to practice as a marriage and family therapist in North Carolina, you’ll need to first earn a master’s or doctorate degree from a program that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

MFT Educational Track Education Requirements Education Length Available Programs
Undergraduate Work Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Counseling 4 Years Online or Campus
Graduate Work Earn a Master's Degree in Counseling 5-6 Years Online or Campus
PHD or Doctoral Work Earn a Doctorate in Counseling 7-8 Years Online or Campus

Required courses within an accredited program include:

  • Assessment and Diagnosis: 3 credit hours in psychopharmacology, treatment planning, family assessment, or psychodiagnostic categories.
  • Family Relations and Human Development: 3 credit hours in any course related to human development such as older adulthood, middle age, early adulthood, adolescence, childhood, or infancy.
  • Practice of MFT: 6 credit hours in courses such as diagnoses, assessments, goal formulations, treatment issues or family diversity, economic conditions, and family therapeutic orientations.
  • Professional Identity and Ethics: 3 credit hours in courses such as professional organizations, professional socialization, or licensure.
  • Research in MFT: 3 credit hours in courses such as critical analysis and current research that is relevant to children and families during the life cycle.
  • Theoretical Foundation of MFT: 6 semester hours in courses such as theoretical and empirical foundations, historical development, or overviews of development of postmodern and modern family therapy theories.
  • Clinical Practicum: 9 semester hours that must include forty hours of clinical contact hours and eight hours of approved supervision.
  • Additional Coursework: 12 hours of additional courses in areas related to marriage family therapy.

An increasing number of colleges and universities now offer marriage and family therapy graduate programs in a hybrid/blended or online format. Busy, working professionals and those with geographic limitations will enjoy the convenience and flexibility that come with online study.

If you currently hold a master’s degree or higher in a field like psychology, social work, psychiatric nursing, or ministry, you may also be able to earn state licensure by completing a post-graduate training program in marriage and family therapy.

Read more about North Carolina MFT degrees.

Experience Requirements for Family Therapy License in North Carolina

Once you’ve completed an accredited master’s or doctorate program, you’ll need to apply for licensure with the North Carolina Marriage and Family Therapy Licensure Board to become a licensed marriage and family therapist associate (LMFTA).

You’ll then need to complete at least 1,500 hours of supervised clinical experience as an LMFTA. You may satisfy up to 500 hours toward this post-graduate supervision requirement during your graduate degree, while the remaining 1,000 hours must be obtained after you earned your degree. At least 200 hours of the supervised clinical experience must be supervised (at least 25 hours are required post-degree).

Examination Requirements for Family Therapy License in North Carolina

After completing the required experience, you’ll receive approval from the Board to schedule and take national exam developed by the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).

Once you pass the exam, you’ll earn licensure to practice as an LMFT in North Carolina.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Career Outlook In North Carolina

As of May 2020, marriage and family therapists in North Carolina earned a median salary of $43,030. The most experienced and established LMFTs in North Carolina earned salaries that closely reflected the 75th – 90th percentile, which was $51,140 - $62,280 during this time.

Between 2018 and 2028, the number of marriage and family therapist jobs in North Carolina is projected to increase by 14.3%. During this ten-year period leading to 2028, the state expects to see about 50 annual job openings in the profession due to a combination of new job growth, natural job turnover, and retirements.

Research Additional Psychology Professional Licenses Granted by North Carolina

As you continue to explore the career of a marriage and family therapist, you may also be interested in learning more about similar professions and what they’re earning in North Carolina:

  • Learn more about how to become a psychologist in North Carolina: Requires a PhD or PsyD; clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in North Carolina earned a median salary of $68,360 as of May 2020. The highest earners in the profession (75th – 90th percentile) earned about $88,280 - $121,940 during this time.
  • Learn more about how to become a licensed counselor in North Carolina: Requires a master’s degree with a focus in the specialty; substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in North Carolina earned a median salary of $47,650 as of May 2020, while the most experienced and established professionals earned salaries that closely reflected the 75th – 90th percentile, which was about $59,610 - $72,670 during this time.
  • Learn more about how to become a social worker in North Carolina: Requires a master’s in social work; child, family, and school social workers earned a median salary of $47,470 in North Carolina as of May 2020, while the state’s mental health and substance abuse social workers earned a median salary of $54,220 during this time. Top earners in these fields (90th percentile) earned $65,690 and $81,490, respectively, during this time.

May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for marriage and family therapists, clinical, counseling and school psychologists, substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health counselors, child, family, and school social workers, and mental health and substance abuse social workers. Figures represent state data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed May 2021.

State job growth projections for marriage and family therapists sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor-sponsored O*Net database (2018-2028). 

Schools with MFT Degree Programs Accepting Students from North Carolina