MFT Degrees, Schools, and Careers in Washington
The task of researching and applying to graduate-level education on marriage and family therapy (MFT) or couples and family therapy (CFT) can be challenging, as there are a vast number of different programs available with varying strengths and weaknesses. One strategy through which students can prioritize their research on programs is though investigation of programs that are currently accredited—or given the “stamp of approval”—by reputable organizations, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Accredited programs, such as those detailed below, often confer benefit to their graduates, most often in the form of facilitating the process of applying for and receiving licensure. However, this does not mean that programs that are not accredited limit students; it is simply recommended that students always verify that the coursework offered by a given program meets the requirements outlined by the occupation or job that they are striving toward.
Antioch University–Seattle offers a Master of Arts (MA) program in Couple and Family Therapy which prepares students to work with couples, families, and individuals of all ages. The program strives to provide students with a strong background in both traditional and contemporary approaches to couple and family therapy, as well as in vivo clinical experiences in which they can apply this knowledge. One unique feature of the program is the opportunity to specialize in either Drama Therapy or Art Therapy. The program boasts an on-site Community Counseling and Psychology Clinic in which students can gain valuable experience treating couples, families, and individuals with a range of presenting concerns.
Designed to instill in students a systematic, contextual approach to the treatment of couples and families, the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy Program through Pacific Lutheran University is comprised of 47-49 semester units, which students generally complete in 24-27 months. In terms of clinical experiences, students receive training through the Couple and Family Therapy Center on site, as well as through off-site practicums with one of five agencies that PLU has partnered with. The program supports its assertions of quality training with the fact that, to date, 98.6% of the students that have graduated from the program have passed the national MFT exam! If students choose, they can opt to work with a faculty member to develop a research project in an area of interest, and in doing so, gain experience in the academic presentation of findings in the form of a conference presentation or a journal article.
For students hoping to pursue a MFT graduate degree with an emphasis on the spiritual development and health of clients, Seattle Pacific University offers a 70-credit Master’s program, which can be completed on either or full- or part-time basis (ranging from 2-4 years). In terms of clinical work, students complete a 7 semester sequence of applied practicum experiences at various local sites that have partnered with SPU’s program. At the end of their clinical experiences, students present a “clinical portfolio” of their work, wherein they can more deeply explore links between a given theory and their applied experiences. Students also have the unique opportunity to pursue specialty training, through completing a certificate in Medical Family Therapy, or if they are called to serve within ministry, a dual degree in MFT and Divinity (MDiv) or Masters in Christian Studies.
In addition to SPU, Seattle University offers a 79-credit, 3-year, spiritually-informed Master of Arts program in couple and family therapy (CFT). The program boasts many of the same features of traditional MFT or CFT programs, including a solid educational foundation in systems theory and evidence-based treatment of individuals and families, while offering unique features related to developing spiritually-informed conceptualizations and better able to incorporate faith and spiritual conversations within the context of therapy. Students pursue clinical experiences with local partner agencies, including Catholic Community Services, Navos Mental Health, and Pathways Mental Health.
Online MFT Degrees in Washington
For those students that are hoping to continue working while pursuing their graduate MFT degree or simply do not excel in a traditional classroom setting, online schooling in MFT, which is increasingly available across the country, offers an excellent means through which to pursue a career in MFT. Currently, there are no online-only programs that are based out of Washington and are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).
However, students can choose to enroll in nationally-based programs accredited by COAMFTE. Currently, two online programs hold accreditation—Capella University (M.S. in MFT) and Northcentral University (M.S. and PhD in MFT)—and thus would meet Washington’s outlined requirements for licensure in MFT.
Learn more about an online MFT degree.
MFT Accreditation in Washington
The Washington State Legislature requires that individuals pursuing licensure as an MFT must receive a doctoral or master’s degree from an educational program that meets outlined state requirements, complete two full-time years (3,000 hours of experience, 1,000 hours of direct client contact, 200 hours of supervision) of supervised, post-graduate clinical experience, pass an approved MFT examination, and complete continuing education requirements.
Many states across the nation, albeit not Washington, structure their educational requirements for licensure using the outlined requirements of accreditation bodies; often, states will dictate in their laws and statutes that students that have attended programs accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) are automatically deemed to have met the licensure education requirements. Currently, the four programs listed above are the only programs accredited by COAMFTE; however, there are likely a number of other programs within the state that have been accredited by other organizations, such as the Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), or are not accredited but still meet the state’s licensure requirements.
Career Opportunities for MFTs in Washington
The U.S. News and World Report ranked MFT as the No. 20 job within social services based on factors such as salary, job opportunities, and work-life balance. Through 2031, job opportunities for MFTs are projected to grow at a rate of 14%, a rate much higher than those projected for other related occupations. There are currently almost 63,000 MFTs working across the United States and report a mean annual wage of $63,300.
Specifically within the state of Washington, there are currently 420 MFTs employed in various settings, including hospitals, governmental agencies (such as the Department of Veterans Affairs), private practices, residential treatment settings, and forensic settings, among others. The annual mean wage in the state is $60,010, but the specific salary that an MFT will earn will depend on the area of the state and the setting in which they work. The website for the Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy offers another resource for those hoping to investigate the specifics of becoming a LMFT in Washington. Learn more about WA MFT license requirements.
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics job market trends and salary figures for marriage and family therapists are based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed August 2023.
Marriage and Family Therapists Salary in Washington
|Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division||$33,100||$39,100||$45,260||$53,110||$59,570|
|Tacoma, WA Metropolitan Division||$39,490||$44,060||$54,080||$79,380||$94,000|
Table data taken from 2020 BLS (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm)