LMFT: Family and Marriage Therapy Licensure

Becoming an LMFT, or a licensed marriage and family therapist, can enable you to help individuals, couples, and entire families in need. To work in this field, you may be required to complete certain steps that can lead you straight into licensure.

The path to becoming a successful marriage and family therapist begins with the acquisition of an accredited degree.

One of the best options is to choose one of the available online marriage and family therapy (MFT) programs. Some students choose to complete a direct master’s MFT degree program, while others may receive a post-master’s certificate once completing a master’s in counseling or psychology.

Either path can lead you into your chosen field, as long as you are taking part in a reliable and accredited degree program.

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When considering counseling careers that require licensure, you might be interested to learn more about the general act of licensure and why it is required in different states.

Fields that provide services directly to the public or involve tasks that require extensive practice may require professionals to hold a license in order to prove that they have met all of the requirements set forth by the state. In fields related to counseling, LMFT credentials may be required prior to working with individual clients in the field.

Licensure Overview

Having a license can open up many career opportunities. The path to licensure may involve completing master’s- or doctoral-level degree programs, taking part in supervised practice requirements in a real-world setting, and finishing a state board examination in your field.

Once you have met all of these requirements, you can typically apply for a professional license through your state’s licensing department.

The Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) oversees the licensing examination. This examination may include topics related to practice, ethics, and quality in your field and is required for you to become an LMFT. Before sitting for the examination, it is necessary to have a set number of classroom hours as well as field experience. Specific requirements can vary by state.

Once you have completed all of these steps, your state can issue you a license to practice as an LMFT in your state.

Accredited educational programs, face-to-face experience in the field, and a test of your knowledge are the most significant factors for licensure in this field. Your hard work and attention to detail can help to ensure that you have made the right decisions to become licensed in the future.

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Counseling Degree Programs for LMFT Licensure

Students who are confident in their decision to pursue a career in marriage and family counseling should choose degree programs that can meet the minimum standards for licensure. In all states, LMFTs must hold a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling and meet all of the requirements for certification within this field. Online degree programs can be a great way for you to complete the educational requirements without committing a portion of your time to travel and in-person attendance. Online degree programs can also consist of the correct type of accreditation, making them excellent choices for your licensure.

Types of Degree Programs

In the list below, you can take a look at a few different degree options that can lead you on the right track to obtain your license. Each of these degree paths may have varying steps that need to be completed prior to being approved for your license.

  • Online Master’s in Marriage, Couples, and Family: The most direct route to becoming an LMFT is through an online master’s in marriage, couples, and family counseling degree program that the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP) has accredited. A program with this designation can help prepare you for working with families and couples as well as for counseling licensure.
  • Online Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling: Some individuals seeking licensure as LMFTs begin with an online degree focusing on clinical mental health counseling. In order to transition to the marriage and family counseling designation, students must then pursue a certification program, adding the LMFT curriculum to their resume. The certification process is completed after the master’s, meaning students have the freedom to create a unique degree experience prior to becoming licensed.
  • Online Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy: If you have located an online program that the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) has accredited, you can take advantage of its convenient programs in order to pursue licensure. These programs can help you focus specifically on this field and potentially ease the transition through certification and testing prior to the awarding of your license.
  • Options for Certification

    If you choose to pursue your certification through an online master’s in counseling program, you may be required to complete a post-master’s certification program that focuses on MFT. If your LMFT designation is included as part of your degree program, you could seek out additional certification programs to help create a well-rounded portfolio for use in the field.

    Some of the most common marriage and family issues may involve traumatic events, substance abuse, or even simple personality differences. Choosing certification programs that can extend your understanding of these different issues can help you to become a more helpful interventionist for families and couples in need. To show you more options to consider during your pursuits, our team has provided some helpful certification titles and specializations that you could consider along the way.

    • Marriage and Family Therapy
    • Relationship Counseling
    • Family Therapy
    • Child and Adolescent Counseling
    • Geriatric Counseling
    • Substance Abuse Counseling
    • Grief and Trauma Counseling

    LMFT Career Options

    Once you have completed all of the necessary educational requirements, you may be expected to take part in a supervised field experience prior to testing and licensure. All of these components can assist you in preparing for a fruitful career. The influence of professional marriage and family counselors can be useful when seeking ways to cope with individual differences and provide a voice to family members in need of guidance.

    As an LMFT, you can choose to work with a variety of individuals with very different needs. Some specific titles of professionals in this field can vary depending on the group they choose to work with or could be all inclusive if you choose to provide services to all people within your licensed range. Our team has provided you with some information on each of the roles for you to consider before you make the decision to become licensed in this field. Read more below to learn more about this fascinating career field.

    • Family Therapist: In family therapy, professionals can help family members work through issues that may be causing strain in the household. Arguments, conflicting personality styles, and trauma are some of the issues that can be common when working with families in the field, making the influence of the family therapist important for positive growth. Family therapists can also teach different coping strategies and communication techniques that can be useful when trying to repair relationships and live happier family lives.
    • Couples Therapist: Couples therapists can specialize in the relationship and communication between people in romantic relationships. This can include components relating to growth after infidelity, health-related coping, and sexual health. Couples therapists can work with couples seeking prevention strategies for divorce or even couples currently going through a divorce. Professionals choosing to work in this field can work for mental health organizations or even in private practice.
    • Relationship Therapist: Closely related to couples therapists, relationship therapists can also use some of the same communication and consideration techniques to help people struggling in their private relationships. Therapists in this field can work with groups of friends, companions, or even business associates to develop healthy ways of communicating needs and compassion for others. Relationship therapists can also work to develop self-help guides and intervention programs for public use in the field.

    Source List: 

    Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards

    Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards, State Licensure Comparison

    Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, COAMFTE Accreditation

    Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Counseling Specialties

    Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, Understanding Accreditation

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