LMFT Programs by State

You can view campus-based marriage and family therapy programs by clicking on your state below. Our database is based on the COAMFTE (Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education), which is the top accrediting body for LMFT programs.

You can also read our comprehensive review of Online COAMFTE accredited MFT programs. Click here if you are more interested in counseling programs by state.

In our database, there are more than 125 COAMFTE-accredited MFT programs. Most are campus-based programs, with only a handful of online LMFT programs. There are a number of master's in MFT programs, as well as doctorate-level MFT programs.

You can use the links below to filter to your state of interest. On each state page you’ll find a summary of MFT programs, licensure information, and a list of universities offering MFT programs.

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What Are LMFT Programs?

Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) programs, specifically those leading to licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), are specialized training programs that focus on helping students develop the skills and knowledge necessary to work effectively with couples, families, and individuals in a therapeutic setting. These programs typically cover a range of topics, including human development, systemic therapy approaches, ethical and legal issues in therapy, and techniques for addressing a wide variety of mental health issues within the context of family and relationship dynamics.

LMFT programs usually require a master's degree in marriage and family therapy, counseling, or a related field. The curriculum often includes both coursework and supervised clinical experience. Graduates of these programs are prepared to assess and treat mental and emotional disorders, relationship issues, and a variety of other challenges that can affect families and marriages. They are trained to consider the unique dynamics of family systems and how these systems can impact individual behavior and mental health.

After completing the educational and clinical requirements, graduates must also pass a state-licensed examination to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. This licensure is necessary for independent practice and is recognized in various jurisdictions across the United States.

LMFT programs are designed not only to impart foundational knowledge but also to develop critical thinking, effective communication, and therapeutic skills essential for successful practice in this field.

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MFT Program Overview

Curriculum

The curriculum in a Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program covers a broad range of topics essential for effective therapeutic practice. Core subjects often include family systems theory, human development, ethical and legal issues in therapy, communication techniques, and methods for treating mental health issues. Courses are designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of family dynamics and therapeutic interventions.

Education Requirements

To enroll in an MFT program, candidates typically need a bachelor's degree, preferably in psychology, social work, or a related field. Some programs may require prerequisite courses or relevant work experience. The program itself leads to a master's degree, which is necessary for licensure as an MFT.

Cost

The cost of MFT programs varies widely depending on factors such as the institution, program length, and whether it is a public or private school. Prospective students should consider tuition, fees, and additional costs like textbooks, clinical supervision, and licensing exam fees in their financial planning.

Length

Most MFT programs can be completed in 2-3 years of full-time study. Part-time options may extend the duration. Clinical requirements, which involve supervised practice, can also influence the overall length of the program.

Accreditation

Accreditation is a key factor in choosing an MFT program, as it ensures the program meets certain educational standards and is recognized by professional licensing boards. The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is a prominent accrediting body for these programs.

Licensing and Certification

Upon completing an MFT program, graduates must obtain licensure to practice. This process typically involves passing a state-recognized exam and completing a certain number of supervised clinical hours. Requirements can vary by state.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of MFT programs are prepared for careers as licensed marriage and family therapists, working in private practice, healthcare settings, social service agencies, or educational institutions. The program equips them with skills to address a range of issues including relationship challenges, mental health disorders, and family dynamics.

Continuing Education

Licensed MFTs are often required to engage in ongoing education to maintain their licensure. This continuous learning ensures therapists stay up-to-date with the latest practices and developments in the field.

MFT Online Program Accreditation

When considering an online Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program, accreditation is a crucial factor. Accreditation ensures that the program meets established standards of quality and rigor, which are essential for preparing graduates for successful careers and licensure in the field.

Importance of Accreditation

Accreditation is a key indicator of a program’s credibility and quality. It provides assurance that the curriculum is relevant, comprehensive, and taught by qualified faculty. For students, attending an accredited program is often a prerequisite for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

Recognized Accrediting Bodies

The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is the most recognized accrediting body for MFT programs. Programs accredited by COAMFTE meet strict educational standards, ensuring a high level of academic and clinical training.

Evaluating Online Programs

When evaluating online MFT programs, prospective students should verify their accreditation status. Accredited online programs must provide a curriculum and clinical training experiences that are comparable to their on-campus counterparts.

Benefits of Accredited Programs

Students who graduate from an accredited online MFT program can be confident in the education they’ve received. This confidence extends to potential employers and licensing boards. Accreditation also facilitates easier transfer of credits and can be a requirement for certain scholarships or financial aid programs.

Continuous Review and Standards

Accredited programs undergo regular review and must maintain standards set by the accrediting body. This continuous oversight ensures that the program evolves and adapts to new developments and best practices in the field of marriage and family therapy.

Impact on Licensure

Graduating from an accredited program is often a requirement for state licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist. States rely on accreditation to assess the quality of education and training received by applicants for licensure.

 

In summary, accreditation is a vital consideration for anyone looking to pursue an online MFT program. It not only assures the quality of education but also plays a pivotal role in the licensure process and future career opportunities for graduates.

How to Become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) involves a series of educational, clinical, and licensing steps. This career path requires dedication and a commitment to understanding complex family dynamics and mental health issues.

Educational Requirements

The journey to becoming an LMFT begins with educational prerequisites by attending a marriage and family counseling school. Typically, this involves:

Clinical Experience

Postgraduate clinical experience is a key component in training to become an LMFT. This involves supervised clinical practice. Candidates must complete a certain number of hours (varies by state) of supervised clinical experience. This practical training allows aspiring therapists to apply their knowledge in real-world settings under the guidance of licensed professionals.

State Licensure

Obtaining licensure is the final step to becoming an LMFT, which involves:

  • Passing a Licensing Exam: Most states require candidates to pass a recognized licensing examination, such as the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy administered by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
  • Meeting State-Specific Requirements: Each state has unique requirements for licensure, including the number of clinical hours, types of supervision, and continuing education. It’s important to familiarize oneself with the specific requirements of the state where one intends to practice.

Continuing Education

Once licensed, LMFTs must engage in ongoing education to maintain their licensure. This includes attending workshops, seminars, and courses to stay updated with the latest practices and research in the field.

Professional Development

Active involvement in professional organizations, such as the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), can provide additional resources, networking opportunities, and further educational avenues.

By following these steps, individuals can embark on a fulfilling career as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, equipped to make a significant impact in the lives of couples and families facing various challenges.

Benefits of Online MFT Programs

Online Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) programs offer a flexible and accessible path for students seeking to enter this vital field of mental health. These programs blend the rigor and quality of traditional MFT programs with the advantages of online education.

Flexibility and Convenience

One of the primary benefits of online MFT programs is the flexibility they offer. Students can access course materials and lectures at times that fit their schedules, making it easier to balance education with work or family responsibilities.

Accessibility for Diverse Students

Online programs can be a boon for students who live in remote areas or who have limitations that make it difficult to attend on-campus classes. They open doors for a more diverse range of students, increasing access to quality education in this field.

Range of Learning Resources

Online MFT programs often provide a wealth of digital learning resources, such as virtual libraries, online journals, and interactive forums. These tools enhance the learning experience and are easily accessible.

Interaction and Networking

Many online programs offer robust platforms for interaction with peers and faculty, facilitating networking and collaboration. This community aspect can provide support and enrichment beyond traditional classroom settings.

Technology Integration

Online MFT programs integrate various technological tools to simulate real-life counseling scenarios, offering innovative ways to develop practical skills. This exposure to technology can be beneficial in a field that is increasingly utilizing digital platforms for therapy.

Affordability

In some cases, online programs can be more cost-effective than their on-campus counterparts. They often eliminate the need for commuting or relocating, reducing the overall financial burden of obtaining a degree.

Variety of Specializations

Online MFT programs may offer a range of specializations, allowing students to focus on areas of interest such as addiction, child and adolescent therapy, or multicultural family therapy.

Continuity in Unpredictable Times

During times of uncertainty, such as during a public health crisis, online programs offer continuity of education, allowing students to continue their studies without interruption.

Preparation for Licensure

Accredited online MFT programs provide the necessary education and clinical training required for licensure, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for their professional careers.

Overall, online MFT programs offer a practical and adaptable route to becoming a skilled and licensed marriage and family therapist, making this fulfilling career more accessible to a wider range of aspiring professionals.

Support Services for Online Students

Students enrolled in online Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) programs often require a variety of support services to help them succeed academically and professionally. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by online learners, many institutions offer comprehensive support systems tailored to enhance the educational experience from enrollment through graduation. Here’s an overview of common types of support services available to online MFT students:

Academic Advising: Dedicated academic advisors are crucial for guiding students through their course selections, helping them stay on track to meet their educational goals, and navigating any academic challenges that may arise.

Technical Support: As online programs rely heavily on technology, accessible technical support is vital. This includes assistance with navigating online learning platforms, troubleshooting technical issues, and ensuring that students can always access their courses and resources.

Tutoring and Writing Centers: Many programs offer online tutoring services and writing centers to help students enhance their writing skills, understand course material, and prepare for major assignments and projects.

Library Services: Online students typically have access to digital library resources, including databases, electronic journals, e-books, and interlibrary loan services. Virtual librarians are often available to assist with research and resource location.

Counseling and Wellness Services: Understanding the stress and mental load of graduate studies, some programs provide remote access to mental health counseling and wellness programs to support students’ mental and emotional well-being.

Career Services: Online career services can include resume and cover letter assistance, interview preparation, job search support, and networking opportunities with alumni and professionals in the field. These services aim to prepare students for the job market and support them in finding relevant employment after graduation.

Disability Support Services: Institutions offering online MFT programs also provide accommodations and support for students with disabilities, ensuring that they have equal access to educational resources and can fully participate in their courses.

Peer Support and Networking Groups: Virtual networking groups or peer support forums can help online students connect with one another, share experiences, and offer mutual support, reducing the sense of isolation that sometimes accompanies online learning.

These support services are designed to create a supportive and enriched learning environment that mirrors the on-campus experience, catering to the diverse needs of online students in MFT programs. By leveraging these resources, students can enhance their learning outcomes and better prepare for professional success in the field of marriage and family therapy.

Therapist vs Psychologist: What’s the Difference?

When exploring mental health careers, it’s common to encounter terms like “therapist” and “psychologist,” which may seem interchangeable but actually refer to distinct professional roles with different educational requirements and scopes of practice.

Education and Licensure: The term “therapist” is broad and can refer to professionals with various levels of education, typically ranging from a Master’s degree to a Doctorate. Therapists include licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs), clinical social workers (LCSWs), licensed professional counselors (LPCs), and more. Psychologists, on the other hand, usually hold a Doctorate in Psychology (PhD or PsyD) and are required to complete a significant amount of clinical training, including internships and postdoctoral work, before becoming licensed.

Scope of Practice: Therapists are trained to provide counseling and support to individuals, couples, families, and groups dealing with a wide range of emotional and psychological issues. Their work often focuses on therapeutic interventions for mental health disorders, life management, and interpersonal relationships. Psychologists have a broader scope that includes these therapeutic roles but also encompasses psychological testing and assessment, research, and teaching at the university level. Clinical psychologists, specifically, are trained to diagnose and treat psychological disorders using a variety of therapeutic techniques.

Specializations: Both therapists and psychologists can specialize in numerous areas. For therapists, specializations might include areas like addiction, grief counseling, or family dynamics. Psychologists may specialize in fields such as neuropsychology, forensic psychology, or developmental psychology.

Understanding these differences can help prospective students decide which career path aligns best with their interests and goals. Each role offers unique opportunities to make a significant impact in the lives of others, but the choice between becoming a therapist or a psychologist will depend largely on one’s commitment to education and specific areas of interest within mental health care.

What Can You Do with a MFT Degree?

Earning a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) opens the door to a diverse range of career paths focused on helping individuals, couples, and families navigate the complexities of their interpersonal relationships. An MFT degree equips graduates with the skills to address mental health issues, emotional disorders, and relational problems through systemic therapy approaches. Here are some potential career outcomes for those with an MFT degree:

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist: This is the most direct career path for MFT graduates. As a licensed therapist, you can work in private practice, community health centers, hospitals, or schools, providing therapy to couples, families, and individuals.

Clinical Supervisor: Experienced MFTs can become supervisors, mentoring and guiding less experienced therapists. This role involves overseeing clinical work and providing training in therapeutic techniques and professional ethics.

School Counselor: Some MFT graduates choose to work in educational settings, helping students cope with academic, social, and family pressures. This role might require additional certification depending on state regulations.

Corporate Consultant: MFTs can also apply their understanding of group dynamics and interpersonal relationships in the corporate world, assisting companies in enhancing workplace communication and resolving conflicts.

Higher Education Instructor: With an MFT degree, some go on to teach at the collegiate level, educating the next generation of therapists about family systems, therapeutic techniques, and the nuances of relational therapy.

Researcher: Those with a strong interest in academia might engage in research focused on therapy methods, relationship dynamics, or family systems, often publishing their findings to contribute to the broader field of mental health.

These career options highlight the versatility of an MFT degree and its applicability across various settings where the focus is on improving relational health and well-being. Each path offers unique opportunities to impact lives positively, affirming the value of this specialized educational journey.

Advanced Education Opportunities

For professionals holding a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) who are looking to expand their expertise and career opportunities, pursuing further advanced education can be a rewarding pathway. Here are some advanced educational opportunities available beyond the master’s degree level:

Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy (PhD or DMFT): A doctoral degree in Marriage and Family Therapy deepens your understanding of family systems theory and therapeutic techniques. It also prepares you for roles in academia, research, and upper-level administrative positions within clinical settings. A PhD focuses more on research, contributing new knowledge to the field, whereas a Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) focuses more on clinical practice and applying research to therapeutic practices.

Postgraduate Certificates: For those not wishing to commit to a doctoral program, postgraduate certificates offer specialized training in areas such as addiction, trauma, or child and adolescent therapy. These certificates can enhance your skills in a particular niche, making you a more effective therapist and increasing your marketability.

Continuing Education (CE) Courses: Most states require licensed marriage and family therapists to complete CE courses to maintain licensure. These courses keep professionals up-to-date with the latest advancements in therapy practices and are often focused on specific issues such as ethical considerations, emerging therapeutic modalities, or specific population needs.

Clinical Training and Supervision Credentials: After gaining substantial clinical experience, MFTs can pursue further credentials in clinical supervision to train and mentor other therapists. This not only enhances your professional development but also contributes to the field by ensuring high standards of practice.

Interdisciplinary Studies: Some MFTs choose to expand their knowledge and skills by pursuing degrees or courses in related fields such as psychology, social work, or public health. This interdisciplinary approach can broaden your perspective, open new career avenues, and enhance your ability to provide comprehensive services to clients.

These advanced education opportunities allow MFT professionals to specialize further, stay current with developments in the field, and potentially open new career pathways in academia, research, and beyond. Each option offers unique benefits and requires consideration of your career goals and personal interests to determine the best fit.

LMFT Salary and Job Outlook

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are vital contributors to mental health services, offering support to individuals, couples, and families through various challenges. Understanding the financial and career outlook in this field is essential for those considering or currently in a career as an MFT.

Median Salary: The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists was reported at $56,570 as of May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This figure represents the center point of the earnings spectrum, where half of the MFTs earned more and half earned less. Earnings can vary based on factors like location, experience, and the sector in which an MFT works.

Job Outlook: The field of marriage and family therapy is expected to grow by 15% from 2022 to 2032, a rate much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the BLS. This growth is anticipated due to an increased recognition of the effectiveness of integrated care, which involves treating multiple issues concurrently within a team of specialists. The projected annual openings for MFTs during this period are about 5,900, mainly due to the need to replace those who retire or leave the profession for other reasons.

Resources for Online MFT Students and Graduates

Embarking on an online Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program can be both exhilarating and challenging. Access to robust resources can greatly enhance the learning experience and support students and graduates as they transition into professional roles. Here are key resources that online MFT students and graduates may find invaluable:

Professional Associations: Organizations such as the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) offer a wealth of resources including networking opportunities, industry publications, professional development workshops, and advocacy tools. Membership can provide insights into the latest research and trends in the field.

Online Forums and Support Groups: Platforms like The Therapist Development Center provide forums where students and professionals can discuss academic and career challenges, exchange study tips, and share experiences about licensure examinations.

Continuing Education and Workshops: Many online platforms and institutions offer continuing education courses and workshops that are essential for professional growth and licensure renewal. Websites like Psychotherapy.net offer video-based training and CE credits that MFTs can use to enhance their skills.

Career Services: Many universities provide career support for their alumni, including job placement assistance, resume and cover letter writing workshops, and interview preparation. These services can be crucial in helping new graduates navigate the job market.

Licensing Boards and Regulatory Bodies: It is crucial for MFT students and graduates to stay informed about the licensing requirements in their state. State licensing boards provide up-to-date information on licensure prerequisites, renewal requirements, and professional standards.

Research Journals and Publications: Staying current with the latest research in marriage and family therapy can help practitioners be effective and informed. Academic journals such as the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy offer deep dives into specific areas of the field, presenting case studies, clinical techniques, and new theoretical models.

Conferences and Seminars: Attending national and international conferences, such as those hosted by the AAMFT, can be an excellent way for students and professionals to learn about advancements in the field, network with other therapists, and gain exposure to diverse therapeutic methods and approaches.

These resources are designed to support the unique needs of online MFT students and graduates, providing them with the tools and connections needed to succeed in their studies and future careers. Engaging actively with these resources can make a significant difference in a practitioner’s professional development and the quality of care they provide to clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there MFT-specific degree programs?

Yes, there are specific degree programs for Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). These programs are typically at the master’s level, such as a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in Marriage and Family Therapy. They are designed to provide specialized training and education for those who wish to become licensed marriage and family therapists.

Is an MFT degree the same as a counseling degree?

No, an MFT degree is not the same as a general counseling degree. While both may cover some common ground in mental health and therapy, an MFT degree focuses specifically on family and marital systems, addressing issues within the context of these relationships. In contrast, a counseling degree may have a broader focus or different specializations such as school counseling or mental health counseling.

How much do MFT degrees cost?

The cost of MFT degree programs can vary widely based on factors like the institution, location, and whether the program is online or on-campus. Generally, costs can range from several thousand dollars to over $50,000 for the entire program. It’s important for prospective students to research and consider all associated costs, including tuition, fees, books, and any required clinical supervision or licensing exam fees.

Will I become licensed after graduating from an MFT program?

Graduating from an MFT program is a significant step toward licensure, but it does not automatically grant you a license. To become licensed, graduates must complete additional state-specific requirements, which usually include a certain number of supervised clinical hours and passing a licensing exam.

How long will it take me to become licensed after graduating from an MFT program?

The time it takes to become licensed after graduating from an MFT program varies. It depends on several factors, including the number of supervised clinical hours required by your state, how quickly you complete these hours, and when you take and pass the licensing exam. Typically, this process can take an additional 1-3 years after graduation.

Is an online MFT program as good as a traditional, on-campus program?

Online MFT programs can be just as rigorous and comprehensive as traditional on-campus programs. The key is to ensure the program is accredited by a recognized body such as the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Accreditation ensures that the program meets high standards of quality and is recognized by licensing boards.

What’s the difference between a marriage and family therapist and a counselor?

The main difference between a marriage and family therapist and a counselor is their area of specialization. Marriage and family therapists specialize in addressing issues within the context of marital and family relationships. They focus on family dynamics and how these affect individuals within the family unit. Counselors may have a broader range of specializations, such as mental health, addiction, school, or career counseling, and they may not necessarily focus on marital or family dynamics in their practice.

Is an LMFT and an MFT the same thing?

Yes, LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) and MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist) refer to the same professional role. However, the term LMFT is used to specify that the therapist is licensed to practice independently.

Is an LMFT’s salary higher than an MFT’s?

Typically, all practicing marriage and family therapists are required to be licensed, hence most salary data reflects licensed professionals. However, an LMFT who has extensive experience or holds a supervisory or specialized role may earn more than those in entry-level MFT positions.

How long does it take to graduate from an online MFT program?

The duration to graduate from an online MFT program varies depending on the program’s structure and the student’s pace. Typically, most full-time students complete their MFT programs within 2 to 3 years. Part-time students may take longer, depending on how many courses they take each semester.

What skills make a good LMFT?

Effective LMFTs possess a blend of strong interpersonal skills, including empathy, active listening, and communication. They also need critical thinking to diagnose issues correctly and problem-solving skills to devise effective treatment plans. Emotional resilience and the ability to maintain professional boundaries are also crucial.

Can LMFTs diagnose and prescribe medication?

LMFTs are trained to diagnose mental and emotional disorders but they are not authorized to prescribe medications. Prescribing medication is restricted to psychiatrists and other medical doctors who have specific training and licensing in pharmacology.

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