In a world where relationships are constantly evolving, the demand for skilled professionals who can guide individuals and families through the complexities of interpersonal dynamics is higher than ever. For those with a passion for helping others and a keen interest in the intricacies of human connections, a career as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) may be an ideal choice. 

Marriage and Family Therapists commit to a career helping people improve their communication skills. LMFTs enrich relationships within the intricate dynamics of marriages and families. They also help people navigate the challenges of substance abuse, addiction, and the strains of marital or relationship discord. 

All LMFTs require licensure from the state where they practice. Before seeking licensure, they must earn a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy or a graduate degree in a related field like clinical social work.

An LMFT must have flexibility, as they may work with individuals, couples, and families grappling with severe conflicts, often accompanied by prevailing issues of depression or anxiety. Completing two years of supervised clinical field experience is a critical career step and a prelude to navigating the challenges of state board exams.  

The following provides an overview of the four steps to attain LMFT status. 

Complete a Master’s Program 

An accredited master’s program is crucial for prospective MFTs. Graduate students develop expertise in topics that include human sexuality, developmental science, research methods, couples therapy, and systems therapy. They also often benefit from online programs, allowing them the flexibility to schedule coursework around their existing schedules.  

Graduate students must ensure the program they enroll in has the appropriate accreditation. Proper accreditation certifies that the program follows national standards and makes the licensure process go much more smoothly. For example, the Touro University Worldwide MA in Marriage and Family Therapy has accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).  

It is also approved by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) and designed so graduates become eligible for MFT Licensure in California and most other states without additional coursework. Also, Touro University Worldwide is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). 

Complete Two Years of Clinical Experience

Hands-on experience is an integral part of any therapeutic training. Aspiring LMFTs engage in two years of clinical experience before seeking licensure, applying theoretical knowledge in real-world settings. They have the opportunity to work under the supervision of licensed professionals, gaining valuable insights into the dynamics of therapeutic practice. 

All states require at least two years of clinical experience. Aspiring LMFTs can gain this experience by working for nonprofit organizations, charities, churches, private practices, or other organizations that provide mental health services. An LMFT, psychologist, or social worker must supervise this work. 

Obtain a License 

Licensing is the final, critical step in the journey to becoming a practicing LMFT. Each state has its licensing requirements, so it is essential to be well-informed about the specific criteria in the desired location. Some states use the Examination in Marital and Family and Therapy, a four-hour, multiple-choice test. All licensure exams test students in areas such as client diagnosis, ethics, and treatment interventions. 

After obtaining licensure, LMFTs often specialize in specific areas of interest. This could include working with children, adolescents, and couples, or addressing specific mental health issues. Specialization allows therapists to deepen their expertise and cater to the unique needs of diverse client populations. 

Continued education is required to keep an LMFT’s credentials up to date. Most licenses only last two years, so LMFTs must accrue continuing education credits to stay current. These credits can be earned at state-approved workshops, additional coursework at an accredited institution, or online training programs. 

The Touro University Worldwide MA in Marriage and Family Therapy 

Earning an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy from Touro University Worldwide prepares graduates for positions where they can work with individuals, families, and groups. They typically work as part of a patient’s care team, focusing on client relationship issues. Job titles vary depending on whether students take the clinical, non-clinical, or licensed professional clinical counseling track.  

Potential job titles include: 

  • Marriage and Family Therapist 
  • Couples Therapist 
  • Family Therapist 
  • Child and Adolescent Therapist 
  • Addiction Counselor 
  • Clinical Supervisor 
  • Community Mental Health Counselor 

The TUW program prepares graduates to become competent, ethical, culturally sensitive, and systems-oriented marriage and family therapists. They learn to assess, diagnose, and treat a diverse population of individuals, couples, and families. 

TUW grounds the program in the scientist-practitioner model, preparing students to make unique contributions to the field of marriage and family therapy. Some graduates go on to earn a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy.