Kristie Overstreet Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, LPC, CST

Are you trying to decide which master’s level degree is right for you? It can be overwhelming trying to choose the right clinical path. The best way for you to determine your path is to learn more about each option starting with the Marriage & Family Therapy (MFT) degree. The following breaks down everything you need to know about the MFT degree.

What is an MFT degree?

This master’s level degree teaches you to utilize psychotherapy and family systems. You also learn counseling skills, diagnosis criteria, and an overview of working with relationship dynamics.

This program will teach you to address the behaviors of family members and partners in relationships as well as how they interact with one another. A person who is interested in providing therapeutic services to couples and families will be interested in obtaining an MFT degree.

What can you do with an MFT degree?

If you pursue an MFT degree, it is likely that you will want to become licensed in your state to practice therapy as a marriage and family therapist. The licensure process and requirements differ by state. You will need to contact your state board to find out the licensure process.

Once you complete the program, you will need to secure a supervision site that will provide hours towards licensure. Then you will register as an intern and begin training as an MFT. The timeline of the licensure process including supervision requirement varies by state as well as the time you can invest towards it.

Typically, state boards have a minimal amount of time that the supervision hours can be completed in. Some individuals take several years to gather their hours due to other personal responsibilities. Others can complete the intern process within two years.

Another option is to teach other aspiring MFTs at the graduate level. There are teaching opportunities on campus and virtually. Some MFTs choose to teach undergraduate level psychology courses. The type of teaching opportunities differs for each school and university.

How is an MFT degree different than other counseling programs?

An MFT degree is different than social work, mental health counseling, and professional counseling programs. Each of these programs gives you the opportunity to become a licensed therapist, but each of them has a different focus. 

Furthermore, an MFT degree focuses on models, therapy techniques, and course study around couples, marriage, and families. The theoretical orientation, strategies, and interventions focus on familial and relationship dynamics. Other degrees learn about couples, relationships, and families but the MFT degree is a more specialized degree. If you have interest in working primarily with couples and families, you may want to consider this track. 

There are many masters level programs available so make sure that you take the time to explore which would be the best fit for you. Think about what your interest is, speak with others who are already working in the field, and you will find the right fit for you.

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