Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy

University Of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences

Program Description

Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy

University Of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences

The mission of the Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) Program is to help lead the transformation of family therapy by creating, educating and actively supporting a community of future professionals who embody the philosophy and practice of a biopsychosocial, systems approach to family-oriented mental health care.

The Marital and Family Therapy Program prepares family therapists to work with individuals, couples, and families from diverse backgrounds. The program promotes the use of a biopsychosocial model in therapy, with an emphasis on understanding clients from a relational or systemic perspective, which has been described in the best-selling books, Essential Skills in Family Therapy and Essential Assessment Skills in Family Therapy, both written by program faculty members. Students complete a 12-month clinical practicum in which they accumulate a minimum of 500 direct client contact hours and receive more than 200 hours of supervision from faculty and practicum site supervisors. Students have the option to complete an emphasis in medical family therapy.

This program meets the guidelines to prepare students for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as licensed marriage and family therapists and is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

What can I do with this degree?

This program prepares students to become professional marital and family therapists. Graduates of the MFT Program usually work in mental health agencies, set up their own private practices or go on to doctoral work. Family therapy is different from other mental health professions because of its emphasis on treating couples and families, its emphasis on present-day problems instead of historical or intrapsychic conflicts, and its focus on understanding interpersonal relationships as a way of treating mental health problems. This program prepares students for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs).

Who should apply?

Students who plan to pursue careers as professional marital and family therapists. Students have experience in a variety of backgrounds such as education, psychology, business, nursing, social work, the military and pastoral and religious settings. Some plan to pursue doctoral work in the field. Many have some professional work experience and almost all have some experience related to the field of MFT, either paid or unpaid.

Our Students

Students in our Marital and Family Therapy program include individuals seeking to serve a variety of populations. Our students often have a background in psychology or other social sciences and most are seeking to enter the profession by earning licensure as Licensed Marital and Family Therapists (LMFTs).

Practicum

Practicum is a three consecutive semester sequence that is completed during the student's final year. While enrolled in a practicum, students work in a community agency for one year seeing clients with supervision from both agency and faculty supervisors. During the 12-month practicum, students are required to accumulate 500 hours of direct client contact, 250 of which must be with couples and/or families present in the therapy room. 100 hours of supervision must also be accumulated during this time, of which at least 50 hours must include supervision from raw data (video, live supervision). In reality, most students receive over 200 hours of supervision.

During the practicum class, students present videotapes of their clinical work during weekly group supervision and receive didactic instruction on various clinical topics. In addition, students will have individual videotape and live supervision of their clinical work with a university clinical faculty member. Supervision is also obtained at the practicum site, which includes both group and individual supervision. Students receive a minimum of one to five ratio of supervision to clinical experience in accordance with state and national accreditation guidelines. All of the supervisors at USD and the sites are AAMFT Approved Supervisors or meet equivalency standards. AAMFT Approved Supervisors have taken special courses in supervision, and have had their supervision supervised by more experienced supervisors.

Practicum Settings in MFT

Practicum students work in a community agency for one year seeing clients with supervision from both agency and faculty supervisors. The program provides the student with a list of pre-approved agencies where students complete their clinical work. The school has developed several outstanding practicum sites that offer a broad range of client populations and presenting problems. This allows students to seek a practicum site that best matches their interests and needs.

Learning Outcomes

The educational goals of USD’s MFT program, which provide for and embody the program’s expectation of student learning outcomes, are as follows:

  • Prepare future professionals who will identify as marriage and family therapists and practice a biopsychosocial, systems approach to family-oriented mental health care.
  • Prepare future professionals who are ethical clinicians and sensitive to the diversity of their clients.
  • Prepare future professionals who will draw upon knowledge from a variety of disciplines and integrate empirically based research into their clinical practice.

Regarding expected student learning outcomes, given the above listed educational goals of the MFT Program, it is expected that students will graduate from the program with the ability to do the following:

Student Learning Outcome 1: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program are able to critically analyze field-related research and its applications to practice.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the major concepts in research so that one can evaluate an empirical study.
  • can identify the key strengths and limitations of an empirical study.
  • know what are the key empirically supported treatments for a variety of issues that MFTs frequently encounter.
  • know how to access and use information from research to inform one’s clinical work.
  • value using research to inform one’s clinical work.

Student Learning Outcome 2: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program conduct clinical assessment that is grounded in theory and integrates a biopsychosocial perspective.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key concepts used by major models of family therapy for understanding individual and relational well-being.
  • can use theory to guide assessment.
  • know the key DSM IV-TR disorders encountered by MFTs.
  • can effectively assess and diagnosis DSM IV-TR disorders.
  • can recognize the role that biology/physical illness may have on individual and relational well-being.
  • are familiar with commonly used instruments in the MFT field.
  • can conduct an assessment from a biopsychosocial perspective.
  • value using a biopsychosocial perspective for assessment, with particular emphasis put on assessing conceptualizing from a systemic perspective.

Student Learning Outcome 3: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program use theory and current treatments to develop effective treatment plans.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key concepts and interventions used by major models of family therapy.
  • can develop an effective treatment plan or treatment focus.
  • can use theory to guide treatment and development/use of interventions.
  • know the current treatments used to treat DSM IV-TR disorders, including psychosocial and pharmacological treatments.

Student Learning Outcome 4: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program apply individual and family development in the assessment and treatment of cases.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key life cycle issues that families face.
  • are able to recognize the role of life cycle issues in the conceptualization and treatment of cases.
  • know the key stages of individual development from childhood through adulthood.
  • are able to effectively use knowledge of development in the assessment and treatment of cases.

Student Learning Outcome 5: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program demonstrate a commitment to the legal, ethical, and professional standards of the MFT profession.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key ethical principles and laws relating to the practice of MFT.
  • are able to recognize when a legal or ethical issue exists.
  • are able to effectively respond to when an ethical or legal issue exists.
  • are committed to following the legal, ethical, and professional standards of the MFT profession.

Student Learning Outcome 6: Graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program demonstrate competence working with clients from diverse backgrounds.

Indicators assessed in the program assure that students:

  • know the key concepts and idea that are necessary when working with clients from diverse backgrounds (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation).
  • observed competence in working with clients from diverse backgrounds.
  • value looking at contextual factors to understand individuals and relational systems.

In addition to the central student learning outcomes, the Marital and Family Therapy program expects graduates who:

  • are able to develop an effective client-therapist relationship.
  • are able to effectively structure therapy, including setting appropriate boundaries.
  • recognize when and how to make appropriate referrals for assessment and/or treatment.
  • are able to identify when self of the therapist issues arise in therapy.
  • are committed to examining and addressing self of the therapist issues as they arise.
  • demonstrate an ability to learn and enhance their skills through reading, workshops, supervision, etc.

These expected student outcomes are facilitated by the program’s educational goals, which are ultimately aimed towards achieving the mission and visions of the Program, SOLES, and USD, creating post-graduates who are highly competent, curious, ethical, and prepared to serve diverse communities.

Prerequisites

This program requires three pre-requisite courses:

  1. Human or Life Span Development.
  2. Counseling or Personality Theories.
  3. Research Methods.

Students who are unsure of whether a course they have already taken will satisfy the requirement should email the course syllabus to solesadmissions@sandiego.edu for evaluation.

Coursework

The Marital and Family Therapy Program’s mission is to educate and actively support a community of future professionals who embody the philosophy of a biopsychosocial, systems-oriented approach to mental health care.

The Master of Arts in marital and family therapy (MFT) is a non-thesis degree program requiring 60 units of coursework and successful completion of a comprehensive written examination. As part of the program, students complete a 12-month clinical practicum where they accumulate 500 direct client contact hours of which at least 250 hours are with couples and families. Students also receive more than 200 hours of supervision from both faculty and practicum site supervisors. The MFT program meets the guidelines for family therapy training set forth by the Board of Behavioral Sciences, which regulates licensure of marriage and family therapists in California. Additional requirements beyond the master's degree must be completed to obtain the license, primarily post-degree supervised clinical experience.

The program has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) since 1992. The Commission on Accreditation is the standard setting organization for family therapy designated by the Department of Education. Ours is one of only 10 master's programs in California recognized by the Commission.

The schedule of coursework may vary each semester, but most courses are offered at least twice a year. Students choose coursework for each semester with the help of their advisors.

Clinical Emphasis

The program emphasizes teaching students the clinical skills they need to be proficient marriage and family therapists. The program believes that all competent clinicians need to be able to utilize a biopsychosocial perspective. This perspective conceptualizes problems as the result of the complex interaction of biological, psychological and social variables. Our students are taught the importance of considering possible biological factors in the etiology of presenting concerns and how to collaborate with the multiple professionals who come in contact with their clients.

Further, the biopsychosocial perspective emphasizes the importance of social systems as important contexts for consideration during assessment and treatment. Although primary emphasis is put on the family as the key social system, the program also considers the role that larger social systems have on individual and family functioning. Students are taught to consider, for example, the role of extended family, legal, medical and school systems. A course on gender issues examines how gender socialization impacts individuals, couples, families and the therapeutic process. Issues of diversity, such as ethnicity and race, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation are also emphasized in the program.

Core Curriculum (60 units)

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Electives (1 unit)

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Application Checklist

  • The University of San Diego Graduate School Admission Application.
  • One official sealed transcript from all colleges and universities attended, including community colleges. Foreign transcripts must be accompanied by a Course-by-Course transcript evaluation from World Education Services (WES).
  • One official score report with the results of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT).
  • A minimum of two professional letters of recommendation from professors or employers.
  • A current resumé or curriculum vitae.
  • A 500-word statement of purpose. Please include a brief narrative describing yourself, your career goals and the importance of graduate study in marriage and family therapy at this point in your life. You may discuss influences on your intellectual development, educational and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) which have been available to you, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you. This should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application; it should give the Admissions Committee a better sense of who you are and why you are applying to the marriage and family therapy program at the University of San Diego. If you are in a graduate program at another university, please explain why you wish to leave.
  • International applicants only: Official score reports for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Admission Requirements

Standardized Testing Requirements

  • Applicants must provide scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test or the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). Scores must be less than five years old.
  • The minimum GRE or MAT score is an overall score in the 50th percentile or above on each section.
  • The University of San Diego’s Institution Code numbers are 4849 (GRE) and 1972 (MAT). This number must be included on test registration forms in order to have the official results sent to the university. Standardized testing must be completed well in advance of the deadline as it typically takes about 2 weeks for the score reports to arrive after a request is made.
  • For more information on preparing for the GRE, visit USD's Test Prep or call (619) 260-4579.


Education Requirements

  • Applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree prior to beginning the program. Applicants may apply prior to completing their bachelor's degree. In this case, please submit your most up-to-date transcripts, and if admitted, submit a second set of official transcripts after your degree is conferred.
  • The minimum cumulative Grade Point Average is 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in all undergraduate and graduate coursework.
  • Three pre-requisite courses are required by the program: (1) Human or Life Span Development, (2) Counseling or Personality Theories, and (3) Research Methods. Students who have not taken these courses in their undergraduate studies can complete these requirements by taking a course prior to beginning the program or during their first semester at USD, either through an online program or in a traditional classroom setting. View detailed information on pre-requisite courses.

Experience Requirements

Experience in a related field is recommended, but not required for admission.

Interview Requirements

After an initial review of applications to the Marital and Family Therapy program, the most qualified candidates will be invited to USD for a group interview with the MFT faculty. Applicants who live outside California and surrounding states (Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Utah, or Nevada) will have the option of participating in a phone interview. However, out-of-state applicants are strongly encouraged to attend the on-campus group interview, if possible.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required of all international applicants and may only be waived if English is the applicant’s primary language or if he or she obtained a bachelor’s degree in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada or Australia.

  • TOEFL minimum scores:
    • Internet-based test: 83
    • Computer-based test: 237
    • Paper-based test: 580
  • IELTS minimum score:
    • Band score 7
This school offers programs in:
  • English


Last updated December 14, 2017
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2018
Duration
Duration
2 - 3 years
Part time
Full time
Price
Price
1,450 USD
Information
Deadline
Request Info
Jan 13, 2018 is the early deadline, Feb 10, 2018 is the final deadline
Locations
USA - San Diego, California
Start date: Sept. 2018
Application deadline Request Info
Jan 13, 2018 is the early deadline, Feb 10, 2018 is the final deadline
End date Request Info
Dates
Sept. 2018
USA - San Diego, California
Application deadline Request Info
Jan 13, 2018 is the early deadline, Feb 10, 2018 is the final deadline
End date Request Info
Price
tuition per unit