Working as a marriage and family therapist (MFT) can be a rewarding career. However, exactly what is an MFT therapist? Generally speaking, MFTs help families navigate through tough times and find workable, life-improving solutions to their problems. If this type of counseling career appeals to you, consider learning about the path to becoming an MFT.
Typically, to become an MFT, you must complete a family therapy education degree program, undergo supervised family counseling clinical work, and pass a licensing exam before you earn your title in family marriage therapy. However, requirements can vary from state to state.
If you live in Arizona, you’ll want to do all of the above following Arizona’s specific requirements. Fortunately, this guide will answer all of your questions about Arizona MFT program specifics.
MFT Program Application Process in Arizona
So what does an MFT degree in Arizona look like? To become an MFT in Arizona, you typically must complete one of the following types of marriage family therapy programs:
- Master’s degree
- Post-graduate certification
This means it’s helpful to have at least a bachelor’s degree to apply for an MFT program. Most behavioral science programs require that your overall undergraduate GPA be at least a 3.0.
Along with the transcripts from your undergraduate professional counseling coursework, you might also need to submit some of the following:
- Test scores (such as from the GRE)
- Letter/s of recommendation
- A personal statement
- Copy of your resume
Your specific application requirements will depend on the school you apply to.
Finally, if your undergraduate work was in a subject outside of counseling psychology, social work, or another closely related field, you might have to take and pass a few classes in these areas. The purpose of doing this is to demonstrate that you have the basic knowledge needed to succeed in a graduate-level program.
Components of an MFT Program in Arizona
You could look for an MFT program by doing a Google search for “mft programs Arizona”, but this would only provide part of the MFT program story. It’s helpful to know what exactly a professional psychology degree program involves to make an informed choice about your future.
Length of an MFT Program in Arizona
First, the length of the MFT program will depend on which type of program you enroll in:
- Master’s – A full-time student might be able to complete a master’s program in as little as two years. Students attending school part-time will likely take more time.
- PsyD – Full-time PsyD students who already have a master’s degree could finish coursework in about 3 years, while part-time students will likely need more time, depending on the number of courses they take. Students without an earned master’s degree might take between 5 to 7 years to complete a PsyD.
- Post-graduate – Like the master’s program, a post-graduate program might be completed in about two years if a student attends full-time.
Typical MFT Program Coursework
Both master’s and post-graduate Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Programs require you to earn 60 credits to complete the degree or certificate. A PsyD requires at least 70 credits, but every institution is different.
There are also specific courses an accredited program must include, with minimum credit requirements, such as1:
- 6 credits in foundations, theories, and models of practice
- 6 credits covering clinical treatment with families, couples, and individuals
- 3 credits of material related to diverse, multicultural, or underserved communities
- 3 credits of research methods
- 3 credits of ethical, social, and legal responsibilities
- 3 credits covering lifespan development
- 3 credits covering mental health assessment, diagnosis, and treatment
The remaining coursework typically includes further depth in the above topics or other areas of specialization such as school counseling, mental health counseling, and more. Students in a PsyD program may also have to complete advanced coursework in many of the above required areas.
Supervised Clinical Practice Requirement
Supervised clinical practice refers to direct client contact work you typically must do after you complete your coursework but before you can sit for your counseling licensure exam. There are two different MFT licenses available in Arizona:2
- Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (LAMFT) – The LAMFT license is considered a transitional license. You can use this license to work while you complete the more extensive requirements for full LMFT licensure. Before you can take the LAMFT exam, you typically must complete a minimum of 300 hours of supervised direct client contact. This can be in the form of an internship or practicum.
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) – With your LAMFT license in hand, you can begin the clinical work required to sit for the full LMFT exam. In Arizona, this involves 3,200 hours of supervised client work. Of these 3,200 hours, 1,600 must be direct client work and 1,000 must be with families or couples. Additionally, 100 hours must be clinical supervision done by a board-approved LMFT.
The completion of these 3,200 hours typically takes about two years. Afterward, you can register to take the counseling licensure exam.
After Graduation: Becoming a Licensed MFT in Arizona
After you’ve completed the behavioral health coursework and clinical supervision requirements, all that remains is the licensure exam.This goes for MSWs too if you are deciding between MFT vs MSW. Before you can sit for the licensing exam, you must get approval from the Arizona state board. This ensures that all of your other family therapy program materials are in order.
Taking the MFT Licensing Exam in Arizona
The family studies exam itself is administered on a computer and must be taken at one of the approved testing locations.3 A few other things you should know about the licensure exam include:
- The exam is offered one week per month
- There isn’t a standard passing score—scoring is done on a curve
- Practice exams are available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards website
Once you’ve been approved to take the family studies exam, it’s highly recommended that you utilize the practice exams to prepare.
Licensing Requirements Unique to Arizona
Have you already enrolled in MFT programs in California and perhaps you’ve already received your MFT license in a state other than Arizona? The good news is that you won’t have to begin from step one. Instead, Arizona allows you to obtain an MFT license in the state by endorsement.4
To take advantage of this opportunity, there are some residency requirements:
- Arizona residents – Arizona residents with a behavioral science license from another state must have a minimum of one year of licensure in that state to qualify for universal recognition of their license in Arizona. You’ll need to then apply, provide the required documentation, and pay a fee.
- Non-Arizona residents – Non-residents must have a minimum of three years of licensure in another state to apply for a license of endorsement in Arizona.
Job Opportunities and Employment Outlook for MFTs in Arizona
The biggest question most graduates have once they complete a rigorous educational program is, Will I be able to get a job? In Arizona, students who have completed the extensive preparation and training an MFT program requires may be more attractive candidates for open job opportunities.
Licensed MFTs might be able to work in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, clinics, veterans’ facilities, schools, and mental health facilities.
As with all career fields, making connections through your educational experiences and fieldwork is an excellent way to learn more about potential job opportunities in your area of behavioral health.
MFT Program Accreditation Requirements in Arizona
When searching for professional psychology degree programs in Arizona, it’s extremely beneficial to make sure it’s accredited. This is because Arizona requires programs to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or an accrediting body determined to be equivalent by the credentialing committee.5
If you have questions about a counseling program’s accreditation, you can check their accreditation status by using the Directory of COAMFTE Accredited Programs. This tool lists all programs that have been accredited and can sort them by state.
Continuing Education for MFTs in Arizona
Once you have your LMFT license in hand, you’re ready to pursue a career as a marriage and family therapist. However, the field of clinical mental health counseling and therapy is continually evolving. This means your skills and knowledge as a licensed professional counselor will have to grow and evolve, too. The state of Arizona accounts for this by requiring that you renew your license every two years.6
Along with paying a fee to renew your license, you also have to complete 30 hours of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every two years. CEUs are courses, conferences, and other learning activities that help brush up your skills. In Arizona, there are two specific requirements for CEU content:
- 3 hours must cover ethics or mental health laws
- 3 hours must deal with cultural competencies
Outside of these two elements, there aren’t currently any other limitations on the coursework you can complete to meet the CEU requirement, as long as it’s approved by the Arizona State Board of Health Examiners.
Alliant: A Good Choice In Any State
The path to becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist in Arizona generally involves completing an accredited degree program, working in a supervised clinical environment, and passing the licensure exam. One thing that isn’t required is that you complete your coursework in the state.
This means you can complete your schooling at an accredited institution outside of Arizona (in-person or online) and still obtain an Arizona license. At the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) at Alliant International University, our COAMFTE-accredited MFT programs are offered completely online, making our degrees an excellent option for people who need a little more flexibility in their schedules. If this sounds like you, contact us today to learn more.
- “Accreditation Standards.” Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. January 2018. https://www.coamfte.org/documents/COAMFTE/Accreditation%20Resources/201…. Accessed February 11, 2022.
- “Arizona State Resources.” American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. 2019. https://www.aamft.org/Advocacy/State_Resources/Arizona.aspx. Accessed February 14, 2022.
- “Examination in Marital and Family Therapy.” Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. 2021. https://amftrb.org/exam-info/. Accessed February 15, 2022.
- “Licensed in Another State.” Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. Nd. https://www.azbbhe.us/node/819. Accessed February 15, 2022.
- “State Licensure Comparison.” Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. 2022. https://amftrb.org/resources/state-licensure-comparison/. Accessed February 15, 2022.
- “AMFTRB State Continuing Competency Chart.” Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. 2018. https://amftrb.org/resources/continuing-competency-chart/. Accessed February 14, 2022.