Common mistakes when dealing with the BBS

Alice Achterhof / UnsplashThe California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) tends to elicit negative responses from MFT registered interns, trainees, and students, and probably for good reason. The “horror stories” relating to therapists’ experiences with the BBS seem endless at times, and unfortunately, these stories can contribute to feelings of stress that are already being experienced by aspiring marriage and family therapists. Avoiding these five common mistakes can help reduce those feelings of stress when dealing with the BBS.

[Ed. note: This is a guest post written by our friend Robin Andersen, who runs the excellent resource Prelicensed.com. More about Robin appears at the end of this post. For more great resources for prelicensed therapists, check out this article. -bc]

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MFT license portability

By Mk2010 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia CommonsAh, to be a medical doctor. To only have to pass the boards once, and then be done with it. MFT license portability isn’t so easy.

Marriage and family therapists — who, at least in theory, practice the same profession no matter where they roam — are subject to a mishmash of licensure laws around the 50 states, with similar-but-different requirements for education, experience, and examinations. Taking your MFT license to a new state can be a challenge, as you may be forced to provide transcripts and even syllabi from classes taken decades ago, register as an intern or associate even if you’ve been fully licensed, and in some states, go through another testing process.

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Four myths about counselor licensing exams

Ryan McGuire / Gratisography - licensed under Creative Commons ZeroIf you’re in the process of preparing for counselor licensing exams, you may be dreading them. Those fears may be based on what you’ve heard about the exams — and what you’ve heard may not be true.

I hear complaints about counselor licensing exams on a regular basis. Some of the complaints have merit, but most are based on mythology. It’s as if we (quite understandably) have anxiety-based associations with our testing process, past or future, and then conjure up rational-sounding but factually baseless complaints about the process in an attempt to justify those fears.

Every person who becomes a licensed professional counselor has to go through an examination process. While different states organize the process differently, common counselor licensing exams include the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE) or the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE). Many states also supplement their national exam with a separate exam covering areas of state law (for example, state-based requirements for child abuse reporting).

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What’s going on with California’s MFT Clinical Exam? [Updated]

California flagIt is certainly debatable what an ideal pass rate for licensing exams should be. If the pass rate is high, that means almost everyone gets through. Then the tests don’t serve a meaningful function. (That’s pretty much the status quo.) If the pass rate is low, it raises questions about the validity of the exam, given how much time most examinees spend preparing for it. But what makes a pass rate too high or too low? Given that the exams don’t do much of anything anyway, it’s hard to say for sure.

But it does raise eyebrows when pass rates for a single exam fall off a cliff, as seems to have happened for California MFTs over the past year.

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Studying for MFT licensing exams

If you are soon to be taking your state’s MFT licensing exams, congratulations! Here are five tips on how to study and prepare.

[Ed. note: This post initially published October 27, 2010. Updated in November 2016 to update the list of companies offering test prep products and services.]

Licensing exams are a major milestone in the professional development of a marriage and family therapist (MFT). While there are differences from state to state, every state except California uses the National MFT Exam, and most states require that exams be taken at the completion of at least two years of full-time, post-masters experience in supervised practice. (California uses exclusively its own exams.) As you approach completion of the supervised experience necessary to take the exams, how can you best prepare? Here are five things that can help:

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Are licensing exam prep courses a good value?

Several exam prep companies offer products and services to help counselors and therapists prepare for their licensing exams. These offerings may cost hundreds of dollars. Are they worth your money?

[Ed. note – This post was originally published November 1, 2010. Minor update in November 2016. It’s worth acknowledging that I offer prep material for the California MFT Law & Ethics Exam, as described elsewhere on this site.]

Last week, I posted a few tips for preparing for MFT licensing exams, including a list of providers of study courses and materials. I purposefully sidestepped the question of whether such products are worth the cost, which easily can add up to several hundred dollars. It’s hard to know for sure.

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