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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The problem with life coaching

wooden-chestBecoming a therapist isn’t the only way you can put a psychology or counseling degree to work. You can also become a “life coach,” a growing profession that involves helping people come closer to reaching their life goals. Some clients who would resist going to therapy will happily visit with a life coach, as receiving coaching does not carry the same implications that going to therapy might. And some therapists see coaching as a way to diversify their practice, allowing them to market to clients who simply wouldn’t attend counseling or therapy.

Life coaching is a perfectly respectable and well-defined profession. The problem with life coaching isn’t the work itself, for which there clearly is a market. It’s with the people providing it.

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Texas Supreme Court to hear appeal on MFT diagnosis

Texas CapitolEarlier this year, the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear a case about marriage and family therapists’ (MFTs’) ability to independently diagnose mental illness. While MFTs are trained in diagnosis, a lower court ruled that the state’s licensing board overstepped its authority in an attempt to add the word “diagnosis” to the MFT scope of practice. Going further, the court ruling determined that MFTs should not have been independently diagnosing in the first place. (Though the word “diagnose” was not previously in the scope language, MFTs diagnosing mental illness was common practice, as it is around the country.) The state Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case meant that the lower ruling stood, and MFTs could not diagnose.

Court procedures in Texas allow for one final appeal of the court’s decision not to hear a case. The AAMFT filed an appeal on June 13. In a rare move, the court granted that appeal. Later this year, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments about whether MFTs should be allowed to independently diagnose mental illness.

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MFTs lose diagnosis fight at Texas Supreme Court

TexasUpdate, February 24, 2017 – The Texas Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case, and ruled that MFTs *are* allowed to independently diagnose. More on the ruling can be found here.

Original post, published June 6, 2016 – Ten days ago, the Texas Supreme Court refused a petition for rehearing from marriage and family therapists (MFTs) seeking to preserve their ability to independently diagnose mental illness. The refusal brings at least a temporary close to a years-long fight between MFTs and the Texas Medical Association, with TMA winning. It could impact other master’s-level professionals not just in Texas but around the country.

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The Last 100 Hours, Part 3: The California Law and Ethics Exam

track-running-lanesThe California Law and Ethics Exam is a major source of anxiety for many people in the process of becoming a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I have heard colleagues repeatedly express anxiety about studying for the exam, the exam process itself, and even the process for receiving results. I’ll address each of these areas below as it relates to my own experience with the exam. As someone who just went through the process myself, I can relate to some of these concerns.

Before I continue, a quick aside on sharing test experiences: Ben’s two posts (part 1 & part 2) on what can and can’t safely be shared from a licensing exam are worth checking out before you post your exam experience on Facebook or otherwise share it with the world, especially in writing.

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The Last 100 Hours, Part 2: Is paying to track your hours worth it?

256px-2010-07-20_Black_windup_alarm_clock_faceFifty hours. Five-oh. That is all that is left. It truly is hard to believe just how close I am to being done with my 3,000-hour requirement for MFT licensure.

For a majority of the time I’ve been gathering hours, like most interns I haven’t had a clear sense of exactly how close I have been to being done. California’s process of categorizing and tracking hours for MFT licensure is notoriously complicated. It can be hard enough to keep track of the hours we work, let alone figure out which of the many categories or “buckets” the hours belong under. The process is even more difficult, and often frustrating, due to the maximum and minimum requirements under each individual bucket. Anyone who is currently tracking his or her hours, or who had in the past, understands that this is a daunting process.

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