Every excuse for California’s MFT Clinical Exam pass rate, debunked

California flagAt the August meeting of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, I had a tense exchange with representatives from the state’s Office of Professional Examination Services about pass rates for the California MFT Clinical Exam. That pass rate has fallen off a cliff. For the first six months of the year, just 56% of those taking the test for the first time passed.

At the meeting, OPES presented about their exam development process, and argued that nothing meaningful had changed on their end. They and the BBS raised several hypotheses about both the current low pass rate and the drop in pass rate at the start of the year.

Over the past week, I investigated every one of the hypotheses offered. Not one of those hypotheses stands up to scrutiny.

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California’s MFT Clinical Exam is broken

California flagBack in May, I wrote about how pass rates on the California MFT Clinical Exam for licensure had fallen off a cliff. At the time, the state’s Board of Behavioral Sciences offered an explanation for why the pass rate might have been higher than expected at the beginning of 2016. However, they had no explanation for why the pass rate since then had fallen so far.

The most recent data on California licensing exam pass rates [page 25] makes clear that the alarmingly low pass rate in the first quarter of 2017 — when just 57% of first-time test-takers passed the MFT Clinical Exam — was not simply an aberration. It truly does appear that the exam is broken.

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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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