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Counselors who specialize in marriage and family therapy help their clients work on relationship issues with their spouse, partner, children or parents. An MFT internship is the entry-level position for this profession. In California, interns work under the supervision of a licensed marriage and family therapist, providing clients with therapy services and developing their skills. MFT internships may be paid or unpaid, full- or part-time time positions.
MFT Intern Requirements
In California, MFT practices, including internships, are regulated by the Board of Behavioral Sciences. An MFT intern must have a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling that includes both course work and clinical experience. Within 90 days of completing her graduate degree, a therapist must register with the BBS as an MFT intern and then work 3,000 hours under the supervision of a LMFT with at least two years of licensed clinical experience. The internship may be paid or unpaid and must include 104 weeks of supervision, which must be completed within six years, before taking the MFT licensing examination.
In California, marriage and family therapists earned an average annual wage of $54,470 as of 2013, compared to a national average of $51,690, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national salary range was $29,980 to $78,580, with a median annual income of $48,160. An MFT intern is an entry-level position, and people seeking paid internships may expect annual salaries at the lower end of the salary range for full-time work. However, some paid internships offer only part-time positions. In addition, many internships are volunteer or unpaid positions.
MFT interns work with individuals, couples, families and groups to prevent or resolve relationship crises, such as stress and anxiety; child behavior problems; sexual disturbances; family conflict or tension; alcohol and drug abuse issues, pre-marital, separation and divorce counseling; and other issues. They use a variety of tools and techniques, including individual therapy, group therapy, psychological testing and telemedicine – providing services via telephone or the Internet. In addition, they must take individual and family histories; write progress notes after each client session; and receive regular supervision from a licensed therapist in an individual or group setting. They must also receive 300 hours of personal psychotherapy to deal with their personal issues that may affect their professional work.
According to the BLS, the demand for marriage and family therapy is increasing nationwide. Because insurance coverage of mental health services is expanding, more people are seeking help for the pressures of personal and family life. The BLS predicts a 31 percent growth in jobs for marriage and family therapists nationwide between 2012 and 2022. In California as in other states, rural areas will offer the best job prospects.
- CA.gov: Navigating the MFT Licensing Process, 2009
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013 -- Marriage and Family Therapists, 2010
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Metro & Non-metro Area Occ. Employment & Wage Estimates, 2010
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
Diane Chinn is a freelance writer with more than 15 years experience in many areas, including business and technical communications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from California State University and a Master of Arts in human resources and industrial relations from the University of Minnesota. She is a Six Sigma Green Belt .
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