- License portability. Of course, no mental health license is truly portable -- licensure is always a state-based activity, and each state has slightly differing requirements. This is true for MFTs just as it is true for LPCs and Social Workers. But one way to improve your MFT license portability is by graduating from a COAMFTE program. Most states specify in their licensure laws that in order to meet their educational requirements for licensure, you must have graduated from a COAMFTE-accredited program or the "equivalent." At least one state, Mississippi, has no equivalency allowance at all -- if you didn't graduate from a COAMFTE program, you can't get licensed as an MFT there, period. In other states, the process of demonstrating "equivalency" for a non-COAMFTE program may be fairly easy, or quite difficult. And it may require taking additional coursework. If you graduated from a COAMFTE program, on the other hand, the state presumes you have met their educational standards, and moving your license to another state becomes a lot easier.
- Quality education. Programs that undergo professional accreditation understand that it is a rigorous process that requires careful examination of the program, from both within the university and from the outside accrediting agency. It is rigorous to help ensure that any program that receives accreditation is offering a high-quality education. To be sure, there are some strong programs that are not accredited. But accreditation provides a valuable seal of external assurance that the program appears to be doing what is necessary to train competent marriage and family therapists. In California, graduates of COAMFTE-accredited programs perform better on MFT licensing exams, on average, than graduates of non-accredited programs.
- Job eligibility. The Department of Veterans Affairs has recently published its job description for MFTs, and is now hiring both MFTs and LPCs around the country. One piece of the MFT job qualifications stands out: You must have graduated from a COAMFTE-accredited program. (For LPCs, your program must have been accredited by CACREP.) Knowing that significant numbers of licensed MFTs (particularly in California) did not graduate from COAMFTE programs, AAMFT is working to have that restriction lifted, but in the meantime, it is what it is. Graduate from an accredited program, or don't work for the VA.
- Loan reimbursement program eligibility. The National Health Service Corps will repay $50,000 of your student loans if you work in an underserved area for two years. (Serve for 5 years, and they will pay back up to $145,000 in student loan debt.) There are NHSC-eligible jobs for MFTs available right now, and the loan reimbursement is in addition to salary, not in place of it. To be eligible as an MFT, you must have graduated from a COAMFTE-accredited graduate program.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
The benefits of COAMFTE accreditation for MFT students
In California, most marriage and family therapy (MFT) graduate programs are not COAMFTE-accredited. Here are four reasons why COAMFTE accreditation matters. With the exceptions of California and possibly Texas, around the US most MFT programs are accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Marital and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). Of the 80 or so license-eligible MFT programs in California, only seven are COAMFTE-accredited MFT programs. Without some background on professional accreditation and what it means, it is perfectly reasonable for prospective MFT students to wonder whether the benefits of COAMFTE accreditation are worth the added challenge of seeking out an accredited program.Not everyone needs or will especially benefit from attending an accredited program over a non-COAMFTE program. But there are at least four areas where the benefits of COAMFTE accreditation are likely to be significant for many students: