Why Pursue an MFT?

Understanding the Benefits of Marriage and Family Therapy


Marriage and Family Therapy has been described by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) as "one of the most delicate and complex undertakings in the whole field of the helping professions."  For more detailed information about the Marriage and Family Therapy profession please visit AAMFT at http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/.

It requires all of the skills taught in the usual academic training program for counseling and therapy, and in addition, a considerable amount of preparation in the dynamics of interpersonal interaction within marriage and the family setting.

Also required is a thorough understanding of the varied roles of significant relationships and the understanding of the psychodynamics of the individual and his/her perceptions of him/herself as a partner and member of the family.

In addition, family therapists need specific preparation in the issues of child and adolescent clients, as well as with issues arising from the early life of adult clients. This focused education and training is highly desirable for future clinicians.

A continued steady increase in employment rates and salary information for Marital and Family Therapists can be found at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor has named this profession as one of the top 30 fastest growing professions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports, "Employment of mental health counselors is expected to grow by 36 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of marriage and family therapists is expected to grow by 41 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected as the overall population grows and as insurance companies increasingly provide for reimbursement of counselors and marriage and family therapists as a less costly alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists." (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook)

Why an MFT Degree from Cal Lutheran?

Marital and Family Therapy licensing by the California Board of Behavioral Science Examiners requires a master level degree with specified content, supervised counseling experience, a post-master's internship, and written and oral examinations.

Consistent with Cal Lutheran's mission of service, our students are guided through academic and clinic work to become active in local agencies and organizations where they coordinate our treatments with the courts, law enforcement, hospitals, retirement communities and private practitioners. As such, when students complete their training, they have a good pulse on where and how they can pursue their professional goals.

Over the years, graduates of the Marital and Family Therapy program have had an outstanding record of obtaining internships, passing the state licensing examinations, and establishing successful practices in both private and institutional fields. State licensing passing rates for Cal Lutheran are available through the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.

Some of our students continue their education by seeking doctoral studies after completing their degree, while others establish successful careers as licensed marital and family therapists. Some examples of placements where our graduates have established careers after completing our program and becoming licensed are:

  • Private Practice
  • Public or governmental agencies (i.e., Department of Children and Family Services, Foster Care, Department of Public Social Services, Department of Veterans' Affairs)
  • Non-profit organizations
  • In-patient facilities
  • Hospitals or medical settings
  • Police departments
  • Specialized treatment facilities (i.e., domestic violence, eating disorders, addictions)
  • Schools or universities
  • Court System

Can I continue on to earn a doctorate?

While the Marital and Family Therapy degree is a terminal degree (in which graduates can become licensed therapists with a master's degree), students that graduate from the MFT program may choose to continue their education and apply to doctoral programs.

Students with a Master's in Science in Marital and Family Therapy may choose to continue into a Ph.D. program in Marital and Family Therapy or Psychology. Students may also choose to go into a Psy.D. program.

A separate application process for admission to any doctoral program is required (including Cal Lutheran's Psy.D. program). While graduating from the Marital and Family Therapy program can be good preparation, admission is not guaranteed into our Psy.D. program.