United States Online Marriage and Family Therapy Programs
Online Marriage and Family Therapy Programs— also known as online MFT programs — use psychology and counseling to understand and promote healthy relationships. This could include committed and married couples, parents and children, and extended family. Some programs may center on a particular treatment model, focus on specific patient populations like LGBT family counseling, or approach marriage and family counseling from a specific perspective—e.g. Christian counseling—while others might be designed broadly to offer more generalized expertise.
Degrees may be offered at several levels ranging from masters to doctorate, and be open to new or experienced counselors. If you’re looking for a convenient, flexible way to earn your marriage counseling degree online, MFT programs may be for you.
What Are Online MFT Programs?
Online marriage and family therapy programs focus on how to analyze, diagnose, and treat psychological conditions that affect couples and family relationships. As a result, graduate programs may touch on topics shared by other types of counseling, including things like psychopharmacology or the needs of multicultural or diverse relationships. Online MFT programs are designed to cover a range of topics to prepare students to help their patients in the real world.
Schools offer MFT programs online to accommodate students’ personal, professional and learning needs. If you’re already a licensed marriage and family therapist, for example, but want to expand your practice area or learn more about issues relevant to your patients, an online program could offer the flexibility you need to balance your education with your patents’ needs.
However, be aware that some primarily online MFT programs may still have offline elements, including things like clinical training through an internship or practicum, or presenting your thesis or dissertation, which may need to be completed on campus. Additionally, if you’re enrolling in an online program designed for students seeking licensure, make sure the program you choose aligns with the education requirements in your state.
Online Marriage and Family Therapy Programs: Areas of Focus
Marriage and family therapy is by nature a diverse profession. The types of issues you work on could be informed by your location, client base, and area of expertise. That’s why some people may prefer to focus on serving specific types of people or areas of need. Certain MFT programs online offer concentrations to support those goals. Some examples include the following.
- Grief Counseling
- Marriage Therapy
- LGBT Issues
- Substance Abuse
And more! This is not an exhaustive list of issues your program may cover or focus on. Specifics are likely to vary by program, so follow up with your programs of interest to learn more about your options.
Example Marriage and Family Therapy Curriculum Topics
Online MFT courses generally focus on psychology and counseling concepts and techniques to help resolve interpersonal issues in families and relationships. But how they go about that might vary.
Some programs may adhere to specific social values, philosophies, or treatment models. A few examples include structural strategic, solution-based, and cognitive-behavioral family therapy. This might affect the way course material is approached in your classes. As such, it may be useful to look at the courses offered in the online MFT programs you’re considering to better understand the kind of education provided by that school.
Some examples of courses you may find in various marriage and family therapy graduate programs include the following.
- Human Sexuality
- Multicultural, Diverse and Underserved Populations
- Legal and Ethical Issues
- Human Development
- Substance Abuse
Some programs may also be designed to help students become licensed to practice marriage and family therapy in that state. The specific requirements for earning and maintaining that license may vary. In many cases, prerequisites include earning a masters degree, passing an exam, and completing sufficient field experience. More details about licensure requirements can be found via the issuing body in the state where you plan to live and work.i
For more information about courses or how your program might support your path to licensure, contact your chosen schools.
Accredited Online MFT Programs: CACREP and COAMFTE
One way to evaluate an online marriage and family therapy program could be its accreditation status. Accreditation status can be seen as an indication of a graduate program’s quality. Accreditation could be awarded by region-specific accrediting agencies, or programmatically by organizations within that discipline.
In Marriage and Family Therapy, two accrediting organizations of note include the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE), and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). In some cases, holding a marriage and family therapy degree from an accredited program could impact employment opportunities or even qualification for licensure.
For more information about CACREP or COAMFTE accredited online programs, visit the CACREP or COAMFTE websites, the US Department of Education website, or follow up with your selected schools.
Types of Online Marriage and Family Therapy Programs
Choosing your preferred online marriage and family counseling graduate programs may involve juggling a few different priorities, such as your preferred concentration area, accreditation, status and license requirements in your state. Other concerns that might impact your search could include your level of education, professional background, and the types of experiences you want your program to offer.
Online MFT programs may be offered in the following forms.
- Online Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs typically award either a Master of Arts or a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (abbreviated as MSMFT). Because masters education may be a prerequisite for licensure in many areas, many of these programs may be designed to accommodate new therapists seeking initial licensure. Programs vary, so contact schools directly for details.
- Online PhD Programs Marriage and Family Therapy include PhD, Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), and Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) programs. These may be designed to support counseling practice in the field, or roles in academia, research, or leadership. The focus of a program may depend on the school, degree type or concentration area.
- Online MFT Graduate Certificate Programs are shorter than full degree programs and may target specific topics within marriage and family counseling. They may be an attractive option for professionals not currently looking for a new degree, but who require continuing education to maintain licensure. In some cases, credits may also be transferrable to compatible degree programs. This could be a great way for someone new to the field to determine if online MFT masters programs are for them. Programs vary, so contact schools directly to see if this is an option.
What Does a Marriage and Family Therapist Do?i
Marriage and family therapists work to help couples and families overcome relationship challenges and achieve their goals. They might help clients identify and process their feelings, make decisions, change damaging behaviors, or foster healthy relationships.
MFTs serve a wide range of clients in many settings. These could include private practices, social services agencies, hospitals, and non-profits. Because the needs of each patient might be impacted by things like culture, beliefs, and personal background, it is important for MFTs to tailor services to each client.
Find and Apply to Online MFT Programs
Start searching for online marriage and family therapy graduate programs with GradSchools.com! If you know what program level you’re interested in, use the menu to select the appropriate option. Then review the sponsored program listings, and click on the names of the ones you’re interested in. You could read more about what those programs may be like and reach out to them for more information.
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