Marriage and Family Therapy
Character and Purpose
The master’s degree program of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Seminary’s School of Psychology is designed to prepare persons for service in the fields of marital and family therapy and/or marriage and family ministry. We seek to offer an educational environment that fosters personal integrity, Christian vision, and professional competence.
The marriage and family therapy program is identified by three characteristics.
The Fuller Tradition. Consistent with the Fuller tradition, the members of the marriage and family faculty are representative of denominational diversity and distinguished service in their particular specialties, and stand united in their evangelical commitment, pursuit of academic excellence, and promotion of social concerns. The heritage of the Fuller tradition provides a solid foundation for developing a redemptive vision for marriages and families.
Redemptive Vision for Families. The marriage and family therapy faculty is committed to training persons who are capable of addressing the full scope of the contemporary challenge confronting the family and the mental health profession. Moreover, they are committed to graduate training that is undergirded by a redemptive vision for the family. This vision is Christ-centered, and integrates Christian values with the study of marriage and family relationships, through a combined curriculum of theological studies and the social and behavioral sciences. The goal of the faculty is to prepare persons who are thoroughly equipped in theory and in practice to directly or indirectly express God’s grace in their care of families.
Christian Scholarship. At Fuller, the marriage and family therapy faculty train Christian scholars to express their care and vision through family life education, family studies, and marriage and family therapy. The task of developing a redemptive vision requires theological and integrative studies beyond the standard graduate curriculum in marriage and family therapy. Faculty are committed to the importance of research, and give creative leadership to those students who wish to pursue their own specialized study or research in a master’s thesis.
The purpose of the Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy (MS MFT) degree is to prepare Christian individuals with professional clinical skills for licensure or certification as marriage and family therapists. The curriculum is designed to meet the academic requirements of Section 4980.36 or 4980.37, and Section 4999.33 of the State of California Business and Professions Code, and is recognized by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as meeting the educational requirements for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), and/or a Professional Clinical Counselor (PCC). The curriculum for the MS MFT program offered at Fuller Arizona in Phoenix is designed to meet the requirements of Title 4, Chapter 6, Section R4-6-601 of the Arizona Administrative Code for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist for the state. The training program normally requires a 12-month supervised practicum.
General standards for admission to Fuller Theological Seminary may be found in the Admission Standards section of this catalog.
Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. Admission to this degree program requires that a student has earned a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. All applicants are reviewed by an admissions committee consisting of department faculty members. The committee selects applicants qualified to engage in graduate work in marriage and family therapy. New students are admitted to the MS MFT once a year in the Fall Quarter at the Pasadena Campus. At the Fuller Arizona campus, new students are admitted on a rolling admissions basis. Application deadlines and dates for notification of admission decisions can be found at http://www.fuller.edu/admissions. Admission is competitive and is based upon four criteria.
Personal Maturity. Applicants must possess the emotional, spiritual, and intellectual maturity, and the vocational suitability to engage in a career in marriage and family therapy. These qualities are evaluated through letters of recommendation, the applicant’s statement of purpose and a summary of related experience.
Grade Point Average. Applicants normally have a minimum 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate course work.
Prerequisite Course Work. Applicants to the MS MFT are strongly recommended to have completed courses in the social and behavioral sciences prior to admission. A course in introductory social science research or statistics, and coursework in Theories of Personality (or Counseling Theories), Abnormal Psychology, and Lifespan Development (or Developmental Psychology) are recommended. The appropriateness of an applicant’s academic preparation will be evaluated.
Interviews. Interviews are offered to selected applicants as part of the decision process. An invitation to interview is not a guarantee of acceptance into the program.
In addition, applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum score of 250 (600 on paper-based test or 100 on the Internet-based test) on the TOEFL or 7.0 on the IELTS is required for admission to the M.S. degree program. The TOEFL or the IELTS must have been taken within the past two years. For the breakdown of the sub-scores that is required, please refer to http://www.fuller.edu/admissions.
Transfer of Credit
Students who have completed graduate work in marriage and family therapy at other accredited institutions and desire a reduction in the number of marriage and family credit hours required at Fuller should contact the Director of Academic Affairs after admission. Approval of the department is required for all transfer credit.
Students who have completed graduate coursework in theology and desire a reduction in the number of theology credit hours required at Fuller should also contact the Director of Academic Affairs after admission.
In addition to the information contained in the seminary Student Handbook, certain policies, procedures and information concerning students in the program are contained in the School of Psychology Student Handbook. Of particular importance are documents drawn up by faculty-student committees which outline guidelines for personal and professional behavior, as well as policies and procedures for processing grievances regarding students and faculty. It is an implied contract that all students will comply with regulations in both handbooks while they are students under the jurisdiction of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy and the seminary. Therefore, all students admitted to programs in the department are expected to read, know, and comply with the policies contained in these handbooks.
Academic and Clinical Reviews
Students in the MS MFT degree program are reviewed once each year based on their academic performance. All students are required to undergo academic and clinical reviews of their performance by faculty and/or appropriate clinical supervisors. The policies and procedures used for these reviews are detailed in the School of Psychology Student Handbook and the MS MFT Clinical Training Manual.
Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy
The Training Experience
The scope of the training experience in marriage and family therapy at Fuller is integrative in nature and encompasses a three-fold focus: 1) theoretical training in a variety of subject areas (i.e., family studies, marriage and family therapy, theology and integration, research); 2) clinical training (i.e., lab training, live observation, practicum); and 3) personal growth experiences. Throughout these training experiences, faculty strive to integrate theological perspectives along with an understanding of the social and behavioral sciences.
The distinctiveness of the Marriage and Family Therapy Department goes beyond its commitment to excellence in training and scholarship. The faculty believe that the moral context of a Christian seminary is uniquely suited to the training of practitioners and academicians who will be committed to the vitality of family life. In this vein, the task of integrating faith with academic and clinical training is of central importance.
The Marriage and Family Therapy faculty view this integration as a lifelong process. Coursework is intended to provide a foundation of experience, knowledge and skills, taught from a Christian perspective. Faculty encourage the integration of biblical, theological and philosophical perspectives as they communicate course material that reflects their own integrative efforts. They also seek to challenge students to begin to deal with the full range of human experience, to articulate a coherent system of values and beliefs, and to be agents of healing in the lives of individuals and their family relationships.
Additionally, the Marriage and Family Therapy faculty seek to enhance the spiritual formation of students by helping them:
- To know themselves as authentic Christian persons. To engage this process, faculty help students to: develop and tell the narratives of their lives/spiritual journeys; honor the gifts, talents and strengths they possess as educators and therapists; and encourage their identities through conversation and fellowship.
- To grow as Christians and as Christian professionals. In small group conversations, faculty encourage students to reflect on and grow in the virtues of Humility, Compassion, Hope and Rest.
- To minister as Peacemakers in the kingdom of God. Faculty help students to develop the self-perception of being active participants in God’s work of bringing peace. In this way, students are encouraged toward an integrated understanding of their vocation, whether their ministry to individuals, families and communities is in the church or a secular setting.
It is expected that such foundations will guide graduates as they continue to develop in their various vocations as Christian family professionals.
The Department of Marriage and Family Therapy has adopted the practitioner-evaluator model for the MS MFT program. This is reflected in the curriculum of the degree program.
Students at the Pasadena campus who are on the traditional two-year track are expected to take 14-16 units of coursework per quarter until all curricular requirements have been met. Reduction in time and coursework may be allowed for prior graduate work (see Transfer of Credit above). Students who wish to maintain full time work during their studies may opt for the three year track, where majority of the classes meet on Tuesday late afternoons and evenings in addition to online options during the first two years of the program, with the third year requiring students to shift to full time study as they complete practicum, practicum consultation and integration formation requirements. Students at the Fuller Arizona campus in Phoenix may also take coursework at a reduced load spanning three years in the program, where the majority of the classes meet on Wednesday or Thursday afternoons and evenings, or may opt to take coursework at a full load spanning two years in the program, where classes meet on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and evenings.
The course of study for an MS degree in marriage and family therapy requires 98 quarter units of coursework (100 units if meeting the educational requirements for licensure as a PCC). The requirements for the degree are distributed as follows:
- Marriage and Family Therapy: 36 units (38 for PCC)
- Clinical Training: 18 units
- Family Studies: 16 units
- Family Research: 4 units
- Theology/Integration: 16 units
- Electives: 8 units
Marriage and Family Therapy. The marriage and family therapy curriculum gives each student a broad spectrum of theoretical approaches and clinical training experiences.
- FT502 Legal and Ethical Issues in Family Practice (4 units)
- FT508 Psychopathology and Family Systems (4 units)
- FT514 Family Therapy (4 units)
- FT515 Marriage Therapy (4 units)
- FT520 Child and Adolescent Therapy in Family Contexts (4 units)
- FT522 Assessment of Individuals, Couples, and Families (4 units)
- FT526 Addiction and Family Treatment (2 units/4 for PCC)
- FT533 Vulnerable Family Systems: Addressing Mental Health Disparities and Complex Trauma (4 units)
- FT535 Group Therapy (2 units)
- FT549 Psychopharmacology (4 units)
Clinical Training. Students in the master’s program in marriage and family therapy engage in clinical training throughout their studies, beginning with the first quarter. Required:
- FT530A Clinical Foundations 1 (2 units)
- FT530B Clinical Foundations 2 (2 units)
- FT530C Clinical Foundations 3 (2 units)
- FT550 Practicum (12 units total)
- FT550C Practicum Consultation (0 units, to be taken concurrently with the practicum – Pasadena campus only)
- FT550S Practicum Supervision (0 units, to be taken concurrently with the practicum – Phoenix campus and students in faculty led practica at the Pasadena campus)
Family Studies. The core curriculum of family studies provides the student with a solid base for understanding the psychosocial structure and functioning of marriage and the family. MS MFT students are required to complete 16 units:
- FS500 Family System Dynamics (4 units)
- FS501 Gender and Sexuality (4 units)
- FS505 Child and Family Development (4 units)
- FS511 Cultural and Ethnic Issues in Marriage and Family Intervention (4 units)
Family Research. MS MFT students are required to complete 4 units:
- FR501 Research Methods, Statistics, and Design in MFT (4)
Theology and Integration. As indicated above, training therapists with a Christian perspective on spiritual, moral, emotional, and relational wholeness, is a central objective of the marriage and family therapy faculty. Therefore, the M.S. degree program requires coursework in biblical studies, ethics, and integration to equip future therapists with both the conceptual skill necessary to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and the clinical skill necessary to provide integrative perspective in their work with individuals, couples, and families.
All MS MFT students complete the following 12 units of theology coursework:
- OT500 Old Testament Introduction
- NT500 New Testament Introduction
- ET535 Ethics of Life and Death
In addition, all MS MFT students complete the following 4 units of integration coursework:
- FI500 Introduction to Integration (2 units)
- FI510A/B/C/D Integration Formation Group (2 units)
Electives. The MS MFT student selects 4 units of marriage and family elective coursework from among the department course offerings, and 4 units as a general elective.
Emphasis in MedFT. Passage of the Mental Health Services Act (2004) and the Affordable Care Act (2010) brings about the implementation of a “whole health” system of care, combining behavioral health with primary care. This places MFTs who have competencies in medical family therapy (MedFT) in a position to play key roles in this evolving system of care.
Offering an emphasis in MedFT gives students the opportunity to: a) Learn to conceptualize and apply systemic therapeutic interventions to address emotional and relational issues that arise for clients affected by illness; and, b) learn to work as Marriage and Family Therapists in medical contexts.
To fulfill this emphasis, the M.S. student must take the following courses:
- FT562 Medical Family Therapy: Working with Families in Systems of Illness and Health (4 units, elective);
- FT549 Psychopharmacology (4 units, core requirement); and
- ET535 Ethics of Life and Death (4 units, core requirement).
MS MFT students in both the Pasadena and Phoenix campuses may elect to do the emphasis.
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). Students who desire to fulfill licensing requirements should contact the Director of Academic Affairs early in the program.
As stated above, students in the master’s program in marriage and family therapy engage in clinical training throughout their studies. The various combinations of laboratory training, live observation, and practicum in which students participate are established upon the following eight assumptions:
- Marriage and family therapy is a discipline that is rapidly growing and changing;
- Marriage and family therapists should be encouraged to critically assess and research MFT theories in order to foster the development of effective methods of treatment;
- Marriage and family therapists need to demonstrate competence in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of a broad spectrum of individual, marriage, family, and relationship problems;
- Marriage and family therapists must be able to consult with a variety of professionals, including clergy persons, internists, psychiatrists, school personnel, psychologists, and family law specialists;
- Marriage and family therapists need to demonstrate competence in counseling individuals, couples, and families of diverse ethnic, socio-economic, religious, and cultural backgrounds;
- Marriage and family therapists should be able to assess the moral and spiritual issues associated with relational problems;
- Faculty help students learn the application of theory to clinical practice and give broad oversight to off-campus clinical training, and ensure that training facilities provide exposure to a diverse range of family and mental health issues; and
- Community and/or mental health facilities must be utilized in training marriage and family therapists to ensure a broad range of exposure mental health and family issues.
Clinical Foundations. All students in the MS program engage in a peer laboratory training experience during their first two quarters of study at the Pasadena and Phoenix campuses (traditional two year, full time program), or beginning in the Fall quarter of the second year of the three year program at the Phoenix campus. These weekly labs provide an initial practice experience where students can develop basic counseling skills through role-play, audio and/or videotaped feedback and participation in a weekly triad.
After two quarters of basic training, in the third quarter, under the direction of a faculty clinician, students practice various assessment and family therapy techniques by participating as a co-therapist or a team member in simulated marriage and family therapy sessions. A specially equipped observation room with a one-way mirror is utilized for the training.
Students on the three year track at the Pasadena campus engage in their peer laboratory training experience during the first summer of their program. This component of clinical training is offered as an intensive.
In the spring quarter of their second year, students complete their final clinical foundations series where, under the direction of a faculty clinician, students practice various assessment and family therapy techniques by participating as a co-therapist or a team member in simulated marriage and family therapy sessions. A specially equipped observation room with a one-way mirror is utilized for the training.
Practicum. In order to graduate, MS MFT students must have a minimum of 300 hours of direct client contact experience, with 150 of these hours devoted exclusively to child, couple, group, or family work. The student must receive a minimum of 60 units of supervision to maintain the ratio of one unit of supervision for every five hours of client contact. A “unit” of supervision is equivalent to either one hour of individual or two hours of group supervision. Students may also extend their practicum experience to 500 client contact hours to accommodate licensing standards in states other than California or Arizona. Students on the three year track at the Pasadena campus are expected to commence practicum in their third year of study.
Practicum Consultation Groups (Pasadena campus only). Practicum Consultation is a required component of practicum in marriage and family therapy. The purpose of practicum consultation groups is to promote the student’s developing clinical and professional skills through case consultation and discussion of clinical and integration issues. Students in faculty led practica are required to register for practicum supervision.
Practicum Supervision Groups (Phoenix and Pasadena campuses). Practicum Supervision is a required component of practicum in marriage and family therapy. The purpose of practicum supervision groups is to promote the student’s clinical development through discussion of case reviews, clinical practice, and the program’s curriculum. Supervision will be provided by a marriage and family therapist licensed and qualified to supervise in Arizona or in California.
Clinical Evaluation. To ensure basic competence in clinical skills, students in the M.S. program are evaluated during Clinical Foundations and practicum courses. During Clinical Foundations 1-3, basic family therapy skills and personal readiness for practicum are assessed. During practicum, evaluation of clinical and professional progress is conducted on a quarterly basis. The Director of Clinical Training (DCT) in Pasadena or in Phoenix provides oversight to the entire evaluation process, which involves consultation with the MFT faculty, practicum supervisors, and agency directors. Questions and concerns that may arise in the evaluation are then discussed with the DCT.
Personal Growth and Therapy
Personal maturity and growth are foundational to training in marriage and family therapy. Therefore, it is expected that persons training to be marriage and family therapists possess characteristics such as personal integrity, empathy, emotional stamina and stability, an ability to manage the emotional environment of counseling others, a commitment to the historic Christian faith, and a commitment to one’s own individual, marital, and family growth.
The department is committed to fostering a collegial and communal atmosphere between students, and between students and faculty. In such a relational environment, areas for personal growth are often revealed by a variety of experiences as students progress through their training. Although students are not required to enter personal therapy, this is strongly encouraged.