How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist in Texas [Updated for 2024]

Last Updated: June 26, 2024

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) play a crucial role in helping individuals, couples, and families address and overcome various relationship and mental health challenges. Texas, with its diverse population and growing need for mental health professionals, offers excellent opportunities for MFTs to make a significant impact on people’s lives.

If you are passionate about making a positive impact on people’s lives and are considering a career as an MFT in Texas, this guide will walk you through the necessary steps, including educational requirements, licensing, and career prospects.

What are the Requirements to Become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Texas?

To become an LMFT in Texas, you need to complete a master’s or doctoral degree in MFT or a related field, complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience, pass the national MFT examination and Texas jurisprudence exam, apply for an associate MFT license, and upgrade to a full MFT license after completing supervision requirements.

Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

Although there is no specific major requirement for aspiring MFTs, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, or a related field can provide a strong foundation in understanding human behavior and mental health. This 4-year degree program can also prepare you for more advanced studies in the field.

Complete a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

After completing your bachelor’s degree, you will need to enroll in a master’s degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) or the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). These programs typically take 2-3 years to complete and include coursework in topics such as family systems, counseling theories, human development, and ethics.

Complete a Practicum or Internship

Most master’s degree programs require students to complete a supervised practicum or internship, providing hands-on experience in a clinical setting. This practical experience will allow you to apply theoretical knowledge, develop essential counseling skills, and gain experience working with diverse populations.

Pass National and Texas Jurisprudence MFT Examinations

To become a licensed MFT in Texas, you must pass two exams. The first is the National MFT Examination administered by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB). This exam assesses your knowledge of marriage and family therapy theories, practices, and ethics. The second exam is the Texas Jurisprudence Examination, which evaluates your understanding of Texas state laws and regulations related to the practice of marriage and family therapy.

Get Associate MFT License

After passing the examinations, you will need to apply for a temporary Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate (LMFTA) license from the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists. This associate license allows you to practice marriage and family therapy under the supervision of a fully licensed MFT. During this time, you will gain valuable experience and develop your skills in a clinical setting.

Complete Supervised Experience

To be eligible for full licensure, you must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, with at least 1,500 hours spent directly counseling clients. This experience must be completed within a minimum of two years under the guidance of a board-approved supervisor. Your supervisor will provide feedback, support, and guidance to help you develop your professional competencies and prepare for independent practice.

Upgrade to Full MFT License

Once you have completed your supervised experience and met all other licensure requirements, you can apply to upgrade your associate license to a full Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) license.

To do this, submit your application to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, along with the necessary documentation and fees. After your application is approved, you will receive your full MFT license, allowing you to practice independently as a marriage and family therapist in Texas.

What are the Requirements for MFT License Renewal in Texas?

In Texas, LMFTs must fulfill specific continuing education requirements for each license renewal period every 2 years.

Every LMFT is required to complete a total of 30 hours of continuing education during each renewal cycle. Within these 30 hours, 6 hours must be dedicated to ethics, and 3 hours must focus on cultural diversity or competency.

Additionally, if a licensee has accrued more than the required 30 hours during the current renewal period, they may carry forward a maximum of 10 surplus hours to the next renewal period. These extra hours can only be carried forward once.

There are also special continuing education requirements for certain LMFTs, which can be counted towards the minimum continuing education hours. LMFTs who have supervisory status must complete 6 hours of continuing education in supervision.

Furthermore, those with supervisory status are required to take and pass the jurisprudence examination. By passing this examination, they may claim one hour of continuing education in ethics.

Lastly, LMFTs who provide telehealth services are required to complete 2 hours of continuing education in technology-assisted services, ensuring they are well-prepared to offer remote counseling and support.

What are the Requirements for MFT License Reciprocity in Texas?

Candidates from outside Texas must show that they have met equivalent requirements to those established for in-state applicants. If an out-of-state candidate has not taken the national examination to obtain their initial license, they will need to take it when applying for licensure in Texas.

The only exception to this rule is if the candidate has passed the California licensing exam and maintains an active California license; in this case, the candidate must obtain verification of passing the exam directly from the California licensing agency.

Please note that out-of-state marriage and family therapists may need to complete additional coursework or supervision hours to become eligible for licensure at the LMFT level in Texas.

To apply for licensure, an LMFT must submit both license verification and proof of supervised experience. Upon determining that the therapist meets the licensing requirements at the LMFT level, the Board will assess an additional $90 licensing fee.

How Long Does It Take to Become an LMFT in Texas?

The time it takes to become an LMFT in Texas depends on several factors, including the length of your education and the time spent completing supervised experience. Here is a general timeline:

  • Complete a bachelor’s degree: Typically 4 years.
  • Complete a master’s or doctoral program in marriage and family therapy or a related field: A master’s program usually takes 2-3 years, while a doctoral program can take 3-5 years or more.
  • Acquire supervised clinical experience: In Texas, you must complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, with at least 1,500 hours spent in direct client contact. This requirement must be fulfilled within a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 5 years.
  • Pass the national MFT examination and Texas jurisprudence exam: The time it takes to prepare for and pass these exams varies depending on the individual.

Taking all these factors into account, the process of becoming an LMFT in Texas generally takes around 8-12 years. However, the exact time frame depends on factors such as the length of your educational program and the time it takes to complete the required supervised clinical experience.

How Much Does an LMFT Earn in Texas?

The salary of an LMFT in Texas can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and work setting. As of March 2024, the average annual salary for LMFTs in Texas is around $101,000, with top earners making over $150,000 per year.

Keep in mind that entry-level LMFTs may earn less, while experienced therapists or those with specialized skills may earn more. Additionally, working in private practice, hospitals, or other settings could impact earnings.

What is the Job Outlook For LMFTs in Texas?

The job outlook for LMFTs in Texas is promising. According to the BLS, employment for marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 16% from 2022 to 2032, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

The increasing demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment, the growing recognition of the significance of mental health for overall well-being, and the ongoing trend of insurance companies covering mental health services all contribute to this positive job outlook.

Given these factors, LMFTs in Texas can expect strong demand for their services and a promising job market in the coming years.

Which is the Difference Between an LMFT and LPC?

The primary difference between an LMFT and LPC lies in their area of focus and the types of clients and issues they address in their work.

LMFTs concentrate on working with couples and families, addressing relationship dynamics, and helping clients navigate issues related to family systems, communication, and conflict resolution. They are specifically trained to understand and treat relational problems within the context of the family or couple.

LPCs have a broader scope in terms of client focus. They work with individuals, couples, families, and groups, and they address a wide range of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, and substance abuse. LPCs can provide counseling services to clients facing various life challenges and mental health concerns.

LMFTs primarily use systemic and relational approaches in their work. They help clients understand how their behaviors and emotions impact others in their relationships and vice versa. They facilitate communication and problem-solving skills to help clients improve their relationships and manage conflicts.

LPCs employ a variety of therapeutic approaches, depending on their training and the needs of their clients. These approaches may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, solution-focused therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or humanistic therapy. They tailor their counseling methods to address the specific concerns of their clients, considering their unique circumstances and goals.

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