Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Florida [2024 Guide]

A degree in marriage and family therapy qualifies you to work with couples and families experiencing difficulties in their lives. The training you receive allows you to address problems ranging from poor communication to infidelity to the effects of drug and alcohol abuse on family relationships.

Fortunately, there are a good number of marriage and family therapy programs in Florida. With so many options, you can select the very best program for your needs, be that a full-time or part-time program, a Master of Arts or Master of Science, or a dual-degree program. Review the descriptions below to learn more about some of the popular programs!

Best Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Florida Online

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Florida

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering marriage and family therapist programs in Florida:

  • University of South Florida
  • University of Central Florida
  • Florida State University
  • Stetson University
  • University of Florida
  • Walden University
  • Capella University
  • Northwestern University
  • Grand Canyon University

University of South Florida

Master of Science – Marriage and Family Therapy

The Marriage and Family Therapy master’s program at the University of South Florida is a 60-credit terminal degree that prepares you for licensure as a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). The program takes two years of full-time study to complete, so you can quickly bridge the gap between your bachelor’s degree and your career.

This highly specialized program focuses specifically on helping you develop the competencies and the confidence to provide therapy to individuals, couples, and families. This training begins with coursework in essential areas such as Foundations of Marriage and Family Therapy, Recovery-Oriented Care, and Treatment Planning. You might also take courses in the following:

  • Case Management
  • Psychopathology, Diagnosis, and Systemic Treatment
  • Couples and Sex Therapy
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Legal, Ethical, and Professional Development

You will progress through these and other courses in a small cohort setting, meaning you woll take each class with the same group of classmates. The cohort design is intended to help you develop strong working relationships with your peers, who, after graduation, can be valuable resources for you (and you for them!).

In addition to completing coursework like that listed above, you will also participate in a comprehensive internship program. Over the course of 12 months in the Tampa area, you will gain confidence in your abilities as a marriage and family therapist in a clinical setting. The field placement includes strict supervision by a licensed marriage and family therapist who provides you with guidance, encouragement, and feedback about your performance.

Typically, the internship phase begins with you in a more observational role; then, gradually, you take on more responsibilities as a practicing therapist. For example, you might begin by sitting in on a therapy session that your supervisor is conducting with a family and then move into a co-counseling position with your supervisor. Eventually, you might take over working with the clients, providing them with therapy under the watchful eye of your supervisor.

Your internship experience can be tailored to your career goals. So, for example, if you wish to work in private practice, your internship setting might be in an established practice of a licensed marriage and family therapist. On the other hand, if you are especially interested in working with families experiencing hardships because of substance abuse, you might do your internship hours in a drug rehabilitation setting or an inpatient mental health setting.

Throughout this program, you will benefit from faculty mentorship to help you progress in your development as a therapist. Your coursework with your professors is designed to be comprehensive in nature, but the added mentorship of the faculty can further your development that much more. Of course, this is in addition to your internship supervisor, who provides constant feedback to you throughout the yearlong field placement.

The application for admission to this program is available online. You must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a B average or higher (including a statistics course) or a graduate degree with a B average or higher
  • Submit three letters of recommendation, including at least one letter from an undergraduate professor
  • A resume
  • GRE scores

You must also participate in an interview with faculty members.

University of Central Florida

Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy

The 63-credit Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy from the University of Central Florida is broken into three components: core courses, specialization courses, and clinical experience.

The six credits of core courses include studies in basic topics that are foundational to marriage and family therapy: Lifespan Human Development and Learning and the Fundamentals of Graduate Research and Education. After gaining essential skills in these courses, you will move on to study specialized topics in marriage, couple, and family therapy.

For example, you will take courses in Family Counseling, Couples Counseling, and Techniques of Counseling. You will also take courses such as:

  • Foundations of Multicultural Counseling
  • Diagnosis and Treatment in Counseling
  • Addictions Counseling
  • Human Sexuality and Relationships
  • Group Procedures and Theories in Counseling

Courses like those above equip you with the skills required to provide therapeutic services to clients with a range of issues, be they based on sexuality, communication, compatibility, or something else. As is common in marriage and family therapy programs, you will take classes in ethics, legal issues, and career development.

The final component of the program is a 12-credit clinical experience. This experience is completed in two parts – the practicum and internship. The practicum is done on campus at the University of Central Florida Community Counseling and Research Center. By and large, this experience will be more observational, with some co-counseling opportunities.

The internship is much more involved. You will be responsible for working directly with clients, maintaining a client load, completing treatment plans, and tending to paperwork, among other essential duties. The internship takes place off-campus at clinical sites throughout central Florida.

Your practicum and internship experiences enable you to work with children, adolescents, and adults, as well as individuals, couples, and families. As a result of your coursework and field experiences, you will have the skills required to sit for the licensure examination for marriage and family therapy. This program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), so you might be eligible for licensure in other states, too.

The University of Central Florida offers financial assistance in several forms. You can work as a graduate assistant, take part in a fellowship, or get tuition support through other means. UCF’s graduate tuition tends to be lower than most schools, so the combination of lower tuition rates and ample financial assistance opportunities can help you significantly offset the cost of getting your marriage and family therapy degree.

To successfully finish this degree, you must:

  • Complete the counseling specialization courses with a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Complete 800 hours of clinical experiences, including 180 hours of marriage and family therapy services
  • Complete a portfolio

You can apply to UCF online at any time. You must have an undergraduate degree or graduate degree from an accredited college or university to apply. You must also have a 3.0 GPA or higher in all coursework. Additionally, you must submit official transcripts from every college or university you have attended. You may be asked to submit GRE scores, a resume or curriculum vitae, or letters of recommendation. An interview with the marriage and family therapy faculty might also be required.

Florida State University

Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy

Florida State University offers a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy that focuses on advancing your clinical skills while also preparing you to be a scholar in this field who can seek academic positions upon completion of the program. Since the program focuses on academic preparation, there is a significant research component.

The program is divided into five distinct components:

  • Core courses
  • Research and statistics courses
  • Research and data analytic elective courses
  • Clinical practice requirements
  • Human development and family science courses

The core coursework consists of 17-18 credits of foundational coursework that sets the stage for advanced studies in this field. Classes in Research Best Practices, Professional Development, and Research are included, as are courses in College Teaching, Supervised Teaching, and Advanced Clinical MFT Theory. A course in MFT Social Justice and Diversity is also required.

These classes are complemented by coursework in the research, statistics, and data analytic fields. As mentioned above, this program is research-focused, and these classes help you develop the skills necessary to conduct high-level research on MFT topics. In addition to Methods of Research and Applied Research courses, you may also take the following:

  • Qualitative Research
  • Intervention Research
  • Advanced Topics in Analysis of Variance
  • Multivariate Analysis Applications
  • Causal Modeling

The Ph.D. dissertation is also included in this research component. As part of the dissertation, you will complete 24 credits of doctoral research and dissertation work, after which you must defend your dissertation. This program also requires you to complete a preliminary doctoral exam.

You must complete clinical practice requirements as well. A practicum and a separate internship are both required. The practicum introduces you to advanced clinical work and is an opportunity to get your feet wet working with couples and families under the supervision of a licensed marriage and family therapist. The internship involves more hands-on practice with clients and is an opportunity to put what you’ve learned in your courses and the practicum to use in a clinical setting. You will receive supervision from your onsite clinical supervisor throughout both experiences.

The final component of the curriculum is elective options in human development and family science. These courses allow you to customize your studies to a degree. For example, you can choose to take courses in everything from grant writing to theories of family science to advanced child development.

All told, you must complete at least 87 credits. This includes 24 credits for your dissertation. You will need about five years to complete this residential program at Florida State.

You must meet the following requirements to apply:

  • Submit an application
  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, including a GPA of 3.0 or higher for all upper-division coursework.
  • Have a clinical master’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you have attended
  • Have GRE scores above the 50th percentile in the quantitative and verbal sections and a 4.0 or higher on the writing section of the GRE
  • Provide proof of English proficiency if English is not your native language
  • Submit a personal statement in which you discuss your research interests and career goals
  • Submit a resume or curriculum vitae
  • Provide contact information for three professional references
  • Submit a faculty preference form in which you identify three faculty members with whom you are interested in working with throughout the program
  • Provide a writing sample of your best scholarly work
  • Complete an interview with the program’s faculty

Stetson University

Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

The Master of Science in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling from Stetson University is a 60-credit program designed to prepare you for licensure as a marriage and family therapist in Florida. To gain the necessary knowledge and skills, you will complete a wide-ranging curriculum that includes coursework in theory, technique, and professional development.

For example, advanced courses in Human Relations Methods and Skills, Theories of Counseling, and Group Counseling give you the academic, theoretical, and practical skills required to work with varying types of clients with varying needs. Likewise, coursework in Psychotherapy, Marriage and Relationship Counseling, and Sexuality Counseling build competence in using proven marriage and family counseling techniques to assist your clients in making positive growth and continuing their development.

Other courses you are likely to take include the following:

  • Addictions Counseling
  • Counseling Children and Adolescents
  • Multicultural Counseling and Psychosocial Therapy
  • Career Counseling
  • Family Systems

In addition to completing the coursework component of the program, you must also take part in practicum and internship experiences. The three-credit practicum places you in community settings (e.g., private practice, mental health agencies, schools, and hospitals) where you will gain enhanced counseling skills. This occurs in the context of a variety of activities, including direct counseling experiences with clients. The practicum is 200 hours, 40 of which must be completed directly with clients.

The internship is a six-credit experience involving supervised fieldwork. The internship is done in two parts, each of which requires you to complete 300 hours, of which 120 are direct client contact for a total of 600 hours of internship. Non-client contact hours come from numerous activities, such as research and professional development.

The internship also includes a seminar component: Analysis of Practice. This course includes supervision of your work by a licensed marriage and family therapist. The other part of the course consists of a professional seminar during which you will explore marriage and family therapy issues that arise during your internship.

This CACREP-accredited program helps you gain essential professional skills that enable you to practice as a marriage and family therapist with the highest competence and ethics. You will learn how to practice social and cultural inclusivity, work with clients of all ages in various contexts, and understand how to assess and evaluate clients.

Moreover, you will gain skills related to applying high-level counseling techniques to assist your clients in solving difficult issues in their lives. Of course, the research skills you gain in this program will also be valuable as you seek to add to the knowledge base of research in this field.

The application for admission to Stetson’s MFT program is online. The following are required to apply:

  • Fill out an application for admission and submit a $50 application fee
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you have attended
  • Submit a resume
  • Provide three letters of recommendation from professional and academic recommenders
  • Submit a written statement in response to a provided prompt
  • Watch a video provided by the department that explains the program
  • Complete a timed written statement during an on-campus interview day
  • Participate in a faculty interview during an on-campus interview day

University of Florida

Dual Degree in Marriage & Family Counseling and Therapy

The University of Florida’s marriage and family therapy program is unique in that it’s a dual-degree in Marriage and Family Counseling as well as Therapy. Upon graduation, you will either have a Master of Education and an Education Specialist dual degree or a Master of Arts in Education and an Education Specialist dual degree.

In either case, you will study marriage and family counseling and therapy from an ecosystemic approach. This means you will learn how to address your client’s problems through solution-based opportunities. For example, you will acquire the skills necessary to moderate conversations among your clients (e.g., a husband and wife) who identify their mutual concerns and problems, work together to describe those problems from their unique perspectives and listen to one another. Then, you will help your clients devise different solutions to their shared problems and build new narratives that emphasize a commitment to cooperation moving forward.

You will gain these unique skills in a 72-credit program that leads to licensure in Florida as a marriage and family therapist. You will also be eligible for licensure as a mental health counselor. You can pursue one or both of these licensures.

This cohort-based program requires three years to complete. This includes two years of coursework and a full year of supervised field experience. The coursework you will complete runs the gamut from Introduction to Counseling to Sexuality and Mental Health to Group Counseling. Other courses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Professional Identity and Ethics in Counseling
  • Substance Abuse Counseling
  • Trauma and Crisis Intervention
  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders
  • Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Marriage and Family Counseling

As a licensure program, you are also required to participate in extensive field-based learning. The first such experience is a practicum in marriage and family counseling during the spring semester of the program’s second year. Think of this experience as an opportunity to observe licensed marriage and family counselors work with their clients, which will help you identify how to apply what you have learned in class in clinical situations. You will also have opportunities to work directly with clients under the supervision of a licensed therapist, of course.

The internship component begins during the summer term of the program’s second year and continues through the fall and spring semesters of the program’s third year. During this time, you will work directly with clients in a supervised setting, providing therapy services to couples, families, and children. You will work with your clients in individual, couple, and family settings, practice the skills you learned in your coursework, and participate in consistent supervision with your onsite supervisor.

The internship also includes group supervision activities with your cohort classmates. Group supervision is an opportunity to come together and discuss your experiences in your internship, work through any problems you are having, and get feedback on your progress from your peers and professors. This experience is invaluable as you progress toward the end of the program and hone your skills for independent practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist.

To apply, you must complete the following:

  • Submit a statement of purpose
  • Submit letters of recommendation
  • Provide official transcripts from every college or university you have attended
  • Submit GRE scores
  • Provide a personal statement
  • Provide a resume or curriculum vitae
  • Submit three letters of recommendation

You must also complete a counselor statement exercise in which you respond to a statement by a pretend client as you would in a real-world counseling situation.

How Do I Become a Marriage and Family Therapist in Florida?

To become a licensed marriage and family therapist in Florida, you must complete the following steps:

  • Education: Earn a master’s or higher degree in marriage and family therapy from a program accredited by the COAMFTE or an equivalent accreditation body, or a program that meets Florida Board standards.
  • Supervised Experience: Complete at least two years of post-master’s supervised clinical experience, including a minimum of 1,500 hours of direct client contact with couples or families, under the supervision of a qualified supervisor. This should include at least one hour of direct supervision every two weeks.
  • Examination: Pass the national examination for marriage and family therapy administered by the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
  • Application: Submit your application for licensure to the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling, along with the required fees and documentation of your education, supervised experience, and examination scores.
  • Laws and Rules Course: Complete an 8-hour Florida laws and rules course from a board-approved provider.
  • HIV Course: Complete a three-hour HIV/AIDS course.
  • Domestic Violence Course: Complete a two-hour domestic violence course from a board approved provider within six months of licensure.
  • Background Check: Undergo a Level II background check, which includes fingerprinting.

What is the Difference Between an LMFT and AMFT?

The difference between a LMFT and an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) primarily lies in their level of experience and licensure status.

An LMFT is a fully licensed professional who has completed all the necessary education, supervised clinical experience, and state licensing exams required to practice independently. This typically includes earning a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field, completing thousands of hours of supervised clinical work (the exact number varies by state), and passing a comprehensive licensing examination.

On the other hand, an AMFT is in the process of fulfilling these requirements. An AMFT has usually completed the educational requirements but is in the midst of accumulating the supervised clinical hours necessary for full licensure. During this period, AMFTs practice under the supervision of a fully licensed therapist, gaining the experience needed to work independently.

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