Popular Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Virginia [2024 Guide]

The advantage of studying marriage and family therapy in Virginia is the sheer number of choices you have. You can get a degree from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Furthermore, you can focus your studies on relationship counseling or family therapy, get a Master of Science, Master of Arts, or Master of Education, or do the bulk of your studies on campus or online. With so many choices, you can tailor your education to your specific needs.

Below are descriptions of some of the popular marriage and family therapy programs in Virginia worth your consideration!

Best Accredited MFT Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Virginia Online

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Virginia

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering marriage and family therapy programs in Virginia:

  • William & Mary University
  • Virginia Tech University
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Regent University
  • Liberty University
  • Capella University
  • Northwestern University
  • Grand Canyon University

William & Mary University

Master of Education in Relationship, Marriage, and Family Counseling

The Master of Education in Relationship, Marriage, and Family Counseling from William & Mary University is a two-year, full-time, on-campus program. You must complete 63 credits of coursework and field experiences to graduate from this CACREP-accredited program.

Over the course of your studies, you’ll gain a broad foundation of training in mental health counseling. The focus on relationship counseling means you’ll have the requisite skills to work with couples, families, and individuals, too. More specifically, this program trains you to be an expert in relationship frameworks. As such, you’ll exit the program with expertise in providing counseling that is culturally inclusive and multidimensional.

The course sequence begins with courses in Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Techniques of Counseling, and Group Therapy and Techniques. You’ll also take courses in Family Development and Processes and Professional, Ethical, and Legal Issues in Counseling. From there, you’ll take other advanced classes in the following:

  • Marriage and Family Counseling
  • Research Methods in Education
  • Theory and Practice of Multicultural Counseling
  • Contemporary Issues in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Relational Counseling and Sex Therapy

You’ll complete your first year in this program with studies in Psychopathology, Family Systems, and Addictions. You’ll also complete a supervised practicum in counseling, during which you’ll have your first opportunity to work directly with clients.

More specifically, the practicum is intended to be the initial experiential learning experience in preparation for your internship. During the practicum, you’ll use the knowledge and skills you’ve gained in the classroom to provide counseling services to clients, all under the watchful eye of a supervisor, counseling faculty, and site supervisors in the field. The first internship experience follows this practicum placement.

The second year shifts focus a little bit to more specific marriage and family therapy topics. For example, you’ll take classes in Advanced Family Counseling, Human Growth and Development, and Substance Abuse and Society. Coursework in Psychological and Educational Measurement is also required.

The second year includes two more internship experiences, both of which focus on family counseling. These placements allow you to participate in advanced training in a clinical setting. You’ll work with a supervisor who is a licensed therapist and will guide your development by providing feedback and participating in consultation and supervision with you. Each internship placement occurs in the New Horizons Family Counseling Center, located on the William & Mary campus.

In all, you must complete 150 hours during the practicum and 600 hours during the internship phase of the program.

Upon completion of this program, you will be eligible for licensure in Virginia as a Professional Counselor. You must complete a 3,400-hour post-graduate residency and pass a licensure examination before a full license will be conferred.

The admissions requirements may include the following:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Submit a personal essay
  • Provide a curriculum vitae or resume
  • Provide letters of recommendation from professional or academic recommenders

You might also be required to participate in an in-person or video-based interview with department faculty.

Virginia Tech University

Marriage and Family Ph.D.

The Marriage and Family Ph.D. program at Virginia Tech follows a scholar-clinician model. Upon completing the degree, you’ll not only have a deep academic understanding of marriage and family therapy concepts but you’ll also be equipped with advanced clinical skills and research skills.

The 90-credit curriculum is divided into five phases: advanced research, clinical theory, contemporary challenges, teaching and supervision, and an internship.

The research component is robust – it includes a research methods course with accompanying lab, plus advanced coursework in statistics. You’ll conduct research with a faculty mentor with the goal of presenting your research at professional conferences or being published in scholarly journals.

Another unique research-related feature of this program is the research team. This semester-long experience enables you to learn about research conceptualization, data collection and analysis, grant writing, and other crucial components of conducting scholarly research.

The second component of this program is advanced training in relational and systemic clinical theory. It includes three courses: Theories of Individual and Lifespan, Theories of Family and Systems, and Advanced Traditional Models in MFT. These courses give you a solid basis for understanding this field and how to apply tried-and-true marriage and family therapy models in the context of couples, family, or individual therapy.

The next group of courses focuses on the application of advanced relational and systemic approaches to contemporary challenges. Your training includes a course in Advanced Contemporary MFT, which you complete before beginning a 14-credit practicum experience. The practicum is your first chance to apply what you’ve learned up to this point in the program in a real-world setting.

The final two elements of the program occur at the end of the process. You’ll participate in professional development and clinical supervision as part of the Foundations of Relational and Systemic Teaching, Supervision, Consultation, and Leadership component. It’s important to note the teaching aspect of this part of the curriculum – you will be responsible for teaching online or in-person courses at the undergraduate level in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. The Department provides thorough training in assessment, grading, instructional techniques, and other essential components of teaching prior to beginning your teaching assignment.

Your clinical training initially takes place at the Family Therapy Center, which is on the Virginia Tech campus. You will work with clients from all walks of life in a state-of-the-art facility with video recording equipment that facilitates supervision and consultation with your supervisors and professors. Off-campus internship placements later in the program supplement these activities. You must amass at least 1,000 hours of internship experience, of which 400 hours must be relational. You must also complete at least 200 hours of supervision to graduate.

You can submit your application to this program online. To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a master’s degree in a mental health field
  • Submit official transcripts from your undergraduate and graduate work
  • Provide a current curriculum vitae or resume
  • Provide a writing sample that’s representative of your professional writing abilities
  • Submit a 3-5 page personal statement that outlines your personal background, professional goals, and explains your interest in this program
  • Provide three letters of recommendation

You must also pay a $75 application fee and submit a clinical background form as well as a statement of professional ethics and conduct form.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Master of Education in Marriage and Couples Therapy

The Master of Education in Marriage and Couples Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University is a CACREP-accredited program that leads to two different licensures: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). These licensures are available in Virginia. This program also meets LMFT licensure requirements in other states. However, since licensure is a state-by-state issue, it’s important to consult with your state’s licensing board for specifics.

The program is divided into three phases: the program core, concentration courses, and foundation of education courses. The program core is the largest of the three, comprising 33 credits of the 60 credits needed to graduate. The core includes basic, foundational courses like:

  • Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice in Counseling
  • Career Information and Exploration
  • Theories of Counseling
  • Group Procedures in Counseling
  • Techniques in Counseling

Additionally, you’ll get training in assessment techniques, multicultural counseling, and addiction counseling. An introductory class in marriage, couples, and family counseling is also required.

The concentration courses dive deeper into issues and techniques related to counseling couples and families. For example, you’ll take classes in Couples Counseling, Sexuality Counseling, and Advanced Family Counseling. Those courses are supplemented by two field experiences. The first is a practicum in couple and family counseling and the second is an internship.

The practicum is a 100-hour clinical experience during which you must provide at least 40 hours of direct services to your clients. The practicum is supervised, so you’ll have weekly supervision meetings with your supervisor to discuss your technique, strengths, weaknesses, and so forth.

The internship is a more involved experience, accounting for 600 hours of clinical experience. At least 240 of these hours must be direct client contact time. Again, the internship is supervised, and you’ll have weekly supervision with your site supervisor as well as with your professors and colleagues.

You must also complete two foundations of education courses. These courses – Lifespan Development and Research Methods in Education – are usually completed at the beginning of the program. Both offer essential training and perspectives on topics closely related to therapeutic work with couples and families.

VCU additionally requires you to pass a comprehensive examination to graduate from this program. The exam occurs toward the end of the program, after you’ve completed your coursework but before you begin the practicum and internship. The exam has 160-200 questions and takes three hours to complete. Topics covered on the exam include major areas of study from throughout the program, including:

  • Human Growth and Development
  • Social and Cultural Foundations
  • Helping Relationships
  • Group Work
  • Career and Lifestyle development

You can apply to VCU as a graduate student. To do so, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institutions
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Submit three letters of recommendation from academic or professional recommenders
  • Write a statement of intent in which you describe the experiences that compelled you to pursue this degree. You must also explain your career goals, discuss your aptitude for developing effective relationships with clients, and discuss your experiences working with diverse populations.
  • Participate in a personal interview

If you pass through the admissions process outlined above, you will be required to attend a group interview with the department faculty on campus.

Regent University

Master of Arts in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling

Regent University’s Master of Arts in Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling is a 60-credit program available on campus in Virginia Beach. It’s also available as an online program with an on-campus residency requirement. Either way, you can get the education required for licensure in Virginia as an LMFT. You might also be able to pursue licensure as an LPC, depending on your specific situation.

As is common with graduate degrees in this field, you’ll take numerous required courses that explore essential topics in marriage and family therapy. For example, you’ll complete an Orientation to the Counseling Profession class that introduces you to essential elements of being a counselor. This includes:

  • The history and philosophy of counseling
  • Your roles as a professional
  • Self-care issues
  • Building relationships with other professionals
  • Information about credentialing and professional organizations

This course also explores therapeutic practice in various settings and with a diverse range of clients.

Another foundational course is Counseling Skills and Techniques. As the name indicates, the purpose of this class is to facilitate the application of counseling theories and techniques in a practice clinical setting. You’ll meet each week with a group of other counseling students to present and critique video-recorded counseling experiences in which each of you work on basic counseling skills.

As the program progresses, you’ll participate in advanced courses. For example, you’ll take part in classes such as:

  • Psychopathology and Diagnosis
  • Assessment Techniques in Counseling
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Career and Lifestyle Development

Likewise, you must participate in fieldwork that enables you to get the professional experience required to graduate. This begins with a practicum during which you’ll observe working marriage and family therapists in their workplace. You will also have opportunities to work directly with clients under the supervision of your field placement mentor. Typically, practicum experiences require you to complete 100 or more hours of work, around 40 of which must be in direct contact with clients.

The internship component builds off the practicum experience and allows you to gain much more experience as a pre-service clinician. Like the practicum, the internship is supervised. On the one hand, you’ll have an onsite supervisor at your internship location. This supervisor is responsible for evaluating your performance, mentoring you, and providing critical feedback that helps you learn and grow as a therapist. Additionally, you’ll participate in frequent supervision and consultation sessions with your classmates and professors.

Usually, internship experiences in this field require that you complete at least 600 hours of training. You must have at least 240 hours of direct client contact time within those 600 hours to complete the internship.

It should be noted that if you’re an online student, you can complete the required field experiences at approved locations in your area. However, you are required to attend two week-long residencies on campus in Virginia Beach. The first residency focuses on networking and mentorship opportunities. The second residency explores detailed instruction in specific marriage, couple, and family counseling techniques.

You must meet the following requirements to apply:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or higher
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Fill out an admissions questionnaire in which you answer questions about your professional goals and interests
  • Submit a current resume or curriculum vitae
  • Provide a copy of your government-issued ID

The final component of the admissions process is to participate in a faculty interview.

Liberty University

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

The online Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Liberty University is designed to meet state requirements for licensure as an LMFT. The curriculum might also meet licensure requirements in other states. Whether you’re based in Virginia or another state, you must complete the same 60-credit curriculum, which typically takes two to three years.

However, Liberty University has a generous transfer policy that allows you to transfer up to 50 percent of the required credits, which in this case is 30 credits. If you started a marriage and family graduate degree at another institution, you might be able to apply those credits to this degree and finish your studies sooner.

This is a typical marriage and family program in that you’ll learn about essential issues related to practice as a licensed therapist. This includes coursework in legal issues, professional ethics, and basic counseling techniques. You’ll also take courses in multicultural counseling, group counseling, and assessment techniques.

Liberty University also requires you to take a class in career development as preparation for graduating and entering the workforce. This course allows you to explore different applications of your degree and helps you clarify your professional goals. Other coursework includes the following:

  • Human Growth and Development
  • Theories of Counseling
  • Integration of Spirituality and Counseling
  • Program Evaluation
  • Theories of Family Systems

Naturally, you’ll also gain expertise in psychopathology, relevant research areas, and the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses in the context of couples and family counseling. Additionally, you’ll learn how to work with children and adolescents from a systems perspective.

You will practice the skills you learn in your classes in a 100-hour practicum that gets your feet wet in the counseling profession. The purpose of the curriculum is to place you in a clinical setting with a supervisor, who guides you from being a counseling student to being a counseling practitioner. This experience can take place in an approved setting in your community, so you don’t have to visit campus to complete this requirement.

The same is true of the two-semester internship – it can also be completed in your community. The internship requires you to complete at least 600 hours, of which at least 240 hours must be in direct contact with clients in individual, couples, and family counseling.

Two on-campus intensive learning experiences are required as well. These intensives are usually weekend or week-long experiences during which you can interact with your classmates and professors, get guidance on improving your counseling techniques, and practice counseling skills in a supervised setting. These intensives take place before the practicum and internship.

An additional component of this program is the comprehensive examination. This exam occurs near the end of the program and evaluates your competency in multiple areas of marriage and family therapy, from professional and ethical issues to counseling theories and techniques.

You can apply to Liberty University at any time. The admissions requirements for this program are as follows:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • Have a 2.7 cumulative undergraduate GPA or higher for admission in good standing
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Provide the contact information for two references
  • Submit a personal statement
  • Agree to the program’s mission statement and diversity statement
  • Provide evidence of English proficiency if English is not your native language

How to Become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Virginia?

To become a licensed marriage and family therapist in Virginia, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Education: Earn a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from a program accredited by COAMFTE or another program that meets educational standards set by the Virginia Board. Your degree must include at least 600 hours, including 240 hours of direct client contact.
  2. Supervised Experience: Complete a minimum of 3,400 hours of supervised work experience, including 2,000 hours of documented clinical marriage and family services. Specific requirements are as follows:
    • Client Contact: At least 1,000 hours must be face-to-face client interactions.
    • Supervision: A minimum of 200 hours must be in-person supervision, with at least half of these hours supervised directly by an LMFT
    • Group Supervision Limit: No more than 100 hours can be obtained through group supervision.
  3. Examination: Pass the national examination for marriage and family therapy provided by the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
  4. Application: Submit an application for licensure to the Virginia Board of Counseling, along with required documentation such as proof of education, supervised experience, and examination results. A processing fee is also required.
  5. Background Check: Successfully complete a criminal background check as required by the Board.
  6. Continuing Education: Maintain your license by completing 20 hours of continuing education every year.

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