Popular Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Washington State [2024]

In many states, marriage and family therapy master’s degrees are offered at the largest universities. However, Washington State is different. Its largest schools – the University of Washington and Washington State University – don’t offer marriage and family therapy programs.

However, many of the state’s smaller public and private colleges do offer these programs, giving you plenty of choices regarding where you get your education. Some of the popular programs are listed below, including details about their curriculum, field experiences, delivery methods, and much more.

Explore each of the options below, take note of their pros and cons, and set a path for getting your marriage and family degree in Washington!

Best Accredited MFT Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Washington State Online

Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Washington State

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

  • Seattle University
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Pacific Lutheran University
  • Whitworth University
  • Antioch University Seattle
  • UMass Global
  • Capella University
  • Northwestern University
  • Grand Canyon University

Seattle University

Master of Arts in Couples and Family Therapy

The Master of Arts in Couples and Family Therapy from Seattle University is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). By completing this program, you’ll position yourself to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Washington.

This program requires you to complete 56 credits to graduate. These credits are divided into two components: a clinical theory and practice sequence of courses and a series of clinical experiences.

Seattle University’s program is based on the cohort model, so you’ll progress through the curriculum with the same classmates for the duration of the program. The clinical theory and practice sequence of courses begins with studies in Systemic Care Skills, Family Therapy Theories, and Intimate Partnerships. You’ll also take the following classes:

  • Systemic Treatment of Addictions
  • Systemic Child and Adolescent Treatment
  • Systems of Trauma Treatment
  • Systemic Assessment and Conceptualization
  • Systemic Development

Obviously, this program heavily emphasizes the systemic point of view. Other areas of emphasis include strength-based treatments, trauma-informed care, and social justice, to name a few.

In all, you must complete 44 hours of coursework, which you’ll do mostly on campus at Seattle University. Classes typically meet on weekdays, though some intensive weekend coursework is required. To supplement the on campus coursework, other instruction is offered on web-based platforms.

The fieldwork component of this program enables you to apply what you’ve learned in class in a real-world clinical setting with clients. You’ll participate in a clinical field experience for four quarters. Each experience requires you to work 18-20 hours per week at your assigned clinical location.

The program requires you to accumulate at least 400 clinical hours over four quarters. At least half of those hours must be in a relational context with clients (e.g., counseling families, couples, or other relational forms). You are also required to participate in one or more hours of individual supervision each week, which must take place with a state-approved or American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) approved supervisor.

Additionally, you will participate in a supervisory seminar throughout the field experience, during which you take part in three hours of weekly group supervision with an AAMFT-approved supervisor and no more than seven other classmates. Group and individual supervision is a crucial component of your growth as a therapist. It allows you to get valuable feedback from colleagues while also enabling you to share your experiences, provide feedback to others, and develop a trusted network of other professionals.

Most students complete this program in two years of full-time study. In fact, this program is only offered in a full-time format. However, Seattle University allows you up to six years to complete the program requirements.

You must meet the following requirements to apply:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Provide transcripts from the last two years of your undergraduate studies showing a 3.0 GPA or higher (you may still apply if your GPA is below 3.0, but you will be considered for probationary admission, not full admission)
  • Submit a resume outlining your professional and voluntary experiences in helping others
  • Submit two or three letters of recommendation from academic and professional sources
  • Write a 1,000-1,250-word personal statement in which you discuss your academic history, personal goals, and professional goals

If selected, you must also participate in an interview with the program faculty.

Seattle Pacific University

Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy

At Seattle Pacific University, you can apply to a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy that takes just two years to complete if you study full-time. Even the part-time program is quick – it takes just three years.

This COAMFTE-accredited program requires 70 credits to graduate. The curriculum is divided into three parts: Core coursework, theory and elective classes, and the practicum experience.

As with other marriage and family-related programs, you’ll take foundational and advanced classes that help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills to be a practicing therapist. Examples of foundational courses include the following:

  • Social Ecology of Family
  • Theories of Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Becoming a Systems Therapist
  • Multicultural Issues in Family Therapy

This portion of the curriculum also includes classes focusing on treating different types of clients and addressing different life problems. For example, you’ll take classes specifically focusing on Couples Therapy, Treatment of Adolescents and Families, and Treatment of Abusive Systems. Likewise, you’ll learn about Parenting and Treatment of Families, Psychopharmacology and Medical Issues, and Psychopathology.

Regarding theory and elective classes, you’re only required to take a four-credit course in Marriage and Family Therapy Professional and Private Practice. As the name indicates, this class focuses on professional issues pertaining to your practice as a therapist. But you can enhance your professional capabilities by taking elective courses in any number of areas, including:

  • Brief Family Therapy
  • Advanced Bowen Theory and Therapy
  • Narrative Family Therapy
  • Experiential Theory and Family Therapy
  • Internal Family Systems Therapy

These and other elective options open doors for you to be even better equipped to address the needs of your future clients. Though taking electives might extend the time you need to graduate, the skills you learn are well worth the added time and effort.

Classes are typically held in the mid-afternoon hours, though some evening classes are also offered. All classes are held Monday through Thursday, and last ten weeks. It’s highly recommended that you not work during your time in this program, given the intense nature of the coursework and field experience.

Speaking of the field experience, you’ll spend seven quarters in a practicum at a supervised clinical site. Over the course of those seven quarters, you must accrue at least 500 hours of direct client contact time. At least 250 of those hours must be in the context of family or couples therapy.

Additionally, the field experience includes individual and small-group supervision requirements. This supervision takes place at your internship site, and enables you to get valuable feedback from your site supervisor regarding your performance, strengths, weaknesses, and so forth. In all, you must complete at least 100 supervision hours, at least half of which must include live observation or debriefing with audio or video recordings.

This program further requires you to complete a clinical portfolio. The portfolio involves selecting a marriage and family therapy theory and applying it in clinical practice. You’ll explain how the theory aligns with your professional point of view. You’ll also discuss how you’ve integrated yourself as a therapist with your clinical work. You will present the portfolio to your supervisors and clinical practicum supervision group during the final quarter of the field experience.

You can apply to this program online. The admissions requirements are as follows:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Have a 3.0 GPA or higher in your last 30 semester credits (45 quarter credits) of your undergraduate work, including at least 18 semester credits or 24 quarter credits of coursework in social and behavioral science, a course in applied statistics, and a course in lifespan development
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Earn a 293 or higher on the verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE or a 388 scaled score or higher on the Miller Analogies Test
  • Submit three letters of recommendation – one from a mental health professional, one from an academic recommender, and one from a personal reference
  • Submit a three-to-four-page personal statement in which you explain your career objectives, your rationale for wanting to attend Seattle Pacific University, and your interest in the marriage and family therapy field

Pacific Lutheran University

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Pacific Lutheran’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy is a 48-50-credit program accredited by COAMFTE. As a full-time student, you’ll need a minimum of two years to complete the program, though you can add an additional term if needed and complete the program in two years, three months.

This is a residential program, meaning you must attend classes on the PLU campus in Tacoma. During the first year, classes meet twice a week, usually from 3:00 pm to 6:20 pm. These classes focus on the following areas:

  • Systems approach to Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Contextual Foundations of Systemic Practice
  • Research Methods
  • Comparative Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Professional Studies in Marriage and Family Therapy

After completing the first two semesters, you’ll take courses during a summer term that meet one to three hours per week, usually in the early afternoon. But, how often you attend class depends on when you wish to begin your practicum.

For summer starters, the practicum begins during the summer term at PLU’s on-campus clinic. You’ll work 20-25 hours per week in a co-therapy team with another student. You’ll also meet with your supervisor for two weekly hours of paired supervision. Alternatively, you can choose to be a fall starter and begin your practicum in the fall.

Summer starters take three summer classes: Systemic Assessment, Practicum I, and Theory I. Fall starters take just one class: Systemic Assessment.

The program’s second year proceeds differently depending on your choice of a summer or fall practicum start. However, at some point during the second year, you’ll take the same courses regardless of which track you’re on. These classes include the following:

  • Human Sexuality, Sex, and Couples Therapy
  • Biopsychosocial Development
  • Marriage and Family Theory

The practicum component includes five experiences, each worth three credits. The practicum is supervised and occurs in a clinical setting where you will work with families, couples, and individual members of relational systems. Though you initially work in co-therapist pairs, eventually, you will provide therapy to clients on your own.

However, you will participate in supervision with your onsite supervisor and have opportunities to consult with your peers and professors in group supervision on campus as well. You will be evaluated in a number of areas, including your relationship skills, case management skills, and conceptual skills. You must complete at least 100 hours of supervision during the practicum and gain 500 or more hours of client contact time.

Ensure you meet the following requirements before applying:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university in Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, Family Studies, or Human Services. Alternatively, you can have a bachelor’s degree in another field plus a minimum of 15 semester hours in the disciplines listed above.
  • Submit a personal statement in which you discuss your personal strengths, career goals, and areas for professional growth, among other topics.
  • Submit a resume
  • Provide two references
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended

If selected, you will be invited to participate in an interview with department faculty.

Whitworth University

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy from Whitworth University is a full-time, 64-credit program that adheres to the cohort format. You’ll proceed through the program with the same classmates as you began with when the program started in June of your first year.

As a full-time program with classes during the day, it is not recommended that you work while you complete the degree requirements. Instead, you should focus on your coursework, which includes studies in theories and techniques of therapy, as well as professional and ethical issues. For example, you’ll take the following theory-related classes:

  • Counseling Theories
  • Theories of Family Therapy
  • Theories of Couple and Marriage Therapy
  • Family Systems Theory

You’ll also take a number of courses focusing on specific issues in marriage and family therapy. This includes courses on Psychopharmacology, Development Across the Lifespan, and Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy. Furthermore, you’ll learn how to work specifically with children and adolescents, and you’ll gain skills related to the practice of multicultural counseling.

A practicum is also included in the coursework phase of this program. It’s a five-credit experience that gives you an initial taste of working in a clinical setting. The focus is on intensive skill development that prepares you for the program’s internship phase, and is overseen by an onsite supervisor who is a licensed therapist.

Two four-credit internships occur during the program’s second year. You can complete your internship hours in a community setting, such as a mental health center or private practice. You may also choose to gain your internship hours in a church setting. Opportunities are available to gain experience at the Whitworth Marriage and Family Therapy Center, too.

You have the option of completing a thesis as part of your training, too. A thesis gives you an opportunity to conduct detailed research on a specific component of marriage and family therapy. This kind of research can help you expand your skills as a researcher and a clinician, and can improve your ability to assist clients in a therapeutic setting.

The final component of your training in this program is an exit examination. You’ll take the exam – which is a comprehensive review of what you’ve learned throughout the program – in your final semester before graduation. Usually, this means taking the exam in the spring semester of the second year. However, if you’re a part-time student, you’ll need three years to complete the degree requirements.

You must meet the following requirements to apply:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Submit GRE, MAT, or Exam Alternative scores (if your undergraduate GPA is below 3.0)
  • Provide a resume
  • Provide a personal essay in which you explain how this program aligns with your personal and professional goals
  • Provide three letters of recommendation

If, based on the application materials listed above, the admissions committee moves to accept you, you must participate in an interview as a final requirement.

Antioch University Seattle

Master of Arts in Couple and Family Therapy

Antioch University Seattle offers a Master of Arts in Couple and Family Therapy that is another excellent choice for completing your education. The program has been accredited by COAMFTE since 2005, and its graduates have a 100 percent pass rate on the national licensure exam. A full 99 percent of program graduates are currently working in a therapeutic setting.

Antioch offers you the flexibility of completing this program on a full-time or part-time basis. At a minimum, you’ll need nine full-time quarters of study to finish the program. You can take as many as six years to finish the requirements, though. Whatever timeline you choose, you must complete 77 quarter credits. These credits are divided into three components: required coursework, electives, and an internship.

The 49 credits of required coursework lay the foundation for you to be a competent marriage and family therapist. These courses focus on everything from working with children and couples to professional issues and ethics. Examples of these courses include the following:

  • Ethics and Professional Issues in Couple and Family Therapy
  • Family of Origin Systems
  • Multicultural Perspectives
  • Applied Family Therapy – Clinical Work with Children and Parenting
  • Individual Therapy in the Family System

Of course, you’ll also take classes in Psychopathology, Clinical Skills, and Diagnosis and Assessment.

The 12 elective credits give you the flexibility to study specific areas of couple and family therapy. Four areas are available for elective study, including Multicultural Series, Abuse Series, Advanced System Theories, and Special Topics.

The internship phase includes 16 credits of fieldwork, which you’ll complete in a supervised clinical setting. You will learn how to apply what you’ve learned in a real-world setting, such as case conceptualization, assessment, and integration of theory and practice. You’ll also have opportunities to clarify who you are as a clinician and your preferred approach to therapy.

Antioch University offers an extensive selection of internship sites. Past students have earned their hours in settings such as:

  • College counseling centers
  • Community centers
  • Public mental health clinics
  • Youth and family service centers
  • Inpatient psychiatric hospitals

As a result of your coursework and clinical training, you’ll have the necessary skills and self-awareness to provide individual, family, and couple therapy. Moreover, you’ll be able to do so with a sensitivity to diversity and in an ethical manner.

The admissions process proceeds as follows:

  • Meet with an admissions counselor to discuss your academic plans
  • Complete the online application for admission
  • Confirm you have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Submit official transcripts from every college or university you’ve attended
  • Provide two references who can speak to your academic or professional capabilities
  • Write a 250-500-word essay in which you discuss your previous experience, explain your professional goals, commit to the Antioch mission statement, and explore any challenges you foresee having while in the program
  • Provide a current curriculum vitae or resume

You may also be selected to participate in a group interview with the program faculty.

How to Become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Washington State?

To become a licensed marriage and family therapist in Washington State, 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 the educational requirements outlined by the Washington State Department of Health.
  2. Examination: Pass the national examination for marriage and family therapy administered by the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).
  3. Supervised Experience: Complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience post-degree. This must include at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact and 200 hours of qualified supervision with an approved supervisor (100 supervision hours of which of must be one-on-one supervision, and the remainder can be group supervision). Futhremore, 100 hours of overall supervision must be with a LMFT who has at least five years of clinical experience.
  4. Application: Submit your application for licensure to the Washington State Department of Health, including all required documentation such as proof of education, supervised experience, examination results, and the required fees.
  5. Background Check: Successfully pass a criminal background check.
  6. Continuing Education: Once licensed, maintain and renew your license by completing 36 hours of continuing education every year.

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