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Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling (MCFC) Concentration

The Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling track prepares graduate counseling students to work with individual, couples, and families. This degree track is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).

Systems Perspective

MCFC student counselors view clients from a systems perspective, meaning that clients are viewed as a part of a variety of systems (e.g., family, school, work, spiritual, etc.) rather than just viewed as an individual with personal issues. The systems perspective also has a focus on understanding systemic patterns that may contribute to individual issues with an emphasis on helping clients identify solutions to presenting issues.

Clinical Settings for MCFCs

couple

There are a variety of clinical settings in which MCFCs may work. These include:

  • Private practice working with individuals, couples, and families,
  • Counseling centers,
  • Substance abuse treatment facilities,
  • Residential treatment centers,
  • Eating disorder recovery clinics, and
  • Dropout prevention agencies.

MCFC Degree Plan

Foundational Courses

  • COUN 5301 - Professional Counseling Orientation
  • COUN 5305 - Assessment in Counseling
  • COUN 5307 - Theories of Counseling & Personality (preferred prerequisite: COUN 5350)
  • COUN 5316 - Counseling Diverse Populations
  • COUN 5350 - Advanced Counselor Ethics
  • COUN 5355 - Career Counseling
  • COUN 5367 - Marital, Couples, & Family Theories
  • COUN 5368 - Developmental Issues in Counseling
  • COUN 5391 - Research Methods

Intermediate Courses

  • COUN 5354 - Basic Techniques in Counseling (prerequisite: COUN 5307)
  • COUN 5358 - Dynamics & Processes in Group (prerequisites: COUN 5354 and 5307)
  • COUN 5359 - Psychopathology (prerequisite: COUN 5307)
  • COUN 5369 - Child & Adolescent Counseling (prerequisites: COUN 5354 and 5368)
  • COUN 5351 - Current Issues in MCFC (prerequisites: COUN 5316 and 5367)
  • COUN 5372 - Assessment and Treatment in MCFC (prerequisite: COUN 5367)
  • *COUN 5344 - Substance Abuse and Counseling (*for MCFC students also working toward LPC)

Clinical Courses

  • COUN 5360 - Intermediate Methods in MCFC (prerequisites: COUN 5316, 5354, 5359, 5367, and 5369)
  • COUN 5689 - Clinical Practicum (6-credit hour course; prerequisites: COUN 5301, 5328, and 5358)
  • COUN 5389 - Site-Based Internship (prerequisite: COUN 5689)
  • COUN 5389 - Site-Based Internship (prerequisite: COUN 5689)

 

Expand All Content
  • Frequently Asked Questions

    • If you think you may want to work with couples or families in the future, in addition to individuals, this degree track provides the appropriate training for working with clients in a systemic way. If you are planning to work with children, you should strongly consider this track, as you will also need to work with their parents through parent consultations and possibly couples or family counseling.

    • This is probably the most often asked question by MCFC students. First, ask yourself this question, "How do you want to be identified as a professional?" If you want people to know that you have specific training in working with individuals, couples, and families, then having an LMFT is ideal. If you want people to know that you have training working with clinical mental health issues then the LPC is the best option. Many MCFC students work toward both licenses, so that they have a professional identity as both an LMFT and LPC. 

    • The real issue with this question is competence. The American Counseling Association Code of Ethics (C.2) maintains that counselors are responsible for having competence in their field. This means that all counselors, whether they are LPCs or LMFTs, must have sufficient knowledge, skills, practice, and supervision to work with different populations.

      The MCFC track provides 270 hours (4 courses) of MCFC-related course work and supervision in all four clinical classes in order to help students develop competence to work with couples and families. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) track requires one MCFC theories course and does not specify any amount of clinical training or supervision in working with couples and families. So CMHC students would need additional training and supervision in working with couples and families in order to develop competence.

    • First of all, you chose a great program if you're interested in becoming a play therapist! We offer several play therapy-related courses and we even have our own Institute for Play Therapy (see below).

      Practitioners who would like to become a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) must meet RPT requirements set out by the Association for Play Therapy. This includes 150 hours of play therapy training, 35 hours of supervision by an RPT-Supervisor, and 350 direct play therapy hours with children. Practitioner can earn training and clinical hours for the RPT during their graduate program and as an LMFT-Associate or LPC-Intern, but cannot apply to become an RPT until they have earned a clinical license, such as an LPC or LMFT.

      The MCFC track has one class, COUN 5369 - Child & Adolescent Counseling Methods, that provides 50 hours of training in play therapy. If MCFC students would like additional training in play therapy, we encourage them to take COUN 5373 - Intermediate Methods in Play Therapy as an elective. This course provides a strong foundation for working as a play therapist and also provides 67.5 hours of play therapy training.

      Students can also participate in play therapy training before and after graduation through:

    • There are two entities who accredit MCFC programs: CACREP and COAMFTE. Our MCFC program is accredited by CACREP. Here's a little about each organization:

      CACREP

      The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP) is an organization that accredits graduate-level counseling programs. They offer accreditation for professional counseling programs with several specialization areas, including Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling (MCFC), Clinical Mental Health (CMH), and School Counseling (SC). Since our program offers all three of these degree tracks, we chose for our MCFC program to be accredited through CACREP so that we follow a consistent set of standards for all of our degree tracks.

      COAMFTE

      The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is an organization that accredits marriage and family therapy education programs. COAMFTE's mission is to promote best practices in marriage and family education. This entails programs to:

      • have the majority of courses focused on working with couples and families,
      • require students to complete a minimum of 500 direct client contact hours (our program currently only requires 240 direct hours), and
      • maintain faculty who are Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and are LMFT-approved supervisors.

      These are great standards, but our program would need to make big changes to have these COAMFTE requirements in place.

      Our counseling program believes that the CACREP standards are currently the best fit for our MCFC degree track, because they allow us to provide quality MCFC training in MCFC-focused courses and throughout the clinical sequence.

Licensure

The MCFC Degree Plan allows MCFC students to meet academic requirements for two clinical licenses: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

The LMFT is a clinical license that demonstrates that a practitioner has sufficient knowledge, clinical practice, and supervision to work with individuals, couples, and families. The LMFT is regulated by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (also referred to as the "MFT Board"). Only MCFC students can work toward this licensure. During the program, student must:

  • Complete all courses on the MCFC track, and
  • Complete all clinical hours in Internship, including 80 or more "relational" (i.e., couples and family counseling) direct hours.
  • Apply and take the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) national licensing exam. This exam can be taken up to one year before graduation or after graduation. This exam is administered by AMFTRB, not Texas State University. You must apply with the MFT Board in order to take the exam.

After graduation, students have additional requirements in order to become an LMFT. These include:

  • Find an LMFT-Supervisor to meet with on a weekly basis to supervise clinical hours for licensure.
  • Identify a site to complete clinical hours. This site must be approved in advance by the MFT Board as part of your licensure application.
  • Apply for licensure with the MFT Board.
  • If you haven't already, apply and take the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) national licensing exam
  • Complete 3,000 post-graduate clinical hours under the supervision of an LMFT-Supervisor at board-approved sites. The clinical hours include:
    • 1,500 direct hours (750 must be relational (i.e., couples and families) and 750 can be individual or relational)
    • 1,500 indirect hours (e.g., supervision, case notes, training)
  • Turn in all required documents to the MFT Board.

Licensed Professional Counselor

The LPC is a clinical license that demonstrates that a practitioner has sufficient knowledge, clinical practice, and supervision to work with individuals dealing with mental health issues in private practice and clinical settings. The LPC is regulated by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (also referred to as the "LPC Board"). During the Professional Counseling program, student must:

  • Complete all courses on the CMHC track, 
  • Complete all clinical courses, and
  • Apply for and take the National Counselor Exam. (You can take the NCE after graduation, if you choose.) Review our NCE page for more information about this exam.

After graduation, students have additional requirements in order to become an LPC. These include:

  • Find an LPC-Supervisor to meet with on a weekly basis to supervise post-graduate clinical hours for licensure.
  • Identify a site to complete clinical hours. This site must be approved in advance by the LPC Board as part of your licensure application.
  • Apply for licensure with the LPC Board.
  • If you haven't already, apply for and take the National Counselor Exam. If you take the NCE after graduation, you will have to apply through the LPC Board, and NBCC, not Texas State University.
  • Complete 3,000 post-graduate clinical hours under the supervision of an LPC-Supervisor at board-approved sites. The clinical hours include:
    • 1,500 direct counseling hours
    • 1,500 indirect hours (e.g., supervision, case notes, training)
  • Turn in all required documents to the LPC Board.

Myths about the LMFT

A recent lawsuit has created untruths about the LMFT. Years ago, the Texas Medical Association (TMA) chose to sue the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists (TSBEMFT) in order to prevent LMFTs from being able to diagnose. This would mean that LMFTs would be unable to accept insurance. If TMA had won this lawsuit, they could have turned to the Licensed Professional Counselor and Social Work associations, in an effort to have all master's-level clinicians unable to diagnose or accept insurance. In April 2017, the Texas Supreme Court sided with the TSBEMFT and upheld the ability of LMFTs to diagnose. 

MCFC Faculty

The MCFC faculty want to support you in the MCFC degree track! Please contact your advisor to set up a time to discuss your degree plan. If you don't know who your advisor is, contact our wonderful admin, Courtney Graham.

Dr. Elizabeth Kjellstrand Hartwig, LPC-S, LMFT, RPT-S; MCFC Track Coordinator

Dr. Kevin Fall, LPC; Program Coordinator

Dr. Paulina Flasch, LPCA, NCC

Dr. Shaywanna Harris, NCC

MCFC Resources

Do you know someone who is looking for an LMFT? Professional associations provide referral banks or therapist directories for local practitioners: