Academic Course Catalogs

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Marital and Family Therapy Program

The Marital and Family Therapy (MFT) program prepares students to become marriage and family therapists. Marriage and family therapists are trained to conceptualize mental health and behavior problems as existing within interpersonal relationships. Consequently, students are trained to treat problems within a person’s current interpersonal context. In addition to training in the most prominent marriage and family therapy theories, students are exposed to the biological and intrapsychic approaches to problem development and resolution. Students receive training in the assessment and treatment of the major mental disorders.

The MFT program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marital and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). The COAMFTE is the national organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for setting standards for marriage and family therapy education. USD’s MFT program is one of only six master’s degree-granting programs in California accredited by the COAMFTE.
Graduates of the MFT program usually work in mental health agencies. However, some set up their own private practices or go on to doctoral work. The degree fulfills the educational requirements for licensure in California as a Marriage and Family Therapist and usually meets the licensing requirements in the other 49 states with Marriage and Family Therapist licensure.

General Degree Requirements

The MA in MFT is a non-thesis degree program requiring the successful completion of 51 units of graduate coursework, 6.5 continuing education units, a written comprehensive exam, completion of an approved international experience, and the accumulation of a minimum of 500 client contact hours and 100 supervision hours. The majority of the students are full-time. Full-time students can complete the program within two full calendar years. Part-time students must take at least 6 units per semester.

Requirements For The Degree

I. Coursework (51 units)
MFTS 500 Research in Family Therapy (3)
MFTS 523 Family Therapy Theories I (3)
MFTS 524 Family Therapy Theories II (3)
MFTS 528 Psychopathology (3)
MFTS 529 Ethical and Legal Issues in Family Therapy (2)
MFTS 532 Human Diversity (3)
MFTS 533 Family Studies (3)
MFTS 541 Assessment and Treatment of Child/Family Problems (3)
MFTS 542 Psychological Testing and Evaluation (2)
MFTS 543 Developmental Psychopathology (3)
MFTS 544 Psychopharmacology (2)
MFTS 545 Families, Systems and Health (1)
MFTS 546 Couples and Sex Therapy (3)
MFTS 570 Treatment of Drug and Alcohol Problems (2)
MFTS 595P Practicum in MFT 1 (5)
MFTS 596P Practicum in MFT 2 (5)
MFTS 597P Practicum in MFT 3 (5)

II. MFT Continuing Education Courses
(6.5 units extension credit)
EDU 571 Child Abuse (.5 CEU)
EDU 572 Gender Issues in Family Therapy (1 CEU)
EDU 574 Domestic Violence (1 CEU)
EDU 577 Professional Issues in Family Therapy (1 CEU)
EDU 578 Spiritual Issues in Family Therapy (1 CEU)
Students are required to take two of the following CE courses:
EDU 573 Group Therapy in Family Therapy (2 CEU)
EDU 575 Special Topics in Family Therapy (1 CEU)
EDU 576 Self of the Therapist Seminar (1 CEU)

III. Comprehensive Examination

IV. Clinical Contact Hours
Students must successfully complete a total of 500 clinical contact hours (minimum of 250 relational hours) and 100 supervision hours (minimum of 50 with raw data) while enrolled in Practicum.

V. Completion of Prerequisite Requirements
Students must complete the two prerequisite requirements (Human Development, and either Counseling Theories or Theories of Personality) either prior to enrollment in the program or before the beginning of their second semester in the program.

Practicum In MFT

An important part of the training program is the practical experience and training students receive during the clinical practicum. The MFT faculty maintains a variety of sites that meet the rigorous clinical hour and supervision requirements. Practicum placements are typically non-paying positions.
Practicum (MFTS 595P, 596P, 597P) is a 12-month, three-semester sequence that is completed during the student’s final year in the program. During this clinically rich experience, students will be expected to complete 500 direct client-contact hours, 250 of which need to be with couples or families. Students receive a minimum of 100 hours of supervision from MFT faculty during this time, in addition to the supervision received from on-site supervisors. Faculty supervision is in both individual and group format, with live and videotaped data being used as the primary source of session information.

Marital and Family Therapy Program Courses and Seminars

MFTS 500 RESEARCH IN FAMILY THERAPY (3)

The course teaches students to be effective consumers of research so that they can use the research literature to enhance their clinical knowledge. The course introduces students to research concepts, quantitative and qualitative research designs, statistics and other issues common to family therapy research. Findings from the family therapy research literature are examined.

MFTS 523 FAMILY THERAPY THEORIES I (3)

Students are exposed to the fundamental assumptions and ideas of general systems theory and the basic premises of the various theoretical orientations within the family therapy field. Family Theories I covers Structural Family Therapy, Strategic Family Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy and integrative models.

MFTS 524 FAMILY THERAPY THEORIES II (3)

Students are exposed to the fundamental assumptions and ideas of general systems theory and the basic premises of the various theoretical orientations within the family therapy field. Family Theories II covers Cognitive-Behavioral Family Therapy, Bowen Family Systems Therapy, Contextual Family Therapy, and a variety of experiential family therapies, including Symbolic-Experiential Therapy, Emotionally-focused Therapy and the work of Virginia Satir.

MFTS 528 PSYCHOPATHOLOGY (3)

An examination of the developmental factors that lead to the emergence and maintenance of various psychological and interpersonal disorders. Emphasis is on developing skills in recognizing inappropriate and maladaptive behaviors and in selecting appropriate techniques for counseling and referral. The course focuses on integrating psychopathology and family diagnosis.

MFTS 529 ETHICAL AND LEGAL ISSUES IN FAMILY THERAPY (2)

An examination of the most important areas of legal and ethical concern to marriage and family therapists and other mental health practitioners in California. Among the topics covered are: confidentiality; psychotherapist-patient privilege; child, elder, and dependent adult abuse; reporting laws; treating dangerous patients; treating minors with and without parental consent; dual relationship issues; selected areas of family law, licensing law and regulations, scope of practice issues; and ethical standards of the MFT profession.

MFTS 532 HUMAN DIVERSITY (3)

Issues related to various ethnic and cultural backgrounds are examined, including the influence of minority characteristics, racism and discrimination in the therapeutic process. Emphasis is placed on the interplay between social issues and the therapeutic process.

MFTS 533 FAMILY STUDIES (3)

This course uses a systemic framework to examine various topics central to families and their development across the lifespan. The course examines a wide range of topics important to understanding family functioning such as the family life cycle, family stress theory, family violence, mate selection, divorce, diversity in family types, cross-cultural comparisons of families, religion and families, children and families and socioeconomic factors. The course emphasizes the clinical application of the concepts.

MFTS 541 ASSESSMENT AND TREATMENT OF CHILD/FAMILY PROBLEMS (3)

The study of the major methods used to assess and treat child and adolescent problems from an integrated systemic-developmental perspective. The treatment of both normative and non-normative developmental problems in children and adolescents is emphasized.

MFTS 542 PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING AND EVALUATION (2)

The course introduces students to psychological tests that are commonly used to evaluate individual functioning in a number of domains such as cognitive, social, academic and occupational functioning. Students also learn when to make a referral for psychological testing and how to interpret the results from a psychological evaluation. Prerequisite: MFTS 500 or its equivalent.

MFTS 543 DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY (3)

This course presents key concepts and theories in child and adolescent development. The course addresses both normative development and developmental psychopathology. Developmental concepts are discussed in relationship to the family context and how these concepts can inform clinical work with children and families. Prerequisite: An undergraduate course in human development.

MFTS 544 PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY (2)

An introduction to medication and its use in treating mental disorders. Students learn how medications function in managing mental disorders and the positive and negative effects of these medications on human functioning. A psychoeducational perspective is used to integrate the family systems perspective with biological considerations. Prerequisite: MFTS 528 or its equivalent.

MFTS 545 FAMILIES, SYSTEMS AND HEALTH (1)

An introduction to the practice of family therapy within a medical setting. Physician-therapist relationship issues are addressed. Other topics covered include wellness and chronic illness, patient compliance, and family beliefs about illness.

MFTS 546 COUPLES AND SEX THERAPY (3)

The study of the major methods used to assess and treat couple problems, with an emphasis on sexual issues and the treatment of sexual disorders. Both behavioral and non-behavioral methods and strategies are presented. Prerequisite: MFTS 524 or its equivalent.

MFTS 570 TREATMENT OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL PROBLEMS (2)

A critical evaluation of the complex and sometimes contradictory information available in drug and alcohol abuse treatment. A biopsychosocial model of organization is presented along with both individual and family assessment, diagnosis and treatment techniques.

MFTS 579 SOLES EXPERIMENTAL TOPICS COURSE (1-3)

This course number is used by SOLES for experimental topics courses. The title and content of each 579 course will vary by topic and program/department. If more than one 579 course is offered during a single semester, section numbers will allow for identification of the course.

MFTS 595P PRACTICUM IN MFT 1 (5)

In the didactic portion of the course, issues relevant to the beginning clinician are addressed including refinement of interviewing skills and the application of treatments to specific problems. Students also receive group supervision and individual supervision based on either videotaping or live observation of their work.

MFTS 596P PRACTICUM IN MFT 2 (5)

Issues relevant to the treatment process are covered including client-therapist match, resistance and change, assessment, treatment planning and the self of the therapist. Students also receive group supervision and individual supervision based on either videotaping or live observation of their work.

MFTS 597P PRACTICUM IN MFT 3 (5)

Issues relevant to the involvement of schools, protective services and other groups and agencies during the treatment process are covered. Students also receive group supervision and individual supervision based on either videotaping or live observation of their work.

MFTS 598P PRACTICUM EXTENSION (1)

This course provides continuing group supervision for students who need to complete a substantial number of clinical hours after completing three semesters of Practicum.

MFTS 599 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3)

Independent study designed for individual student needs. Students must complete the Application for Independent Study or Research form and obtain the signatures of the faculty supervisor, Program Director/Department Chair, and the Associate Dean prior to registering for the course.
Note for MFT Program: In addition to the 51 units of courses, 6.5 units of extension seminars in Continuing Education are required for the MFT program. EDU 571, 572, 574, 577, and 578 are required. Students select two additional courses from EDU 573, 575, or 576.


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