Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy
Department of School, Family and Mental Health Professions
The mission of the Marital and Family Therapy program is to help lead the transformation of family therapy by creating, educating, and actively supporting a community of future professionals who embody the philosophy and practice of a biopsychosocial, systems approach to family-oriented mental health care.
The Marital and Family Therapy program prepares family therapists to work with individuals, couples, and families from diverse backgrounds. We promote the use of a biopsychosocial model in therapy, with an emphasis on understanding clients from a relational or systemic perspective, which has been described in the best-selling books, Essential Skills in Family Therapy, and Essential Assessment Skills in Family Therapy, both written by MFT Program faculty members. Students complete a 12-month clinical practicum in which they accumulate a minimum of 500 direct client contact hours and receive more than 200 hours of supervision from faculty and practicum site supervisors. Students have the option to complete an emphasis in medical family therapy.
This program meets the guidelines to prepare students for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as licensed marriage and family therapists and is nationally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).
What can I do with this degree?
This program prepares students to become professional marital and family therapists. Graduates of the USD MFT program usually work in mental health agencies, set up their own private practices, or go on to doctoral work. Family therapy is different from other mental health professions because of its emphasis on treating couples and families, its emphasis on present day problems instead of historical or intrapsychic conflicts, and its focus on understanding interpersonal relationships as a way of treating mental health problems. This program prepares students for licensure with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs).
Who should apply?
Our students plan to pursue careers as professional marital and family therapists. Students have experience in a variety of backgrounds such as education, psychology, business, nursing, social work, the military, and pastoral and religious settings. Some plan to pursue doctoral work in the field. Many have some professional work experience and almost all have some experience related to the field of MFT, either paid or unpaid. For more information on our students, visit Students & Alumni.