Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy

Department of Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy

Practicum is a three consecutive semester sequence that is completed during the student's final year. While enrolled in practicum, students work in a community agency for one year seeing clients with supervision from both agency and faculty supervisors. During the 12-month practicum, students are required to accumulate 500 hours of direct client contact, 250 of which must be with couples and/or families present in the therapy room. 100 hours of supervision must also be accumulated during this time, of which at least 50 hours must include supervision from raw data (video, live supervision). In reality, most students receive over 200 hours of supervision.

During the practicum class, students present videotapes of their clinical work during weekly group supervision, and receive didactic instruction on various clinical topics. In addition, students will have individual videotape and live supervision of their clinical work with a university clinical faculty member. Supervision is also obtained at the practicum site, which includes both group and individual supervision. Students receive a minimum of one to five ratio of supervision to clinical experience in accordance with state and national accreditation guidelines.  All of the supervisors at USD and the sites are AAMFT Approved Supervisors or meet equivalency standards.  AAMFT Approved Supervisors have taken special courses in supervision, and have had their supervision supervised by more experienced supervisors.

Practicum Settings in MFT

Practicum students work in a community agency for one year seeing clients with supervision from both agency and faculty supervisors. The program provides the student with a list of pre-approved agencies where students complete their clinical work. The school has developed several outstanding practicum sites that offer a broad range of client populations and presenting problems. This allows students to seek a practicum site that best matches their interests and needs.  A description of these sites provided by the agencies is listed below.

Please note that this list is subject to change.

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities Center for Counseling is a state licensed multidisciplinary Psychology Clinic staffed by licensed therapists, psychology interns and MFT trainees.  It is an outpatient clinic dedicated to serving the needs of the San Diego area and has provided services to the community for more than 50 years.  It offers outpatient mental health services to individuals, couples, families, children and a specialized pre-marital counseling service.  Catholic Charities is committed to serving the needs of all clients, and offer treatment on a sliding scale.  It is especially dedicated to serving low-income families and provides a bi-cultural and bi-lingual experience for training staff.  Spanish speaking students are encouraged to apply.  Catholic Charities offers a structured yearlong training experience committed to providing quality training for students.  The supervision program includes videotaped and live supervision within an environment of quality feedback, encouragement and support for the student-professional.  Opportunities to provide group psychotherapy and to network with other professionals in the community via weekly in-service trainings are also available to staff.  Additional employment opportunities within certain programs in the agency may also be available upon graduation.

Jewish Family Services

Jewish Family Service was founded in 1918 by a consortium of women’s clubs who sought to address the myriad of human needs of the time. Today, they have grown into one of San Diego’s premier human care service organizations serving more than 35,000 people annually throughout San Diego County and the Coachella Valley.

Phoenix House

Founded in 1967, Phoenix House is the nation's leading nonprofit organization devoted to the treatment and prevention of substance abuse.  Students serve as family therapists conducting individual and family therapy and multi-family therapy groups for a diverse population of adolescent clients and their families at outpatient program sites in San Diego and Encinitas.  The program is not restricted to focusing on substance abuse behavior but rather addresses all aspects of clients' functioning.  Family treatment is considered a core component of the program and as such, students have the unique opportunity to treat entire family systems addressing a broad range of clinical issues.  Students get a very comprehensive clinical experience as well as become familiar with family systems work and substance abuse and recovery issues, among others.  Individual and group supervision are provided by an AAMFT approved supervisor with a strong emphasis on systemic treatment planning and techniques.  Videotape, live and case conference supervision are utilized in an encouraging and supportive environment.

Providence Community Services: Kickstart

Kickstart is a diverse clinical team specially trained to educate the community, treat youth and assist families in preventing psychosis. They serve young people ages 12 to 25, their families, and their social networks to build support around the youth and promote success in relationships, education and employment. Kickstart is a prevention and early intervention program funded through San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency and the Mental Health Services Act.  Kickstart is a recovery oriented program that strives to keep hope alive through education and early intervention.The Kickstart team consists of mental health professionals trained to assess and treat youth experiencing early warning signs of psychosis.

San Diego Youth Services

San Diego Youth Services (SDYS) is a nationally recognized, comprehensive non-profit organization that has helped stabilize the lives of more than a half-million young people and their families since 1970. Every day they work to fight the tragedies of homeless youth and youth in crisis. They administer programs from 14 locations throughout San Diego County. Their approach is based on practices that have proven to be effective -- focusing on long-term solutions. Many of their services are replicated in communities across the nation.

Rady Children’s Outpatient Psychiatry

Rady Children's Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic is the interdisciplinary outpatient mental health department of Children's Hospital and Health Center.  It provides services in three main locations (San Diego, Oceanside, Escondido), some smaller clinics, and at many school sites.  It is a full service clinic providing diagnostic assessment and treatment (individual, family, and group), medication assessment and treatment, and psychological assessment.  It also provides consult/liaison services at Children's Hospital.  Children’s Outpatient Psychiatry serves a population of children and adolescents up to age 18 and their families, representing a wide range regarding family composition, ethnicity, presenting concerns, and socioeconomic status.  Clients have a range of DSM-IV diagnoses, with Attention-Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders, Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Adjustment Disorders, and Relational Problems being quite typical.  Most referrals are from schools, parents and physicians, and from mental health, social service, and juvenile justice programs.  Trainees and interns receive individual and group supervision from licensed staff and participate in interdisciplinary teams, staff meetings, case conferences, and Grand Rounds. 

Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital 

Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital is the largest privately operated psychiatric hospital and provider of mental health, chemical dependency and substance abuse treatment in San Diego County. In 2010, Sharp Mesa Vista had more than 5,200 inpatient behavioral health discharges — more than any other provider in the county. Located in Serra Mesa, it provides behavioral health services for children, teens, adults and seniors experiencing anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders and other conditions.

St. Vincent De Paul Village

Counseling Services at St. Vincent de Paul Village is staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of supervisors licensed in medicine, psychology, social work and marriage & family therapy. Interns provide much of the direct service to the client population of homeless men, women, children and seniors. At our Assessment Center, interns conduct psychosocial assessment of single men and women, as well as family assessment. At our Counseling Center, interns work with clients in the modalities of individual, couple, family, group and multi-family group therapy. Our SAFECHILD program offers interns clinical experiences with young children and their parents. Because of our multi-disciplinary approach to treatment, collaboration with professionals and students in medicine, psychology, social work, case management and addictions routinely occurs through staff/intern training, case conferencing, treatment planning and consultation.

UCSD Division of Family Medicine 

The mission of the UCSD Family Medicine Residency Program is to foster resident individuality and growth in an academically rich and culturally diverse environment, emphasizing the development of excellent clinical skills and evidence based analysis, community service to underserved populations and preventive medicine in the context of the entire human lifecycle.  USD students work collaboratively with residents and attending physicians in the Hillcrest and Scripps Ranch clinics. 

UCSD Eating Disorders Clinic 

The UCSD Eating Disorders Treatment and Research Program offers a range of treatment options for teens and adults with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Each individual receives a comprehensive evaluation that determines their individualized treatment plan. As a university-based program, they provide state-of-the-art treatments based on research and new understandings of eating disorders. Genetic vulnerabilities to anxiety, obsessive and perfectionistic traits predispose individuals to develop eating disorders. These traits can be modified through new coping strategies, to allow these traits to become assets rather than liabilities. The adult programs primarily use the evidence-based approaches of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). DBT is a non-judgmental therapeutic approach that balances acceptance with teaching skills for managing dysregulated emotions that can trigger eating disorder symptoms. CBT is a therapeutic approach that is designed to help individuals identify and challenge thoughts that contribute to anxiety, depression, and eating disorder symptoms. The adolescent programs are based on a Family Based Treatment approach (FBT; also known as the Maudsley Model), and incorporate DBT as well. In this treatment approach, training families to be integrally involved in helping their child recover from an eating disorder is the backbone of treatment, and we also teach the child skills to regulate their emotions and challenge eating disordered thoughts.

UCSD Weight and Wellness Clinic

The Weight and Wellness Clinic is a multidisciplinary patient care team for the management of child and adolescent obesity. We screen patients for individual physical, nutritional, psychosocial needs and expectations and tailor a safe treatment for our patients and their families. We are dedicated to reducing the health burden of obesity in children, and our focus is on reasonable, achievable goals.

UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Services 

UCSD Outpatient Psychiatric Services, also known as "Gifford Clinic" is an outpatient mental health and dual diagnosis center located in the UCSD Medical Center in the Hillcrest area of San Diego.  For more than 25 years, it has also been well-known and respected in the clinical community for providing excellent training for Psychiatry Residents, Psychology Interns, Marriage and Family Therapy Trainees, and Social Work Interns.  Their primary mission is to provide treatment, rehab and recovery services for indigent and low income adults with severe and persistent mental disorders or dual diagnosis.  Client composition includes adults, couples, and families of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, a large gay and lesbian population, and many patients with coexisting Axis I and Axis II disorders.  The Clinic provides such services as multidisciplinary treatment teams, medication management, supportive group psychotherapy, psychoeducation groups for patients and significant others, case management, social services and advocacy.

Vet Centers of San Diego

The Vet Center welcomes home war veterans with honor by providing quality readjustment counseling in a caring manner. Vet Centers understand and appreciate veterans’ war experiences while assisting them and their family members toward a successful post-war adjustment in or near their community. The Vet Center Program was established by Congress in 1979 out of the recognition that a significant number of Vietnam era vets were still experiencing readjustment problems.  Vet Centers are community based and part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.