Alabama is the land of space exploration, peanuts, and hospitality. But it is also home to three marriage and family therapy programs, which means that if you’re looking to study and work in a state known for history and innovation, you may find your place in an Alabama MFT program. Here are a few of the programs students might consider, as well as an examination of how to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in the state.
Featured MFT Program’s Offered Online
Accredited MFT Programs in Alabama
When looking for MFT programs, students should look for those that are accredited. Accreditation means that the program has been examined by an accrediting agency and has been found to meet the standards set by the agency. One of the most recognized accrediting agencies in the U.S. for clinical mental health counseling programs is the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). For students who wish to attend an MFT program accredited by CACREP, there are two in the state.
University of Alabama Birmingham:
University of Alabama’s MFT graduate certificate is an additional 15-hour certification open to M.A. in clinical mental health or school counseling graduate students at UAB. Along with their regular coursework and practicum requirements in the counseling graduate program, students are expected to apply for the MFT certificate and take five 3-hour courses in human sexuality, introduction to family therapy, play therapy, advanced family counseling techniques, and the intersections of family and community systems.
University of Montevallo:
Located to the north of Montgomery city, University of Montevallo’s MFT graduate program is a 60-credit program with 30 credits in core courses, 9 credits in practicum and supervision, and 21 credits focusing on marriage and family therapy and related techniques. The M.Ed. in marital and family counseling is a concentration of the school’s Master’s Degree in Counseling.
COAMFTE Accredited Alabama MFT Programs
The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE) is an accrediting agency specifically for on-campus and online MFT programs. While either a COAMFTE or a COAMFTE-accredited program will satisfy education requirements for licensure as a marital and family therapist, some states prefer one over the other. Alabama has only one COAMFTE-accredited program.
Auburn’s highly competitive MFT program accepts six students a year and provides 50 credits in courses related to counseling and marriage and family therapy techniques and theory. The program provides at least 500 hours of therapy practice. From the very first month, students learn effective counseling techniques through observing sessions in the AU MFT clinic, where students will also have the opportunity to gain clinical practice later in the program. The program further gives students experience through paid internships and clinical assistantships across the state in places like Tuskegee, Alex City, Phenix City, Opelika, Valley, and Montgomery. The program partners with many organizations to give their students opportunities to serve various populations.
No GRE Required MFT Programs in Alabama
In the past, consideration of GRE test scores has been a common practice used by universities to assess candidates. After the Covid19 pandemic, many graduate programs have chosen to make GRE scores optional. Preparing to take the GRE or other standardized tests can cost money, time, and peace of mind. For students hoping to avoid this process, below are some of the MFT master’s programs in Alabama that don’t require GRE scores for consideration in the program:
The University of Alabama
The Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program at the University of Alabama is focused on clinical training in theory and practice to ensure graduates meet licensing requirements upon graduation. The deadline for applying for this graduate program is on January 7th of each year. The program typically spans over two years with a 51-credit hour requirement for successful graduation.
This master’s program does not include a thesis option and includes 6 credit hours of practicum and 6 credit hours of internship requirements for graduation. The MFT program is not COAMFTE-accredited yet, but all core faculty members hold doctoral degrees from COAMFTE-accredited schools and are AAMFT board-approved supervisors.
What will you learn in an Alabama MFT program?
In Alabama, to qualify for MFT licensure, you must complete a COAMFTE-accredited program or an equivalent. All COAMFTE-accredited programs are assumed to meet the minimum requirements, and they usually take around two or three years to complete on a full-time basis.
Candidates for licensure as an Alabama MFT will have two courses each in marriage and family studies and human development, three courses in marriage and family therapy, one course in research, one in mental health diagnosis, and one in professional issues and ethics. MFT programs in Alabama emphasize systems theory and systematic interventions. All Alabama MFT programs require students to gain practical experience in counseling in a marital, couple, and family context through practicums and internships.
Some accredited programs will also require in-person or online residencies during the program. These residencies are your first chance to practice your techniques in a safe environment. Generally, students in the program gather with staff and guest speakers to learn and practice together. While only some programs require these residencies, be sure to check on the requirements for your school of choice.
How to Become an LMFT in Alabama
To become a licensed marriage and family therapist in Alabama, students in Alabama have to complete 48 semester hours of coursework. Students must also have supervised fieldwork experience while in graduate school for 12 months totaling at least 500 hours of direct client contact. Half of those hours should be in sessions dealing with family and couples.
After graduating from your MFT program, you will need to become a resident in training, gaining experience at a clinic under an approved supervisor. In Alabama, the resident in training is called an associate, and an associate must complete a minimum of two years of internships with at least 1,000 hours of direct client contact. 250 hours must be in sessions related to marriage and family therapy. The supervisor must be an approved supervisor, supervisor candidate, or supervisor mentor (an approved supervisor to supervisors).
You can apply with the Alabama Board of Examiners in Marriage and Family Therapy to take the National Examination in Marital and Family Therapy as soon you meet the requirements for licensure as an MFT Associate. Once you have approval from the Board, you will receive information about available exam windows and payment information. In 2012, candidates paid $295 in fees to take the exam.
Once you have your passing exam scores, you can apply for licensure. Among other requirements, you can expect to send in two letters of recommendation and a $150 application fee, a separate fee from the one you will pay after receiving licensure. You should aim to have your application sent in two weeks before the next Alabama Board meeting.
MFT Programs That Can Lead to Licensure
What does an LMFT in Alabama do?
Licensed marriage and family counselors focus heavily on relationships and dynamics between people, particularly as they function within units. An LMFT works with couples, families, and individuals using techniques from a family systems perspective. An LMFT may also refer clients to other specialists or services, like psychiatrists, social workers, group therapies, in-patient treatment centers, addiction clinics, etc. The goal of an LMFT is to help clients grow and heal in their relationships, and LMFTs can also act as removers of barriers to ensure clients have as few blocks to their improved well-being as possible.
Alabama LMFT Career and Salary Opportunities
The marriage and family therapy field is expected to grow 16 percent from now to 2030 nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth may be due to a number of factors, including the growth in demand for counseling and the increased awareness to mental health issues that have arisen in the last few years. In addition, greater implementation of telehealth methods has increased access to services.
In Nevada, there were 310 LMFTs employed in the state as of 2021, suggesting students will have job options upon graduating. Along with the availability of jobs for graduates of MFT programs, the national average for licensed marriage and family counselors was $59,660 as of May 2021. The Alabama average yearly salary for that same year was lower at $46,220.
All Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Alabama
Below is a list of the MFT programs that are available in Alabama. While there are only four programs available in the state, Georgia has additional MFT offerings if candidates are open to going out of state.
Alabama MFT Resources
Sorting through all the information available about programs and qualifications can be overwhelming. To help students in their first steps to a career that has a promising future and is filled with supportive people, here are a few links to relevant resources mentioned throughout this article.
University of Alabama Birmingham: Graduate Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling
University of Montevallo: M.Ed. in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling
Auburn University: M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy