How To Become an LMFT in Colorado

Kacy Kaiser

Written by Kacy Kaiser

M.S. in School Counseling | Long Island University

Updated & Fact Checked: 03.01.2024

Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals who help individuals, couples, and families improve their relationships. They work with clients to identify and address communication problems, conflict resolution, stress management, and parenting challenges. MFTs can work in various settings, including private practice, hospitals, clinics, schools, and government agencies.

Education in Marriage and Family Therapy begins at the graduate or doctoral level. Before enrolling in a graduate MFT program, you must complete a Bachelor’s degree in a related field of study. Related disciplines include psychology, sociology, mental health, social work, or another social science.  

A strong bachelor’s degree program should prepare you for graduate-level coursework by requiring courses in psychological research, statistics, psychological theories, and sociology. The program should expose you to psychological research practices, ethical and moral practices, and opportunities to network with professors and local mental health professional organizations.

Colorado is a great place to start if you are interested in a career as a marriage and family therapist. The state has several accredited MFT programs, and the demand for MFTs is growing. If you have the skills and the passion to help others, then a career as an MFT may be the right choice for you.

This article will show you how to become an MFT in Colorado by following these steps: 

Steps to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist in Colorado

1. Complete an accredited MFT program

The first step to becoming a marriage and family therapist in Colorado is to complete an accredited MFT program. There are many accredited MFT programs in Colorado, both public and private. MFT programs are on the graduate level and require that you have completed a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Some graduate programs also require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and letters of recommendation for admission to their program.

To be eligible to apply to an MFT program, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. You will also need to complete the following prerequisite courses:

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Statistics
  • Research Methods

Most MFT programs are Master’s level and range from 30 to 60 graduate credits to complete. An MFT program must meet specific standards set by the Commission for Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) to be accredited. These standards include requirements for faculty, curriculum, and facilities.

The length of MFT programs varies, but most programs take two years to complete. Some programs offer accelerated programs that can be completed in one year. However, most graduate students also maintain a job while pursuing their degrees; thus, it could take up to three or four years to complete the degree program. You can speak with an advisor in the college or university’s counseling department about full-time and part-time study options.

2. Complete a supervised internship.

Once you have completed your MFT degree, you must complete a supervised internship. The Colorado Board of Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners (CBMFT) must approve the internship. Often, the internship is part of the graduate degree program and coincides with a required course or two. The professor of the internship course serves as an internship coordinator and guides the students in the internship process.

The internship must be at least 2,000 hours in length and must include 1,500 hours of direct client contact. A licensed MFT must supervise the internship. Practitioners who hold a Colorado MFT license are often glad to take interns because they are compensated by the university with college credits or a free class. 

When working in an internship, make sure to behave in a professional manner at all times. Arrive on time, dress appropriately, and ask questions if you need clarification on what is expected. An internship experience can often lead to a future paid position if the supervisor is happy with your work. 

3. Pass the Association of Marital & Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) exam.

The Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB) is the association of state licensing boards governing the regulation of MFTs. They develop and administer the MFT National Examination used by the state of Colorado as one of the requirements to license candidates. The AMFTRB sets policy guidelines for regulatory issues, two of which are what a licensing board would want to consider in promulgating rules and laws about mobility for licensees and teletherapy practice. 

To practice as a licensed marital and family therapist (LMFT) in Colorado requires passing the MFT National Examination, developed and managed by AMFTRB.

If you are currently in a graduate program or transitioning from another related career and plan to practice as an MFT, you must become familiar with the MFT National Examination. 

The National MFT Exam is a standardized exam designed to assess the knowledge and competency of applicants seeking marriage and family therapy licensure. The exam consists of 180 multiple-choice questions; candidates are allowed 4 hours.

It is highly recommended that candidates:

  • Are working on their post-graduation supervised experience hours
  • Take and pass the practice exam. 
  • Read through the exam reference guide—lots of details about taking the exam, what to expect, and what areas of knowledge it will cover.
  • Read through the AMFTRB’s Handbook for Candidates
  • Talk with your supervisor about licensing requirements, your jurisdiction’s rules and regulations, and the licensing exams.

4. Apply for Licensure:

Approximately 20 days after taking the National MFT exam, you will receive your results, and the AMFTRB will report them to the Colorado Board of Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners. 

Once you have completed the requirements, you can apply for licensure as an MFT in Colorado. The Colorado Board of Marriage and Family Therapist Examiners manages the application process.

The application fee is $200, and you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Completed application form
  • Official transcripts from your graduate program
  • Official transcripts from your supervised clinical internship
  • Proof of passing the National MFT exam
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A jurisprudence exam

The jurisprudence exam is a written exam that covers the laws and regulations governing the practice of marriage and family therapy in Colorado.

The Colorado Mental Health Jurisprudence Examination comprises 45 multiple-choice, one-best-answer test items. In addition, please note the following:

  • The examination is an online, web-administered, open-book test.
  • It would be best to have a computer with Internet access and an e-mail address to take the examination.
  • The cost for each attempt to pass the examination is $20.00.
  • Your performance is determined by summing the points for items you answered correctly. Test items are weighted from 1 to 3 points, depending on their importance to safe, entry-level practice. It is to your advantage to answer every test item. Test results are calculated on a scale of 200-800. A minimum scaled score of 500 is needed to pass.

The application process typically takes several months to complete. Once your application is approved, you will be issued a license to practice marriage and family therapy in Colorado.

Another way to receive your Colorado MFT license is by Endorsement. 

If you are already a practicing MFT in another state, you can apply for your Colorado MFT license by showing proof of certification.

Endorsement applicants must:

  1. Attest to passing a national or state examination that tested competence to practice marriage and family therapy.
  2. Attest to one of the following:
  • At least two years of post-masters or one year of post-doctoral practice in marriage and family therapy.
  • Active marriage and family therapy practice for at least two years before applying.

5. Maintain your license with Professional Development courses.

All Marriage and Family Therapists in active status shall demonstrate Continuing Professional Competency (CPC) to renew, reinstate, or reactivate a license to practice marriage and family therapy in the state of Colorado.

Marriage and Family Therapists must demonstrate CPC in order to renew a license by one of the following three methods:

1. The Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program administered by the Board

  • Complete the Professional Survey and Self-Assessment.
  • Establish learning goals and create a Learning Plan to accomplish those goals.
  • Accrue 40 Professional Development Hours (PDH) in line with your Learning Plan and retain documentation of the completed activities.

2. Deem status

  • If you participated in a Colorado state department’s formalized professional development program and that program’s requirements meet the definition of CPC, you may qualify for Deem Status.

3. Active Duty Military Exemption

  • If you were called to federally-funded active duty for more than 120 days to serve in a war, emergency, or contingency, you may be eligible for an exemption from CPC requirements.

The Benefits of Becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist

There are many benefits to becoming a marriage and family therapist. MFTs have the opportunity to help people in their time of need. They can make a real difference in people’s lives. MFTs also have the chance to work in a variety of settings. They can work in private practice, hospitals, clinics, schools, and government agencies. This variety can make the job more exciting and rewarding.

Here are some of the benefits of becoming a marriage and family therapist:

  • High demand: The demand for MFTs is growing and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. This growth is due to the increasing prevalence of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
  • Good salary: MFTs earn a good salary. The median annual wage for MFTs in the United States is $75,810.
  • Make a difference: MFTs have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of their clients. They can help clients improve their relationships, resolve problems, and achieve their goals.

The Challenges of Becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist

There are also some challenges to becoming a marriage and family therapist. The job can be emotionally demanding. MFTs often have to deal with complex issues such as abuse, neglect, and trauma. They may also have to work with clients who are suicidal or homicidal. Additionally, the job can be time-consuming. MFTs often work long hours, including evenings and weekends.

The Future of Marriage and Family Therapy

The field of marriage and family therapy is growing. The demand for MFTs is expected to increase in the coming years. This growth is due to several factors, including the aging population, the increasing prevalence of mental health problems, and the growing awareness of the importance of family relationships.

The Cost of Becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist in Colorado

The cost of becoming a marriage and family therapist in Colorado varies depending on the program you attend and the length of the program. However, you can expect to spend between $50,000 and $100,000 on tuition and fees.

In addition to tuition and fees, you will also need to factor in living expenses, such as housing, food, and transportation.

The Job Outlook for Marriage and Family Therapists in Colorado

The job outlook for marriage and family therapists in Colorado is good. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of marriage and family therapists will grow by 22% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

This growth is due to the increasing demand for mental health services and the aging population, which is more likely to experience mental health problems.

Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals who help individuals, couples, and families improve their relationships. They work with clients to identify and resolve problems, such as communication difficulties, conflict resolution, and stress management. MFTs may also provide therapy for specific issues like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Now, more than ever, counselors like MFTs are needed to help people cope with the struggles of modern life. 

If you are interested in a career in mental health, marriage, and family therapy is a great option. MFTs have the opportunity to help people in their time of need. They can make a real difference in people’s lives. Explore the educational options to become an MFT in Colorado and get started on the path to your fulfilling career today!