Those entering into a stage of transition know the mix of excitement and anxiety that may permeate this time of change. If you are here, it means you are likely beginning the first steps into a career as a licensed marriage and family counselor and are hoping to get some guidance on what to do next. Every state has some version of regulation on licensure for marriage and family counselors, and many states also have MFT programs that put candidates for licensure on their way toward their careers. If you are considering Idaho as the place to either study or practice, then here are a few MFT academic training programs you might consider as well as what you need to do to get licensed as an MFT in Idaho.
Accredited MFT Programs in Idaho
These days, states require candidates for licensure in the mental health field to be trained in an academic program that is accredited by an agency. Accreditation is something earned by a program that meets the minimum education and training standards and requirements set by an accrediting agency. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is one of the most well-known accrediting agencies which examines clinical mental health counseling programs in the U.S. and Canada. An agency that accredits marriage and family therapy programs is the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). While CACREP has historically been the more well-known of these two agencies which may accredit MFT programs, more and more states are favoring COAMFTE in their requirements. Let’s take a look at some accredited MFT programs in Idaho.
CACREP Accredited Idaho MFT Programs
Idaho has two accredited MFT programs to choose from, and two of them are CACREP-accredited. The main differences between CACREP and COAMFTE are the accrediting agency and the focus, as CACREP can accredit any mental health program, not just MFT. Unfortunately, there are currently no COAMFTE-accredited programs in Idaho, but here are some details about the two CACREP-accredited MFT programs in Idaho.
Idaho State University:
Idaho State is located in Pocatello and has a fully accredited MFT program. The program takes two years to complete and includes coursework related to family systems theory, family therapy techniques, diversity, ethics, law, and professional development, among others. Students of the program also take part in a practicum and internship in their final year of the program in which students work with an approved supervisor at a clinic in their own community and gain experience working with families and couples. These practical experience opportunities are a student’s first chance to practice the techniques they have been learning in class and work with actual clients in a professional, clinical setting.
Northwest Nazarene University:
Northwest Nazarene University offers a counseling MS with a marriage, couple, and family counseling focus. Those interested in the Nampa-based program can expect to take 60 credit hours of coursework over 33 months. Students meet together once per week on top of their projects for each course. Beyond the core requirements, students can also pursue elective courses on interventions, human sexuality, and systems theory and research. By the end of the program, students will also have accrued 1,000 hours of practical clinical experience counseling clients in the required internship and practicum.
No-GRE MFT programs in Idaho
In the U.S., many programs require students hoping to pursue their graduate-level education to take the GRE, a standardized test meant to measure applicant readiness for post-undergraduate academic life. No other country in the world requires the GRE to attend graduate school. Luckily, many programs are foregoing the requirement to submit passing scores with the application and are instead focusing on other application materials to make their decisions. For those hoping to avoid the GRE, consider one of the programs that have chosen to forgo making GRE scores mandatory.
What will you learn in an Idaho MFT program?
Idaho MFT programs will look very similar to programs in other states. You can expect to take at least 60 credit hours of coursework in your program. In these courses, students study human development (including individual development, family life cycles, human sexuality, and violence and substance abuse as they relate to relationships); research, professional identity, and ethics, and psychological and mental health competency.
It has become standard in academic training programs for both clinical mental health and marriage and family therapy programs to require a practicum and internship. Your Idaho education is no exception. Students complete six semester hours and at least 300 hours of work directly with clients in these internships. For MFT programs, at least half of those hours must be with couples or families. Students should make sure the clinic in which they hope to complete their practicum and internship can supply enough clients and supervision hours. Furthermore, check with your school about whether or not your practicum and internship can be done at the same location, as different schools may have different rules regarding this issue.
How to become an LMFT in Idaho
In Idaho, your first step to becoming licensed is in your education. You must complete an MFT or related program that is accredited by COAMFTE, CACREP, or another regionally recognized accrediting agency. That means the programs must include the minimal coursework mentioned above and also include the opportunity for students to gain a minimum of 300 practicum and internship hours working with clients.
Next, candidates for licensure must apply with the Board of Professional Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists to become a registered intern prior to entering their post-graduate supervision period. This supervision period is often known as the resident in training portion of gaining licensure qualifications. In the supervision, candidates work with an approved supervisor at a clinic, where they must earn 200 hours of supervision and 3,000 hours working with clients. One thousand of those hours should be with families and couples. These hours should be completed in no less than two years.
Candidates must take the National Marital and Family Therapy Examination and pass it to qualify for their license as an LAMFT or LMFT. They must notify the Idaho Board of their desire to take the exam before the period to register with the Professional Education Service (PES) closes. Upon applying for the exam, candidates pay PES $220. They pay an additional $75 to the test administrator, Prometric, when they schedule their day for the exam on the Prometric site. Students cannot be approved for licensure until they have passed the exam.
Finally, it is time to apply for licensure. Applications are found on the Board website and should be sent in with a $75 application fee and a $75 licensure fee. Candidates should make sure the application is notarized before sending it in. Once you have gained approval from the Board, you should receive your license within a few short weeks.
What does an LMFT in Idaho do?
LMFTs in Idaho are a support for individuals, families, and couples in the state. Their focus is on relationship challenges that can arise as well as on navigating those challenges. They may also act as a connector and an advocate to make sure clients have access to help from community organizations and healthcare providers to ensure a holistic approach to clients’ wellness. LMFTs in Idaho may also perform pre-marital counseling, couples counseling, conflict resolution, divorce mediation, sexual counseling, and child or spouse abuse counseling, among other responsibilities.
Idaho LMFT Career and Salary Opportunities
Those just beginning their journey to becoming marriage and family counselors are entering a field ripe with possibility. Increased awareness and interest in counseling as well as greater access to mental health care through the evolution of telehealth have resulted in the MFT field growing at a quick pace. The MFT industry is projected to grow by 16% nationwide by 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of May 2021, the national workforce of LMFTs was 54,800, and the average salary in the U.S. was $59,660. Salary numbers differ slightly between each state, with some states showing MFTs as making as much as $96,000 or as little as $37,000. Most, however, fall between the $40,000 to $60,000 per year range on average. Regardless, this growing industry shows promise, and students entering their graduate programs now are likely to graduate into a field ready to accept them.
Idaho MFT Resources
A lot was discussed in this article, and it may not be easy to keep track of all of your options in Idaho along with the requirements expected of candidates for licensure in this state. However, just so you don’t have to go all the way back to find them, here are the links to the Idaho MFT programs mentioned earlier.
Idaho State University: Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling
Northwest Nazarene University: Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling