The Buckeye State offers students pursuing marriage and family therapy licensing a few MFT programs to choose from. But what makes Ohio MFT programs different from other regions in the U.S.? Ohio currently has two accredited programs for marriage and family therapy training. Let’s take a look at these programs and dive into Ohio’s licensure standards.
Accredited MFT Programs in Ohio
If you are looking for Ohio marriage and family therapy programs that are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), unfortunately, you will have to look elsewhere. There are currently no CACREP-accredited MFT programs in the state. CACREP accredits clinical mental health counseling programs and assesses whether or not they provide adequate training for future mental health counselors.
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COAMFTE Accredited MFT Programs in Ohio
Both of the state’s accredited programs are approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE). First of all, what does it mean to be COAMFTE accredited? COAMFTE is an accrediting agency specifically for on-campus and online MFT programs. Either a COAMFTE or CACREP-accredited program will satisfy the prerequisites to become an MFT, but the COAMFTE-accredited MFT programs are specifically meant to ensure the satisfaction of requirements for becoming a marriage and family counselor. Here are Ohio’s two COAMFTE-accredited programs.
The University of Akron:
Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy
As the only COAMFTE-accredited master’s program in Ohio, the University of Akron’s Marriage and Family Therapy program is 60 credit hours, 13 of which are clinical courses where students can practice their craft. The program offers its courses on a hybrid basis, with 30 to 70 percent of its curriculum located on-campus in Akron. The required 500 hours of clinical practice take place both on-site at the School of Counseling’s Clinic for Individual and Family Counseling and at approved agencies in Ohio.
The Ohio State University:
Human Development and Family Science, Doctor of Philosophy
This multidisciplinary Ph.D. program takes a systems perspective focusing on research and professional development. While the program requires 80 program hours to complete, there are few required courses, meaning that students can pick and choose their curriculum to suit their interests and professional and academic goals. Students are required to complete a dissertation with mentorship from university faculty. In terms of practicums and clinical practice, students can choose what they focus on. If you want to become a clinical counselor, you can choose the practicum in couple and family therapy. Or if you prefer to focus your future on teaching, you can opt for the practicum in teaching. The practicum in research prepares students more interested in academic research and writing.
No GRE Required MFT Programs in Ohio
Many students hoping to apply for graduate school will be required to take the GRE, which is a standardized test used to assess a candidate’s readiness for graduate school. It’s similar to the SAT test you probably took in high school. In the past, consideration of GRE test scores has been a common practice used by universities to assess candidates. These days, especially after the Covid19 pandemic, many graduate programs have opted to focus less on the GRE and place more emphasis on other measurements of achievement, like undergraduate GPA and letters of recommendation. Preparing to take the GRE or other standardized tests can cost money, time, and peace of mind. Luckily for anyone hoping to attend school in Ohio, both university MFT training programs in Ohio do not currently require the GRE.
What will you learn in an Ohio MFT program?
In most cases, a COAMFTE-accredited program satisfies the baseline requirements instituted by the Board. Non-COAMFTE MFT degrees can be accepted if the student can show that the program includes the required coursework, which includes a year-long practicum including at least 300 client contact hours. 150 of those hours should be with couples or families. Programs should also include at least one course each in systems theory, marriage and family studies, human development, professional ethics, research, and individual and family appraisal. At least four marriage and family therapy courses focusing on theories and practical applications should be included as well. Students can begin practicum hours once they have taken some theoretical and practical coursework.
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 not all programs require these residencies, be sure to check on the requirements for your school of choice.
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How to become an LMFT in Ohio
In Ohio, you aren’t a fully licensed marital and family therapist until you have been approved by the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board as a Licensed Independent Marriage and Family Therapist (the Board), the highest level in Ohio (LIMFT). But what does it take to get to this point?
It starts with your MFT training through an academic institution. To become an LIMFT in Ohio, you must complete a COAMFTE-accredited graduate program. After graduating from your program, you will need to become a resident in training. In Ohio, that means applying to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and working in a clinic with an approved supervisor to gain clinical practice hours for at least two years. This is a bit confusing, as the title “licensed marriage and family therapist” is used to describe the highest level of licensure in most other states, but it is the supervised training license in Ohio.
Candidates need at least 1,000 hours of marriage and family client contact to qualify for licensure. They will also need 200 hours of supervision, which should be provided by an LIMFT or professional who has been approved by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) as a supervisor.
Candidates must also take the licensing examination, which is the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy. You can take the exam before graduation if you are in a COAMFTE-accredited program and have a letter from a director or professor saying you are expected to graduate that term. Otherwise, once you have an available official transcript, you’re eligible to take the exam. Along with the transcript, you will send in brief request form. Once approved, candidates pay the examination fee of $220 to the Professional Examination Service and then later pay an additional $75 to the testing site, Prometric. There are four twenty-eight day exam windows every year, and approval letters are only issued for the upcoming window. In addition to the licesning exam, students should take the online jurisprudence exam and receive a certificate.
Candidates will also need two background checks, one from the FBI and one through Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation.
To apply for licensure as an independent marriage and family therapist, you will need to request an application from the Board. If you didn’t request the application simultaneously with a request for exam permission, you can call 614-466-7131 to make the request. If there are no questions about the application, staff members can give initial approval upon review. If there are questions, you’ll need to wait for the next Board meeting.
What does an LMFT in Ohio do?
A licensed independent marriage and family therapist in Ohio offers counseling services to couples and families. These counselors focus heavily on relationships and dynamics between people, particularly as they function within units. Your role is to help the client learn coping skills for life’s ups and downs, give them support as they navigate changes and big decisions like divorce or job change or loss, be an open and willing ear for their emotions and fears, and so many other things. An LIMFT may also refer clients to other specialists or services, like psychiatrists, social workers, group therapies, in-patient treatment centers, addiction clinics, etc. An LIMFT in Ohio is a connector and a supporter of families and the communities they live in.
Ohio LMFT Career and Salary Opportunities
It’s a good time to get into the mental health therapy field. 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. That is much faster than other industries.
The growth is likely due partly to the rise of integrated care across the country, which is the treatment of multiple problems for clients with a team of specialists. Rather than operating independently, specialists connect and work together to help clients, whether through partnerships or organizational employment in one place. There has also been a steady increase in awareness toward mental health in the country, hastened by mental health needs brought on by the Covid19 pandemic, and with the rise in popularity of telehealth, the sky’s the limit. Clinical mental health counselors and MFTs can integrate into hospitals, schools, traditional clinics, and many other settings.
As far as yearly salaries go, the national average for licensed marriage and family counselors was $59,660 as of May 2021. The Ohio average yearly salary for that same year was just a bit lower at $54,600. This state currently employs around 230 LIMFTs, which means Ohio will likely be a place pulling in more MFT counselors in the future.
All Marriage and Family Therapy Programs in Ohio (complete list)
With a handful of available MFT programs in the state of Ohio, it can be a bit overwhelming for potential students to find the right program. The following table provides a list of all available options with additional information.
Ohio MFT Resources
While there is a lot of information to sort through, qualifications to collect, and requirements to meet, it’s the first step 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.
The University of Akron: Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy
The Ohio State University: Human Development and Family Science, Doctor of Philosophy