Marriage & Family Therapy/Marriage and Family Counselor

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Program Overview

The Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy prepares candidates for careers as marriage and family therapists. The curriculum and clinical training at Fairfield University focuses on preparing you to work in a wide variety of professional settings with diverse populations experiencing a broad range of problems.

Our program is dedicated to providing a learning context that fundamentally values diversity and nondiscrimination. The core curriculum, the clinical training component of the program, and the faculty and supervisors strive to address diversity, power, privilege, and social justice in all aspects of training and education. Toward that end, the faculty are committed to creating an environment that welcomes and provides mentorship to a diverse student body by a diverse group of faculty, instructors, and supervisors.

Fairfield's program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). All faculty members are Approved Supervisors and Clinical Members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and licensed in the State of Connecticut. Faculty members maintain national and international recognition in the field through:

  • Published works
  • Presentations of papers
  • Service on numerous professional, state, and national committees

Upon completion of the program, students may apply for associate membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Following additional post-degree clinical experience and supervision, they may apply for clinical membership in this organization and sit for Connecticut's licensing examination.

The Master of Arts in Family Studies

The Master of Arts in Family Studies is a program within the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy. Unlike MFT, it is not a clinical degree. Rather the Family Studies program is an advanced educational track focusing on early childhood, interpersonal relations, family studies, and human development. Graduates may enter various human services vocations (such as development officer, case manager, grant writer) and/or pursue a doctoral degree with the goal of becoming an educator or researcher. The program requires a minimum of 33 credits.

Application Deadlines for the Marriage and Family Therapy and Family Studies programs are October 1 and January 15.

A Greater Calling Deserves A Greater Education

Course Offerings

Credits
Introduction to Marriage and Family Therapy 3
Foundations of Marital and Family Therapy 3
Total 6
Credits
Techniques of Narrative and Solution-Focused Therapy 3
Divorce, Single-Parenting, and Remarriage 3
Intervention in Structural and Strategic Family Therapy 3
Family Therapy Pre-Practicum 3
Advanced Interventions in Family Therapy 3
Couples Therapy 3
Total 18
Credits
Social Justice and Diversity in Professional Practice 3
Total 3
Credits
Research in Marriage and Family Therapy 3
Total 3
Credits
Ethical, Legal, and Professional Issues in Family Therapy 3
Total 3
Credits
Lifespan Human Development 3
Total 3
Credits
Assessment Techniques in Marriage and Family Therapy 3
Total 3
Credits
Introduction to Substance Abuse and Addictions 3
Professional Practice with LGBTQ (or other suitable elective) 3
Total 6
Credits
Private Practice and Small Business Management 3
Total 3
The following courses must be taken in sequence and without interruption.
Credits
Practicum in Family Therapy I 3
Practicum in Family Therapy II 3
Internship in Family Therapy I 3
Internship in Family Therapy II 3
Total 12
Comprehensive Exam in Marriage and Family Therapy
Capstone Presentation
Thesis Seminar

Admission

Applicants for the M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university (or the international equivalent) and give promise of meeting the standards set by the School.

More About Marriage & Family Therapy

Message from the Director

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Message from the Director

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Dear Prospective Student,

Marriage and family therapy is a distinct mental health discipline which is regulated by licensure in the State of Connecticut. Marriage and family therapists utilize family systems theories and models. They believe that individuals and their problems must be seen in context and that the most important context is the family.

Fairfield University's M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy offers specialized training in various models of family therapy with an emphasis on structural and strategic approaches, and has contractual relationships with more than 45 placement sites in 20 neighboring communities. At these sites, you may obtain your supervised clinical experience during your four semesters of practicum and internship.

The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy (COAMFTE). The coursework and clinical training therefore prepares you to pursue membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), as well as for Connecticut State licensure in marriage and family therapy.

As you explore our website further, please contact me by e-mail if you have any questions or would like to schedule a time to meet with me.

Rona Preli, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Director of Marriage and Family Therapy

School-Based Marriage & Family Therapy

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School-Based Marriage & Family Therapy

The School-Based Marriage and Family Therapy program will prepare candidates to use their knowledge and training as marriage and family therapists to work within the public school systems in fulfillment of the certification requirements of the State Board of Education.

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Concentration in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health

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Concentration in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health

Marriage and Family Therapy students may elect a concentration in Sexual and Gender Minority Mental Health. This concentration is the first of its kind, offered entirely online, and focuses on the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ people and families.

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Career & Professional Opportunities

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Career & Professional Opportunities

Upon completion of the M.A. in Marriage & Family Therapy, graduates are qualified to seek paid positions in the mental health field as marriage and family therapists. Marriage and family therapists may be employed in a wide variety of settings, including:

  • Addictions treatment programs
  • Adolescent treatment outpatient and inpatient programs
  • Child guidance agencies
  • Christian counseling programs
  • Community service agencies
  • Counseling or mental health centers
  • Court affiliated programs or alternatives to incarceration programs
  • Domestic violence programs
  • Family service agencies
  • Group psychotherapy practices
  • Medical hospitals and other medical settings
  • Pastoral counseling centers
  • Private practice
  • Psychiatric units and psychiatric hospitals
  • Student health services in public or private schools
  • Youth services programs

Learn more about how the University's Career Center can support your post-graduate goals, and how Fairfield's tight-knit alumni network can build career and mentoring opportunities that last a lifetime.

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Faculty

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Faculty

Our caring and committed Marriage & Family Therapy faculty offer a rigorous course of study, with a broad range of courses that integrate critical reflection and extensive field experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Fairfield University is accredited with the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is the national accrediting body for the field of marriage and family therapy.

The COAMFTE serves under a broad mandate from the AAMFT Board of Directors to set standards for and accredit master's, doctoral, and post-degree clinical training programs in marriage and family therapy.

Accreditation is essentially a public service that aims to:

  • Ensure and improve the quality of educational programs in marriage and family therapy
  • Encourage programs' ongoing self-study and development
  • Serve as an indicator that programs are meeting established standards and their own stated objectives

Accreditation is a status granted to an educational institution or program that has been found to meet or exceed stated criteria of education quality. Accreditation is voluntarily sought.

COAMFTE accreditation provides several benefits for the University, the program, and the students. Accreditation is prestigious in that it is recognition that the program meets standards of excellence in education and training. Also, the State of Connecticut recognizes the curriculum of accredited programs as meeting the educational standards for eligibility for the licensure examination. This alleviates applicants of the responsibility of detailing their coursework and in some case, justifying how certain courses meet the curriculum requirements. Finally, graduates of accredited programs are allowed to count the 500 clinical contact hours and the 100 supervision hours obtained during their practicum or internship in the master's program toward the requirements for Clinical Membership in AAMFT.

Successful completion of our masters degree program qualifies students who have met additional postgraduate requirements to sit for the licensing exam in the State of Connecticut. Postgraduate requirements include a minimum of one year clinical work with 1,000 hours of client contact and 100 hours of supervision by a Connecticut licensed marriage and family therapist. Further information regarding licensure may be obtained from the Connecticut State Department of Mental Health.

Marriage and family therapy is a distinct mental health discipline with its body of research, clinical techniques and code of ethics. Marriage and family therapists diagnose and treat nervous and mental disorders from a systemic perspective. Standard Occupational Classification of the Bureau of Labor and Statistics which states that MFTs are qualified to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. They apply psycho-therapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of professional services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders. They work with individuals, couples, families, and/or larger systems in a variety of contexts. Therapy focuses on interactional and relational processes and seeks to build on the clients' strengths and resources. Marriage and family therapists help families to address and change relationships and patterns of communication so that they can work out reasonable solutions to their problems for themselves.

There are many models of practice in marriage and family therapy. Individual practitioners may vary greatly in their methods and techniques of clinical work.

The Conn. programs that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education are comparable in their rigor and quality. Each program, though, has its unique emphasis. Our Fairfield University training emphasizes a structural/strategic model of family therapy. In our on-campus Family Counseling Center, advanced students see individuals, couples, and families from the community under live supervision.

We develop individual plans of study with each student, taking into account your personal circumstances. Except during the summer semester, didactic courses are taught on weekday evenings between 4:55-9:15 p.m. or as a Friday / Saturday weekend class. However, this schedule changes profoundly when students enter the 5 semester sequence of their clinical training where they provide therapy in our on-campus clinic and in practicum / internship sites. Since students have to be available for staff meetings, supervision and client contact hours at their site and also need to accumulate 500 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of supervision, it is close to impossible to simultaneously hold down a full time position. Additionally, according to our licensing statutes, the clinical sequence can not be interrupted.

Anywhere from 3 to 6 years, it all depends on how many courses you want to take a semester. Full-time students can complete the program in 3 to 3.5 years, depending on the completion of our clinical requirements.

The clinical training component of the program consists of a sustained and intensive experience spanning 5 semesters. The student entering clinical training must commit to completing the 5 semesters consecutively and without interruption. In clinical training, students will complete 500 hours of direct client contact (250 of which must be relational) and receive a minimum of 100 hours of supervision. The process of securing a placement site begins in pre-practicum where the student begins the formalized process for selecting and interviewing for a placement site. Our off campus sites of clinical work include:

  • Addictions treatment programs
  • Adolescent treatment outpatient and inpatient programs
  • Child guidance agencies
  • Christian counseling programs
  • Community service agencies
  • Counseling or mental health centers
  • Court affiliated programs or alternatives to incarceration programs
  • Domestic violence programs
  • Family service agencies
  • Group psychotherapy practices
  • Medical hospitals and other medical settings
  • Pastoral counseling centers
  • Private practice
  • Psychiatric units and psychiatric hospitals
  • Student health services in public or private schools
  • Youth services programs

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