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VAMFT Licensure Information

Note:
VAMFT plays no part in the process of licensing MFTs in Virginia. However, as a professional MFT organization, we present the following information in an attempt to help explain and clarify the licensing process. The Virginia Board of Professional Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists and Substance Abuse Treatment Professionals (hereafter referred to as "the Licensing Board") has thus far refused to review the following information. Any information you receive from a member or representative of the Licensing Board should be considered to supercede this information.
General Questions

What are the differences between a LMFT, LPC, and LCSW in Virginia?
Do I have to be a member of AAMFT/VAMFT to be granted a MFT license?
Does getting the MFT License in Virginia enable me to meet the requirements for AAMFT Clinical Membership?
Are all Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists members of AAMFT/VAMFT?
How do I get a MFT license in Virginia?

Questions About Education

What are the educational requirements to be eligible to take the MFT licensing exam?
Must the graduate study courses come specifically from a MFT program?
Must the graduate study courses come specifically from a COAMFTE approved program?
What educational programs in Virginia are accredited by COAMFTE?

Questions About Work Experience

What are the supervised work experience requirements?
What type of supervised work experience is accepted towards licensure?
Must all face-to-face supervision be one-on-one with the supervisor, or can I count group supervision?
What license must a supervisor hold?
Are there other requirements for becoming approved as a supervisor?
How do I find an approved supervisor?
How do I register my supervision?
How do I become an approved supervisor?

Questions About The Licensing Exam

How do I get the MFT license application forms?
Can I take the licensing exam before completing all of the educational and supervised practicum experience requirements?
What sorts of questions are on the licensing exam?
What score do I need to get on the licensing exam in order to pass?
Are there study guides or workshops available to help prepare for the licensing exam?

Questions About Licensure By Endorsement

What if I already have a MFT license from another state?
What jurisdictions has the Licensing Board determined to have "standards substantially equivalent to those in Virginia?"
What if I already am a LPC in Virginia, but want to gain a MFT license instead of or in addition to my license?
If I have already submitted documentation to become a LPC in Virginia, but now want to become a LMFT in Virginia instead, are my documents transferrable given that both licenses are governed by the Licensing Board?
What if I already am a LPC in another state, but want to also become a LMFT in Virginia?
I've heard about licensure by "grandfathering". What is it?
How is licensure by endorsement different from the regular licensure process?

The Final Question

Who should I contact if I have additional questions about licensure?

Q What are the differences between a LMFT, LPC, and LCSW in Virginia?

A Each is a different professional license, with different educational and supervised work experience requirements. All of these licenses require at least a master's degree.

The Virginia Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Substance Abuse Professionals (hereafter referred to as "the Licensing Board") is the regulatory body for both LPCs and LMFTs in Virginia.

VAMFT is planning the creation of a document comparing the various qualifications for these licenses in Virginia.

Q Do I have to be a member of AAMFT/VAMFT to be granted a MFT license?

A No. No Virginia license requires membership in any professional organization.

 

Q Does getting the MFT License in Virginia enable me to meet the requirements for AAMFT Clinical Membership?

A Yes. Recently the AAMFT changed its policy and will now accept the Virginia licensure requirements as proof of meeting AAMFT Clinical Membership. When you are accepted as a member of AAMFT (whether clinical, associate or student) you will automatically become a member of VAMFT.

Q Are all Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists members of AAMFT/VAMFT?

A No.

 

Q How do I get a MFT license in Virginia?

A In order to get a MFT license in Virginia you must first meet certain educational and supervised practicum experience requirements.

After you meet these requirements, then you must obtain the MFT license application forms from the Licensing Board. You must then submit the completed application forms, including all required documentation and a $50 application processing fee, to the Licensing Board.

The Licensing Board will review your application, and make the determination of your eligibility to take the MFT licensing exam. If you are found to be eligible, they will inform you in writing of your eligibility and of the time, date, and location for the MFT licensing exam.

You must then take, and pass, the MFT licensing exam.

If you pass the exam, the Licensing Board will make the determination of whether or not to grant you MFT licensure in Virginia.

Q What are the educational requirements to be eligible to take the MFT licensing exam?

A You must have completed 60 semester hours (or 90 quarter hours) of graduate study in marriage and family therapy from a regionally accredited college or university, or a post-graduate training institute accredited from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), and have received a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy or a related degree which:

  1. Was accredited by COAMFTE before you graduated, OR
  2. Consisted of a sequential integrated program in the following core areas, with:
    • a minimum of 9 semester hours (or 12 quarter hours) completed in:
      • Marriage and family studies (Courses such as Marital & Family Development and Family Systems Theory.)
      • Marriage and family therapy (Courses such as Marital Family Therapy and Systemic Therapeutic Interventions, or courses in the application of major therapeutic approaches.)
    • a minimum of 51 semester hours (or 78 quarter hours) completed in:
      • Human development (Courses such as Human Growth & Life-span Development, Human Sexuality, Personality Theory, Multicultural Issues, Psychopathology, Theories of Counseling, and Psychotherapy Techniques with Individuals.)
      • Professional studies (Courses such as Professional Identity & Function and Ethical & Legal Issues in Psychotherapy.)
      • Research (Courses such as Research Methods, Quantitative Methods, and Statistics.)
      • Assessment and treatment (Courses such as Appraisal, Assessment, and Diagnosis.)
      • Internship (Which must be for a minimum of one year, and include at least 300 hours of supervised direct client contact with individuals, couples, and families.)

Exactly what constitutes a "related degree" can only be determined by the Licensing Board, but might include such mental health fields as clinical counseling, clinical social work, and clinical psychology.

Q Must the graduate study courses come specifically from a MFT program?

A No, they can be part of any regionally-accredited graduate program (or any COAMFTE-accredited post-graduate program) in a "related degree." Exactly what constitutes a "related degree" can only be determined by the Licensing Board, but might include such mental health fields as clinical counseling, clinical social work, and clinical psychology.

Q Must the graduate study courses come specifically from a COAMFTE approved program?

A Courses taken as part of a graduate marriage and family therapy (or related degree) program can come from any regionally accredited college or university, and do not have to come specifically from a COAMFTE accredited program. However, courses taken as part of a post-graduate program from a post-graduate training institute does have to be COAMFTE approved, unless said courses are also taught as part of a COAMFTE approved graduate program.

Q What educational programs in Virginia are accredited by COAMFTE?

A At present, only Virginia Tech's M.S. program (in Falls Church) and Ph.D. program (in Blacksburg) has been accredited by COAMFTE.

VAMFT is seeking ways to encourage other Virginia educational programs to become COAMFTE-accredited. Please contact us if we can help your educational program to become accredited by COAMFTE.

Q What are the supervised practicum experience requirements?

A You must complete at least two years of supervised post-graduate degree experience, during which you must complete at least 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. In that time you must accrue at least:

* 1,000 hours of direct client contact, of which at least 500 hours must be with couples and/or families, and
* 200 hours of face-to-face supervision with a licensed supervisor trained in the supervision of marriage and family therapy, receiving a minimum of one hour of supervision per 20 hours of supervised work experience.

Q What type of supervised work experience is accepted towards licensure?

A The supervised work experience must consist of practice in the seven core areas (as defined by the Licensing Board) of marriage and family studies, marriage and family therapy, human development, professional studies, research, and assessment and treatment. Exactly what work experience will be accepted can only be determined by the Licensing Board.

Q Must all face-to-face supervision be one-on-one with the supervisor, or can I count group supervision hours?

A Group supervision hours can count towards the 200 face-to-face supervision hours, but only at a rate of 2:1 (two hours of group supervision equals one hour of face-to-face supervision), and only up to a maximum of 200 hours (which will equal 100 hours of face-to-face supervision). The group can consist of no more than six supervisees.

When documenting the number of supervision hours it is the actual number of hours of group supervision received that should be stated, not the number of applicable hours; the Licensing Board will perform the appropriate calculations when it is reviewing the license application.

Q What license must a supervisor hold?

A Prior to July 9, 2000, supervisors must be licensed as a marriage and family therapist, professional counselor, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker or psychiatrist.

After July 9, 2000, all supervisors must:

* be licensed as a marriage and family therapist, OR
* be licensed as a professional counselor, clinical psychologist, clinical social worker or psychiatrist AND have met the MFT educational and supervised practicum experience requirements.

In all cases the supervisor's license should be current and in good standing.

Q Are there other requirements for becoming approved as a supervisor?

A Supervisors must be able to document their specific training in the supervision of marriage and family therapy. They must also not enter supervision with a supervisee with whom they have a relationship that could compromise their objectivity.

Q How do I find an approved supervisor?

A Licensed AAMFT Approved Supervisors, who all meet the Licensing Board's "year 2000" requirements (as mentioned here), can be found in the VAMFT Members Directory. At this time VAMFT is unaware of any resources to assist with finding non-VAMFT licensed approved supervisors.

Once you have found an acceptable supervisor, you must register your supervision with the Licensing Board for your supervisor to be approved.

Q How do I register my supervision?

A You may obtain the "Registration of Supervision" forms from the Licensing Board. Printed information can be requested by calling the Licensing Board at (804) 662-9912.

The process of registering your supervision with the Licensing Board includes having an official copy of your transcript documenting the completion of a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy (or a related field) to the Licensing Board. These transcripts must arrive in an unopened envelope containing the Registrar's stamp over the seal of the envelope.

In addition, the "Registration of Supervision" forms state that Supervisor's must document completion of training in marriage and family therapy supervision. A photocopy of the Supervisor's AAMFT Approved Supervisor Certificate (or other documentation) should be sufficient.

Once the forms are completed, return them to the Licensing Board along with a registration fee ($20), a sealed graduate transcript from your college or university, and the Supervisor's documentation of completion of training in marriage and family therapy supervision.

Q How do I become an approved supervisor?

A If you have the required license and training, your qualifications are registered with the Licensing Board when a supervisee registers their supervision.

 

Q How do I get the MFT license application forms?

A You may obtain the MFT license application forms (along with eligibility information and a copy of relevant regulations governing the practice of Marriage and Family Therapy) from the Licensing Board. Printed information can be requested by calling (804) 662-9912.

PLEASE NOTE: When completing these forms, be aware that the mailing address becomes a matter of public record. In fact, as a way of providing licensure verification, the Virginia Department of Health Professionals (including the Virginia Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Substance Abuse Professionals) has made information on all their licensed practitioners (including medical doctors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers) available to the general public. Listed by license number, the information includes the practitioner's name and mailing address, the license issuance date, the license expiration date, and present practitioner status with the licensing board.

Q Can I take the licensing exam before completing all of the educational and supervised practicum experience requirements?

A No. You are not considered to be eligible to take the licensing exam until you complete all the educational and clinical supervised experience requirements.

 

Q What sorts of questions are on the licensing exam?

A The Licensing Board has designated the National Examination in Marriage and Family Therapy to be the licensing exam in Virginia. This exam is designed and administered by the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB), in collaboration with the Professional Examination Service (PES) of New York.

Q What score do I need to get on the licensing exam in order to pass?

A Due to the small number of Virginians who have taken the exam thus far, the Licensing Board has not yet set a passing score. They have been using the national passing score recommended by the Professional Examination Service (PES) as a passing score in Virginia. The last time the National Examination in Marriage and Family Therapy was given in Virginia (November 11th, 1998) the national passing score recommended by PES was 66.5% (133 of 200 questions) correct.

Q Are there study guides or workshops available to help prepare for the licensing exam?

A Although examination preparation programs exist, neither the Board, AMFTRB, nor VAMFT can endorse any.

 

Q What if I already have a MFT license from another state?

A If you are also an AAMFT Clinical Member then you may be eligible for licensure by endorsement.

If you are not an AAMFT Clinical Member, and your current MFT license is in good standing and was obtained by standards substantially equivalent to those in Virginia, then you may be eligible for licensure by endorsement.

Q What jurisdictions has the Licensing Board determined to have "standards substantially equivalent to those in Virginia?"

A This is not currently known, but it presumably requires a passing score of the MFT licensing exam.

 

Q What if I already am a LPC in Virginia, but want to gain a MFT license instead of or in addition to my license?

A If you can document completion of both the educational and supervised practicum experience requirements for the LMFT, then you may be eligible for licensure by endorsement.

Q If I have already submitted documentation to become a LPC in Virginia, but now want to become a LMFT in Virginia instead, are my documents transferrable given that both licenses are governed by the Licensing Board?

A No. Documentation submitted with one license application cannot be transferred to another license application. You will need to resubmit all such documentation for the MFT license.

Q What if I already am a LPC in another state, but want to also become a LMFT in Virginia?

A You must document that you meet all the educational and supervised practicum experience requirements for the LMFT in Virginia, and have passed the MFT licensing exam. You must also provide verification that your out-of-state license is in good standing and was obtained by standards substantially equivalent to those in Virginia.

Q I've heard about licensure by "grandfathering". What is it?

A Licensure by "grandfathering" was the one year time period set forth in the MFT licensing regulations which allowed certain Virginia LPCs and AAMFT Clinical Members to be licensed as an MFT without taking the MFT licensing exam. It's intent was to allow those already practicing as marriage and family therapists in Virginia when the MFT licensure law was first enacted to continue to do so.

The period for "grandfathering" ended on July 9, 1998.

Q How is licensure by endorsement different from the regular licensure process?

A Licensure by endorsement is a process set forth in the LMFT licensing regulations which allows Virginia LPCs who meet certain requirements, and those with a MFT license from another state who meet other requirements, to become licensed without taking the licensing exam. The professional is "endorsed" by their present license and qualifications.

To be licensed by endorsement you must first obtain the MFT license application forms from the Licensing Board.

If you are currently a LPC in good standing in Virginia:

* You must then submit to the Licensing Board the completed application forms, a $50 application processing fee, and an official transcript documenting the completion of both the educational and supervised practicum experience requirements (even if this information was originally included with your professional counselor licensure application).

The Licensing Board will then review your application and documentation, and make the determination of whether or not to grant you MFT licensure.

If you are currently a LMFT in good standing in another jurisdiction, with a license obtained by standards substantially equivalent to those in Virginia:

* You must submit to the Licensing Board the completed application forms, a $50 application processing fee, and verification of your professional licenses or certifications held in another jurisdictions.

The Licensing Board will then review your application and documentation, and make the determination of whether or not to grant you MFT licensure in Virginia.

Q Who should I contact if I have additional questions about licensure?

A The Virginia Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Substance Abuse Professionals (part of the Virginia Department of Health Professionals) is the regulatory body for LMFTs in Virginia; they set the regulations for the MFT license, and determine policy regarding those regulations.

As set by Section 54.1-3503 of the Code of Virginia, the Licensing Board consists of fourteen members: eight professional counselors, two marriage and family therapists, two licensed substance abuse professionals, and two citizen members. Individuals are appointed to the Licensing Board by the Governor. (The web site of the Secretary of the Commonwealth has more information about Gubernatorial Appointments.)

The Licensing Board also has various administrative staff (Deputy Executive Director, etc). These individuals are employees of the Virginia Department of Health, and they are the people you interact with when you contact the Licensing Board.

You can e-mail the Licensing Board at Coun@dhp.virginia.gov. The Licensing Board can also be reached by calling (804) 367-4610, by FAX at (804) 527-4435, or at the below postal address:

Virginia Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, Marriage and Family Therapists and Substance Abuse Professionals
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300
Henrico, Virginia 23233-1463