Marriage and Family Therapy

Q. When are applications due?

A. Application deadlines.

Q. Is the program accredited?

A. 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.

Q. Can I get licensed after I graduate?

A. 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.

Q. What makes marriage and family therapy distinct from other mental health disciplines?

A. 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.

Q. Connecticut has several MFT programs, how do I chose?

A. 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.

Q. Can I continue working full time while going through the program?

A. 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.

Q. How long does it take to finish the program?

A. 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.

Q. What is the clinical training process, how do I find a clinical placement site, and what types of sites are available?

A. 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