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The Five Most Common Questions about Becoming an LMFT

A career as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) opens the door for you to make a genuine difference in people’s lives. You will have the skills needed to help people solve problems in their personal lives and relationships. You will help them cope with mental and emotional disorders as well as help people improve their quality of life. You also have the capacity to work in a variety of different environments and with a number of different populations.

This career can be a wonderful fit for people who enjoy working with others and want to help serve their communities. As an LMFT, you can work with people dealing with several different types of issues and struggles.

It’s also a profession that’s in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of growth within the LMFT field is much faster than average, as an increasing number of people find themselves in need of the treatment that these important professionals can provide.

If you are considering becoming an LMFT, here is some helpful information to determine if this is the career for you.

What exactly does an LMFT do?

LMFT’s work directly with the families and children in their community. They might work with people struggling with mental illnesses, substance misuse, and relationship or family problems. As an LMFT, you will do challenging but incredibly important work, touching countless lives.

What is the difference between an LPC, LMFT and an LCSW?

If you are interested in pursuing a career helping people in a therapeutic setting, you likely have run into a few different job titles and degree programs, including LMFT, LCSW and LPC. You may wonder what is precisely the difference between these career paths. While there is certainly considerable overlap in the descriptions of these jobs and the environments in which they work, there are important distinctions as well.

As an LMFT, you will develop therapeutic treatment systems that focus on relationships. Couples and families are the people you will often work with. You will identify problems that go beyond a single individual, distinguish how these challenges can impact relationships, and establish what can be done to help those involved.

An LCSW, or Licensed Clinical Social Worker, on the other hand, takes a more individualized approach. You will work on assessing and treating clients, mostly in community and therapeutic environments, as well as client advocacy. You will also closely examine the resources available to your clients and how these limitations might impact them.

An LPC, or Licensed Professional Counselor, also takes a more individualized approach to therapy and treatment.  Students are often trained in individual and group counseling, interviewing, crisis intervention, and psychological testing.

As ACU Online’s director for the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program, Dr. Sara Blakeslee Salkil explains, “The LMFT is trained to work more in a family systems context. This license enables students to work in agency, private practice, and church. They could also use their training to do more entrepreneurial things that may be offshoots of MFT, like consulting.“

Can I choose an internship in my own community?

Throughout the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program at ACU Online, you will have ample opportunities to pursue internships that will give you hands-on learning experiences in the field.

“Students are eligible to enter their internship after they’ve taken four classes,” says Dr. Salkil, “which means if they started the program in January, they would be able to start seeing clients in August if they had a site and if they had an approved supervisor. That’s not really a very long time, so we encourage them to jump right in at the very beginning.”

Students are also encouraged to find internships in their own area by looking for approved supervisors in their region. ACU Online will help students find opportunities in their area so that they can start getting hands-on experience early on. This will help students graduate with experience and have a local network in which to help them find their first job following graduation.

Can I open up my own practice when I graduate?

Once you have earned your LMFT degree, you can work in a variety of different settings, including private practice. Other professionals enjoy working in group practices or through other businesses and agencies such as non-profits, community clinics, churches, hospitals and treatment centers. Your decision about the best place to work will depend upon your goals for your career and the type of treatment you want to focus on.

Can my license transfer from state-to-state?

There have been issues in the past with the portability of licenses for LMFTs, as different states sometimes have contrasting requirements for earning a license. Recently the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has worked to create a process for transferring licenses from one state to another. Currently, applicants for a license in a new state must be able to:

  • Show they have a valid license that does not impose any restrictions on them in another state or territory.
  •  Complete an application in the new state and pay any fees required to receive the new license.

Those interested in pursuing a career as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist will find that this field offers a variety of challenges, but also incredible rewards. LMFTs help a number of vulnerable populations and can help people improve their quality of life.

If you’re interested in learning more about the potential of this program and taking the first steps towards entering a program, visit ACU Online’s Master of Marriage and Family Therapy program page or, you can call us at 855-219-7300.

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