Code Section

Business and Professions Code - BPC

DIVISION 2. HEALING ARTS [500 - 4999.129]

  ( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 399. )

CHAPTER 13. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists [4980 - 4989]

  ( Heading of Chapter 13 amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 316, Sec. 14. )

ARTICLE 1. Regulation [4980 - 4980.81]
  ( Article 1 added by Stats. 1986, Ch. 1365, Sec. 4. )


(a) This section shall apply to the following:

(1) Applicants for licensure or registration who begin graduate study before August 1, 2012, and do not complete that study on or before December 31, 2018.

(2) Applicants for licensure or registration who begin graduate study before August 1, 2012, and who graduate from a degree program that meets the requirements of this section.

(3) Applicants for licensure or registration who begin graduate study on or after August 1, 2012.

(b) To qualify for a license or registration, applicants shall possess a doctoral or master’s degree meeting the requirements of this section in marriage, family, and child counseling, marriage and family therapy, couple and family therapy, psychology, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or either counseling or clinical mental health counseling with an emphasis in either marriage, family, and child counseling or marriage and family therapy. The degree shall be obtained from a school, college, or university approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, or accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or a regional or national institutional accrediting agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education. The board has the authority to make the final determination as to whether a degree meets all requirements, including, but not limited to, course requirements, regardless of accreditation or approval.

(c) A doctoral or master’s degree program that qualifies for licensure or registration shall be a single, integrated program that does the following:

(1) Integrate all of the following throughout its curriculum:

(A) Marriage and family therapy principles.

(B) The principles of mental health recovery-oriented care and methods of service delivery in recovery-oriented practice environments, among others.

(C) An understanding of various cultures and the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position, and an understanding of how poverty and social stress impact an individual’s mental health and recovery.

(2) Allow for innovation and individuality in the education of marriage and family therapists.

(3) Encourage students to develop the personal qualities that are intimately related to effective practice, including, but not limited to, integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, and personal presence.

(4) Permit an emphasis or specialization that may address any one or more of the unique and complex array of human problems, symptoms, and needs of Californians served by marriage and family therapists.

(5) Provide students with the opportunity to meet with various consumers and family members of consumers of mental health services to enhance understanding of their experience of mental illness, treatment, and recovery.

(d) The degree described in subdivision (b) shall contain no less than 60 semester or 90 quarter units of instruction that includes, but is not limited to, the following requirements:

(1) Both of the following:

(A) No less than 12 semester or 18 quarter units of coursework in theories, principles, and methods of a variety of psychotherapeutic orientations directly related to marriage and family therapy and marital and family systems approaches to treatment and how these theories can be applied therapeutically with individuals, couples, families, adults, including elder adults, children, adolescents, and groups to improve, restore, or maintain healthy relationships.

(B) Practicum that involves direct client contact, as follows:

(i) A minimum of six semester or nine quarter units of practicum in a supervised clinical placement that provides supervised fieldwork experience.

(ii) A minimum of 150 hours of face-to-face experience counseling individuals, couples, families, or groups.

(iii) A student must be enrolled in a practicum course while counseling clients, except as specified in subdivision (c) of Section 4980.42.

(iv) The practicum shall provide training in all of the following areas:

(I) Applied use of theory and psychotherapeutic techniques.

(II) Assessment, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment planning.

(III) Treatment of individuals and premarital, couple, family, and child relationships, including trauma and abuse, dysfunctions, healthy functioning, health promotion, illness prevention, and working with families.

(IV) Professional writing, including documentation of services, treatment plans, and progress notes.

(V) How to connect people with resources that deliver the quality of services and support needed in the community.

(v) Educational institutions are encouraged to design the practicum required by this subparagraph to include marriage and family therapy experience in low income and multicultural mental health settings.

(vi) In addition to the 150 hours required in clause (ii), 75 hours of either of the following, or a combination thereof:

(I) Client centered advocacy, as defined in Section 4980.03.

(II) Face-to-face experience counseling individuals, couples, families, or groups.

(2) Instruction in all of the following:

(A) Diagnosis, assessment, prognosis, treatment planning, and treatment of mental disorders, including severe mental disorders, evidence-based practices, psychological testing, psychopharmacology, and promising mental health practices that are evaluated in peer-reviewed literature.

(B) Developmental issues from infancy to old age, including instruction in all of the following areas:

(i) The effects of developmental issues on individuals, couples, and family relationships.

(ii) The psychological, psychotherapeutic, and health implications of developmental issues and their effects.

(iii) Aging and its biological, social, cognitive, and psychological aspects. This coursework shall include instruction on the assessment and reporting of, as well as treatment related to, elder and dependent adult abuse and neglect.

(iv) A variety of cultural understandings of human development.

(v) The understanding of human behavior within the social context of socioeconomic status and other contextual issues affecting social position.

(vi) The understanding of human behavior within the social context of a representative variety of the cultures found within California.

(vii) The understanding of the impact that personal and social insecurity, social stress, low educational levels, inadequate housing, and malnutrition have on human development.

(C) The broad range of matters and life events that may arise within marriage and family relationships and within a variety of California cultures, including instruction in all of the following:

(i) A minimum of seven contact hours of training or coursework in child abuse assessment and reporting as specified in Section 28, and any regulations promulgated thereunder.

(ii) Spousal or partner abuse assessment, detection, intervention strategies, and same gender abuse dynamics.

(iii) Cultural factors relevant to abuse of partners and family members.

(iv) Childbirth, child rearing, parenting, and stepparenting.

(v) Marriage, divorce, and blended families.

(vi) Long-term care.

(vii) End-of-life and grief.

(viii) Poverty and deprivation.

(ix) Financial and social stress.

(x) Effects of trauma.

(xi) The psychological, psychotherapeutic, community, and health implications of the matters and life events described in clauses (i) to (x), inclusive.

(D) Cultural competency and sensitivity, including a familiarity with the racial, cultural, linguistic, and ethnic backgrounds of persons living in California.

(E) Multicultural development and cross-cultural interaction, including experiences of race, ethnicity, class, spirituality, sexual orientation, gender, and disability, and their incorporation into the psychotherapeutic process.

(F) The effects of socioeconomic status on treatment and available resources.

(G) Resilience, including the personal and community qualities that enable persons to cope with adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or other stresses.

(H) Human sexuality, including the study of physiological, psychological, and social cultural variables associated with sexual behavior and gender identity, and the assessment and treatment of psychosexual dysfunction.

(I) Substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and addiction, including, but not limited to, instruction in all of the following:

(i) The definition of substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and addiction. For purposes of this subparagraph, “co-occurring disorders” means a mental illness and substance abuse diagnosis occurring simultaneously in an individual.

(ii) Medical aspects of substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders.

(iii) The effects of psychoactive drug use.

(iv) Current theories of the etiology of substance abuse and addiction.

(v) The role of persons and systems that support or compound substance abuse and addiction.

(vi) Major approaches to identification, evaluation, and treatment of substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and addiction, including, but not limited to, best practices.

(vii) Legal aspects of substance abuse.

(viii) Populations at risk with regard to substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders.

(ix) Community resources offering screening, assessment, treatment, and follow up for the affected person and family.

(x) Recognition of substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and addiction, and appropriate referral.

(xi) The prevention of substance use disorders and addiction.

(J) California law and professional ethics for marriage and family therapists, including instruction in all of the following areas of study:

(i) Contemporary professional ethics and statutory, regulatory, and decisional laws that delineate the scope of practice of marriage and family therapy.

(ii) The therapeutic, clinical, and practical considerations involved in the legal and ethical practice of marriage and family therapy, including, but not limited to, family law.

(iii) The current legal patterns and trends in the mental health professions.

(iv) The psychotherapist-patient privilege, confidentiality, the patient dangerous to self or others, and the treatment of minors with and without parental consent.

(v) A recognition and exploration of the relationship between a practitioner’s sense of self and human values and the practitioner’s professional behavior and ethics.

(vi) The application of legal and ethical standards in different types of work settings.

(vii) Licensing law and licensing process.

(e) The degree described in subdivision (b) shall, in addition to meeting the requirements of subdivision (d), include instruction in case management, systems of care for the severely mentally ill, public and private services and supports available for the severely mentally ill, community resources for persons with mental illness and for victims of abuse, disaster and trauma response, advocacy for the severely mentally ill, and collaborative treatment. This instruction may be provided either in credit level coursework or through extension programs offered by the degree-granting institution.

(f) The changes made to law by this section are intended to improve the educational qualifications for licensure in order to better prepare future licentiates for practice, and are not intended to expand or restrict the scope of practice for marriage and family therapists.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 647, Sec. 24. (SB 801) Effective January 1, 2022.)