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 applicants for licensure or registration who began graduate study before August 1, 2012, and completed that study on or before December 31, 2018. Those applicants may alternatively qualify under paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 4980.36.

(b) To qualify for a license or registration, applicants shall possess a doctoral or master’s degree 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 accredited by a regional or national institutional accrediting agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education or approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary 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. In order to qualify for licensure pursuant to this section, a doctoral or master’s degree program shall be a single, integrated program primarily designed to train marriage and family therapists and shall contain no less than 48 semester units or 72 quarter units of instruction. This instruction shall include no less than 12 semester units or 18 quarter units of coursework in the areas of marriage, family, and child counseling, and marital and family systems approaches to treatment. The coursework shall include all of the following areas:

(1) The salient theories of a variety of psychotherapeutic orientations directly related to marriage and family therapy, and marital and family systems approaches to treatment.

(2) Theories of marriage and family therapy and how they can be utilized in order to intervene therapeutically with couples, families, adults, children, and groups.

(3) Developmental issues and life events from infancy to old age and their effect on individuals, couples, and family relationships. This may include coursework that focuses on specific family life events and the psychological, psychotherapeutic, and health implications that arise within couples and families, including, but not limited to, childbirth, child rearing, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, marriage, divorce, blended families, stepparenting, abuse and neglect of older and dependent adults, and geropsychology.

(4) A variety of approaches to the treatment of children.

The board shall, by regulation, set forth the subjects of instruction required in this subdivision.

(c) (1) In addition to the 12 semester or 18 quarter units of coursework specified in subdivision (b), the doctoral or master’s degree program shall contain not less than six semester units or nine quarter units of supervised practicum in applied psychotherapeutic technique, assessments, diagnosis, treatment planning, and treatment of premarital, couple, family, and child relationships, including dysfunctions, healthy functioning, health promotion, and illness prevention, in a supervised clinical placement that provides supervised fieldwork experience within the scope of practice of a marriage and family therapist.

(2) For applicants who enrolled in a degree program on or after January 1, 1995, the practicum shall include a minimum of 150 hours of face-to-face experience counseling individuals, couples, families, or groups.

(3) The practicum hours shall be considered as part of the 48 semester or 72 quarter unit requirement.

(d) As an alternative to meeting the qualifications specified in subdivision (b), the board shall accept as equivalent degrees those master’s or doctoral degrees granted by educational institutions whose degree program is approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.

(e) In order to provide an integrated course of study and appropriate professional training, while allowing for innovation and individuality in the education of marriage and family therapists, a degree program that meets the educational qualifications for licensure or registration under this section shall do all of the following:

(1) Provide an integrated course of study that trains students generally in the diagnosis, assessment, treatment planning, and treatment of mental disorders.

(2) Prepare students to be familiar with the broad range of matters that may arise within marriage and family relationships.

(3) Train students specifically in the application of marriage and family relationship counseling principles and methods.

(4) Encourage students to develop those personal qualities that are intimately related to the counseling situation such as integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, and personal presence.

(5) Teach students a variety of effective psychotherapeutic techniques and modalities that may be utilized to improve, restore, or maintain healthy individual, couple, and family relationships.

(6) 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.

(7) Prepare students to be familiar with cross-cultural mores and values, including a familiarity with the wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds common among California’s population, including, but not limited to, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans.

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

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 456, Sec. 64. (SB 786) Effective January 1, 2020.)