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M.A. in Psychology: Marriage and Family Therapy

Mission Statement

The mission of the MA in Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Phillips Graduate University is to create a context that fosters collaborative learning and provides students with the academic knowledge, clinical competency, and professional development necessary for beginning practice as marriage and family therapists. Students who complete the program will have met the educational requirements for licensure in California and will demonstrate self-awareness, integrity, cultural competence, and a commitment to relational responsibility in service to individuals, couples and families, to communities, and to the profession.

About the Program

The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program is the program upon which Phillips Graduate University was founded. For more than 40 years, our MFT graduates have been making a difference in the lives of others while they grow professionally and personally. Systems theories are the core of the academic program, as students are exposed to foundational concepts and the most cutting-edge developments in clinical methodology.

Learning occurs on three levels: traditional academic instruction, skills training, and personal and professional growth. Lectures and reading assignments are always complemented by hands-on practice. Students are challenged to explore their interpersonal processes in order to develop the personal qualities of excellent Marriage and Family Therapists. Our program respects and encourages students of diverse backgrounds to learn with and from each other, and to be prepared to work in complex, multicultural environments. The cohort model, in which a consistent group of students goes through the program together, provides a context in which students learn about systems by reflecting on their cohort process as well as by academic study.

The MFT program utilizes systemic and relational theories as the basis for academic learning and clinical skills training. Additionally, the program presents a broad array of models for assisting individuals, couples, families, and larger systems to develop and grow.

In practicum, students have support and careful advisement to locate appropriate sites for real-life therapeutic experience consistent with their clinical interests. Students are required to obtain practicum hours that provide clinical experience working with individuals, couples, and families.

Phillips is both experiential and applied in our educational philosophy. All faculty are licensed, practicing professionals with diverse specializations. Their professional and personal expertise enhances both the classroom experience and the post-graduation careers of our students.  

The M.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling (PPS Credential) program allows students to combine the Master of Arts in Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy emphasis, with the Pupil Personnel Services credential by adding 22 units of School Counseling coursework and practicum fieldwork hours.

This combination qualifies graduates to pursue both MFT licensure in California and work in the public school system with a School Counseling credential.

It is possible to continue earning intern hours towards MFT licensure while working as a school counselor. Arrangements and a signed agreement must be in place between your employer/school principal and your LMFT or LCSW supervisor. It is a BBS requirement that your supervisor has been licensed for two years and completed a six-hour supervision training course.

Program Schedule

Our M.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling PPS Credential is an 82-unit curriculum delivered over six semesters, including two summer semesters. Although the program is rigorous, flexible scheduling does allow students to combine school requirements with full-time work in most cases.
  • One full day of MFT class either on Saturday or on a weekday from 8 am to 5 pm.
  • A three-hour weekly Case Conference section for the first two semesters on Monday night.
  • An Introduction to School Counseling course for the first five Tuesday evenings from 5 pm to 8 pm of the first semester.
  • Beginning as early as the second semester, students may gain practicum hours at a clinical placement and school site.
  • During the second year, students take SC courses on Monday and Wednesday evenings and full MFT class day. Students also attend a three-hour practicum course one evening, twice a month while completing field placement hours.

Career Paths

Our MFT graduates pursue work in a variety of settings, including:
  • Inpatient and Outpatient Facilities
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Hospitals and Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Community and Public Mental Health Centers
  • Schools and Head Start Centers
  • Social Services Agencies
  • Courts and Correctional Facilities
  • Private Practice

A growing number of MFTs also work with other healthcare providers as members of comprehensive teams to provide integrated healthcare services. Our MFT and PPS graduates pursue work in a variety of settings, including:
  • K-12 Public and Charter Schools
  • K-12 Private Schools
  • Community Colleges, as available

Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

MFT Program Goal #1: Knowledge of a variety of developmental theories, relational/systemic theoretical models, as well as other models of human behavior.

Student Learning Outcomes:
1.1 Students are able to identify, demonstrate an understanding of, and apply a variety of models of human development throughout the lifespan.
1.2 Students are able to identify, demonstrate an understanding of, and apply a variety of systemic/relational as well as other theoretical models in marriage & family therapy.

MFT Program Goal #2: Knowledge and skills in the assessment, diagnosis, and research-informed treatment of individuals and relational systems.

Student Leaning Outcomes:
2.1 Students apply appropriate skills in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals, couples, and families in the development of comprehensive treatment plans.
2.2 Students apply knowledge of human behavior in health and mental illness to the practice of marriage and family therapy.
2.3 Students locate, critically evaluate, and apply published research in the development of comprehensive treatment plans.

MFT Program Goal #3: Practice of relational/systemic therapy in a manner that is consistently responsive to the impact of culture and diversity on all relationships.

Student Learning Outcomes:
3.1 Students demonstrate an awareness and knowledge of current and historical sociocultural factors that influence human interactions, and which impact both client and therapist within the therapeutic relationship.
3.2 Students effectively apply culturally responsive perspectives in the practice of marriage and family therapy.

MFT Program Goal #4: Practice of relational/systemic therapy in a manner that is grounded in relevant legal principles and based on ethically sound decision-making.

Student Learning Outcome:
4.1 Students identify legal and ethical principles underlying the practice of marriage & family therapy.
4.2 Students use an ethical decision-making process in their professional practice as marriage & family therapists.

MFT Program Goal #5: Practice of relational/systemic therapy in a manner that demonstrates relational responsibility and professional behavior.

Student Learning Outcome:
5.1 Students demonstrate professional behavior and relational responsibility in all interactions with peers, faculty, staff, clients, site supervisors, and other professionals.
5.2 Students demonstrate respect, warmth, and attending behavior in collaboration with clients in a treatment setting.

MFT Program Goal #6: Completion of the MFT program with the self-awareness, personal growth, foundational skills, and competence required to begin the practice of research-informed relational/systemic therapy.

Student Learning Outcomes:
6.1 Students demonstrate an awareness of personal beliefs, attitudes, and experiences that influence their practice of marriage and family therapy.
6.2 Students demonstrate personal growth in their response to a variety of challenges experienced in the practice of marriage and family therapy.

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