Master of Arts in Couples & Family Therapy2020-07-23T09:01:18-07:00

Master of Arts in Couples & Family Therapy

79 CREDITS, 2.5 YEARS

About the Degree

COAMFTE_Logo-2400pxThe Master of Arts in Couples & Family Therapy (MACFT) program focuses on systemic and relational therapy. The program prepares effective couples and family therapists who integrate clients’ spirituality as the client requests. Under the guidance of state approved and American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) approved supervisors who are licensed clinicians, students are trained to assess, diagnose, consult, and treat relationships and individuals. Students engage in self-of-the-therapist exploration in order to better understand themselves as holistic beings. Graduates are prepared to clinically heal and empower diverse relationships and individuals across diverse cultures, religions and spiritual traditions.

Mission

Integrating systems and psychological theories, supervised clinical experience, multifaith insight, and spiritual formation to clinically heal and empower diverse relationships and individuals across faith traditions and cultural locations.

Our students identify as spiritual, religious, or as having no faith background. Our clinicians-in-training integrate client spirituality and faith traditions in clinical practice upon clients’ request. They support their clients’ search for meaning or quest for life’s ultimate mysteries.

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Students graduate equipped to be couples and family therapists in both traditional and innovative therapy settings. Graduates work in community agencies, private practice, school settings, and other clinical realms or in a broad array of professional applications (e.g., educators, consultants, coaches). They contribute to the field of couples and family therapy by seeing clients, volunteering in the community, advocating for justice, and participating in professional organizations including the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (WAMFT).

Learning Outcomes

Outcome Based Education
Program Goals

  • Graduate couples and family therapists who integrate clinical knowledge, skills, and research with multifaith insights and spiritual formation.
  • Admit and graduate a diverse student body.
  • Graduate students who pursue licensure as marriage and family therapists (LMFT) and are committed to ethical practice.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will identify as couples and family therapists who integrate clinical knowledge, skills, and research with multifaith insights and spiritual formation.
  • Students will use family systems theories to offer systemic case conceptualizations and treatment plans.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to provide multiculturally competent clinical services within clients’ social locations, including diverse races and ethnicities, genders and sexual identities, and religious and spiritual traditions.
  • Students will demonstrate legal and ethical competence by understanding and adhering to relevant laws and ethical codes.

Accreditation

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Our Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) accredited program is dedicated to systemic clinical practice, social justice, and insight from multifaith dialogue. One of the many benefits of attending a COAMFTE accredited program is that it simplifies the post-graduation licensure application in many states. COAMFTE accredited program graduates meet the education requirements for Washington State licensure. In Washington, graduates can count the 500 clinical hours earned in the program towards the 3,000 hours required to become fully licensed. Washington State law requires that people practice therapy under appropriate supervision as part of their post-master’s training requirements in preparation for full licensure (LMFT, view here). Some of the supervision provided in the MACFT program counts towards this requirement. After graduating, students are prepared to begin clinical practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate (LMFTA) while working toward the full LMFT license.

In addition to the 3,000-hour supervised clinical experience, LMFTAs must pass the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Board (AMFTRB) Exam. Students in the program take the AMFTRB practice exam as part of course requirements. Of the graduates who have taken the exam, 100% passed on the first attempt.

Requirements to achieve full licensure typically take two to four years to complete. Licensure laws vary by state. Please check the state in which you plan to be licensed to see if our educational requirements are a match. Comparison chart for state licensure available here. University of Michigan’s resource offers additional insight for state-by-state license requirements for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (and other licenses in the behavioral health workforce).

The Couples and Family Therapy Program at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry is accredited by COAMFTE, 112 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, (703) 838-9808, coa@aamft.org.

Our Students Have:

  • Knowledge of the marriage and family therapy profession and a desire to become couples and family therapists.
  • Passion to work with diverse populations. We help students hone and develop the skills necessary to work with relationships and individuals from diverse backgrounds, including many different races and ethnicities, genders and sexual identities, and religious and spiritual traditions.
  • Field experience. Our clinical sequence requires students to provide at least 500 hours of supervised clinical treatment to clients. We have students at agencies/sites throughout the Puget Sound area.

Professional Memberships

Clinical students are required to become members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and the Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (WAMFT).

Student Achievement Criteria & Transparent Policies

COAMFTE Student Achievement Criteria Data (SAC) provides graduation, job-placement, and national exam pass rates. Click below to download the MACFT data PDF or a copy of our transparent policies. For more information on COAMFTE’s Version 12 Accreditation Standards and SAC, please click here.

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The transparent policies list the program’s policies and procedures.
MACFT Transparent Policies

Unique Components

Couples & Family Therapy (CFT) programs are different from other mental health programs that emphasize individual functioning. While couple and family therapists treat relationships and individual clients, the theories and interventions are much different from other fields of mental health/individual counseling – couple and family therapists situate clients’ presenting problems in context, relational dynamics, emotional connections, and the influence of generational patterns.

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Why multifaith, spiritually integrated couples and family therapy?

Students who study spiritually integrated couples and family therapy learn to integrate clients’ faith and spirituality into therapeutic practice at the clients’ request in ethical, self-aware, and meaningful practice.

Clients present many aspects of themselves in therapy (e.g., gender, age, race/ethnicity, religion or spirituality). Clients’ beliefs and worldviews, which are often rooted in their faith traditions, inform their experiences of pain, healing, and growth. There is a benefit for many clients when therapists integrate clients’ religion and spirituality into clinical sessions.

Our courses synthesize systems theory, clinical intervention, ethics, social justice, self-of-therapist reflection, and client’s diverse religious and spiritual traditions. Throughout the program, students are required to demonstrate practical skills in this bio-psych-soc-spirited model. Students study spirituality as it relates to spiritual development across the family life cycle, systems theories, assessment, diagnosis, trauma, healing, and the ethics of spiritually integrated therapeutic conversations.

For more information and perspectives on multifaith spiritually integrated therapy, see:

Eppler, C., Cobb, R. A., & Wilson, E. E. (2019). Multifaith perspectives on family therapy models. Journal of Family Psychotherapy. doi: 10.1080/08975353.2019.1695092

Eppler, C. (2018). Women’s perceptions of using short films to integrate spirituality in therapy, Journal of Systemic Therapies, 37, 68-80.

Eppler, C. (2018). The resilient family therapist. Family Therapy Magazine. Alexandria, VA: American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

Rodriguez, J. (2017). A Clan Mother’s Call; Reconstructing Haudenosaunee Cultural Memory, New York: SUNY Press.

Cobb, R. A.Priest, J. B., & Strachan, T. B. (2016). Spirituality and religion. In M. J. Murphy & L. Hecker (Eds.), Ethics and professional issues in couple and family therapy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Taylor Francis.

Cobb, R. A., Halstead, R. O., & Kmitta, K. (2012). What I look like: Outside and inside the box. In J. Chang (Ed.), Creative interventions with children: A transtheoretical approach. Calgary: Family Psychology Press.

Rodriguez, J., & Fortier, T. (2007). Cultural memory: Resistance, faith and identity. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Rodriguez, J. (1996). Stories we live Cuentos que vivimos: Hispanic women’s spirituality. Paulist Press, Madeleva.

Rodriguez, J. (1994). Our lady of Guadalupe:  Faith and empowerment among Mexican-American women. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Clinical Experience

In the second year of the program, students begin the clinical sequence where they treat relationships, families, and individuals in a clinical setting. This 18-month internship provides direct experience and training in couples and family therapy. Students must accrue 500 clinical hours, including 200 relational hours (seeing couples, families, and a variety of relationship forms). Students are at a clinical site 14-18 hours per week for face-to-face client contact, supervision, and other onsite clinical work. Students secure placements throughout the Puget Sound area.

Students take a year of classes before they start the 18-month clinical sequence. Our AAMFT and state approved site supervisors report that interns are well prepared to see clients. They indicate this year and a half long internship benefits clients and students. Interns see brief and long-term clients and develop a range of skills they will utilize after graduation. Throughout the clinical sequence – from finding a site to completing hours – interns work with our clinical coordinator. For the past five years, 100% of interns completed their requirements within the required six quarters.

In addition to the onsite experience, students participate in weekly three-hour faculty-led group supervision with an AAMFT approved supervisor. The program ensures supervisor sufficiency for students to receive quality feedback regarding their clinical services.

In order to demonstrate clinical readiness, students are required to pass prerequisite classes and must receive passing grades on their clinical skills rubrics. Required clinical orientations provide instruction and resources regarding site placement and clinical expectations (handbook provided).

The MACFT program has a cohort model. Classes are taught during the day, some evenings and on weekends. Many students work part-time throughout the program. While some of our course offerings are during evenings and weekends, students need to be available for classes and clinical work during daytime hours. Our students understand and adhere to the AAMFT’s Code of Ethics.

There are some online components within the program.

Meet the Couples & Family Therapy Clinical Coordinator

Rebecca Cobb, Ph.D., LMFT

Rebecca (Becky) Cobb, Ph.D., LMFT
Clinical Coordinator
cobbr@seattleu.edu
206-296-6968

Learning Outcomes

Program Goals

  • Graduate couples and family therapists who integrate clinical knowledge, skills, and research with multifaith insights and spiritual formation.
  • Admit and graduate a diverse student body.
  • Graduate students who pursue licensure as marriage and family therapists (LMFT) and are committed to ethical practice.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will identify as couples and family therapists who integrate clinical knowledge, skills, and research with multifaith insights and spiritual formation.
  • Students will use family systems theories to offer systemic case conceptualizations and treatment plans.
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to provide multiculturally competent clinical services within clients’ social locations, including diverse races and ethnicities, genders and sexual identities, and religious and spiritual traditions.
  • Students will demonstrate legal and ethical competence by understanding and adhering to relevant laws and ethical codes.

Degree Requirements

Below is a list of degree requirements for the Master of Arts in Couples & Family Therapy degree.

Click here to view the Seattle University catalog and course descriptions. All courses are three (3) credits, unless indicated.

I. Clinical Theory & Practice

  • Professional Care Skills
  • Couples & Family Therapy: Identity and Ethics
  • Couples & Family Therapy in a Multicultural Context
  • Psychospiritual Development
  • Family Therapy Theory
  • Advanced Couples & Family Therapy Skills
  • Counseling Theory & Techniques
  • Integrating Systemic & Spiritual Approaches to Couples Therapy
  • Spiritually-Infused Systemic Child & Adolescent Treatment
  • Systems of Trauma Treatment
  • Human Sexuality
  • Group Theory & Techniques
  • Systematic Treatment of Addiction & Abuse
  • Psychopathology
  • Assessment & Diagnosis
  • Professional Ethics and Law (1-credit)
  • Research Methods
  • Research Seminar (1-credit)
  • Psychopharmacology (1-credit)
  • Career & Professional Development (1-credit)

II. Clinical Sequence*

Students complete 500 hours of clinical service through an 18-month internship. These internships are supervised by AAMFT and state approved supervisors.

  • Clinical I
  • Clinical II
  • Clinical III
  • Clinical IV
  • Clinical V
  • Clinical VI

III. Multifaith Insights and Spiritual Integration**

  • Healing Narratives: Personal and Sacred
  • Spiritual Discernment
  • Human Person and the Discovery of Meaning or Images of the Sacred

MINIMUM CREDITS REQUIRED FOR DEGREE: 79

*Students who do not complete the clinical requirements for graduation by the end of the clinical sequence (Clinical VI) may be required to take additional clinical courses until requirements are met.

** If you have an advanced degree in theology, please talk with your advisor or the admissions coordinator about waiving the spiritual integration courses.

Current and Graduate Student Stories

Vocations of Graduates

  • Therapist in Private Practice
  • Provider at Community Mental Health
  • Clinical Care Coordinator in Hospital & Hospice Settings
  • Family Coordinator in School Settings

Graduates contribute to the field of couples and family therapy by seeing clients, volunteering in the community, advocating for justice, and participating in professional organizations (AAMFTWAMFT). The program has a history of having the majority of graduates achieve full or associate-level licensure after graduation. All (100%) of our graduates who have taken the Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Board (AMFTRB) national exam passed on the first attempt.

Heather Calhoun, Current Student

Heather Calhoun, MACFTHeather chose the Master of Arts in Couples and Family Therapy (MACFT) because of its holistic approach to clinical, multifaith and spiritual formation. “I was once told the thing that bothers you the most is where your passion is at,” she says.

Heather, a MACFT student, discovered her passion is in helping empower families, marriages, and women both emotionally and spiritually. However, as a newly married college graduate with a young daughter and a newborn, she put her dream on hold to support her own family. She worked as a senior claims examiner after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She always told herself once her eldest child graduated from college, she would return to school to pursue her master’s. The same week that she was celebrating her daughter’s graduation from college and her job offer at a large architecture firm, Heather was laid off. At this crossroad, she realized it was time to pursue her dream she held onto for twelve years and enrolled in the MACFT program. “My experience in the MACFT program has been so fruitful,” Heather says.

Throughout her time at STM, Heather has acquired new skills that she believes will help in her future career goals.

“I have applied concepts, listening with intention, asking questions to get a better understanding, and this quarter I would say become an intentional critical thinker,” Heather says.

She currently works as a crisis response coordinator at the YMCA. Ultimately, she wants to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), eventually having her own practice and incorporating group therapy with women in recovery.

For prospective students, Heather offers this advice: “Buckle up, hold on, and enjoy the transformation ride.”

Nick Mabbutt, Current Student

Nick Mabbutt, MACFTNick Mabbutt was first exposed to the world of therapy after he obtained his bachelor’s degree in exercise science and his master’s degree in sport management. For two years, he worked in the health and wellness field, hoping to help people fulfill their fitness goals and discover their potential to live a healthier lifestyle. However, like many recent college graduates, he initially felt unsatisfied with his career path. When Nick chose to follow his heart and apply to the MACFT program, his outlook on his professional journey changed. He found the school’s values and faith traditions mirrored his own.

“The biggest factor for enrolling in the MACFT was the fact that faith is an integral part of my academic journey,” Nick says. “I also was drawn by the smaller class sizes and after my meeting with admissions, I felt like this could be my home for the next three years.”

Nick’s desire to become an agent of change was refueled by the experiences and new lessons he gained through the school. His goals include guiding people toward positive outcomes and a fulfilling life.

“The idea of being present to future clients and being able to hold a safe space which entails compassion, empathy, and listening skills is my biggest takeaway,” Nick says.

Nick enjoys being pushed to become the best version of himself through the coursework and training at the school. He describes the culture of the school as one of inclusivity and compassion, and one that will help him spiritually and professionally.

“The staff, faculty, and students create an environment that fosters success. As a prospective student, I would suggest exposing yourself to as many resources as possible and getting a true feel for what the school can offer. Connect with faculty, staff, and students and ask questions pertaining to the school and what to expect.”

Patricia Gould, Graduate

Patricia Gould, MACFTPatricia Gould was struck by how much the lack of therapy in the Latino community affected families and individuals, and she was deeply inspired to change that issue. Patricia worked as the Director of Hispanic Ministry for a Catholic parish in Anchorage, Alaska for four years. She provided pastoral care and spiritual companionship for people who struggled to find spiritual and therapeutic resources in their language. Noticing the need for diversity in therapy, Patricia applied to the Master of Arts in Couples and Family Therapy (MACFT) degree.

“The MACFT degree is the program that will allow me to help those seeking for healthy answers to their painful situations and to continue to serve a beautiful community full of faith and hope,” Patricia says.

Patricia chose the MACFT not only because of its integrative approach on the relationship between mind, body, and spirit but because of its open heart and emphasis on diversity. She witnessed the importance of these values firsthand when she worked with the Latino families in Anchorage. She knows communities need therapists who can communicate effectively with them in their own language. During her time at the School, Patricia learned the importance of embracing her own roots and experiences and using them to enrich her career as a therapist.

“In classes, professors emphasized the importance of the therapist identity and invited us to not leave out of the session who we are, but on the contrary, proudly embrace our roots, experiences and enrich our career with them. They described how to dance with knowledge, theories, techniques, spirit, and heart, and do it in such a way that others wish to accompany us in the dance.”

One of the most valuable concepts Patricia learned through her time at the school is what it means to be a spiritually integrated therapist. The MACFT program merges couples and family therapy with spirituality and multifaith insight. Graduates are prepared to clinically heal and empower diverse relationships and individuals with varying faith traditions and cultural backgrounds. Patricia reminds prospective students that an open mind and open spirit are key to their positive experience and outcome of the program.

Spencer Byl, Graduate

Spencer Byl, MACFTCouples & Family Therapy student Spencer Byl didn’t have a direct path to his graduate studies. With a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Spencer experienced a shift in vocation when he left his engineering job to work as a supervisor at an inpatient mental health facility. Although his work at the facility was extremely challenging, it awakened a desire in him to be in a healing profession. He says without both of these experiences, his life may have looked very different.

With the call to pursue counseling work and pastoral care, Spencer was pleased to find that the Master of Arts in Couples & Family Therapy (MACFT) at Seattle University’s STM did both. He was struck by the diversity of the school—the variety of programs it offered, and the different voices and views of the students and faculty. He also got the sense that this was a place that didn’t simply give answers, but challenged students to find their own. Ultimately, it was the supportive environment he experienced when he visited the school that really drew him in. Spencer reflects:

“On my initial visit, I met with faculty, staff, and students who all wanted to see me succeed, regardless of who I was, where I came from, or what I believed. I felt welcomed and supported from the moment I walked in the doors.”

The MACFT program integrates systems and psychological theories, supervised clinical experience, theological education, and spiritual formation in order to clinically heal and empower diverse families, couples, individuals, and groups from any faith and culture. Spencer appreciated the holistic approach to couples and family therapy and, shortly after visiting the school, felt that the program fulfilled both parts of his vocational call.

Spencer’s clinical internship focused on working with adolescents and teens. As an intern therapist at Bainbridge Youth Services, he offered free therapy to students and their families in the Bainbridge School District.

Ultimately, Spencer became a licensured as a Marriage and Family Therapist, and he knows that the education he is receiving has taught him more than he needs to get started. Although, he knows the learning never stops for a couples and family therapist.

“I was prepared to enter the field in a way where I can follow any direction, be it working with different age ranges, presenting problems, cultures, families, couples, or individuals.

Admission Requirements, MACFT-specific

  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, preferably in a liberal arts area
  • 3.00 GPA
  • Miller Analogy Test (MAT) scores, if undergraduate GPA is 3.0 or below.
  • Applicants for whom English is a non-native language must demonstrate English proficiency regardless of English language studies, residence in the United States or an English-speaking country or immigration status.

Application Materials to be submitted 

  • Download the MACFT Application Checklist.
  • Application forms and fee (apply online, here)
  • Résumé reflecting professional and/or volunteer experiences in the helping field (e.g., social service, education, or ministry)
  • Two letters of recommendation from professional and/or academic sources (e.g., supervisor, professor). At least one should be from a person who can speak to your ability to work with diverse populations. (Note: Recommendation forms are provided electronically through the application.)
  • Official transcripts of all previously attended colleges and universities
  • A 1000-1250 word personal statement that addresses all of the following:
    • personal, professional, and academic history and how they have led to your decision to become a couples and family therapist;
    • professional and career goals and how a degree in spiritually-integrated couples and family therapy will help you to reach those goals;
    • ways in which social justice and becoming a culturally responsive couples and family therapist align with your professional interests (you may include experience, education/training, and interest in working with culturally and spiritually diverse populations);
    • reasons for wanting to study at Seattle University’s Couples and Family Therapy program;
    • you may explain any special circumstances in your background and/or history and elaborate on any distinctive abilities or achievements.
  • A group interview with MACFT faculty and staff.

Please note: Admission is selective, and candidates are evaluated on their individual merits. Strong applications will demonstrate knowledge of the profession, experience that indicates an understanding of the strengths and challenges of being in the helping profession, and an appreciation of diversity.

Successful Transfer of Credit

Accepted students may petition to transfer up to 15 graduate credits from a regionally accredited institution (e.g., previous work from an advanced theological degree). These credits would be evaluated by the Program Director and the Associate Dean after admission acceptance. All work toward a degree from Seattle University must be completed within six years. This time limit includes transfer credit.

Apply Now

When you click on the “Apply Now” button below, it will redirect you to the Seattle University Application System, where you will need to register and create an account in order to apply. We look forward to receiving your application.

Questions?

We would be happy to answer any questions you might have about our degree programs, scholarships, the application process and more. Please feel free to reach out to Carolyn M. Dougherty, MAPC, Assistant Director of Admissions and Student Services at dougher6@seattleu.edu or 206.296.5333. We look forward to hearing from you!