On January 1, 2016, the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) made changes to how MFT registered interns can accrue hours toward licensure. Eric Evenson at TrackYourHours summarizes the changes in this helpful article by illustrating the differences between the old and new experience requirements.
Why are these changes significant for MFT registered interns who are in the process of searching for paid MFT internships? To answer that question, we need to examine how the minimums and maximums for certain categories have changed under the new option offered by the BBS.
1. Non-Clinical Experience
The Change: Under the old requirements, also known as “option 2,” non-clinical experience (which includes the categories of Attending Workshops, Seminars, Training Sessions or Conferences, Administering and Evaluating Psychological Tests, Writing Clinical Reports, Progress Notes, or Process Notes, Client Centered Advocacy, Direct Supervisor Contact, and Personal Psychotherapy) has a combined maximum of 1500 hours. Under the new requirements, also known as “option 1,” non-clinical experience (which has eliminated the Personal Psychotherapy category altogether) has a combined maximum of 1250 hours.
What This Means For You: When interviewing for a paid MFT internship, do you ask employers how much time you’ll spend working directly with clients vs. writing progress notes and obtaining resources for clients? The answers employers provide will vary, depending on the work setting. For example, many county-funded agencies will require MFT registered interns to spend just as much time, if not more time, focusing on non-clinical vs. clinical tasks. Although documentation can be tedious in these work settings, MFT registered interns can at least rest assured that they will be able to count those hours toward licensure. Under the old requirements, MFT registered interns can max out on certain types of non-clinical experience rather quickly. Under the new requirements, MFT registered interns won’t have to worry about individual category maximums; however, they will have to consider that the overall maximum for non-clinical experience has been lowered from 1500 hours to 1250 hours.
What You Can Do: The next time you’re interviewing for a paid MFT internship, look at your non-clinical experience and determine how close you are to maxing out on your hours, regardless of whether you are going with “option 1” or “option 2.” If you have an abundance of non-clinical experience and are lacking in clinical experience, then you may want to search for a position that places more of an emphasis on working directly with clients vs. documenting sessions and coordinating care with other service providers.
2. Conjoint Couples and Family Therapy
The Change: Under the old requirements, up to 150 hours of Couples, Families, and Children experience can be double-counted. Under the new requirements, these hours are no longer double-counted.
What This Means For You: Obtaining the minimum 500 hours of Couples, Families, and Children experience can be one of the greatest struggles an MFT registered intern will face during the licensure process. As a result, work settings that provide opportunities to work with couples, families, and children have always been highly desirable. Under the old requirements, working with couples and/or families provides an added incentive due to the ability to double-count up to 150 hours. Under the new requirements, that incentive no longer exists.
What You Can Do: Do you want to specialize in working with couples and/or families? If so, then by all means, search for work settings that will provide you with opportunities to work with couples and/or families! Just know that under the new requirements, you won’t be able to double-count any of those hours. If working with couples and/or families isn’t necessarily an interest of yours, then you may end up leaning toward an agency or school-based work setting that focuses on providing therapy to children and adolescents. Many MFT registered interns have shared that it can be quick and easy to build up a caseload of children and adolescents in these types of settings, whereas it can be slow and difficult to build up a caseload of couples and/or families in other settings.
3. Group Therapy and Telehealth
The Change: Under the old requirements, Group Therapy experience has a maximum of 500 hours, and Telehealth experience has a maximum of 375 hours. Under the new requirements, these maximums no longer exist.
What This Means For You: Work settings that primarily offer group therapy and/or telehealth vs. individual, couples, and family therapy may be less desirable under the old requirements due to the possibility that MFT registered interns can max out on these categories while accruing hours toward licensure. Under the new requirements, MFT registered interns will no longer have to be concerned about maxing out in categories that fall under “clinical” experience.
What You Can Do: If you are selecting “option 1,” and you are interested in group therapy and/or telehealth, then consider applying for positions that place an emphasis on these types of therapy sessions! Some work settings, particularly those with inpatient and court-mandated programs, offer several group sessions to their clients each week. If each group session is 1.5-2 hours in length, then an MFT registered intern who facilitates all of these groups can hypothetically accrue clinical hours at a rapid rate.
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