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M.A. in Psychology: Marriage and Family Therapy

Overview, Admission Requirements, Curriculum, MFT Blog

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 Institute 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 Program is the program upon which Phillips Graduate Institute was founded. For almost forty years, our MFT graduates have been making a difference in the lives of others as 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 psychotherapists. Our program respects and encourages students of diverse backgrounds to learn with and from each other, 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.

Phillips Graduate Institute utilizes the family systems theory as the theoretical basis for academic learning and clinical skills training; however, the program presents a broad array of models for assisting individuals, couples, families, and larger systems to develop and grow. Students are encouraged to align themselves with theories and approaches that fit with their own developing professional identities.

In practicum, students have support and careful advisement to locate appropriate sites for real-life
therapeutic experience consistent with their clinical interests.

Phillips is both experiential and applied in our educational philosophy. All faculty are licensed, practicing professionals with diverse specializations.  This brings a wealth of experience to the classroom that enhances the students’ education and their careers post graduation.

Program Schedule

Our MA in Marriage and Family Therapy is a 60-unit curriculum delivered over five semesters, including one summer semester.  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 class either on Saturday or on a weekday from 8am- 5pm.
  • A three hour weekly Case Conference section
  • Beginning as early as the second semester, students may gain practicum hours at a clinical placement site
  • In the third semester, concentration/elective coursework (approximately three hours per week) replaces Case Conference

Career Paths

Our MFT graduates pursue work in a variety of settings including:
  • Inpatient Facilities
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Community Mental Health Centers
  • Business and Consulting Companies
  • Schools and Head Start Centers
  • Social Services Agencies
  • Universities and Research Centers
  • Courts and Correctional Facilities
  • Private Practice

MFTs can also work in teams with other health care professionals, such as family physicians. Some are involved in family research and public policy analysis from a family perspective.


Program Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

Program Goal 1: Law & Ethics

Student Learning Outcomes:
1.1 Students identify legal and ethical principles underlying the practice of marriage and family therapy.
1.2 Students use an ethical decision-making process in professional practice as marriage and family therapists.


Program Goal 2: Theory

Student Leaning Outcomes:
2.1 Students demonstrate an understanding of human development throughout the lifespan.
2.2 Students apply a variety of theoretical models in the practice of marriage and family therapy.


Program Goal 3: Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Student Learning Outcomes:
3.1 Students demonstrate knowledge of human behavior in health and mental illness
3.2 Students apply appropriate skills in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment in the development of comprehensive treatment plans.

Program Goal 4: Cultural Competency

Student Learning Outcome:
4.1 Students evaluate the influence of culture on their work as marriage and family therapists.

Program Goal 5: Research

Student Learning Outcome:
5.1 Students locate and critically evaluate published research.


Program Goal 6: Professional Behavior

Student Learning Outcomes:
6.1 Students demonstrate professional behavior in all interactions with peers, faculty, staff, clients, site supervisors, and other professionals.
6.2 Students demonstrate respect, warmth, and attending behavior with clients in a treatment setting.



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