California Board of Behavioral Sciences approves Northcentral University's Marriage and Family Therapy Master's Program

Northcentral University becomes the first regionally accredited online university outside of California to meet the Board’s rigorous education requirements for licensure.

PRESCOTT VALLEY, ARIZONA, March 2, 2011 — Underscoring the quality of its 100% online Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) master’s degree program, Northcentral University (www.ncu.edu) today announced that the program is now approved as meeting the educational requirements for licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist set by the California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS).

In doing so, the University joins a select number of regionally accredited online universities, and the first university based outside of the state of California, to meet the rigorous standards established by the BBS, according to Dr. Branden Henline, Chair of Marriage and Family Therapy Programs. The MFT master’s level program began as a specialization in psychology in 2004 and was introduced as a new master’s degree program by the University in January 2010. The University also launched an MFT doctoral degree program at that time.

"We have worked hard to design a curriculum and clinical training process that sets new standards for MFT education,” Dr. Henline said today. "We are pleased, but not surprised, that our programs meet the education requirements for licensure by the Board of Behavioral Sciences. With this achievement, we are truly breaking down the barriers to online Marriage and Family Therapy education and training.”

What’s more, according to Dr. Henline, while a select number of other regionally accredited online universities have been approved by BBS, Northcentral University is unique in that its program does not require periods of physical residency on campus. "This provides our Students with an enormous degree of flexibility. They do not have to disrupt their professional life, family schedules, or incur costly travel expenses in order to complete their degree program. And, while most universities offer only master’s level training, we also offer a doctoral level program with several specialization options.”

Northcentral University’s MFT graduate programs broke new ground in higher education when they were first introduced in January 2010. Other marriage and family therapy degree programs have residency requirements, which can be costly and difficult to schedule. Some programs that appear to be focused on marriage and family therapy are in fact generic counseling programs that offer a few courses in family therapy. "Marriage and family therapy is a unique profession and requires a curriculum that is clearly focused on training MFTs. Northcentral University offers genuine family therapy training with a course-by-course focus on MFT practice. By granting approval for the education requirements for licensure, the Board of Behavioral Sciences has recognized that our dedication to these specific material subjects puts us ahead of other online programs.”

Northcentral University's clinically-focused Marriage and Family Therapy MA and PhD degree programs can lead to a career as a licensed therapist and can prepare students for therapeutic and educational careers in a variety of settings including private practice, mental-health centers, public-service agencies, correctional institutions, the military and schools.

These degrees provide an integrated learning experience that explores family and couple dynamics, family therapy models and interventions, therapy with children and adolescents, couple’s therapy, working with people in crisis, issues related to gender and diversity, individual and family development, ethics and current research in family therapy. Degree requirements also involve ongoing clinical work and supervision. The degree offerings prepare students for a professional practice consistent with their personal goals. The fact that the coursework is designed to meet the BBS’ rigorous requirements ensures that the education and training received reflects the highest academic and ethical standards.

Northcentral offers the following MFT graduate degree programs:

* Master of Arts (MA) in Marriage and Family Therapy
This program develops the personal and professional skills necessary for an effective practice and is designed to meet national standards so graduates can seek licensure in the area where they reside. Individuals are encouraged to review their own local licensure regulations in order to ensure that this program meets their needs.

* Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Marriage and Family Therapy
This program offers advanced clinical education and training, opportunities to develop specializations tailored to individual interests, research coursework and opportunities, and supervision training and experience. As a PhD graduate, individuals will be prepared to carry out advanced clinical work and supervision and/or education and research in the field of marriage and family therapy. Doctoral Specializations are available in General Family Therapy, Child and Adolescent Therapy, Couple Therapy, Medical Family Therapy, and Therapy with Military Families.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Behavioral Sciences is dedicated to protecting Californians by promoting consumer awareness, advocating for improved mental health services, and setting, communicating, and enforcing standards. The Board of Behavioral Sciences is a California state regulatory agency responsible for licensing, examination, and enforcement of Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), and Licensed Educational Psychologists (LEP). In addition, the Board regulates Marriage and Family Therapist Interns (IMF), Associate Clinical Social Workers (ASW), Continuing Education Providers (PCE), and MFT Referral Services (MRF).

The Board also works alongside other mental health agencies and organizations to advocate for increased consumer awareness and access to mental health services. The Board’s outreach program provides information to consumers, licensees, registrants, and students on consumer rights, California licensing requirements, and other Board related activities. The Board is composed of 12 members; seven (7) public members, two (2) Licensed Clinical Social Workers, one (1) Licensed Educational Psychologist, and two (2) Marriage and Family Therapists. Nine (9) members are Governor appointed. The Speaker of the Assembly appoints one (1), and the Senate Committee on Rules appoints another.