Accreditation is a public service that helps improve the quality and development of educational programs and encourages them to continually self-evaluate to meet established standards. As a program director, administrator or supervisor in the field of psychology, accreditation is important to show the public and prospective students that your program meets certain requirements through your goals, educational objectives and established outcomes.
In particular, accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is essential for students pursuing a career as licensed marriage and family therapists. COAMFTE-accredited programs maintain the highest expertise of professional education, which can boost your institution’s reputation and benefit your students’ future careers.
What is COAMFTE Accreditation?
To ensure marriage and family therapy clients receive care from the most experienced, knowledgeable therapists, The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) created the COAMFTE as a special accrediting agency to hold these educational training programs to the highest standard. The COAMFTE oversees marriage and family therapy programs at various educational levels, including master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral.
The main priorities of COAMFTE are to:
- Oversee and ensure high-quality MFT education.
- Help institutions develop programs that promote continuous improvement in the MFT educational field.
- Develop and preserve standards so students can gain adequate knowledge and skills needed for professional competence.
- Act as a guide for students looking for quality training in MFT.
- Produce a list of accredited programs for licensing agencies and state boards.
COAMFTE accreditation acts as a stamp of approval that marriage and family therapy programs have completed a multi-step application and review process to demonstrate their compliance with certain standards set by experts in the MFT field. This accreditation benefits both current and prospective students. They know that these programs meet the minimum requirements for quality, and as a result can meet licensure requirements with more ease.
Accreditation is important to a program and institution’s standing in the public, but its primary benefits are focused on boosting student achievement. With accreditation, students who are currently researching various training programs in the MFT field can determine whether each program offers quality education and meets current requirements for professional licensure. All COAMFTE-accredited programs are continually reviewed and monitored by the AAMFT to ensure they maintain these standards.
COAMFTE accreditation allows students to:
- Receive a quality education in MFT that has been thoroughly evaluated and met established standards.
- Ensure that the program’s curriculum matches its description and goals.
- Prepare for licensure as an MFT therapist.
- Prepare for state or national examinations in MFT.
- Gain an advantage in obtaining employment.
COAMFTE Accreditation Requirements and Standards
Programs aiming for accreditation must complete a letter of intent and ensure that various elements of their program are consistent with COAMFTE Standards Version 12.5 including:
- Outcome-based educational structures
- Curricular components
- Achievement data review
Here are the priorities that guide COAMFTE Standards for Accreditation and that MFT programs must meet:
- Certain philosophies and ethics within relational and systemic therapies
- An educational framework based on specific outcomes to assess student competency
- An inclusive and diverse learning environment
- Professional growth that accommodates diversity within various educational contexts
- A responsibility to adequately prepare students for licensure according to current regulations
To meet accreditation eligibility, the program must demonstrate compliance with each of the COAMFTE Accreditation Standards and their key elements:
- Standard I: Outcome-Based Education Framework and Environmental Support
- Standard II: Program Leadership, Program Faculty, and Program Clinical Supervisors
- Standard III: Curriculum
- Standard IV: Program Achievement and Improvement
In addition to these standards, COAMFTE-accredited educational programs must also meet the following guidelines:
- A program structure and curriculum founded in the Professional Marriage and Family Therapy Principles (PMFTPs)
- A dedication to multiculturally informed education
- An educational experience that aligns with the goals, outcomes and mission of the specific level of education, such as doctoral or post-doctoral degrees
- Access to appropriate and relevant learning resources necessary to prepare students for MFT practice
- A commitment to clinical training if required for program outcomes