July 28, 2009

Marriage and Family Therapy Accreditation Re-affirmed

VALDOSTA - The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) recently re-affirmed accreditation for Valdosta State University's program, which educates approximately 40 students and serves many others through various outreach programs.

According to Dr. Kathy Warner, director and associate professor for the MFT program at VSU, reaccreditation is affirmed every year after the program submits an annual report. In addition, the program is re-accredited every six years after a three-day site visit. This includes a complete evaluation of the program and its facilities, curriculum and success rate, which is determined by the number of students who are licensed in family therapy along with interviews with various parties, including alumni, professors and top level administrators.

"We are proud to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage & Family Therapy because it signifies that our program meets rigorous standards. Not only does it reflect the quality of our program, accreditation indicates a sense of public trust because of our willingness to be held to nationally endorsed standards for our profession," Warner said. "Students who chose our program often indicate the importance of our accredited status because it tells then that our program has been recognized for our excellence by leading MFT educators."

In order to keep the AAMFT accreditation, faculty members are required to maintain active state of Georgia licensure, retain AAMFT approved supervisor status, sustain an active clinical practice and be available for consultation for all supervised cases 24 hours each day, 365 days each year.

The program must also meet completion requirements and show a commitment to cutting-edge academic and clinical training for students. VSU's program boasts an 87 percent completion rate, which exceeds the standard requirement by 37 percent. Students also have a 97 percent National Marriage and Family Therapy Examination pass rate, which exceeds the standard requirement by 32 percent. Additionally, 96 percent of graduates are working in the field.

"We are proud that employers recognize the quality of our students - this year most of our students secured jobs before they even graduated," Warner said. "We think that is because, even in hard economic times, quality matters, and employers and our accrediting organization recognize the first-rate training our graduates receive."

In addition to their courses, all students spend one year providing 500 hours of therapy to members of the local community - most often at the university's Moore Street Clinic, where advance-standing interns serve hundreds of individuals, couples and families in need. First year students each gain experience from 160 hours of service learning through outreach efforts, community education programs and daily activities in the clinic. This in-service learning garners more than 6,000 hours per year of experience for students and service to the community.

"The MFT faculty have worked hard to achieve standards that are even higher than those set by COAMFTE. From the perspective of those future clients who will look to our graduates for help, a well trained, professional, and compassionate therapist is invaluable," Warner said. "We always have those clients in mind when we are teaching our students, and for that reason, both faculty and students are always working hard to be the very best."

AAMFT's Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) is a specialized accrediting body that accredits master's degree, doctoral degree and postgraduate degree clinical training programs in marriage and family therapy throughout the United States and Canada. Since 1978, the U.S. Department of Education has recognized the COAMFTE as the national accrediting body for the field of marriage and family therapy.

For more information about the MFT program at VSU, visit http://www.valdosta.edu/soc/mft/ or call Dr. Warner at (229) 293-6264. Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/soc/mft/moorestreetclinic.shtml for more information about the Moore Street Clinic and its services.

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