The Marriage and Family Therapy Masters Program at the Valdosta State University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Training and Education (COAMFTE). The MFT program at VSU was first accredited by COAMFTE in 2006, renewed in 2013, and recently reaccredited for an additional seven years in 2020

The 60 credit Master of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy prepares students for licensure as Marriage and Family Therapists in Georgia and other states and for clinical membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). The curriculum—a full-time, two year program or a part-time, three or four year program—was developed to meet the accreditation standards of the Commission for Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education and includes 42 credits didactic coursework and 18 credits supervised clinical practice. You can visit the Required Courses and Elective Courses tabs in the menu below to read a description of each course. In addition, when students have completed the majority of their coursework, they must pass the Comprehensive Exam.

Theory and practice are linked throughout training. Students are required to accrue 500 hours of direct client contact and 100 hours of AAMFT approved supervision. To do this, students work face-to-face with clients at FamilyWorks, our student-run, university-based Family Therapy clinic operated by the Marriage and Family Therapy program. In addition, students  may work with clients at internships with mental health agencies in communities throughout the region. Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy provides intensive individual and small group supervision. We emphasize helping each student find his or her own therapeutic voice, as he or she works as sole therapist or co-therapist with a fellow student, or with a faculty member seeing couples, families, or individuals.

Check out the fascinating history of MFT in Georgia as told by one of its founders, Carl Johnson.  

2023-24 Faculty and Student Diversity


mft24fstudentgender.jpg mft24fstudentperfaculty.jpg mft24studentspersupervisor.jpg
mft24ffacultyrace-ethnicity.jpg mft24student-race-ethnicity.jpg


Important Program Information


In concert with the Valdosta State University mission and its embrace of service learning,
safety, respect, community collaboration, creativity, social justice, and sustainability, the
mission of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program is to provide students with in-depth
knowledge and understanding of the interconnected, interrelated, and systemic nature of the
world, particularly as these pertain to the formation and resolution of human problems. This
systems theoretical knowledge-base forms the epistemological foundation upon which
students acquire an MFT identity and develop the clinical skills necessary to therapeutic
practice that is ethical, grounded in research, multi-culturally competent, and readies students
for employment in a variety of mental health settings with a diverse range of clients.


PG 1. Diversity: The program will demonstrate that graduates consider ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status, and culture in clinical work.

PG 2. Knowledge: The program will demonstrate that graduates have a master’s level understanding of systems theory, relational/contextual thinking, and the ability to apply a systems/relational orientation to the assessment and treatment of clients.

PG 3. Practice: The program will demonstrate that graduates have the clinical competencies and personal qualities necessary to gain employment in a variety of mental health settings.

PG 4. Professional MFT Identity: The program will demonstrate graduate readiness to assume the identity of a professional Marriage and Family Therapist

PG 5. Research: The program will demonstrate student understanding of the way research informs relational family therapy treatment.

PG 6. Ethics: The program will demonstrate that graduates understand and apply a systemic ethic and the AAMFT Code of Ethics to clinical work.

These program goals are informed by the five developmental competencies identified by COAMFTE (Accreditation Standards 12.5): 1) Knowledge of the MFT profession, 2) Practice of relational/systemic therapy as a qualified behavioral/mental health provider, 3)Commitment to ethical practice through ethical codes of the MFT profession and pertinent regulatory bodies 4) Awareness, knowledge and skill to responsibly serve diverse communities 5) Development and application of research to further the knowledge and practice of the MFT profession


SLO 1. Practice from a multi-culturally sensitive lens
SLO 2. Practice from a systemic lens
SLO 3. Be prepared to obtain entry-level employment in mental health settings
SLO 4. Claim the professional identity of a Marriage and Family Therapist
SLO 5. Recognize the ways research informs relational family therapy treatment
SLO 6. Practice informed by ethics



The MFT Program policy on diversity aligns with the Valdosta State University Policy on Non-Discrimination, the MFT Program mission, goals, and student learning outcomes (see above tab), and the COAMFTE Accreditation Standards V12.5 definitions of diversity and diverse, marginalized, and/or underserved communities (p. 33-34).

It is in the best interests of our clients, ourselves, and society as a whole that diversity is held as a core value. This means that we follow paths that connect, rather than separate people. Family therapy training and practice are relationally connective in nature. Valuing the myriad ways that we humans are both different and the same is at the heart of diversity. In the course of our work, family therapists engage in connective activities—sense-making, metaphoric and narrative understanding, and constructing contextually-driven stories. Embracing diversity is, by its nature, inclusive, connective. In fact, inclusive thinking and acting are unable to be separative or oppositional. Racism, heterosexism, classism, religious discrimination, and other “isms,” on the other hand, are always separative, intended to set a group of people apart and away. The “other”—that “other” race, that “other” sexual orientation, that “other” class, that “other” religion—are established as exclusions to a preferred default race, sexual orientation, class, or religion. Estrangement and hate are forged through separation. Love, understanding, respect, appreciation, safety and a strong multicultural and diverse educational environment are forged through connection. 

The faculty of the VSU MFT program regard issues of diversity to be of utmost importance in the training and practice of family therapists. Thus, the MFT Program is committed to ensuring that issues of diversity are woven throughout the MFT educational environment in coursework, practica, internships, and student/faculty relationships. We strive to teach students that problems and clients’ attempts to solve problems make sense when viewed through relevant contexts such as age, culture, environment, ethnicity, gender, health, physical ability, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, spirituality, socioeconomic status, and languaged meaning. These give shape and meaning to clients’ lives. That these contexts are embedded in more encompassing cultural contexts of privilege, power, subjugation, and susceptibility is a notion that is infused throughout the entire curriculum. The program emphasizes the way these contexts inform human experience and meaning systems, giving rise to multiple perspectives.

It is a foundational premise of this program that mere tolerance of difference (which is often based on class, race, gender, sex, gender expression, gender identity, religion or non-religious age, ethnicity, nation of origin, immigration status, language abilities, sexual orientation, veteran status, socioeconomic status, spirituality, physical or mental disability, health status, and political beliefs) is wholly insufficient. The differences that make up the rainbow weave of humanity are most properly embraced, cherished, and celebrated. Mary Catherine Bateson (1994, Peripheral Visions) reminds us that insight is “that depth of understanding that comes by setting experiences, yours and mine, familiar and exotic, new and old, side by side, learning by letting them speak to one another (p. 14).” After all, “it is," she goes on, “contrast [the relationship to 'otherness'] that makes learning possible” (p. 27).

The relationship between diversity and the variety of dominant cultural discourses such as ageism, classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and gender are woven throughout the fabric of our curriculum. MFT faculty members strive to explore with students the ways that cultural and institutionalized discrimination are embedded in culture and language. We examine how issues of diversity and discrimination shape the context of therapy and exacerbate the treatment issues that clients present. By the time students graduate from our program, they are able to situate themselves in the relational web of issues—class, privilege, and disenfranchisement—often at work in the therapy room.

Appreciation for the unique perspectives, life experiences, and values of clients, students, and faculty members is a prerequisite for respectful and safe relationships, whether in treatment, with colleagues, or in our personal lives. Based on the above diversity statement and in alignment with the Valdosta State University mission and the MFT Program mission, it is the program’s responsibility to provide non-discriminatory services to clients (see AAMFT Code of Ethics, Standard 1.1). Faculty and students are expected to work with any family, couple, or individual seeking services at FamilyWorks or an internship. Students do not have the option to opt out of work with clients based on discriminations of class, race, gender, sex, gender expression, gender identity, religion or non-religion, age, ethnicity, nation of origin, immigration status, language abilities, sexual orientation, veteran status, socioeconomic status, spirituality, physical or mental disability, health status, or political belief. The Valdosta State University MFT program subscribes to the following:

  1. Clients have a right to treatment that is “without discrimination on the basis of race, age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, gender, health status, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.” (AAMFT, 2015, Ethical Standard 1: Responsibility to Clients)
  2. We believe that to be successful, MFT’s must possess therapeutic curiosity, be aware of ethical and therapeutic limitations, have a genuine interest in their clients, and be willing to talk openly about anything a client might wish to discuss, regardless of age, ethnicity, cultural background, national origin, spiritual belief and/or affiliation, relationship status, socio-economic status, health status, disability or physical limitation, political leanings, and level of education.
  3. The MFT faculty believe that person-to-person relational connection is the best way to forge and deepen understanding, respect, safety, cultural humility, and appreciation for those we view as different from ourselves. We are committed to teaching courses that often ask students to participate in difficult or uncomfortable discussions about race, culture, class, sexuality, or that bring out differences in political belief. We assume that our students are able to engage respectfully in such conversations, orienting themselves toward listening and hearing, rather than debate, persuasion, or contest. We assume that our MFT students can and will conduct themselves with patience, fairness, maturity, and thoughtfulness.
  4. The MFT program requires prospective students to read and give thoughtful consideration to the above diversity statement, then attest to their willingness and ability to adhere to the statement in an email to the Program Director. This attestation is retained in the student's permanent file. If a student finds conflict with the statement or personal beliefs preclude him or her from working with certain categories of clients, this program may not be a good fit, and the faculty will suggest that the student seek training elsewhere.

Other Information


MFTH 6800: Relational Theory, Practice, and Ethics (3 credits).
Introduces students to the foundational epistemological theories and practices in marriage and family therapy, history of the field and current developments, and the ethics and values associated with a systemic orientation to change. Students are expected to cultivate the ability to practice from a systemic lens.

MFTH 6900: Foundations of Family Therapy
Prerequisite: Admission to the program
Introduction to postmodern theory & social constructionism with a focus on understanding human interaction, meaning making, and problem resolution through both relational and narrative lenses. Students will explore the relationship between meaning, language, stories, and cultural discourse.

MFTH 7050: Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice (3 credits).
Prerequisite: Admission to the program and MFTH 6800
An in-depth study of the skills, sensitivities, and theoretical ideas needed by family therapists to encounter otherness and navigate the interface between professional responsibilities, ethics, social justice, and the social and political context of treatment. Students are expected to cultivate the ability to practice from a culturally sensitive lens.

MFTH 7101: Family Systems Theories (3 credits).
Prerequisite: Admission to the program and MFTH 6800
An in-depth study of family systems theory. Emphasis on the major schools of thought included in a systems analysis of the family and current issues and ideas within family systems discourse.

MFTH 7102: Interventions in MFT (3 credits).
Pre or Co-requisite: Admission to the program and MFTH 7101 
A review of the various intervention techniques employed by the major theoretical approaches to MFT. Emphasis on skill development, video and role-play demonstrations, and linking practice and theory with appropriate treatment goals.

MFTH 7103: Advanced Theories Seminar (1 credit each; may be repeated; students must take at least two). 
Prerequisite: Admission to the program, MFTH 7102, clinical experience. 
A series of seminars that allow students to develop in-depth understanding of at least two theoretical approaches to MFT. Examples of offerings include structural/strategic, family of origin, narrative/constructivism, and solution-oriented. Two MFTH 7103: Advanced Theories courses are a required part of the curriculum. Currently, Advanced Theories courses are offered for the Fall and the Spring of the second year in the program. Advanced Theories courses are indicated with a ♦ symbol on your Plan of Study form.

MFTH 7200: Research in Marriage and Family Therapy (3 credits).
Prerequisite: Admission to the program and a statistics course 
Quantitative and qualitative methods for research design and data analysis in marriage and family therapy. Emphasis on current outcome and process studies and on critical evaluation and application of research data.

MFTH 7350: Legal Issues in MFT (1 credit).
Prerequisite: Admission to the program and MFTH 6800 
Legal responsibilities and liabilities in the practice of family therapy. Addresses issues such as limits to confidentiality, therapist liability, and client privilege. Includes working with the legal system and relevant aspects of family law. 

MFTH 7400: Psychopathology & Pharmacology in MFT (3 credits). 
Prerequisite: Admission to the program and MFTH 6800 
Psychological, biological, and medical issues in the practice of MFT and an introduction to pharmacology. Emphasis on DSM IV diagnosis within a systemic context and collaboration with other mental health professionals.

MFTH 7500: Development in the Family System (3 credits).
Prerequisite: Admission to the program
Human growth and development within the family system. Includes theories of individual development, developmental tasks over the family life cycle, normative and non-normative change, processes of divorce and remarriage, and social, economic, and ethnic influences on the family life cycle. Implications for practice are emphasized. 

MFTH 7600: Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy  (6 credits, repeated for a total of 18 credits).
Prerequisite: Admission to the program, MFTH 7102, and approval of the MFT faculty. Corequisite: MFTH 7350

Supervised experience in the practice of marriage and family therapy. Includes practice and live supervision at FamilyWorks as well as experience in community placements. Requires a minimum of 20 hours per week.

  • Practicum must be taken for three consecutive semesters
  • Practicum is taken after successful passing Comprehensive Exam I and successful completion of the following courses: MFTH 6800: Relational Theory, Practice & Ethics; MFTH 6900: Foundations of Family Therapy; MFTH 7500: Development in the Family System; MFTH 7101: Family Systems Theories; MFTH 7102: Interventions in MFTMFTH 7200: Research in Marriage & Family Therapy; MFTH 7050: Diversity, Inclusion, & Social JusticeMFTH 7400:Psychopathology & Pharmacology in MFTMFTH 7350:Legal Issues in MFTMFTH 7700: Assessment in MFT.
  • If a student withdraws from a practicum, time accrued toward meeting the requirement for 3 consecutive practica is lost. When practica are resumed, the student must start from the beginning with the first of three practica.
  • If a student fails a practicum, a practicum must be retaken.
  • By the time three consecutive semesters of clinical practica are completed, the student should have accrued 500 hours of client contact and 100 hours of supervision. If not, students are required to enroll in one or more additional semesters of MFTH 7600: Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy until the hours requirements are completed.

MFTH 7601: Treatment Issues in Family Therapy (3 credits).
Prerequisite: Admission to the program and MFTH 7102 
Applications of family systems approaches to the treatment of issues facing families in crisis and transition. Addresses grief and loss, substance abuse, family violence and abuse, child and adolescent behavioral problems, and chronic physical and mental illness. Emphasis on conceptualization and treatment planning.

MFTH 7602: Couples and Sex Therapy (3 credits). 
Prerequisite: Admission to the program and MFTH 7102 
Treatment techniques for intimate relationships. Emphasis on premarital and commitment issues, anger and conflict, gender and intimacy, and techniques for treating sexual dysfunctions.

MFTH 7700: Assessment in Marriage and Family Therapy (3 credits).
Prerequisites: Admission to the program, MFTH 7101, and MFTH 7500 
How to assess family processes within a developmental context. Models for assessing family functioning and use of individual and family assessment instruments will be included.

MFTH 7880: Professional Ethics Seminar (1 credit).
Prerequisite: Admission to the program
Addresses professional issues in the workplace. Includes marketing oneself, politics in the workplace, professional licensure and clinical membership, working in interdisciplinary teams, professional wellness, and the ethics, values, and decision-making associated with current practice issues.


MFTH 7650: Special Topics in MFT  (1 credit each, to be repeated).
Special Topics are a rotating series of seminars addressing important contemporary issues in the field of marriage and family therapy. Examples of topics include working with children, working with adolescents, spirituality, family violence, and substance abuse. The five Special Topics credits that the program offers meet Georgia licensure requirements. Currently, there is a 3-credit elective offered in the student’s first Fall. Two 1-credit Special Topics, one in the Fall and one in the Spring, are typically taken during the second year in the program. MFTH 7650: Special Topics are indicated on your Plan of Study form by this symbol: *

MFTH 7980: Internship in Marriage and Family Therapy (1-5 credits; Does not apply toward degree.)
Supervised experience in the practice of marriage and family therapy at FamilyWorks and/or at a community placement. Internship in MFT is ONLY for those students who have completed all other coursework but have not yet accrued their 500 client contact hours.

MFTH 7990: Directed Study in Marriage and Family Therapy (1-3 credits)
Requires admission to the program and consent of instructor 
Specialized study in an area of Marriage and Family Therapy under the direction of a faculty member.


SOCI 7021: Statistical Applications in Sociology (3 credits)
Evaluation of social statistics and data management for applied research problems. Students will gain skills in determining which statistics to use for particular research problems and designs, which statistics provide the most practical means for reading and interpreting data, and what computer software is available to facilitate data analysis in sociology.

SOCI 6000: Sociology of Mental Health (3 credits)
Introduces students to the history and causes of mental illness as well as the language of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The relationship between mental illness and the major sociological variables, such as social class, race, gender, age, and marital status will be analyzed. Students will evaluate mental illness from the institutional and client points of view.

CRJU 7500: Seminar in Criminal Behavior and Personality (3 credits)
An advanced study of specific criminal behavior types emphasizing violent offenders, sexual deviants, the anti-social personality, and the criminally insane.

SOCI 6130: Social Gerontology (3 credits)
Study of the social phenomenon of the aging process, the life cycle, and patterns that include social roles, medicalization of aging and death, and the values, norms, and beliefs related to these phenomenon. Emphasis on the social changes that have occurred as medical technology and science impact on the culture and institutional patterns related to aging and death. Study of the process of dying will include the entire life cycle and new efforts to deal with this complex social phenomenon.

SOCI 6700: Family Sociology  (3 credits).
The social context of contemporary issues facing families. Includes family history, cross-cultural issues, research and theory regarding changing gender roles, family violence and abuse, divorce, single parenting, work families, sexual orientation, non-traditional families, and other relevant issues.

MFT is a year-round program (six sequential semesters) that most students complete in 2 years of fulltime study. However, the number of courses that you take each semester can be reduced, so allowing program completion in 3 or 4 years of study. If you prefer to do this, meet with your faculty advisor to create a Plan of Study. Below is the course sequence for the typical 2 year plan of study.

First Year - Fall

MFTH 6800: Relational Theory, Practice, & Ethics, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 6900: Foundations of Family Therapy, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 7500: Development in the Family System, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 7650: Special Topic, 3 credits, Elective *

First Year - Spring

MFTH 7101: Family Systems Theories, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 7102: Interventions in MFT, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 7200: Research in Marriage & Family Therapy, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 7050: Diversity, Inclusion, & Social Justice, 3 credits, Required

 First Year - Summer

MFTH 7400: Psychopathology & Pharmacology in MFT, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 7350: Legal Issues in MFT, 1 credit, Required
MFTH 7700: Assessment in MFT, 3 credits, Required

 Second Year - Fall

MFTH 7600: Practicum in MFT, 6 credits, Required for one consecutive year
MFTH 7601: Treatment Issues in Family Therapy, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 7103: Advanced Theories Seminar, 1 credit, Required to be taken twice ♦
MFTH 7650: Special Topics, 1 credit, Elective*

 Second Year - Spring

MFTH 7600: Practicum in MFT, 6 credits, Required for one consecutive year
MFTH 7602: Couples and Sex Therapy, 3 credits, Required
MFTH 7103: Advanced Theories Seminar, 1 credit, Required to be taken twice ♦
MFTH 7650: Special Topics, 1 credit, Elective*

 Second Year - Summer

MFTH 7600: Practicum in Marriage and Family Therapy, 6 credits, Required for one consecutive year
MFTH 7880: Professional Ethics Seminar, 1 credit, Required



The mission of the Marriage & Family Therapy Advisory Council is to enhance the opportunities and experiences available to MFT students. To assist the program with staying on the cutting edge of clinical training, members of the committee are encouraged to identify and recommend curricular and clinical training improvements, as well as inform program faculty of the issues that are at the forefront of MFT employers and consumers. Having stakeholders from key areas of the mental health field serve in an advisory capacity allows the program  to benefit from differing perspectives as well as receive input on policies, practices, clinical training, and curricular matters. Such influences enrich the program and enable the program to better meet the needs of students, employers, and consumers of mental health services.

The Marriage & Family Therapy Advisory Council meets twice a year, once in the Fall and once in the Spring semester.

Students from all over the world have recognized the outstanding training and excellent value of our program. We have attracted students from 39 US states as well as students from Belize, Brazil, China, Russia, Tunisia, and Bulgaria. 

states students originated from


belize flag


brazil flag


china flag


russia flag


tunisia flag


bulgarian flag

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

British Virgin Islands