2016 News Releases
TWU’s master’s in family therapy now only accredited program in North Texas
Texas Woman’s University’s master’s in family therapy program recently received initial accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), which promotes best practices for educational programs in marriage and family therapy in the United States and Canada. TWU’s program is the lone accredited master’s degree program in North Texas and is one of only four in the state.
COAMFTE, the accrediting body of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, sets standards for master’s degree, doctoral degree and post-graduate clinical training programs. The accreditation is for five years – the maximum given before reaccreditation – and TWU will voluntarily submit self-study reports annually to show its commitment to maintaining high academic standards and professional development.
About 60 graduate students are in the family therapy master’s program, which is part of TWU’s Department of Family Sciences.
“For TWU students, the accreditation means it’s easier for them to become licensed marriage and family therapists and for those licenses to be portable to other states if they relocate,” said Sarah Woods, Ph.D., LMFT-supervisor, assistant professor and program coordinator in the family therapy program. “There are some states that will only license you if you come out of an accredited program, and (Veterans Affairs) will only hire graduates of COAMFTE-accredited programs.
“It’s a pretty big deal for our students and our alumni.”
Other COAMFTE-accredited programs in Texas include Abilene Christian University, Our Lady of the Lake in Houston and San Antonio and the University of Houston-Clear Lake, the only other state-supported university. Oklahoma and Louisiana each boast one accredited university, but there are none in Arkansas and New Mexico.
TWU undertook two years of self-study and submitted a 500-page report in March 2015. Representatives from the accreditation body visited the Denton campus earlier this year.
In preparation of accreditation, the family therapy program instituted a new-student orientation program offered twice a year, created a student handbook and collected data from student interns and their supervisors, alumni and administrators. The program also improved the interviews-and-admissions process to ensure students chosen for the program are best suited to the profession.
“It wasn’t that there were so many massive changes,” Woods said. “But we made sure everything is clearer and more precise so that students know what they are doing and they know what is expected of them.”
Also, as part of the changes, graduate students may opt out of the TWU program’s exit exam if they pass the national licensure exam before graduation.
“As soon as they graduate, they can send their transcripts to the state board, and the board will send them their associate licenses,” Woods said. “They can get employed pretty quickly, which is awesome; otherwise, it takes months of waiting. And some of them stay on where they’ve had internships.”
She said many graduates find jobs in hospitals, community mental health centers, agencies and in private practice. Others go on to earn doctorates, and TWU expects to receive COAMFTE accreditation for its doctoral program in 2018; Texas Tech University in Lubbock currently has the state’s only accredited doctoral program.
It’s too early to tell if the accreditation is increasing enrollment in the graduate program, but Woods said there are more students from outside Texas considering TWU’s doctoral program in anticipation of the second accreditation.
“There are many opportunities for our students to work in mental health,” she said.
Contributor to TWU News