Once you've completed your degree in marriage and family therapy, you might immediately start worrying about your licensing exam. Obtaining licensure or certification allows you to work in private practice and demonstrates your professional knowledge. But ensuring that you're well-prepared is your best predictor of success. While some students rely on professional test preparation companies, you can pass the examination on your own, provided that you're well-organized and have enough time to study.
Prepare in Advance
Preparing well in advance of your scheduled exam date is crucial for passing the MFT exam. Since MFT licensing exams are offered four times a year, your exam date might be weeks or months in the future. You might be tempted to relax and put off studying, especially after you've worked so hard to earn your degree, but it's important to stay on top of your studies if you want to maximize your chances for success. Set aside a block of time each day to study. Review your textbooks and pay particular attention to challenging or difficult subject areas. Discuss the exam with colleagues, your supervisor or other students. If you find it helpful to study with others, set up a weekly exam preparation group.
Know the Domains
The MFT National Exam will test your knowledge of five specific practice domains. Knowing these domains inside and out can help you feel well-prepared and confident as you approach your examination date. The domains include the practice of marriage and family therapy, which includes systems theory and therapeutic relationships; assessing, hypothesizing and diagnosing, which tests your knowledge of these therapeutic activities; designing and conducting treatment; evaluating ongoing process and terminating treatment; and ethical, legal and professional standards. Focus your study time on learning these domains -- review the task statements provided by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards so you know exactly what will be included on your exam.
Take Practice Exams
The Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards offers online practice exams that you can take on your own to help you prepare for the exam. If you're taking a formal test-preparation course, you'll likely have plenty of opportunities to take practice exams. If you're preparing on your own, you should try to take as many practice exams as you can until you feel confident that you know the exam format and structure. Completing practice exams can help you assess your knowledge, shows the knowledge areas that require improvement and helps determine whether you're ready to take the actual exam.
The period leading up to your exam can be one of the most stressful times of your life. You might be worrying constantly about the exam and it can feel as though your entire life depends on a passing score. If you fail, you will have to wait a few months before you can take the exam again -- but you'll still have another chance. Worrying and stressing about the exam is only counterproductive to your desired goal. According to psychologist Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD, you'll be better off studying more and addressing your anxiety and stress rather than worrying about the exam. Meditate, practice deep breathing, spend time with friends and set aside time to relax and unwind.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.