Fieldwork - Traineeship

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The fieldwork process is an integral and mandatory part of the graduate program in Marriage and Family Therapy. It bridges the gap between classroom learning and the field. A traineeship provides an opportunity to begin putting into practice what you have learned with both the support of a practicum teacher at the university and a supervisor at your chosen field site.

Each student must find his/her own placement. Students can use this page to find an appropriate and fulfilling field site.

Fieldwork Requirements
600 Hours Fieldwork Requirement = 500 Clinical Hours and 100 Supervision Hours

500 Clinical Hours Includes
200 Individual Therapy Hours (no minimum or maximum)
  • Individual therapy with adults and children
  • Process group therapy with individual adults or children

200 Relational Hours (200 minimum)
  • Couple therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Process groups with couples or families

100 Alternative Hours (100 maximum)
  • Reflecting teams
  • Client centered advocacy with families, social workers, other professionals, etc.
  • IEP or similar meetings.
  • Rape crisis accompaniments, suicide hotline, and similar activities through Strengths United or other approved site.

100 Supervision Hours Includes
  • Must include 50 hours live supervision (audio, video, or observation in individual or group supervision format)

Approved Sites
The MFT program must “approve” a site before students can legally see clients as an MFT Trainee. We designate two types of “approved” sites: Comprehensive Sites and Hour-Specific Sites. The former are sites that are able to provide all hour requirements for the degree and the latter agreeing to only provide certain types of hours (e.g., individual but not relational). Students may only work at sites that have a contract in good standing with the university. To see the list of currently approved comprehensive sites or approved hour-specific sites. Additionally, all students will be added to a Moodle page maintained by the Fieldwork Coordinator that provides additional information and resources. To become an approved site please go to our Being an Approved Site page.
Fieldwork: When to Get Started?

Search Second Semester: Students are encouraged to start exploring fieldwork opportunities during their second semester of their first year of the program. The second semester advising session provides extensive training on how to find a site.

Begin First Summer or Second Fall Semester: Students are required to have field site placements and begin their fieldwork by the start of their third semester (September 1st).

BBS Regulations: According to the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) requirements, students in the MFT program are not considered trainees and may not count direct service hours toward licensure until 12 semester units of coursework have been completed. While full time students generally meet this requirement by the end of their first semester and they may begin their fieldwork during the second semester of their first year (with the permission of their practicum B instructor), it is recommended that students wait until their third semester to begin their fieldwork. It is important to remember that a trainee may only begin counting pre-degree hours of work experience both after completing a minimum of 12 semester units and after getting a written agreement between the school and each work site that details each party’s responsibilities, including the methods by which supervision shall be provided. Once students start seeing clients they must enroll in a fieldwork class for every semester during which clients are being seen, including summer.
Who is a licensed, qualified supervisor?
Most sites that you will be working at will have qualified supervisors that fit into the BBS requirements. For your knowledge, or in case you are trying to get a site that is not on the list approved, the BBS requirements are as follows:

  • The supervisor possesses and maintains a current valid California license as a Marriage and Family Therapist, licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Psychologist, or Physician who is certified in Psychiatry.
  • The supervisor has practiced psychotherapy for at least 2 years within the 5 year period immediately preceding any supervision and has averaged at least 5 patient/client contact hours per week.
  • Supervisors must complete a minimum of 6 hours of supervision training or coursework every two years (for MFT’s; LCSW’s must take a one time 12 hour course).

What is the role of the supervisor?
In California, the MFT trainees can only provide clinical services under the license of a supervisor. The supervisor holds ultimate responsibility for the trainee’s conduct. As such, trainee’s must comply with supervisor direction as it relates to client services and welfare.

Does my supervisor need to be on-site?
No. A supervisor only needs to be onsite in a private practice setting, and because Trainee’s are restricted from working in this type of setting and must work at an agency (as either a volunteer or an employee of the agency), his/her supervisor is not required to be onsite. The supervisor must be employed by the employer on either a paid or voluntary basis. An off-site supervisor must sign a letter of agreement with the agency employing the trainee.

Supervisor Descriptions
All supervisors must be eligible by the state of California to provide supervision for MFT Trainees. On average 90% of supervisors are LMFTs themselves with over 60% either AAMFT Approved Supervisors or Supervisor Candidates. The average supervisor has 8 years of supervision experience and 14 years of clinical experience. Approximately 50% of our supervisors represent ethnically diverse communities.
MFT Trainee Regulations
What is the difference between an MFT Trainee and an MFT Intern?
An MFT Trainee is still in graduate school and completing his/her hours to fulfill a requirement both for school as well as for the BBS. Once a trainee has received a qualifying degree, he/she can apply to the BBS for an Intern number and begin working under the title MFT Intern.

How many hours should an MFT student expect to be working at his/her field site?
Students are expected to be at their field sites for 20-25 hours per week for a minimum of 12 months. This will vary based on the field site the student has chosen and their specific site requirements.

Can I begin work in a Private Practice setting without having an intern registration number?
A private practice setting is a place of business that lawfully and regularly provides mental health counseling or psychotherapy and is owned by a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical social worker, a licensed psychologist, a licensed physician and surgeon, or a professional corporation of any of these professions. Trainees CANNOT work in a private practice setting. Registered Interns may be employed in a private practice setting.