Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are dedicated to understanding and improving the complex, dynamic relationships of couples and families. In addition to developing clinical experience, MFTs need to keep abreast of ongoing research, education, and emerging trends in the field of marriage and family therapy in order to keep up with the changing needs of their clientele and the industry. Online MFT CEUs and in-person MFT CEUs are not only essential for licensing purposes, but also critical for maintaining high standards of excellence in clinical practice.
Required Online MFT CEU and in-person MFT CEU Topics
To stay up-to-date, MFTs should consider the demographic and scope of their clinical practice to determine which mental health or relationship counseling issues they encounter most frequently. Continuing education courses should focus on these issues, as well as emerging areas of interest in marriage and family therapy.
In some states, such as California, compliance with the Board of Behavioral Sciences requires practicing MFTs to complete 36 hours of continuing education (CE) in the 24 months that immediately precede their license renewal date. MFTs with an initial license must complete a minimum of 18 hours of CE between the issue and renewal dates of their license.
The BBS requires that certain online MFT CEUS and in-person MFT CEUs be taken in the first 24 months such as: Domestic Violence/ Spousal Abuse, HIV/AIDS, aging and long-term care and Law and Ethics. Law and Ethics must be taken during every renewal period. The above mentioned courses are outlined below:
- Spousal or Partner Abuse — This includes information on the detection, assessment and treatment of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, including community resources, gender dynamics, cultural considerations, and intervention strategies.
- Aging and Long Term Care — This includes information on the biological and psychosocial aspects of aging, as well as long term care, grief counseling, and bereavement.
- HIV/AIDS — As the affected population increases, this course covers assessment and treatment of people who are living with HIV or AIDS, including the medical, social, and professional aspects of the disease.
- Law and Ethics
With the exception of ‘Law and Ethics,’ these mandatory courses only need to be taken one time. ‘Law and Ethics,’ however, is a course that needs to be taken every time an MFT license is due for renewal.
Emerging Trends and Areas of Interest for online MFT CEUs and in-person CEUs
In an increasingly fast-paced world where the media and the internet are omnipresent, the challenges of maintaining a stable marriage or family system are increasing as well. Issues such as the rising divorce rate, the war on terrorism, the uncertain economy, and the aging population present psychological hurdles for both children and adults, making a focus on hope and spirituality an enduring trend in the field of marriage and family therapy.
As the contemporary definition of ‘family’ changes in the United States, multicultural or multiracial families, child custody, single parenting, adoption, and step-parenting are also good topics for MFTs to learn more about. Marriage and family therapists may also benefit from taking courses on mediation services that assist couples and families who are going through a separation or divorce. In some cases, MFTs can be instrumental in collaborating with family law attorneys to facilitate these relationship transitions.
Another growing specialty within the field of marriage and family therapy is providing mental health services for school-age children (both in and outside of school) who need counseling on social adjustment or developmental issues, as well as learning obstacles such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Now that parents and teachers are more aware of the condition, ADHD is a great topic for MFTs to take a course on, not only because its diagnosis in children has become more common, but also because many adults are living with ADHD as well. Learning more about ADHD can help MFTs to better understand the challenges of coping with the distractability that is characteristic of ADHD, as well as the potential side effects of the medications that are used to treat it.
The aging population is another useful topic for MFTs to explore further in CE courses. As the baby boomers reach retirement age, more and more family systems will be dealing with issues such as aging, long-term care, Alzheimer’s Disease and other health conditions, life transitions, bereavement, and loss. Over 20% of households in America are involved in providing day-to-day care to a family member over the age of 50. MFTs can learn more about the frustrations that long-term caregivers may experience, as well as the adjustments that couples and families must make when a family member has retired, taken ill, been placed in a nursing home, or passed away.
Sexuality is also a worthwhile topic for a marriage and family therapist to take a course on. Through the web and other media vehicles, children are being inadvertently exposed to or bombarded with graphic or non-age-appropriate content. Access to pornography is less restricted than ever, and this exposure can be detrimental not only to kids, but also to the relationship dynamic between couples. MFTs may also be interested in taking courses on male and female sexual problems – as couples wait longer to have children, infertility, impotence, and intimacy issues are becoming more common. Online infidelity is also an emerging problem as the relative anonymity and easy access of the internet makes it easier for people to engage in extramarital affairs. Moreover, MFTs may find it beneficial to enroll in courses on understanding gay and lesbian relationships, as the younger generations have become more open about their sexuality but still struggle for acceptance within their families, peer circles, and society at large.
Continuing education opportunities for MFTs are abundant, so, as a general rule, MFTs should take courses that appeal to their interests and best serve the needs of their practices. Most importantly, MFTs should always be motivated to learn more about ongoing research and development in their very important profession.
MFT CEUS courses are inexpensive and quick here. If you are an MFT and need some more ceus credits you have found the right place! You can also pay online; most courses start at only $8 per unit. When will you get your ceus certificate? As soon as you pass the test you can print the mft certificate online! There is no waiting.
What Type of CEUS Courses Should a MFT Take?
There are a lot of great options for MFT CEUS courses. CEUS credits are designed to keep professionals current in their field of expertise by providing new development and training opportunities. When you’re selecting a course, you’ll want to consider several factors including, career development, new research, subjects you would like to improve in, and interest level.
Here are some suggestions for current issues and topics that may be helpful for the MFT practitioner to learn about or review:
The ADD/ADHD Child: Issues and Options CEUS
Consider learning more about developmental considerations for conducting therapy with pre-adolescent children with ADD or ADHD, along with legal and ethical issues. Recent studies reveal the efficacy of treatment approaches including play, art, sand tray and group therapies for these specific conditions. ADD/ADHD children also present special challenges for families and marriages, so it is a good idea to learn new techniques for assisting families of ADD/ADHD children.
Religion and the Therapeutic Process CEUS
In today’s world of mixed cultural and religious beliefs, practitioners must know how to successfully work with individuals, couples and families on a wide range of religion based topics. Issues facing mixed faith families, what to do when a religious belief may be hindering therapeutic goals and other religion based challenges for the practitioner are all worth reviewing along with potential ethical concerns.
Psychopharmacology from an MFT Perspective CEUS
With the rising use of anti-depressants and other medications in treating mental disorders within families, it is critical that therapists understand psychiatric uses, benefits, side effects, toxicities, combinations and biochemical actions of common drugs, as well as possible alternatives within the individual and family context. An understanding of these treatments enables therapists to work with medical practitioners in providing more comprehensive client care.
Alternative and Complementary Therapy CEUS
Some new and ancient alternative therapies are now being scientifically proven to offer relief from certain mental and emotional disorders. What are some of the emergent studies and practices such as massage, acupressure and various other modalities within a MFT context, that could complement traditional therapeutic processes?
Unconventional Families CEUSSpecial issues involving unconventional families, such as homosexual and lesbian partnerships, parenting and raising gay children are becoming more open and socially acceptable. As times change, practitioners may need current guidance on ethical, legal and moral. It is important to be aware of special challenges and therapeutic options for unconventional families which may not have been covered extensively during traditional schooling.
Professional Development: MFT
It is imperative for the professional and personal growth of therapists that they have a strong understanding of how to address legal and ethical situations that may arise, including maintaining appropriate boundaries. It is always a good idea to learn more about fresh strategies for continuing professional, personal, and spiritual growth as a practitioner.
Sexuality and Intimacy for Couples: The Pitfalls of Pornography CEUS
Recent studies have revealed much about the processes of love, intimacy and sexuality in couples, including ways to help enhance the sexual experience of couples, diagnose and treat sexual dysfunctions. Problems associated with pornography, and how to address these issues is also very important as pornography and other Internet addictions are becoming ever more prevalent.
Aging and the Family CEUS
With scientific advances extending life expectancy well into old age, the psychological aspects of aging must also continue to be researched and reviewed. Aging brings many developmental, psychosocial and contextual events that change every domain of the individual and family’s life. Aging issues from “mid-life crisis�? to health and bereavement are continually being researched. With the median age in the US getting higher each year, it would be wise to stay current on new research and advancements, including psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacologic treatments, appropriate for geriatric clients.
A Typical Day for an MFT*
Hello, my name is Monte Thorsen, and I am a professional marriage and family therapist. Many people ask me why I decided to go into the field of social work. My answer is always the same: I wanted to help people who could not help themselves. Short of starting my own foundation for people that can’t help themselves, I decided that I could personally reach out to many by obtaining an education. Often those in my field are told that our chosen profession is not really a profession at all, and that we are only behavioral scientists researching reasons behind why people act the way they do.
I beg to differ. In my career I have seen marriages on the brink of failure blossom under the idea that their problem was not situational or unique, but rather and more global reaction to external causes. I have witnessed families grow closer together after tragedy and I have helped couples prepare for their lives together. For me there is not only one way to do things, but techniques and strategies that are an eclectic gathering of formal schooling, on the job training, and continuing education. Being a marriage and family therapist means that I must ever be learning and always finding out new information and knowledge to help those that need helping.
6:00 a.m. I wake up early this morning because I have to prepare for a class I am teaching at the community college. I eat my scrambled eggs and read the latest issue of NASW Press‘s Social Work quarterly. In the Journal is an article about how the clinical diagnosis that we place on our patients may exacerbate the stigma of mental illness in general. This is the discussion I intend to bring up in our meeting this morning.
7:15 a.m. I board the train. This commute time will allow me to finish my article and firm up my lesson. In my notes I see a sticky note I wrote to myself about an ongoing Continuing Education class on Systemic Coaching. I need to sign up for this class so I move the sticky note to the top of my notes and hope to remember it.
8:05 a.m. Arrive at the community college with ten minutes to spare.
8:15 a.m. Begin class. Discussion is good, at times light hearted and at times it is serious. We discuss patient questioning techniques, the diagnosis article I mentioned earlier, and then I open it up for questions. Many students seem interested in ask about what I do to keep up with the many journals that I need to read and process professionally. I tell them that continuing education is key to this profession and just because they graduate does not mean they know it all. I think it went over well.
9:30 a.m. I get in a taxi cab for the clinic. I check my messages and find that the scheduling assistant has left one about a new couple seeking counseling. I call up my assistant and tell her to go ahead and schedule it for next Thursday. I also ask her to begin a file on them a gather the preliminary information.
10:00 a.m. I arrive at the office. I find my assistant with two other messages to return. One of them in particular needs my attention. A 14 year old young man has run away and I was seeing he and his parents in an attempt to help them all communicate more freely. It wasn’t going well and I don’t think I even uncovered the root issue between them. I call the parents immediately and discuss with them the next step. They have called the police and are trying to locate him. I will call back in a few hours. As I hang up the phone I remember a Continuing education course that I took for my licensing hours last month. It was about substance abuse and the warning signs that accompany it. I immediately think of this young man and think is might be possible such a thing is involved in this case. Though he seems to be clean, it makes sense and I note in his case file that I need to check more deeply on this.
10:55 a.m. After answering email and few more phone calls I get ready for my 11:00 a.m. appointment. It is a family of 4 that has just lost their mother. The father and his three daughters have been visiting me for about 2 months now. Things are going well and I am excited to share new information that I learned in my continuing education class on bereavement last week. I had only taken this class to finish my licensing hours but I find that this class fits in perfectly with what is being said.
11:00 a.m. The family arrives in excellent spirits. We run through an exercise of relaxation and visualization with them before we begin. It does what it was designed to do and the family is relaxed and very focused. We discuss with the children ages 12, 15, and 19 different ways to cope with the loss of a loved one, and the father seems very receptive as well. However I feel there is more I can do. I recommend to them a book called “Living with Grief: A Guide for Your First Year of Grieving�?. We continue to talk and share. It is good for this family to be together through this.
12:15 p.m. Leave for lunch with my partner. We talk shop of course and find that the bereavement patients I have been working with are very similar to his. I ask him what he would recommend. We discuss solutions. I get a call during lunch that my runaway patient has been found. Phew! It is nice to hear. I remind myself to phone the family as soon as possible.
1:30 p.m. I return to the office to prepare for discussion group with several couples on making marriage last. This group meets once a week and brings up such topics as intimacy, child rearing, communication, and dealing with finances.
2:30 p.m. Begin the discussion group with couples. It is a lively discussion with great humor and healing. One couple in particular approaches me afterward to discuss a private meeting. They would like to arrange specific and private counseling where they can open up a little more about their personal issues. I consent and give them my card.
5:00 p.m. Arrive back at the clinic to meet with another couple who cannot have children. They have seen many fertility doctors but nothing seems to work. I remind them that I cannot help them have children, but I can help them cope with the challenges they are currently facing. We discuss options for them, including adoption, and I recommend a good adoption agency I learned of during a continuing education class last year. We also discuss the things that they could do to cope, and especially what they must do to keep together.
6:00 p.m. Appointments are finished for today, but I do check my email and my notes from the presentation this morning. I find the sticky note reminding me to sign up for the CEU class on Systemic Coaching. I register online and forward the schedule on to my assistant.
6:30 p.m. I board the train for home and remember to call the family whose son was found. I talk with them and ask to speak to the son. He apologizes to me before I get a chance to say anything. I tell him that I don’t need an apology but his parents do. He begins to cry and I know I have my work cut out for me. I think the upcoming continuing education class might help here as well.
*this information is fictional but based on similar real-life experiences of other MFTs.