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Marriage, Family, and Child Emphasis

Put your MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to work with Children, Couples, and Families

When relationships get complicated, parents and couples turn to counselors and therapists. Your education and training from Palo Alto University can help people in distress overcome the mental and emotional health barriers that keep people apart. 

Focusing on recovery-oriented treatment, you will work with individuals, couples and groups in the context of their families and other relationships. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) in California, you will also be directly responsible for ensuring client safety, following standards of care that meet all legal, ethical and moral guidelines. 

The scientific and professional rigor of our program is uniquely suited for students from all backgrounds and career levels who aspire to help struggling families and relationships learn to thrive.

MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Admission Information
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How the Program Works

PAU’s MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling combines an emphasis on scientific research with extensive clinical training to produce clinicians whose practices are grounded in science and meet the highest professional standards. 

In addition to coursework, you will be required to complete a practicum/internship experience in the role of a clinical counselor. Over a 9- to 12-month period, you will complete a minimum of 700 hours of counseling-related experience, including a minimum of 280 hours of direct experience.  

PAU provides guidance in securing a practicum/internship site – in fact, we work closely with community and county mental health agencies, school-based mental health centers, and non-profit counseling centers across the Bay Area. 


What Can You Do with an MFCC Emphasis?

Marriage and Family Therapists may find employment in such settings as: 

  • Private practice 
  • Schools and colleges 
  • Social service agencies 
  • Health maintenance organizations 
  • Inpatient and outpatient care facilities and hospitals 
  • Medical and mental health centers 
  • Nursing homes and residential care facilities 
  • Religious organizations 

While most graduates of this program pursue licensure, you can also find positions in education, research, publishing, administration, advocacy, business, and other fields – or go on to earn a doctoral degree.

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Licensure Options


In California, your master's in counseling degree is the first step to obtaining an MFT or LPCC license. Before and after graduation, you will need to accumulate two years (104 weeks) of supervision and 3,000 pre- and post-master's hours of supervised work experience.

The Marriage, Family and Child Counseling emphasis fulfills the State of California's educational requirements to pursue licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) or dual LMFT/LPCC licensure, specifically Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) licensure with a scope of practice that includes couples, families, and children.

Learn more: California Board of Behavioral Sciences
Other States

The MFCC emphasis meets educational requirements for MFT licensure in California, but students in other states are cautioned from selecting this emphasis area for MFT licensure in other states.

PAU’s program and emphasis may fulfill the educational requirements licensure in other states and territories – be sure to research the specific requirements for your state before enrolling.

Take Your First Step in Obtaining MFT License

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CACREP Accredited

PAU's world-renowned programs are fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Our faculty and training meet or exceed quality standards, reflecting our commitment to providing the highest level of care for all students.

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Online Format

If you choose our online learning format, you will complete your coursework via distance learning, and do your practicum placements locally, in your home community. Classes are held live, via Zoom, in the evenings. These interactive sessions engage students in discussion, role-playing, and skill-building exercises

Learn more about your options
MA in Counseling Virtual Open House

Join the MA in Counseling team for an On-Demand Virtual Open House to learn more about PAU.

The Professional Counselor Doctoral Counselor Education
PAU Faculty in 'The Professional Counselor'

William H. Snow, Chair of PAU's Counseling Department, co-authored the introductory article for a special issue of the The Professional Counselor that is designed to inform and support faculty, staff, and administrative efforts in starting or revitalizing doctoral degree programs in counselor education and supervision.

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Alum Spotlight: PAU Counseling Grad Creates ‘Serenity Room’ for Colleagues

Mark Elliott graduated from PAU in 2017 with an MA in Counseling and soon after, started working as a mental health clinician with Humboldt County's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Children's Mental Health Division.

Read More
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