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Pacific Oaks College    
2018-2019 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum 
  Jul 03, 2020
2018-2019 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook with Spring Addendum [Archived Catalog]

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

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Pasadena, San Jose, and off-campus locations

*The availability of off-campus locations depends on enrollment.

Program Overview

The MFT programs offer a deeply relational approach to teaching and learning. Just as research has demonstrated that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is the single critical factor in producing positive healing outcomes, Pacific Oaks believe that the quality of the academic relationships among students and instructors is the cornerstone of a transformative academic learning experience.

The MFT programs’ emphasis on intrapersonal, family and institutional issues provides a holistic approach to understanding the theory and practice of marriage, family and child therapy. The program at Pacific Oaks respects the unique learning styles of the individual and practices a relational model of learning that is dynamic, engaging, respectful and transformational. Faculty and students are partners in the learning community. Students are expected and mentored towards critically examining their own attitudes, beliefs and values to become clinically skilled and culturally attuned therapists.

There are several options for the M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). In addition to the traditional MFT program, four specializations are available and include: LatinX Family Studies Specialization, African- American Family Studies Specialization, and Trauma Studies Specialization, and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Specialization. Pacific Oaks’ M.A. in MFT programs provide students with a robust blend of theory and hands-on practice. The college maintains relationships with clinics and community agencies throughout the greater Los Angeles area to provide students with extensive opportunities for supervised clinical training. Graduates are prepared to consider issues of social justice, trauma within family systems and community and to explore how those factors directly impact family dynamics and the mental health of each family member.

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

The Marriage and Family Therapy (Traditional) Program is a unique Educational Master’s program for developing clinically skilled, culturally attuned marital and family therapists. The MFT Traditional program offers a multidisciplinary, inclusive curriculum based on developmental and family systems theories and evidence based theory and practice. Integrated throughout its curriculum is a commitment to understanding the lived experience of clients and practitioner, the power of culture, oppression, and society on the developmental process, and the impact of one’s social political context on the developing mind and behavior.

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy - African-American Family Studies Specialization

Through the African-American Family Studies program, students explore mental health theory and practice from a deeply culture-centered perspective. Graduates gain a broad understanding of marriage and family therapy as well as specialized knowledge of the diverse mental health needs of African- American children and families. The curriculum is informed by the UJIMA model of collective work and responsibility, with the goal of developing marriage and family therapists who are highly competent in serving and advocating for the mental health needs of African-American families.

The program prepares students to use a culturally relevant approach to therapy and utilizes an historical lens in the learning style that will help individuals, couples, and families of African descent build on their strengths, improve their relationships, and generate solutions to relational problems. Students complete their clinical training hours in community agencies serving African-American families, and are supervised and mentored, when possible, by licensed African- American mental health professionals. The student body consists primarily, but not exclusively, of mental health specialists and academics with intimate knowledge and experience of the African American community’s mental health needs. The program is open to all people who wish to specialize in serving the mental health needs of African-American families and communities.

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy - LatinX Family Studies Specialization

The LatinX Family Studies program is a unique “culture centered cohort” that utilizes the strengths of the Latina culture to inform its process of educating Master’s students. The program seeks to develop culturally attuned marriage and family therapists with a deep respect for social justice and advocacy on behalf of all children and families.

The LFS program emphasizes a cultural/ developmental/relational framework in marriage and family therapy as well as a special Educational emphasis on the diverse mental health needs of LatinX children and families. The Educational experience of the ‘Comadre-Compadre’ Cohort model is culturally transformational; it is an intensely dynamic, intellectually relevant process. Faculty and students make up a learning community, “la familia,” that uniquely challenges both the personal and professional development of all its participants.

The program is open to all students who are passionate about serving LatinX and studying MFT theories in context with the issues that impact the LatinX population, such as: immigration, acculturation, trauma, culture, history, liberation psychology, and advocacy.

The core values of the AAFS and LFS Specializations assert that culture, history, family and race are integral components in understanding mental health issues and practice and are the foundation for the construction of the cohort experience.

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy - Trauma Studies Specialization

As a school dedicated to the mental health profession, Pacific Oaks College School of Cultural and Family Psychology cannot ignore the prevalence of trauma experiences. Trauma comes in many forms and can lead to an array of mental health concerns and conditions. Empirical studies agree that the prevalence of traumatic experiences continues to increase across many groups. These experiences manifest themselves in many ways from PTSD and Anxiety to Depression and Suicidality.

The Trauma Studies Specialization is 61 units. The program integrates the MFT courses with the Trauma studies specialization courses with an emphasis on developing in- depth understanding of trauma in the mental health field. Students will engage as a learning community not only in the classroom but in their training sites to foster their professional development and clinical skills in working in the trauma field. The program is an intimate community that engages students to address not only the clinical aspects of trauma studies, but the sociopolitical underpinnings of community that influence the incidence of violence and how it is addressed in our society. The Trauma studies specialization is an option for students who are in any of the MA in MFT programs. It is open to all students who desire a rigorous academic program that provides substantial exploration, understanding and praxis of trauma, mental health and social justice.

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy - Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Specialization

Students wishing to qualify additionally for licensure as a Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in the state of California, may do so via selection of the LPCC Specialization, which include the following courses, totaling 5 units: MFT 670 - Career Development Theories and Techniques  (3 units); MFT 681 - Advanced Topics in Addictions Counseling  (1 unit); and, MFT 683 - Advanced Topics in Psychopharmacology  (1 unit).

Program Disclosures for Licensure

The M.A. in MFT programs satisfies all of the requirements of SB 33 and the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) (Business and Professions Code Sections 4980.36c, d e 4980.39, 4980.40, and 4980.41).

The MFT programs prepares graduates to sit for the California MFT exam to earn a Marriage and Family Therapist License awarded by the California Board of Behavioral Science. Pacific Oaks MFT program coursework meets each of the following BBS requirements:

  • Integrates Marriage and Family Therapy principles throughout the curriculum.
  • Integrates the principles of mental health recover- oriented care and methods of service delivery in recovery-oriented practice environments, among others, throughout the curriculum.
  • Integrates an understanding of various cultures, the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position, and an understanding of how poverty and social stress impact an individual’s mental health and recovery.
  • Encourages students to develop the personal qualities that are intimately related to effective practice including integrity, sensitivity, flexibility, insight, compassion, and personal presence.
  • Provides students with the opportunity to meet with various consumer and family members of consumers of mental health services to enhance understanding of their experience of mental illness, treatment, and recovery.

Program Learning Outcomes

The Program Learning Outcomes for the MFT program at Pacific Oaks are based upon the mandated competency requirements for the licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the State of California. These 9 competencies are evaluated at a rudimentary level at the Admission s interview, after 24 units of credit for course work in the First Year Review process, comprehensively in the clinical training evaluation process, (through the practicum placement), and with the capstone project of Clinical Portfolio.

  • Clinical Evaluation Skills
  • Crisis Management Skills
  • Treatment Plan Development Skills
  • Clinical Treatment Skills
  • Human Diversity Competency
  • Law and Ethics Competency
  • Personal Maturity and Interpersonal Skills
  • Professionalism
  • Use of Supervision/Teachers/Mentors

The MFT programs include the following competencies:

  • Diversity
  • Development
  • Communication
  • Research
  • Praxis

In addition, the MFT Department adheres to two other competencies specific to the needs of the mental health profession, as defined by the laws and regulations of the State of California and as circumscribed by the professional standards of the mental health profession:

  • Clinical (mental health theory and practice)
  • Professional (public role, ethics and behavior)

Admission Requirements

Application Requirements

  • Completed Application for Admission
  • Application Fee
  • Resume
  • Personal Statement in relation to the MFT program
  • Official Transcripts from a Regionally-Accredited Bachelor’s Degree Granting Institution Showing Date of Degree Conferral
  • Two letters of recommendation; one must be from a current or previous supervisor
  • Faculty Interview

Transfer Credit Policy

A maximum of 18 units of graduate-level transfer credit can be accepted from a regionally accredited MFT program approved by the Board of Behavioral Sciences. Coursework from non-MFT programs may be considered, under unique circumstances, with the approval of the Associate Dean. In all cases, official transcripts, course syllabi and a copy of the course catalog from the former program should be submitted to the admissions office at the time of application to be considered for transfer units. Upon application to the MA programs, the request for Transfer credit review must be initiated, reviewed and determined prior to enrollment in the first semester classes.

Program-Specific Policies

Role of Faculty Advisor

The faculty advisor serves as an academic/professional mentor who reviews the program and the professional development requirements with the student. Prior to registering for classes each semester, students are strongly encouraged to meet with their faculty advisor. This promotes the quality and continuity of the faculty mentorship relationship for MFT students. It is required that each student meet with their faculty advisor for the First Year Review process.

In addition, the faculty advisor may assist in the following ways:

  • Discuss the program, coursework and prerequisites
  • Discuss their professional development and non-academic requirements for the MFT program
  • Review their academic progress and clinical readiness for practicum.


The MFT programs are designed to offer the student a developmental approach to their learning. The course layouts are designed to integrate and build knowledge from preexisting coursework. Prerequisites for the program ensure the quality of your program/learning development and readiness for the practicum and advanced courses. Students are expected to meet the prerequisite requirements for their classes upon enrollment.

First Year Review

The M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy is a clinical degree. In addition to academic performance, students are expected to demonstrate clinical readiness competencies in the following areas for consideration for readiness for advanced coursework and clinical training:

  • Maturity
  • Insightfulness
  • Capacity for establishing appropriate boundaries
  • Reflection
  • Professionalism
  • Empathy and Compassion
  • Interpersonal and relational skills

After completing 24 credits and in good standing, each student will obtain First Year Review evaluations for the first year review from two MFT faculty members, one of whom must be an MFT full time faculty member.

In addition, the MFT student will complete a self-evaluation on the above clinical readiness competencies. After the evaluations have been submitted, the student will meet with her/his academic advisor to review her/his overall performance to date. The performance review includes both academic progress, professional behavior, clinical readiness, and culture & diversity, along with nonacademic requirements. After successful completion of this process, the student will be eligible to begin the process of clinical training preparation.

Academic Progress

  • The student has demonstrated graduate level mastery in his/her course work with a 3.0 minimum GPA.
  • The student has been consistent in engaging in the classroom discourse and collaborating as a team member.
  • The student has come prepared for the class.
  • The student demonstrates understanding of MFT theories, and Evidence Based practices, and their application.
  • The student has completed all of his/her assignments as required for the course, as outlined in the syllabus.
  • The student has contributed to the learning environment of the class.

Professional behavior

  • The student has consistently demonstrated his/her capacity to behave responsibly and professionally in his/her student role, and in relation to his/her learning community.
  • The student has demonstrated sound professional judgment.
  • The student has demonstrated the capacity for being on time and meeting deadlines.
  • The student is respectful of the learning community and the ground rules.
  • The student has demonstrated the capacity as a team member in the learning community.
  • The student is one who honors his/her word.
  • The student is one who is capable of responsible and respectable communication and openness to feedback.
  • The student is ethical and accountable for their actions and their behavior in the classroom and in relation to their academic colleagues.
  • The student is insightful, reflective, and compassionate.

Clinical Readiness

  • The student has demonstrated a capacity for reflection and insight.
  • The student has demonstrated an ability to empathize.
  • The student has a solid grasp of his/her own process.
  • The student has been capable of setting boundaries.
  • The student has the ability to monitor his/her own behavior (self-monitoring).
  • The student has demonstrated the capacity for intentional listening.
  • The student has demonstrated the capacity for relational learning.

Culture and Diversity

This section addresses the student’s intent, engagement, and capacity to integrate an understanding of the culture and diversity issues addressed in the program. The student must demonstrate sufficient mastery in the following areas:

  • The student demonstrated a willingness to explore issues of diversity in relation to his/her own life experience.
  • The student actively pursues knowledge and experience that enhances his/her capacity for cultural competency.
  • The student is open to diverse ways of learning.
  • The student’s respect for cultural diversity is manifested in his/her writing, discussions, and behavior, including the following characteristics:
    1. Capacity for insight, reflection
    2. Ability to listen effectively and empathically
    3. Openness to feedback, new ideas and situations
    4. Commitment to self-growth
    5. Professional behavior in the classroom

If the student does not meet all of the requirements for First Year Review after completing a minimum of 24 credits, the advisor and Associate Dean may recommend several options for the student, including but not limited to academic and non-academic remediation or program dismissal.

First Year Review Coursework

MFT Clinical Training Program

The MFT programs are clinical programs. These programs have academic standards/requirements, clinical readiness and professional competencies, in addition to in vivo clinical training. Each student will be evaluated for his/her clinical readiness via the First Year Review process.

The School of Cultural and Family Psychology has two zero unit, no fees Pre-Practicum courses.  These two courses formalize already required non-academic program graduation requirements, such as Clinical Training Orientation, personal therapy hours, first year review, etc. 

Every CFP-MFT student will be required to complete these two courses and they will serve as prerequisites for moving forward in the program.  The two courses are titled: MFT 560 Clinical Training Orientation and MFT 565 Pre-Practicum and Professionalism in the Field.  Both MFT 560 and MFT 565 will be 16-week hybrid format for fall  and spring semesters, and 12-week hybrid for summer semesters.  Courses will be primarily online but will require in person meetings with Clinical Training Coordinator and for Workshop attendance.

The Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program maintains relationships with clinics, county and community-based agencies, and medical facilities throughout the greater Los Angeles and San Jose area to provide students with extensive opportunities for supervised clinical training (as an MFT Trainee). The College follows the guidelines and regulations outlined by the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to ensure students are prepared for licensure eligibility in California as a Marriage and Family Therapist. As part of the MFT program, you will gain supervised counseling experience in approved clinical settings and earn a portion of the 3,000 hours of experience required for the MFT license eligibility. Some of these BBS requirements are outlined below, and include but are not limited to:

The Board requires 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience and 104 weeks of supervision to qualify for MFT licensure. —Statutes and Regulations cited: B&P Code Section 4980.43; CCR Section 1833
Trainees cannot work in a private practice setting. —Statutes and Regulations cited: B&P Code Section 4980.43; CCR Section 1833

According to BBS, a Trainee can only begin counting hours of experience if both the following requirements are met: (1) the student must have completed a minimum of 12 semester or 18 quarter units in a qualifying MFT degree program. (2) The Trainee must have 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.

The clinical training process is developmental and has 4 major steps, (1) Completion of Personal Therapy Hours, (2) Completion of First Year Review, (3) Pre-practicum Courses, (4) Practicum Courses. Each step and its components/ requirements must be completed before moving on to the next steps of the clinical training process.

(1) Completion of Personal Therapy Hours

All MFT students are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of individual personal therapy with a licensed mental health professional (LMFT, LCSW, LPCC, Licensed Psychologist) prior to starting their practicum experience. Hours may begin being counted from time of enrollment at Pacific Oaks.

Documentation of individual therapy hours will be submitted to the Clinical Training office. A total of 36 hours of Individual psychotherapy is an MFT program requirement for graduation

(2) First Year Review Process-  Students are expected to demonstrate clinical readiness competencies (as outlined in each course’s SLOs) that cover the following areas:

  1. Maturity
  2. Insightfulness
  3. Capacity for establishing appropriate boundaries
  4. Reflection
  5. Professionalism
  6. Empathy and Compassion
  7. Interpersonal and relational skills

After completing 24 credits students will complete a Self-evaluation and have a meeting with their Faculty Advisor to review his/her overall performance to date.  At the end of this process, students and Faculty will sign a First Year Review form that will be forwarded to the Clinical Training Office indicating approval to move forward in the practicum process.

(3) Pre-Practicum Courses- To assist students with moving through the clinical training preparation process, students will take two courses designed to guide students step-by-step.  Every CFP-MFT student will be required to complete these two courses and they will serve as prerequisites for moving forward in the program.  These two courses formalize already required non-academic program graduation requirements, such as Clinical Training Orientation, personal therapy hours, first year review, etc.  The two courses are: (1) MFT 560 Clinical Training Orientation, and (2) MFT 565 Pre-practicum and Professionalism in the Field.  Both of these courses will be hybrid in nature, meaning they will follow the 8-week online model but will require some in-person meetings.  These two courses are both zero units will be graded on a credit/no credit basis.  Students MUST receive credit in these courses to continue on with the clinical training process including but not limited to, starting at a practicum site or taking Practicum I.

(4) Practicum Courses

Enrollment in each of the three practicum courses is required by the BBS while the student earns their mandatory clinical training hours. Practicum class grades are based on the student’s classroom activities/assignments and their clinical training requirements. Students must complete a minimum of 225 face-to- face clinical traineeship hours during a 10-12 month training commitment at an approved site as part of their master’s degree requirements. The traineeship experience is to be completed concurrently and while enrolled in the following classes:

The above three classes fulfill the BBS requirements of being enrolled in a practicum course while collecting hours as a trainee. In the event that a student has not earned a total of 225 BBS clinical training hours while enrolled in these courses one the following will apply;

(1) If the student has earned a minimum of 185 hours they will be required to sign a contract with the Clinical Training Coordinator providing them with a MAXIMUM of 45 days to complete the remainder of their clinical training hours or other requirements. A student’s practicum class requirements will not be considered satisfied and their degree will NOT be conferred until this requirement is met.

(2) If the student has completed fewer than 185 of their 225 total hours they must enroll in MFT 684-Practicum Continuation to complete their clinical training requirement.

Additional Requirements for Successful Completion of Clinical Training

  1. Student must be in Satisfactory Academic Standing with the college.
  2. Successful completion of MFT 626 , MFT 628  and MFT 655  courses, which also requires satisfactory progress at agency site, as documented per semester, by the agency clinical supervisor on file. Satisfactory evaluations from the clinical supervisor at the clinical placement site at the end of each semester or when course requirements are completed.
  3. Satisfactory completion of all the clinical training requirements as a Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee as outlined by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and as mandated by the Pacific Oaks MFT program requirements in the School of Cultural and Family Psychology.
  4. Submission of copies of:
    1. MFT Weekly Summary of Hours of Experience (BBS Form)
    2. MFT Experience Verification (BBS Form) C/ Responsibility Statement for Supervisors of a MFT trainee or Intern (BBS Form)
    3. MFT Trainee Practicum Evaluation Form
    4. Personal Therapy Hours Verification Form (to document remaining 16 hours)

Resources: Licensure and Professional Websites

  • California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS):
  • California Association for Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT):
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT):

Residency Requirements

It is expected that students will fulfill a minimum of 42 units of all degree requirements through courses offered at Pacific Oaks College with the exception of a maximum of 18 approved graduate level transfer units. Courses taken concurrently at another institution while enrolled in the MA MFT programs at Pacific Oaks College are not transferable for credit.

Length of Program (in semesters):

The program can be completed in approximately 8 semesters if the student takes at least nine units per semester and is prepared to adjust their schedule for clinical training hours at an agency.

Students who choose to attend part-time or less than eight credit hours per semester should work directly with an academic advisor to outline a plan of study.

For continuing MFT Traditional program students, courses will be offered, as needed, weekdays Monday through Friday, 9AM-12PM, 4PM-7PM, and 7PM-10PM, and on weekends 8:30AM-4:30PM.
Trauma Studies specialization courses will be offered only on Mondays, as to not conflict with courses in the Traditional, LFS and AAFS programs.

The LFS and AAFS programs are offered in cohort formats. The LFS Cohorts meet six weekends per semester with classes running all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The AAFS Cohorts meet weekly on Wednesday evenings, and all day Saturday and Sunday for 6 scheduled weekends per semester.

The MFT courses are designed to address the clinical development of the student. Since this is a clinical degree that has additional professional requirements, MFT students are advised to take no more than 8 or 9 credits per semester. Many courses have prerequisites to provide academic and clinical foundations for the advanced courses. During Practicum (Advanced portion of the program) students will be placed at an agency for additional hours of clinical training in addition to their coursework.


MFT students complete a capstone project called Clinical Portfolio. This course is one of two research based courses, designed to be taken at the end of the MFT degree program. This course is an integral part of clinical training as it also serves as the third practicum course.

This course provides a comprehensive review that integrates the student’s understanding of theory and its application in clinical practice. The student’s portfolio project will demonstrate their capacity to apply critical thinking to theory, identify and articulate their role as a therapist, work with families, demonstrate documentation skills, and capacity to connect people with resources that deliver quality services. In addition to the in class requirements, each student must provide documentation of 225 face to face clinical training hours, 36 total hours of personal therapy and identified clinical training documentation.

Program Requirements

The MFT Traditional program requires 12 -foundation units, 39-core units and 9-practicum units for a total of 60 units. The AAFS and LFS Specialization Programs total 62 units. The Trauma Studies Specialization Program requires 64 units.

MFT Traditional Program Requirements: 60 units

MFT African-American Family Studies Specialization Program (62 units)

MFT LatinX Family Studies Specialization Program (62 units)

MFT Trauma Studies Specialization Program (61 units)

MFT with a Dual Specialization in African American Family Studies and Trauma Studies (68 units)

MFT with a Dual Specialization in LatinX Family Studies and Trauma Studies (68 units)

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