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Pacific Oaks College    
2011-2012 PO Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
  May 25, 2024
2011-2012 PO Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Marital and Family Therapy, M.A.

The Marital and Family Therapy Program is a unique educational Master’s program for developing clinically skilled, culturally competent marital and family therapists. It offers a multidisciplinary, inclusive curriculum based on developmental, psychodynamic and family systems theories 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 ones social political context on the developing mind and behavior.

The MFT department’s emphasis on intrapersonal, interpersonal, 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 competent therapists.

Admission: As part of the admission process, an admission interview will be scheduled with MFT faculty. Students are provisionally admitted to the program with a review for full admission following the completion of 18 credits.  Students are allowed to petition for up to 15 credits of course work completed at another institution.

Hybrid and Online Learning

Hybrid Learning: Programs Outside of Pasadena
Two academic programs, Human Development and Marital and Family
Therapy, sponsor degree programs in California outside of Pasadena at
Instructional Sites. In addition, Human Development offers blended
degree programs in a hybrid format, which includes a combination of
online and on-ground courses (Site locations can be found on the website).

Hybrid programs leading to the Human Development B.A. , M.A.   and
Post-Graduate Certificate  extend access to a Pacific Oaks College education
nationally and internationally. Most hybrid classes occur in a fifteen-week
semester; some four-week modules are scheduled throughout the year.
The curriculum online is the same as that offered in face-to-face classes.
Seven on-ground credits are required for students in the hybrid degree

Online Learning: Programs Fully Online
Baccalaureate and Master of Arts can be taken in a fully online format.
Students enrolled in online programs are attending in a lock step model
and have limited electives. Courses are delivered 100% online, and unless otherwise noted are each 7½
weeks in length.


Program Requirements

Prior to registering for classes each semester, students are required to meet with their advisor to identify the appropriate classes to take, to receive information regarding changes in the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences requirements, and to review their progress. The MFT program includes the following components:

  • 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 and behavior)

Upon provisional admission to the MFT program, each MFT student will be given the Pacific Oaks College MFT Student Handbook. Each student in the program is required to adhere to these academic and professional standards as detailed in the handbook and in the First Year Progress Review section present catalog in order to maintain standing in the program as detailed in the handbook.

Upon receipt of the handbook, the student will sign a form that they have received the handbook, have reviewed it, and agree to the terms of the handbook as a Pacific Oaks College MFT student. Each student is directed to discuss any and all of these required standards with their academic advisor if they have any questions.


First Year Progress Review

After completing 18 credits and the above required courses, each student will obtain recommendations evaluations for full admission from two MFT faculty members, one of whom must be an MFT core faculty.

The student will also complete a self-evaluation on the same criteria. After the recommendations evaluations have been submitted, the student will meet with her/his advisor to review overall performance in the program. After successful completion of this process, the student will be fully admitted. All students must also have completed all college admissions requirements to be fully admitted to the program. Note: Students admitted to the M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy program through the CLE option cannot enroll in clinical courses until the successful completion of the Assessment course. The M.A. in Marital and Family Therapy is a clinical degree. In addition to academic performance, students are expected to demonstrate competencies in the following areas for consideration for full admission status:

Academic Progress

  • The student has demonstrated graduate level mastery in her/his course work. 
  • 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 their application. 
  • The student has completed all of her/his assignments as required for the course, in a timely manner. 
  • 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 their student roles, and in relation to their 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 collaborator.
  • The student is one who honors her/his word. 
  • The student is one who is capable of responsible communication and openness to feedback.

Clinical Readiness

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

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 demonstrates a willingness to explore issues of diversity in relation to their own life experience.
  • The student actively pursues knowledge and experience that enhances their capacity for cultural competency.
  • The student is open to diverse ways of learning.
  • The student’s respect for cultural diversity is manifested in her/his writings, 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 the requirements for full admission after completing a minimum of 18 credits, the advisor and Academic Director may counsel the student to change to the M.A. in Human Development program, or to pursue another occupational option outside of the college.


The M.A. in MFT satisfies all of the requirements of the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) (Business and Professions Code Sections 4980.37, 4980.39, 4980.40, and 4980.41.)

These include:

Pacific Oaks course work totaling 50 semester credits, including:

  1. No less than 12 semester credits of course work in the areas of marriage and family therapy, and marital and family systems approaches to treatment.
  2. 6 semester credits of supervised practicum, including completion of one year of clinical placement in an approved setting, concurrent with the practicum seminar.
  3. 150 hours of face-to-face experience counseling individuals, couples, families or groups
  4. A 2 semester course in California law and professional ethics
  5. A minimum of 7 contact hours of training or course work in child abuse assessment and reporting
  6. A minimum of 10 contact hours of training or course work in human sexuality
  7. Specific instruction in alcoholism and other chemical substance dependency
  8. 15 contact hours of course work in spousal or partner abuse assessment, detection and intervention
  9. A minimum of 2 semester credits in a survey course in psychological testing
  10. A minimum of 2 semester credits in a survey course in psychopharmacology
  11. A minimum of 10 contact hours of course work in aging and long-term care

Program Learning Outcomes

The Program Learning Outcomes for the MFT program at Pacific Oaks College 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 admissions interview, after 18 credits of course work in the Full Admission Review process, and comprehensively in the clinical training process at the end of the program through the practicum placement. 

  1. Clinical Evaluation Skills
  2. Crisis Management Skills
  3. Treatment Plan Development Skills
  4. Clinical Treatment Skills
  5. Human Diversity Competency
  6. Law and Ethics Competency
  7. Personal Maturity and Interpersonal Skills
  8. Professionalism
  9. Use of Supervision/Teachers/Mentors

Clinical Training Program

The MFT Department is committed to providing an optimal clinical training experience for our graduate students. One of our main objectives is the careful selection of community agencies whose clinical training programs meet the pedagogical goals and standards of Pacific Oaks College.

The students of both the Latina/o Family Studies and the African American Family Studies programs are expected to complete their practicum experience in one of the approved agencies focusing on the mental health needs of their respective communities Latina/o community.

During the degree program, the MFT Department, under the mandate and guidelines of the Board of Behavioral Sciences of the State of California, monitors all clinical training experience completed by the students. The hours of supervised clinical work completed at an agency approved by the MFT Department count toward the 3,000 clinical hours that are required by the State of California for the state licensing exams in Marriage and Family Therapy.


Students must complete a Practicum as part of their Master’s degree requirements. The Practicum experience is to be completed concurrently and in conjunction with the completion of the following classes in this order:

Eligibility requirements to start Practicum:

  1. Completion of 18 credits, plus the following 3 courses before taking Practicum classes:
  1. Completion of 20 hours of individual personal therapy with a licensed mental health professional. These hours have to have been completed after the student has started the masters program and prior to their beginning their clinical training at their agency site.
  2. Complete the Clinical Training Orientation that is scheduled in the fall semester.
  3. Full admission into the MFT Department.
  4. Completion of the Clinical Training Orientation Course (CTOC). The course is offered once annually in the spring semester. Students are required to follow all steps toward clinical placement as per course syllabus and the department’s clinical training guidelines. The goals of the Clinical Training Orientation Course are:
    1. To acquaint students with the clinical training regulations of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and of Pacific Oaks College.
    2. To acquaint students with the various clinical placements approved by the MFT Department.
    3. To support students through the process of interviewing with various agencies.
    4. To explore issues of professional roles, tasks and behaviors regarding the MFT Trainee experience.
    5. To assess the student’s readiness for Clinical Training.
  5. Consent of the student’s Academic Advisor.
  6. Submission to the Clinical Training Program of a completed and signed contract with an approved agency (4-Way Agreement of Clinical Placement).
  7. Completion of all prior course work.

Requirements for completion of Practicum

  1. Satisfactory completion of all the clinical training requirements as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Trainee, conforming to all BBS regulations and under the supervision of a licensed and trained mental health practitioner in the clinical training program of a mental health community agency approved by the MFT Department.
  2. The minimum required time for the clinical placement is 12 hours a week for 12 consecutive months. During this period, the student is required to complete a minimum of 150 hours of face-to-face client contact hours.
  3. Concurrent attendance at and completion of the courses MFT 651 - Practicum A , MFT 663 , and MFT 672 .
  4. Satisfactory evaluations from the clinical supervisor at the clinical placement at the end of each semester or when course requirements are completed. These evaluations are an integral part of the overall evaluation and credit that the student will receive for all 3 Practicum courses: MFT 651 , MFT 663 , and MFT 672 .
  5. Satisfaction of all clinical and professional expectations of the approved community agency in the provision of the agreed upon mental health services.

Therapy for Students

Students are required to be in personal psychotherapy for a total of 20 hours to qualify for clinical training. The completion of 36 hours of personal therapy while in the graduate program, are a requirement for all students to graduate in the MFT program completing the MFT degree. Students must have completed the first 20 hours of personal psychotherapy prior to the start of their clinical training Thereafter, students are expected to complete the remaining 16 hours during their 12 months of their clinical training placement. To facilitate this process, the MFT department has a referral list of psychotherapists interested in working with our students at a lower fee. These therapists are from throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

MFT students are advised to contact their advisor or the clinical coordinator for referral. The MFT Department has no responsibility over the quality of clinical services that students may receive by the mental health practitioners on the department’s referral list. Students are strongly advised to use their own judgment when contracting to receive psychotherapy with a licensed practitioner, whether selected from the referral list, or selected directly by the student from the community at large.

Intern Registration

Upon completion of the M.A. degree in Marital and Family Therapy, students apply to the Board of Behavioral Sciences for an Intern Registration Number.

As part of the application process, all applicants must submit their fingerprints to the BBS for a background check. The Intern registration packet can be obtained by accessing the Internet website of the Board of Behavioral Sciences at: and then clicking on Forms and Publications. There are periodic changes in the BBS regulations. Students are required to stay up-to-date with all BBS regulations and changes by frequently logging onto the website and accessing all necessary information.

General Program Requirements

Foundation Courses

MFT students are required to take the following foundation courses while they are in provisional status (first 18 credits). During that time they are expected to complete these specific classes that constitute the necessary 12 of the 18 credits.

Students are reminded that there are foundation courses that are prerequisites for taking the advanced practice classes. All of the theory courses are expected to prepare the student for the advanced classes. Please meet with your advisor to plan your schedule of classes to meet the necessary requirements accordingly

African American Family Studies Specialization

The Marriage and Family Therapy with a program concentration in African American Family Studies (MFT/AAFS) at Pacific Oaks College is designed to lead graduates to eventual employment as marriage and family therapists in settings that focus on family based and community oriented interventions. Therefore, in addition to the common core curricular experiences in Marital and Family Therapy, all students are required to demonstrate knowledge and skills in areas specific to MFT/AAFS through graduate courses and specialized clinical/supervisory experiences. The curriculum for the program builds the knowledge base and skills necessary for practitioners to provide high-quality, effective therapy. It prepares students to use an active, 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. The program process is based on an open cohort system which will meet for weekend intensives and one evening class per week each semester. It requires the completion of 56 credits, including a clinical training component in a practicum placement relevant to the African American community.

The MFT/AAFS program at Pacific Oaks College reflects a spirit of encouragement, cooperation, and collegiality, nurturing the best in each student. The field of Marriage and Family Therapy flourishes as a result of the synergism among theory, research, and practice. The program will attract candidates who clearly demonstrate potential for graduate study, and whose personal qualities will contribute to their success to become skilled clinicians interested in moving the profession forward through their clinical work, research, and professional involvement. The program is generally designed to take students three years to complete.

Latina/o Family Studies Specialization

The Latina/Latino Family Studies Specialization (LFS) in the MFT program is a comprehensive M.A. in MFT degree program with a special educational emphasis on the diverse mental health needs of Latina/Latino children and families.

It is designed as a cohort model based on the comadre-compradre extended family system of the Latina/Latino culture. The Latina Family Studies Specialization is a culture centered cohort including a model of collective-relational learning and teaching. This degree program recognizes the importance of the lived experience and critical thinking skills and the clinical information is presented within the context of Latina/Latino history and culture. The theoretical foundation for this specialization is one of Liberation Psychology. The program seeks to attract students who are passionate about studying MFT theory and practice infused with understanding immigration, acculturation, advocacy and Latina/Latino mental health issues, and serving as Marriage and Family Therapists in the Latina/Latino community.

The Latina/Latino Family Studies MFT faculty work closely with students to create an academic community that fosters relational and experiential learning in a supportive, humanistic, and intellectually challenging environment.

In each class, the focus of study is through the lens of the varied Latina/Latino experiences of children and families. Students are encouraged to become bilingual and to be guided by the mission statement of Pacific Oaks College that calls on graduates to work for social justice and equality in their lives and in their professional practice.

Classes are scheduled on 6 weekends per semester, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and are structured in an intensive cohort model. The program requires a completion of 56 semester credits, clinical training in selected agencies that work in collaboration with LFS, a proficiency in bilingual Spanish/English communication skills, and a master’s thesis focusing on issues of Latina/Latino mental health. The LFS program meets the academic requirements of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences for the MFT license.

The core curriculum for LFS-MFT classes is presented within the context of the Latina/Latino culture and in relation to the experiences of Latina/Latino children and families. The 56 credits required are an integration of MFT courses and the LFS specialization courses which are sequenced for the LFS specialization.

MFT Continuing Education

The MFT Department offers Continuing Education short courses and workshops in many areas of clinical theory and practice. Offerings have included: Using Art in Therapy; Working with Obsessive Compulsive Disorders; Techniques of Gestalt Therapy; Solution Focused Therapy, as well as the Object Relations Therapy series of various courses and workshops.

These programs are open to the community as well as Pacific Oaks students and alumnae/i. The Program is an approved provider of hours for Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers for renewal of their professional licenses, (Board of Behavioral Science Provider #PCE 853). Students and clinical interns who have a licensed supervisor may use these hours toward their optional experience hours for their licensing requirements.

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