Marriage and Family Therapy

The mission of the Lee University Marriage and Family Therapy Program is to prepare students to become a licensed marriage and family therapists who will work from a relational perspective that is holistic, systemic, and contextual.

Program Philosophy

Recognizing the complexity of human relationships and the limits of our understanding, we seek to create a shared learning environment that authentically integrates faith, science, and experience into the clinical practice of marriage and family therapy. From our faith, we draw the concepts of hope, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, faithfulness, and commitment. From science, we embrace an empirical worldview where our treatments are evidence-based. We value our different experiences that may be based on our biology, culture, and environment.

We encourage a therapeutic stance based on curiosity, respect, and openness. We define our calling as one of service, reaching out to the underserved in a broken world. While recognizing reductionistic paradigms have some usefulness, we believe that a holistic approach which simultaneously considers the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of the human experience offers a more powerful framework for case conceptualization, relational diagnosis, and treatment.


Program Outcomes (POs)

PO 1 - Knowledge Graduates will demonstrate the knowledge needed for entry-level practice in marriage and family therapy.
PO 2 – Skills Graduates will demonstrate systemic and relational skills needed for entry-level practice in marriage and family therapy.
PO 3 – Diversity Graduates will demonstrate clinical competency in their work with diverse, marginalized, and/or underserved clients and show attitudes of openness and respect.
PO 4 – Research Graduates will demonstrate the ability to use published research as a core foundation of their clinical services offered to clients.
PO 5 – Ethics Graduates will demonstrate ethical decision-making skills appropriate for entry-level practice in marriage and family therapy.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

SLO 1 - Knowledge
  1. Students will be successful in passing the MFT licensure exam within two years of graduation.
  2. Students will be successful in applying concepts from MFT theories and family development.
SLO 2 – Skills
  1.  Students will demonstrate their practical ability in selecting appropriate systemic treatment models, improving the quality of the therapeutic relationship, performing relational assessments, and collaboratively creating systemic treatment plans.
  2.  Students will be able to articulate their therapeutic approaches and theories of change that are systemic, holistic, and contextual.
SLO 3 – Diversity
  1. Students will have clinical experiences with  populations that are diverse, marginalized, and/or underserved clients.
  2. Students will demonstrate cultural awareness and competency during their internship experiences.
SLO 4 – Research
  1. Students will demonstrate use of the empirical literature in their treatment planning for their clients during their internships.
  2. Students will be able to describe the research underpinnings of their therapeutic approach and techniques.
SLO 5 – Ethics
  1. Students will demonstrate ethical competency for beginning practice prior to starting practicum or internship experiences.
  2. Students will demonstrate strong ethical decision-making skills during their internship experiences.

The Lee University Writing Center offers free tutorial help to both native and non-native English speakers by appointment. During business hours through the week, Information Services provides both walk-in and phone support to all students and faculty. Several computer labs are placed around campus for student use, including three public non-classroom areas in our primary building (Humanities). The Academic Support Program provides services to students with documented educational challenges. This program offers alternative testing sites, extended test times, readers or scribes for examinations, advising, note-taking facilitation, and mediation between students and faculty. The Financial Aid Office offers financial counseling for graduate students. The library has full-time reference librarians that are available to help students with finding resources. Finally, the Lee University Counseling Center offers free and unlimited therapy services to all of marriage and family therapy students who pay the optional student health fee.

The Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Committee (MFTGC) is responsible for developing all policies for the marriage and family therapy program. This committee is also responsible for admissions, assessment, hiring recommendations, and responses to student appeals and complaints. The program director is chair of this committee, which includes all core marriage and family therapy faculty members. Major program and policy changes that are approved by the MFTGC are then brought to the Lee University Graduate Council for approval. The program director is responsible for leading the MFTGC and carrying out the policies in the program and the clinic set by the MFTGC. Dr. Williams has the responsibility to maintain oversight of the curriculum, clinical training, clinic and teaching facilities, services offered by the program, and the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the program. Core faculty exercise governance of the program through their voting membership on the MFTGC. All of these faculty share a commitment for our program mission and philosophy and implement this commitment through development of our educational outcomes.

Student Roles in Governance of the Marriage and Family Therapy Program:

  • Once a year, all MFT students elect a second-year MFT student to serve on the MFTGC as a full voting member.
  • Minutes of the MFTGC Meeting are sent to all current students.
  • All MFT students are encouraged in the program handbook to express concerns to the representative and to the program director.
  • Any MFT student may request to address to the MFTGC on any issue.
  • MFT students may submit complaints following the process outlined in the program handbook.
  • MFT students are also encouraged to meet in the monthly student concerns meeting held by the program director during the fall and spring semesters.
  • Current MFT students annually assess the program, the program director, the faculty, and the supervisors in the program.

Full-Time (2 years)

Fall – Year One

MAFT 510 - Ethical, Legal and Professional Issues in Family Therapy
MAFT 511 - Introduction to Family Studies
MAFT 514 - Psychopathology
MAFT 541 - Family Stress and Resilience

Spring – Year One

MAFT 522 - Traditional and Systemic Therapies
MAFT 523 - Human Growth and Development
MAFT 524 - Clinical Assessment, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning
MAFT 529 - Play Therapy and Child Trauma

Summer – Year One

MAFT 537 - Parenting
MAFT 532 - Postmodern and Socio-cultural Therapies
MAFT 533 - Human Sexuality
MAFT 538 - Marriage and Family Therapy Practicum

Fall – Year Two

MAFT 547 - Cultural Contexts in Clinical Practice
MAFT 548 - Marriage and Family Therapy Internship
MAFT 549 - Human Development: Addiction and Recovery
MAFT 559 - Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy

Spring – Year Two

MAFT 516 - Christian Perspectives in the Helping Professions
MAFT 548 - Marriage and Family Therapy Internship
MAFT 552 - Couple Therapy
MAFT 555 - Research Methods in Relationship Science

Degree requirements must be completed within six years after formal admission into the program. Course work completed more than 10 years prior to admission is generally not accepted toward meeting degree requirements.

View Tuition and Fees from Student Financial Services
Other required expenses for marriage and family therapy students include annual AAMFT Student Membership ($58 per year), attendance at a conference by a relationally-focused organization, preferably AAMFT ($500 to $1500), iPad (minimum 32 gig), and book fees. The comprehensive examination is $100 for up to three attempts within a single semester. During practicum and internship, there is an annual liability insurance fee of $20.

Lee University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, masters, education specialist, and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lee University. The Marriage and Family Therapy Masters Program is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

Lee University’s Marriage and Family Program welcomes all students regardless of race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, relationship status, gender identity, socioeconomic status, disability, health status, religion and spiritual beliefs and/or affiliation, and/or national origin. Requirements for admission include a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution (or foreign equivalent). Admission preferences will be made for students with degrees in the social sciences. Although marriage and family therapists can and do often work with individuals, students applying into this program should specifically be interested in working with couples and families and becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist.

The Lee University Marriage and Family Therapy Program prohibits the discrimination of students on the basis of race, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, relationship status, gender identity, socioeconomic status, disability, health status, religion and spiritual beliefs and/or affiliation, and/or national origin with regard to the recruitment, admission, codes of conduct, hiring, retention, or dismissal of students. The marriage and family therapy program will not remove a student solely on the basis of identifying with a group, class, or category in the above mentioned groups provided he or she is otherwise in compliance with Lee’s Lifestyle Expectations for Graduate Students.

Faculty and supervisors will also not be discriminated against on the basis of the above mentioned groups, with the exception that all faculty and supervisors of the program are required to be Christian, to teach from a Christian worldview, and to not teach or publish anything contrary to the established doctrines and the Declaration of Faith of the Church of God.

Graduate students will be expected to adhere to all of the rules and policies of Lee University while on campus. Lee University is a smoke-free, alcohol-free, drug-free campus. Graduate students are expected to respect campus norms. Sexual harassment, unwelcome sexual advances, extra- or pre-marital sexual conduct, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature will not be tolerated on campus. Students who are subjected to harassment should promptly contact the Vice President for Student Development.

If a student, staff or faculty have a complaint against a student, this complaint is made to the program director. If the complaint cannot be resolved by discussion with the parties involved, the complaint is then taken to the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Committee. The student may provide a written defense or may appear before the committee. The committee may require in some circumstances for the student to appear before the committee.

If a student has a complaint or grievance regarding the program, faculty, or fellow students, the student should submit a written complaint to the program director, unless the complaint is against the director, in which case the complaint should be given to the Behavioral and Social Sciences Department Chair. The complaint will be reviewed by the appropriate committee, usually the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Committee, depending on the nature of the complaint. The student may appear before the committee when the complaint is reviewed.

After submitting the application, fee, essays, transcripts, recommendations and GRE score (if required), potential students will be scheduled for an interview. While in-person interviews are preferred, full consideration will be given to applicants needing phone interviews due to distance from Cleveland, Tennessee. Role-plays will be conducted during the in-person interviews. After completion of the interview, the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Committee will meet to determine whether an offer of admissions will be made.

Satisfactory progress toward the degree is required. A student may be disqualified from further graduate work if a 3.0 grade-point average is not maintained. In the event that the grade-point average drops below the minimum level, the student may be given one enrollment period to raise it to the satisfactory level. A cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required for graduation. Special advising will be offered to students in this situation to help raise their GPA. If problems occur regarding competency in the practicum and internship, the supervision team will meet with the student to develop a remediation plan for improvement. If that improvement does not occur within the specified length of time allotted, students may be terminated from the program. Certain serious ethical violations (academic or clinical) can result in immediate termination from the program.

Lee University will allow up to six semester credit hours of a graduate program to be comprised of transfer credit from a regionally accredited graduate program when the grade received is a “B” or better. The individual program committee must approve application of transfer credits. Exceptions to this policy may be determined by the respective graduate program committees.

In the first week of the final semester when all coursework will be completed, MFT students should submit an application for graduation through Portico. All client hours must be completed prior to graduation with a copy of the client log turned into the faculty supervisor. The graduate students must defend their final project and pass the comprehensive examination 10 days prior to graduation. Students must also have attended a relationally-focused conference prior to graduation.

This program prepares you for licensure as a marriage and family therapist in the United States. No guarantees are offered regarding this degree for any other type of professional license or for any other country. Although the degree requirements are built around national models and Tennessee licensure requirements, other states may have additional requirements that are not offered in this program. It is the responsibility of the student to determine and achieve the requirements for MFT licensure in the states in which they wish to practice in.

As of 2020, the four core faculty of our program are all white/non-Hispanic, one who is a female. We have three additional faculty in the program who are all white/non-Hispanic (two females and one male). Four of the core faculty and one of the adjuncts serve as supervisors (two females, three males, all white/non-Hispanic). Of our 55 current students, 43 are female and three are African-American.

The Lee University graduate programs use the following system of grading and quality points for all graduate-level courses. These letter grades are assigned grade point values as follows:

A 4.0 quality points
A- 3.7 quality points
B+ 3.3 quality points
B 3.0 quality points
B- 2.7 quality points
C+ 2.3 quality points
C 2.0 quality points
F 0 quality points
I Indicates the student's work was incomplete
P Passing Credit (no quality points)
IP In Process
W Student officially withdrew from the class without penalty

A grade of “I” indicates the student’s work is incomplete. The grade becomes “F” if the work is not completed by the end of the following semester unless a written extension has been approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs. A grade of “I” is given only to students who encounter some personal difficulty such as a severe illness or an extreme family emergency near the end of the semester. The “I” grade is not given in order to allow students additional time to complete assignments.

A grade of a "W" (withdrawal) is assigned to a student who, for any reason, officially withdraws or is withdrawn by the official semester date. This "W" is assigned without quality point penalty to the student.

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