Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling

Purpose

The Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program is designed to provide to practitioners in the helping professions special training and expertise required for working effectively with couples and families. The certificate program is open to those who already hold a master's degree in mental health or a closely-related discipline and is ideal for helping professionals such as licensed professional counselors, clinical psychologists, social workers, and clergy.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates will:

  • Demonstrate and articulate an understanding of professional identity as a marriage, couple and family counselor
  • Demonstrate knowledge of theories and treatment of individuals, couples, and families, articulating the core dynamics from an integrated systemic perspective (e.g. human development, family dynamics, traditional and contemporary marriage, couple, and family theories, research and cultural context.)
  • Demonstrate clinical competence as a marriage, couple and family counseling intern including the skills and practices of individual, couple, and family treatment, systemic assessment and diagnosis, treatment, termination, documentation and ethical practice
  • Demonstrate personal awareness, theoretical knowledge, and clinical skills needed to engage in multi-culturally sensitive individual, couple, family and group counseling and advocacy
  • Apply relevant research and evaluation methods in the practice of marriage, couple and family counseling
  • Demonstrate reflective and ethical decision making grounded in the knowledge of relevant legal and ethical codes as well as in an examination of personal values
  • Demonstrate the College of Education Conceptual Framework to Think Critically, Transform Practice, and Promote Justice
  • Articulate how personal faith informs one’s identity and practice as a marriage, couple and family counselor

Admission Requirements

  • Master's or doctoral degree in mental health, seminary, or a closely related discipline from a regionally accredited institution. A cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or above is required. 
  • Completed Application Form at apply.georgefox.edu
  • $40 non-refundable application fee
  • Résumé of work and/or volunteer experience
  • Written admission statement addressing the question provided in the Application Form
  • One academic reference form and one professional reference form
  • An official transcript from each college or university attended
  • Group interview with the Admissions Committee. An invitation will be extended to those meeting initial program criteria.
The Admissions Committee will consider each application item and the group interview as part of the admissions decision.

Additional requirements for international students are online here.

Transfer Credit

Transfer of up to 12 hours credit is allowed toward the Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program from accredited graduate schools (transfer credit is not allowed toward internship requirements). Students must have earned a grade of B or better for a course to be considered for transfer. In addition, only courses taken elsewhere within 10 years of the date of matriculation to the Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program will be considered for transfer. Transferability of credits earned at this institution and transferred to another is at the discretion of the receiving institution. Consult the registrar's office for information on eligibility of transfer credit.

Residence Requirements

Of the 36 hours required for the Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program, a minimum of 24 hours must be taken in resident study at George Fox University. All work leading to the certificate must be completed within seven years from the time of matriculation. Extension of this limit requires the approval of the Graduate Department of Counseling (GDC) Faculty. However, only one such extension may be considered due to special circumstances, such as ill health. Reinstatement to the program after withdrawal requires Admissions Committee action and may subject the student to additional requirements for the program. A leave of absence is valid for up to one year after which the student must re-apply to the program.

Course Requirements

The Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program is generally 1-2 years in length with 36 semester hours of course work required as a minimum for graduation. Of those hours, 15 are in prescribed counseling courses, 15 in prescribed marriage and family therapy courses, and 6 in clinical internship hours.

Other Degree Requirements

Each student must complete a minimum of 20 clock hours of personal counseling/therapy as part of the Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling program. Additionally, an ongoing review process serves as a way to assess the student's fit for the program; fit for the profession; emotional, psychological, and intellectual ability; as well as maturity level for functioning safely as a mental health professional. GDC faculty will review students each fall and spring semester. During spring term prior to internship, students must pass a national exam before they can start their internship: the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE). Only students who pass the national exam may start their internship after having completed all prerequisites. For more specific information, please refer to the student handbook.

Completion Requirements

In order to graduate with the Certificate in Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students must:

  • Satisfactorily complete a minimum of 36 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above
  • Achieve no grade lower than a B in all courses. If a grade of a B- or lower is received in a required course, that course must be retaken (for more specific information, please refer to the student handbook).
  • Complete a minimum of 20 one-hour sessions of therapy from a family systems perspective with a licensed marriage and family therapist
  • Complete a 700-hour supervised clinical internship in marriage and family therapy that meets the currently articulated criteria for such training, with at least 270 hours of direct client contact (135 hours required with couples and families; 135 with individuals, couples, or families)
  • Successfully complete the Clinical Portfolio (reading fees are assessed during the final semester of clinical internship), in which the student articulates his/her current understanding of marriage and family therapy and applies the same through an analysis of his/her counseling practice, an evaluation of his/her strengths, and a three-year professional development plan
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Curriculum Plan

Complete the following:

An examination of key concepts in marital and family systems, including the family life cycle, as well as an introduction to various approaches to marital and family therapy. Core counseling skills as used in systems therapy will be taught and practiced. Prevention services as well as the roles of ethnicity and culture will be studied.
The treatment of individuals, couples, and families requires multidimensional assessment skills in order to ensure ethical, appropriate, and effective intervention strategies. This course is intended to begin the student's process of developing mastery in the assessment and diagnosis of psychopathology as codified in the DSM-V. Biological, psychological, cultural, and systemic factors are considered in the assessment, etiology, and treatment of various disorders. For Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple and Family students only. Prerequisite: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
This course is a study of the professional and ethical issues that most effect the preparation for the practice of counseling individuals, couples, and families. The course is focused on the development of the professional identity of counselors in training. This includes study of legal and ethical issues (including professional mental health organizations and state law) related to licensure and clinical practice, as well as the professional responsibilities of counselors. Development and maintenance of private and agency professional practice is also addressed.
This course examines theory, etiology, assessment, and treatment of addictive disorders in individual, marriage, couple, family, and group modalities. The course also provides insight into the collaborative nature of treatment in the field of addiction, providing opportunities for students to work with each other and professionals in the field to enhance knowledge of treatment interventions and treatment planning. Pre-Requisites: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
This course examines both the content and process of the Christian faith as well as its implications for clinical practice. Explored are an introduction to spirituality in mental health, basic hermeneutics as applied to Christian Scripture, basic theological concepts, the relationship between theology and psychology, health and toxic faith systems, spiritual development, spiritual/religious assessment, the spiritual/religious orientation and value system of the therapist, and treatment interventions in the spiritual/religious realm.
This course intends to deepen the student's knowledge base regarding the complexities of the human experience by examining neurological functioning and its role in human distress and recovery. Specifically, it explores the interplay between neurobiology, the social environment, and pharmacological interventions, and its influence on cognitive, affective, and behavioral functioning. The course offers an overview of neuroanatomy orienting the student to basic brain structure, advances in interpersonal neurobiology confirming the role of attachment relationships in brain development, and the role of interpersonal relationships and pharmacology in altering brain functioning.

Complete the following:

Note: All coursework for this master's program is taught from a systems perspective, to meet LMFT licensure requirements. GCEP 540 Professional Orientation focuses on the AAMFT Code of Ethics.
This course equips the student to function more effectively in providing systemically-oriented conjoint couple therapy. Attention is given to understanding and assessing the couple as an interacting system; treatment planning; developing and maintaining therapeutic balance; and acquiring and practicing specific skills and frameworks for systemic case conceptualization, intervention, and termination. Focus is on an integrative, holistic paradigm of couple functioning, including diversity. A common-factors and core competencies approach to interventions and the use of the therapeutic triangle as the basic structure for conjoint couple counseling are emphasized throughout. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
This course explores and applies fundamental knowledge and skills utilized in the treatment of relational systems. Perceptual, conceptual and executive skills will be developed through direct case application of required reading as well as simulated therapy sessions with specific client families. The student will also demonstrate an awareness of current best practice strategies, while also exploring issues of justice and advocacy as embedded in relational ethics and the challenge of interpersonal forgiveness. In addition, the student will identify multi-model intake and initial assessment methods. Instruction format includes a hybrid-learning environment utilizing both face-to-face and online class activities. For Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling students only, others by permission. Prerequisites: GCEP 500 and GCEP 501
Many dimension of human sexuality will be explored, including anatomy, physiology, identity, values, culture, relationships, family, spirituality, dysfunction, therapy techniques, and ethics. Students will evaluate their perceptions about their sexuality in order to understand the impact of the clinician's values on clients. This course is intended for students in the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs only.
This course will cover an introduction to the theory and practice of play therapy as a primary therapeutic approach when working with children in individual and family psychotherapy. The course is designed to prepare the student to effectively provide developmentally appropriate counseling for children, focusing on the development of a therapist-child relationship and utilization of play media in the systemic counseling process as a means to facilitate expression, self-understanding, and personal growth and development. Students will become familiar with play therapy theory techniques, therapeutic stages, ethical issues, and application. Observation of and experience in play therapy are an integral part of the course. This course is available to all GSC students. As it is an MCFC requirement, priority enrollment will be given to MCFC students. Prerequisites: GCEP 500 Introduction to Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling or its equivalent
This course involves development of a culminating graduate-level clinical thesis, built upon the internship experience and previous courses. Concurrent with the student's final semester of internship, this multidimensional clinical project involves the student demonstrating perceptual, conceptual, and executive skills┬┐demonstrating minimum practice standards in the legal, ethical and effective treatment of clients. Students are expected to prepare a comprehensive paper detailing their primary theoretical orientation, including perspective of the nature of persons, change and dysfunction, as well as the therapeutic process. Additionally, the portfolio includes video, session transcripts, psychosocial assessment, and written reflection which will be reviewed by the instructor and a licensed mental health professional in the community. Intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 593. Additional course fee required.
This course runs concurrently with GCEP 592 Clinical Internship I, and focuses on the development and implementation of treatment plans, reporting and assessing progress of treatment, appropriate referral procedures, and consultation. This course considers traditional and contemporary approaches to assessment, treatment planning, and intervention based in biopsychosocial systems and evidence-based interventions. It is expected that case conceptualization and treatment plans be consistent with diagnosis [DSM-IV-TR] and the counselor's theoretical orientation. The goal is to assist student interns with the development of advanced clinical counseling and case conceptualization skills that are consistent with sound clinical, ethical, and systemic practice. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 592
This course runs concurrently with GCEP 593 Clinical Internship I, and focuses on the development and implementation of treatment plans, reporting and assessing progress of treatment, appropriate referral procedures, and consultation. This course considers traditional and contemporary approaches to assessment, treatment planning, and intervention based in biopsychosocial systems and evidence-based interventions. It is expected that case conceptualization and treatment plans be consistent with diagnosis [DSM-IV-TR] and the counselor's theoretical orientation. The goal is to assist student interns with the development of advanced clinical counseling and case conceptualization skills that are consistent with sound clinical, ethical, and systemic practice. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Co-Requisite: GCEP 593
Complete 1 elective credit from any additional GCEP or TRMA coursework.

Complete the following:

Note: Students are expected to follow the sequence GCEP 592, GCEP 593 beginning with the fall semester of the final year. Students who begin internship in the summer will register for GCEP 591 for an additional 2 hours (and GCEP 599 for one additional hour), but will still need to register for and attend fall and spring internship. Students who continue internship into the following summer will register for GCEP 594 for an additional 2 hours.

The clinical internship is the culminating field experience for students in the Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs. This course will be the experiential application of the counseling skills learned in earlier courses, with a focus on clinical, ethical and systemic conceptualization and practice. Students will have an on-site placement in a public or private mental health setting, with the goal of creating the necessary bridge between training and professionalism. The goal of these courses is the attainment of competency equivalent to that of an entry level professional mental health professional, and consists of the primary components of counseling practice under the direct clinical supervision of a site supervisor, and case consultation and supervision facilitated by a university instructor. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling students only. Pass/No Pass. Pre-Requisites for CMHC: GCEP 500, GCEP 501, GCEP 502, GCEP 510, GCEP 520, GCEP 530, GCEP 540, GCEP 550. Pre-Requisites for MCFC: GCEP 500, GCEP 501, GCEP 502, GCEP 510, GCEP 514, GCEP 520, GCEP 524, GCEP 530, GCEP 540, GCEP 550. Co-Requisite for CMHC and MCFC: GCEP 597 Students must have (a) completed all prerequisites with a B or better grade, (b) applied and been accepted as an internship candidate, and (c) attended the Internship Orientation (during spring semester of that year).
The clinical internship is the culminating field experience for students in the Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs. This course will be the experiential application of the counseling skills learned in earlier courses, with a focus on clinical, ethical and systemic conceptualization and practice. Students will have an on-site placement in a public or private mental health setting, with the goal of creating the necessary bridge between training and professionalism. The goal of these courses is the attainment of competency equivalent to that of an entry level professional mental health professional, and consists of the primary components of counseling practice under the direct clinical supervision of a site supervisor, and case consultation and supervision facilitated by a university instructor. This course is intended for Clinical Mental Health and Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling programs students only. Pass/No Pass. Pre-Requisite: GCEP 592. Co-Requisite: GCEP 598