The Core Competency Movement in Marriage and Family Therapy: Key Considerations From Other Disciplines


  • [Correction added after online publication 12/17/09: The Caldwell, Woolley, Caldwell reference was misspelled as Wooley in-text and in the References. This has been corrected.]

  • John K. Miller, PhD, Fulbright Senior Research Scholar (Beijing, China), U.S. Department of State; Department of Counseling Psychology, Couples and Family Therapy Program, University of Oregon; Jeff L. Todahl, PhD, Department of Counseling Psychology, Couples and Family Therapy Program, University of Oregon; Jason J. Platt, PhD, California School of Professional Psychology, Counseling Psychology & Latin American Immersion Programs, Alliant International University, Mexico City campus.
    The authors would like to give special thanks to the AAMFT Beta Test Group program for their generous support of this project.
    Portions of this article were presented at the 2004 AAMFT Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA.

Address correspondence to John K. Miller, 5251 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403-5251; E-mail:


There is a growing movement to define competency within the field of marriage and family therapy (MFT), particularly with respect to the training of practitioners and the evaluation of clinical practice. Efforts to define competency, however, transcend the practice of MFT and much can be learned from the experiences of other disciplines. Professions such as education, law, and medicine have made strides toward addressing the complex issue of competency standards in their respective fields. This article describes some ways in which the issue of competency has been approached in other professions, as well as some common dilemmas posed by adopting a competency-based orientation, to shed light on the process of defining competency in MFT. Moreover, this article identifies some of the more useful conceptualizations, modes of pedagogy, and evaluative practices found in other professions.