Core Competencies in Advanced Training: What Supervisors Say About Graduate Training


  • Thorana S. Nelson, PhD, Professor of Family Therapy, Department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development, Utah State University; Todd Graves, MS, Clinical Therapist, Aspen Ranch, Loa, Utah.

Address correspondence to Thorana S. Nelson, Family, Consumer, and Human Development, Utah State University, 2700 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322-2700; E-mail:


In an attempt to identify needed mental health skills, many professional organizations have or are in the process of establishing core competency standards for their professions. The AAMFT identified 128 core competencies for the independent practice of MFT. The aim of this study was to learn the opinions of AAMFT Approved Supervisors as to how well prepared postgraduate trainees are when compared to the core competencies. One hundred thirty-five AAMFT Approved Supervisors provided their perspectives on (a) which competencies are most commonly learned in MFT graduate programs, (b) how well the graduates have mastered these competencies, and (c) the level to which the supervisors need the competencies to be mastered prior to entering advanced training. Results suggest that a gap exists between the level of mastery that the postgraduate trainees exhibit and the level desired by supervisors. Implications are suggested for closing this gap.