Benjamin E. Caldwell, PsyD, is an associate professor for the marital and family therapy program at Alliant International University, San Diego, California; Shelly A. Kunker, MA, is a doctoral student in the marital and family therapy program at Alliant International University, San Diego, California; Stephen W. Brown, PhD, is a professor for the marital and family therapy program at Alliant International University, Irvine, California; Dustin Y. Saiki, BA, is a student in the master’s degree program in marital and family therapy at Alliant International University, Los Angeles, California.
COAMFTE Accreditation and California MFT Licensing Exam Success
Article first published online: 27 JUL 2011
© 2011 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
Volume 37, Issue 4, pages 468–478, October 2011
How to Cite
Caldwell, B. E., Kunker, S. A., Brown, S. W. and Saiki, D. Y. (2011), COAMFTE Accreditation and California MFT Licensing Exam Success. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 37: 468–478. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00240.x
The authors thank Rajeswari Natrajan-Tyagi, PhD, for her support and helpful suggestions.
- Issue published online: 19 OCT 2011
- Article first published online: 27 JUL 2011
Professional accreditation of graduate programs in marital and family therapy (MFT) is intended to ensure the strength of the education students receive. However, there is great difficulty in assessing the real-world impact of accreditation on students. Only one measure is applied consistently to graduates of all MFT programs, regardless of accreditation status: licensure examinations. Within California, COAMFTE-accredited, regionally (WASC) accredited, and state-approved programs all may offer degrees qualifying for licensure. Exam data from 2004, 2005, and 2006 (n = 5,646 examinees on the Written Clinical Vignette exam and n = 3,408 first-time examinees on the Standard Written Exam) were reviewed to determine the differences in exam success among graduates of programs at varying levels of accreditation. Students from COAMFTE-accredited programs were more successful on both California exams than were students from other WASC-accredited or state-approved universities. There were no significant differences between (non-COAMFTE) WASC-accredited universities and state-approved programs. Differences could be related to selection effects, if COAMFTE programs initially accept students of higher quality. Implications for therapist education and training are discussed.