Friday, August 29, 2014

Finding MFT jobs

Originally posted June 2009; updated August 2014.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

The most common question I hear these days from marriage and family therapists (MFTs) is simple: "Where can I find a job as an MFT?"

The more pessimistic ones ask the same question, they just leave out the word "Where."

Even in the current economy, where budget constraints are pinching many public agencies, there are still literally thousands of jobs available, right now, for MFTs around the country. Here are some places to start finding them.

Professional associations. AAMFT and CAMFT (a California-based association independent of AAMFT) each have their own job-finder database. As of today (August 29, 2014), AAMFT's database lists 176 openings around the country -- admittedly not a great number, but better than none. CAMFT's database lists a few dozen clinical jobs, but gets bonus points for a great directory of additional county- and hospital-based employment databases that MFTs will find useful. Both associations also offer events geared toward networking, and many job offers come out of the connections made at those events. They're worth attending.

Federal programs. is the best place to start looking for federally-funded jobs for MFTs. The trick here is to search wisely. Entering the keyword "family therapist" brings back 110 openings. However, broadening that to "mental health" leads to 1,594 jobs, many of which MFTs are well-qualified for. It can also be worth your time to search any related terms you can think of; additional jobs may bubble up.

Bigger job-search sites. The usual suspects are not great help, but you may luck out. Searching specifically for "marriage and family counselor" (a suggested search term) returned just three results on was a bit better, turning up about 150 jobs under the term "family therapist." Again, you will find many jobs for which MFTs qualify if you search under broader counseling-related terms. Also, on the plus side, these sites are frequently updated and older posts are quickly removed, so their offerings are always fairly fresh.

County and state agencies. There is great variety in what you will find online, based on where you live. But where they exist, county and state agency sites are often the best places to go. Check out the web site for your county and state Department of Mental Health (smaller counties or states may use different names).

Larger nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofits, particularly those that contract with counties to provide mental health services, don't post jobs beyond their own sites these days because they don't need to. Ask friends and colleagues who the big players are in your county, and start at their site. Case in point: San Diego's Community Research Foundation, which posted eight openings for clinicians in just one day yesterday. (Full disclosure: I did an internship at a CRF program several years ago.)

Old-fashioned networking. Personal connections remain the best way to get an interview. If you're looking, take business cards and resumes with you to every CE event or other professional gathering you attend, and make a point of introducing yourself around. Even those who are not hiring now may be hiring at some point in the future, so it's always to your benefit to build strong professional relationships.

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If there are other good resources for MFTs I've left out, please feel free to share them! You can post your thoughts and useful resources in the comments below, by email to ben[at]bencaldwell[dot]com, or on my Twitter feed.


Saroja said...

Great advice thanks! I am a new graduate and in search of a job as a MFT Intern. To have some more added pressure I received one of the stipends through Department of Mental Health. This is a great opportunity because DMH will provide a stipend of 18,500 if you can find a job in the county within the three month time frame. DMH provides some job search directories to stipend recipients which are otherwise unattainable. This has been helpful but found things kind of quiet. I have submitted many resumes, filled out application after application but nothing is really biting. I am hoping that they are waiting until July 1st where many agencies are given their budget for the year. Thanks for this blog, helps to give direction in this otherwise overwhelming process!

Ben Caldwell said...

Saroja, I think you're right -- I'm hearing anecdotally that many places are waiting for the new fiscal year, especially those that are dependent on county and state funds. Without a state budget, it's hard for them to plan effectively. I hope for your sake and others that we see a lot of new postings in early July. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about going back to school to get my MFT. How does the job market look right now?

Ben Caldwell said...

The public mental health system is still experiencing layoffs due to county and state budget cuts here in California and around much of the country. That's impacting all the mental health professions. But, MFTs being added to the VA is helping, and being an MFT was again named a top career for 2011 by US News and World Report. So prospects are looking up as the economy improves.

Anonymous said...

I am in an MFT program and starting to search for a practicum position to start this September. I am not sure that I want to get a doctorate degree if I can do the same thing with a MFT degree. I am thinking about starting a private practice. Is it a good idea to have a masters degree in Business before I begin a private practice?

Ben Caldwell said...

@Anonymous - Please see my post about choosing whether to pursue a doctorate in MFT. As to your question about getting a masters degree in business -- while the knowledge would likely be helpful, most MFTs in private practice have little to no business background. And many of them do quite well.

Having knowledge and experience in business certainly improves your chances of success, but I cannot say whether a second masters degree would be worth the time and expense it would take to get it.

Rebecca Q. said...

Hello Ben, I can not begin to express how much I have enjoyed reading all of your blogs regarding the MFT program! Thank you for the information as it is extremely difficult to find. I have recently decided to pursue an MFT (get licensed) and complete a PsyD program. From what I have read, I understand that a PsyD program is applied understanding whereas a PhD is research based. Is this correct? Additionally, I would really like to apply to an accredited MFT+PsyD dual program to save some time and money. I am bound to Southern California (Los Angeles Area) and have been unable to find a school that offers a dual program. Do you by chance know of any accredited dual MFT+PsyD programs in my area? Lastly, are there any programs that you know of that offer an MFT with an emphasis in sex therapy? If not, do you have any advice as to how to go about searching for this information? I have been looking and searching but do not have much to show for my efforts...any direction would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you for your time.

Bryan Miller said...

One possibility to the challenge of finding a job is . . . create one! As MFTs we are often focused on finding a position. We are led to this through our traditional schooling, licensing, etc. However consider this:

I got a call from a colleague who had been working in anther city and was moving to mine. She had been working full-time but was expecting a baby and needed part-time work. She asked if I knew of any openings. "No," I said, then asked her if she had though of putting together a proposal to a local organization to do consulting for them. The result? A contract in one month (doing EAP type work) at a third the income and about one-tenth the time. Her hourly wage thus rose from about $15 to $45 (this is not effected by cancellations or no shows either). A plus for consulting contracts.

Bryan Miller
Author: Beyond the Couch: Turning your behavioral health degree into cash without losing your soul.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am a licensed MFT in California and have been working in community mental health for the past 6 years, but I am interested in working overseas at this time. Do you know of any job opportunities as a counselor or other, in another country, or how to go about finding a job. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am an LMFT in North Carolina. Do you have any ideas about what other careers someone with a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy might explore?

Unknown said...

BRIDGES, Inc. is currently hiring MFTI, MFT, LCSW, certified staff. If interested please contact Maria at

**roXy** said...

Hi, I am an undergrad at CSULB. I plan to get my masters in MFT. Right now I am unemployed. I was wondering what kind of jobs do you suggest I look for. Ive been looking for teacher assistant positions since my major is Child Development and Family studies. Thank you, BTW I am glad I found your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I have been a licensed MFT since February 2010. I also recently got my certification as an AAMFT Supervisor equivalent. I am currently looking for MFT jobs in San Diego. Can anyone give me some leads?

Virginia Nagiec said...

I am a LMFT with an MS in MFT and recently transferred to the NYC area. I have experience in private practice, community mental health and medical settings addressing behavioral health/mental health issues related to chronic disease management. I would love to be in a medical setting or somewhere where I can continue this focus, however I continue to run into jobs where a MSW/LCSW is required. Does anyone have any advice for overcoming the health care bias of not having an MSW?