What is the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education?

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Updated August 4, 2020

The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, also known as COAMFTE, is an accrediting body and part of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. As a specialized third-party body that is not affiliated with any regional accrediting bodies or schools, the commission plays an important part in promoting the best practices in Family Therapy education. By establishing standards and encouraging programs to focus on development, the commission has improved educational quality in the field as a whole. Here is what you need to know about the organization of the commission and the accreditation process itself.

How is the Commission Organized?

Much like regional and national accrediting bodies, the commission is made up of commissioners and practitioners who are able to set standards, review standards and oversee the process. The commission is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as a reputable and trustworthy specialized accrediting body and just recently had its status renewed for another 10 years. Currently, there are 9 commissioners, 2 public members and 7 professionals who make up the commission. This ensures that there is a balance when any decisions are made.

What Types of Programs does the Commission Evaluate?

A specialized accreditation is one that is granted to a specific program and not a specific school. The Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education will accredit clinical programs in family therapy or marriage therapy at a master's, doctoral or post-graduate level. Undergraduate therapy programs do not qualify for evaluation with this commission. All programs can voluntarily begin the process and are not required to do so to teach in the field.

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What Are the Accreditation Standards?

There is a long list of accreditation standards that are regularly updated by members of the commission. The underlying philosophy of these standards is to be forward-thinking and to prepare for evolution and change within the practice of family and marriage therapy. Some of the standards that are currently being used include:

  • Outcome-based education
  • Assessment plan for evaluating students
  • Communities of interest
  • Commitment to diversity
  • Multi-cultural approach to instruction
  • Technological resources
  • Clinical resources
  • Student support services
  • Faculty qualifications and sufficiency
  • Curriculum and teaching practices
  • Regulatory alignment

What are the Benefits of Accreditation?

There is a long list of benefits associated with attending an accredited program. One of these is that students will have peace of mind in knowing that they are paying for a quality education. Programs can benefit by placing the accreditation seal on their website and reaching a wider audience. Even the public as a whole benefits because having more accredited programs means that more and more highly trained marriage and family therapists will serve patients who need their clinical services. It is also much easier to get financial aide and to qualify for licensure when you take an accredited program.

If you are ready to advance your education, it is time to start searching for training programs that have passed the accreditation test. Narrow your list and then research each program individually. As you can see, the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education, or COAMFTE, plays an important role in the evolution of Marriage Family Therapist education.

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