Graduate School - Marriage and Family Therapy


Contact Information
Jackie Halstead, Advisor
ACU Box 29438
Abilene, Texas 79699-9438
Biblical Studies Building, Room 276

Phone: 325-674-3778
Fax: 325-674-3749


Page Links:

Admission Requirements

Master of Marriage and 
   Family Therapy (MMFT)

Jaime Goff, Assistant Professor
Jackie Halstead, Associate Professor
Tom Milholland, Professor


Supervising clinical faculty:
Deon Botha
Kurt Boyland

Cara Flanders
Janet Jergins
Steve Rowlands


Faculty from other departments who
teach in this program:
Scott Perkins, Associate Professor of

Steven Wages, Associate Professor of 
                        Family Studies



The Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, located in the College of Biblical Studies at Abilene Christian University, offers a Master in Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT) degree.

The 60-hour Marriage and Family Therapy degree plan is designed to be completed in 24 consecutive months. Part-time students are not admitted to the program.

The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

The primary objective of the degree is to provide professional training for persons intending to occupy positions in community mental health agencies, children and family service agencies, church ministries, institutional settings, and private practice, as well as those desiring advanced academic degrees. The majority of MMFT graduates are working in the placement of their choice or are accepted into doctoral programs in a variety of disciplines including marriage and family therapy, clinical and counseling psychology, social work, and family studies.

The clinical faculty of the department are practicing clinicians and supervisors, certified as Clinical Members and Approved Supervisors by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), and licensed by the Texas State Board of Health. Most also hold another license in either psychology or professional counseling.

The Marriage and Family Therapy program is committed to a value system that espouses a Christian worldview in terms of human nature, the development of interpersonal or intrapersonal problems, and the context within which those problems can be solved. Integration of theory, therapy, theology and spirituality are found in the classroom as well as within the clinical experience.

The curriculum is intended to prepare graduates for membership in the AAMFT and state licensure in marriage and family therapy. Additionally, the Marriage and Family Therapy program prepares graduates for licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Marriage and family therapy training is by nature interdisciplinary and, therefore, includes relevant courses in psychology, sociology, ministry, and marriage and family therapy.

Each graduate will receive a minimum of 500 hours of direct clinical experience and 100 hours of approved supervision, both of which are graduation requirements. Supervision is provided by the departmental faculty. Graduates normally meet the necessary requirements for an upgrade in their membership from student, to associate, and then to clinical membership status in AAMFT. Graduates also normally meet the requirements necessary to begin post-graduate licensure requirements.

Two predominant components of the program are clinical training and academic research. Beginning in the fall semester of the first year, all students are evaluated and then begin their clinical experience. The intern initially functions as a co-therapist beginning in the early spring of the first year. Supervision of this internship is provided by the MFT faculty in individual and group settings utilizing video, live and case presentation approaches.

The supervision experience focuses on integrating the student’s academic training with the clinical skills of marriage and family therapy. During the clinical phase, interns develop skills of assessing, diagnosing and treating individuals, couples and families from both medical models and systems perspectives.

Since each supervisor may come from a different therapeutic model, students are exposed to a variety of models such as cognitive-behavioral, structural-strategic, multi-generational, narrative, integrative, brief-solution focused, emotionally focused, and internal family systems.

The clientele for the internship experience come from the community and offer a wide variety of problems. Most internships are conducted in the department’s clinical facilities with 11 therapy rooms equipped with closed-circuit color television cameras and phone-in supervision capabilities.

A second emphasis within the department is research. Students are required to submit abstracts for presentation at the annual conference of the Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. It is a refereed process, and most of our students’ projects are accepted for presentation. The research projects are prepared for submission to refereed journals and are occasionally accepted for publication. All projects are guided by a primary faculty researcher. The research projects are either qualitatively or quantitatively oriented.

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   Admission Requirements


Admission to the program is on a competitive basis. All prospective students must apply for admission through ACU’s Graduate School. For admission criteria, please refer to the Graduate School Admission Requirements section of this catalog. Additional MFT requirements are:
  1. A minimum GRE score of 900;
  2. One additional letter of recommendation;
  3. A written purpose statement declaring why the applicant wishes to study marriage and family therapy at ACU and what he or she plans to do professionally upon graduation;
  4. Psychological testing;
  5. Completion of a psychosocial history;
  6. A quality of life that reflects high moral standards;
  7. A writing sample; and
  8. An on-campus interview with the faculty. The personal interview for applicants residing outside the continental United States can be done via telephone and/or video recording.

When all required materials are assembled, the application will be reviewed by the MFT faculty. Students are admitted once a year and begin their program of study in the fall semester. All application materials MUST be completed by the preceding January 15 for the fall semester. The GRE and personal interviews MUST be completed by February 15. Acceptance into the program will be granted by March 1.

No specific undergraduate major is essential for admission. Applicants are encouraged to have undergraduate credit in subjects that embrace human development, family relations, theology, sociology, psychology and statistics.

Applicants without adequate preparation may be accepted upon the condition that they register for additional courses deemed necessary by the graduate advisor.

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Major Code: MFTH

The Master of Marriage and Family Therapy (MMFT) degree plan for all students follows the requirements of the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. Students are expected to take courses in the sequence required by the department. No more than 12 semester hours may be transferred into the program with the approval of the graduate advisor.

Requirements for the MMFT are:

          1. Marital and family systems, 3 hours:
              BMFT 639 Family Theory/General Systems Theory

          2. Marital and family therapy, 18 hours:
              BMFT 610 Pre-Marriage and Marriage Therapy
              BMFT 641 Family Therapy I
              BMFT 645 Marital and Family Assessment
              BMFT 651 Sexual Therapy
              BMFT 660 Therapy with Non-Traditional Families
              BMFT 661 Family Therapy II

          3. Individual development, 12 hours:
              BMFT 662 Family Life Cycle
              BMFT 663 Cultural Diversity in Marriage and Family Therapy
              BMFT 665 Family Therapy Across the Life-Cycle
              PSYC 682 Advanced Psychopathology

          4. Professional studies, 3 hours:
              BMFT 643 Professional Ethics and the Law

          5. Supervised clinical practice, 15 hours:
              BMFT 601, 602, 603, 604, 605

          6. Research, 3 hours:
              SOCI 615 Social Research

          7. Additional courses, 6 hours:
              BIBM 696 Integration of Psychology and Theology
              BMFT 634 Addictive Disorders

          8. Comprehensive exam


Degree Sequence

1. Core courses (36 hours); Practicum (16 hours)
YEAR 1                                                          
  BMFT 639

Family Theory/General Systems Theory

  BMFT 610

Pre-Marriage and Marriage Therapy

  BMFT 601 Pre-Internship
  BMFT 641 Family Therapy I
  BMFT 602 Internship I
  BMFT 645 Marital and Family Assessment
  BMFT 662 Family Life Cycle
  PSYC 682 Advanced Psychopathology
  BMFT 665 Family Therapy Across the Life-Cycle
  BMFT 643 Professional Ethics and the Law
  SOCI 615 Social Research
  BMFT 663 Cultural Diversity in Marriage and Family Therapy
  BMFT 603 Internship II
  BMFT 634 Addictive Disorders
  BMFT 651 Sexual Therapy
  BMFT 661 Family Therapy II
  BMFT 604 Internship III
  PSYC 657 or Intermediate Statistics
  PSYC 620 or Group Psychotherapy
  BIBM 648 Christian Spiritual Formation
  BMFT 605 Internship IV
  BIBM 696 Integration of Psychology and Theology
2. Comprehensive Exam

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