Choosing Your Track
Which is a better fit for me: the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track (CMHC), or the Marriage, Family & Child Counseling track (MFCC)?
While both the CMHC and the MFCC programs will provide the training you will need to practice therapy, there are differences between the two tracks, and it is important to select the track that is the best fit for you and your career goals. The Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) track is designed for students who have an interest in working primarily with individual clients in a variety of counseling and mental health settings and private practice. The CMHC track prepares graduates to apply for licensure as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) in Texas. The Marriage, Family & Child Counseling (MFCC) track is designed for individuals who want to work in a variety of public settings that primarily serve couples and families or in private practice. The MFCC track prepares graduates to apply for licensure as an LMFT (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist) in Texas. Both tracks are CACREP accredited (the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs), which means that the curriculum and training experiences meet national standards within the counseling profession. CACREP accreditation is a bonus for graduates who may later move outside the state of Texas, as the CACREP standards meet or exceed licensure requirements in most states.
Occasionally, students will ask about pursuing both tracks in their training. Except for individuals who may want to teach or supervise in both fields, there is no real need to pursue both tracks. The potential added benefit for most practitioners does not outweigh the potential costs of maintaining both credentials. Furthermore, CACREP does not allow graduates to earn both accredited degrees without earning all the credits for both tracks and completing two internships. In Texas, both the LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) and the LMFT (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist) credentials allow master’s level clinicians to practice independently and to work with individual clients (across the lifespan), couples, and families. The main difference between the Clinical Mental Health track and the Marriage & Family track is the focus – the CMHC track focuses on individual interventions, and the MFCC track focuses on helping clients through a relational or systemic intervention (couples or families).
Beyond the courses that you take and the licensure you pursue in your career, making the best selection is really about finding the career path that works best with how you view your role and work in the counseling field.
UMHB Graduate Counseling Faculty have created this short questionnaire to help you decide which counseling degree track might be a better fit for you. Please consider the following case study then answer the question below:
You are working as a counselor, and the following case is referred to you. The family consists of John Doe and Jane Doe, a married couple in their 30s with two small children. Joanie is seven years old, and Jack is three. Approximately six months ago, Joanie began having nightmares after the babysitter allowed her to watch a PG-13 movie. As time went on, seven-year-old Joanie was not able to sleep through the night. Several nights a week, Jane (mom) would be awakened by Joanie’s cries and unable to console her. Jane would bring Joanie back into the master bedroom to sleep out the night. Most nights, John (dad) would carry Joanie back to her room after she had fallen soundly asleep. After several weeks, Joanie began crying at bedtime and insisted on sleeping with her parents at least until she fell asleep. Jane began allowing Joanie to fall asleep in the master bedroom because she didn’t want to fight with Joanie for hours each night and also because it upset her to see her daughter so distraught. This week, Jack (younger brother) has also started to cry at night, and now he also wants to sleep in bed with his parents. John (dad) disagrees with how his wife, Jane, has handled this situation. Jack feels his wife was too lenient with Joanie. John is also unhappy because he feels there is no privacy in their marriage and is concerned that their intimacy and closeness has suffered.
Based on this case study, who do you see as the identified client or clients, and who would you see in treatment for this issue/these issues?
- a. Joanie, because she has on-going issues with nightmares
- b. Jane and John need couples work because they have allowed parenting issues to cause problems in their marital relationship
- c. Jane because she is the primary caregiver for Joanie and her parenting has created the issue
- d. John because he seems the most upset by the current situation
- e. the entire family (family sessions) because they have all been impacted by recent events
There is no right or wrong answer to this case study. If you chose answer A, C, or D, you might think more like a Licensed Professional Counselor (CMHC), who is most likely to focus on individual clients and address change through one or more individuals in this family. If you chose answer B or E, you might think more like a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFCC) who is more likely to focus on relational issues and address change through relational changes, boundaries, or systemic change.
At UMHB, students are asked to select their desired focus or degree track when they first apply to enter the program. Students may not be sure at this point and may desire to switch degree tracks as they learn more about the profession and which track might be a better fit for them personally. Students may elect to switch degree tracks at any time in their program, up until the point where they begin their internship placement; however, switching degree tracks later in the program may result in the need to accrue additional credits beyond the 60 required credits, as there is very little flexibility in the required coursework for each degree. Therefore, the sooner this decision is made, the less likely it is that students may need additional credits to complete the degree of their choice.
As described above, it is not recommended that students pursue both tracks. The additional cost and time this takes is not a good investment for most people. Maintaining two credentials that allow clinicians to do the same work (but with a different focus) can be costly.
If a student does wish to pursue both tracks while at UMHB or desires to come back to UMHB post-degree to gain the necessary coursework and training to pursue the second credential, the following policy applies:
In order for UMHB Graduate Counseling Faculty to verify to the Texas State Licensing Board that one of our graduates has sufficiently met the recommended training guidelines for any professional licensure, we must ensure that: the purpose or training of the degree is not being misrepresented in any way; the individual is adequately prepared to do work in the secondary specialty, and the individual is adequately prepared for licensure in this second specialty.
Current UMHB Graduate Counseling students or recent graduates who intend to use their UMHB counseling degree to meet the requirements as a qualifying degree for a content area for which their training was not specifically designed, must have:
- Completed a minimum of 12 graduate credits which fulfill the special requirements of the secondary credential. For example, those who graduated with a degree specialization other than the CMHC track who wish to pursue the LPC credential must have completed coursework in substance abuse counseling; treatment planning, trauma/crisis counseling; and a total of 6 credits in ethics and legal issues. Those who graduated with a degree specialization other than the MFCC track who wish to pursue the LMFT credential must have completed four graduate level courses in assessment and treatment in marriage and family therapy (e.g., couples counseling, counseling children, brief counseling, advanced marriage and family therapy, etc.)
- Met all requirements for clinical placement as described by Texas State law and UMHB policies to demonstrate appropriate skill development in the secondary credential being sought. For example, approximately one-third of required 240 client contact hours required in the internship must demonstrate appropriate experience and skill development in the secondary license area. If the internship has already been completed and this has not been met, it may be necessary for the individual to complete additional internship placement(s).
- Completed the comprehensive examination of the secondary credentialing area with a score of no less than 5% below the minimum passing score required for those pursing this content area as a primary degree choice.
Individuals seeking endorsement for a secondary credential should set an appointment to discuss this with their advisor (current students) or the program coordinator for the new specialization (graduates) who can help to create a deficiency plan, which will need to be approved by the Clinical Committee and the Program Director.
Page last updated February 06, 2018