Are you interested in becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist and training with our team? Learn more about our training program below.
The Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic (MFT Clinic) provides clinical training for students who are in their first year of the Marriage and Family Therapy Master of Arts degree program at Wheaton College.
Wheaton College MFT students also have the opportunity to stay at The MFT Clinic for their second year as advanced intern therapists. Interested students must apply for these highly coveted advanced training opportunities. More information is provided during the first year of the program.
The MFT Clinic mission and purpose
We seek to provide state-of-the-art clinical training for current Marriage and Family graduate students at Wheaton College. Under the supervision of MFT faculty and staff, student therapists provide evidence-based, affordable couple and family therapy to the community, with an emphasis on serving those who are on the margin of society and those who are underserved. Through research, the clinic seeks to contribute to the field through the systemic assessment of family functioning, intervention effectiveness, and outcomes.
What is the training program like at The MFT Clinic?
The MFT Clinic is an Academic Care Center that utilizes a teaching hospital model to provide mental health therapy for the community. Our mission is to provide affordable, high-quality, mental health care while training the next generation of marriage and family therapists.
Intern therapists at The MFT Clinic are currently enrolled in their first year of the MFT program at Wheaton College where they receive intensive academic training in the classroom. Simultaneously, they are hired as practicum clinicians at The MFT Clinic for their clinical training. The MFT Clinic provides the “hands on” portion of training where students are given immediate opportunities to both observe and participate in providing therapy for clients alongside experts in the field.
Therapy students learn about the latest evidence-based treatment approaches in the classroom while simultaneously learning how to apply these theories and interventions at The MFT Clinic with current clients. This unique opportunity creates an intensive training experience with high levels of collaboration between students and faculty.
In close collaboration with the MFT graduate program at Wheaton College, we use a Four-Phase Developmental Training Model which provides rising MFT therapists with carefully structured state-of-the art clinical training. These four phases are designed to provide support for students as they learn new skills, building knowledge and proficiencies one step at a time. As students learn therapeutic skills, their level of responsibility for client care increases.
In Phase One, students are in the beginning stages of learning how to provide therapy. Each student is placed on a small treatment team with a faculty expert with whom they will receive in-depth mentoring. This faculty expert will serve as their clinical supervisor. At this stage, the faculty expert/supervisor assumes full responsibility for client care.
Although this is the first stage of training, students observe their faculty supervisor provide therapy “live” and they learn how to provide input and feedback to the faculty expert and clients regarding therapeutic care. Students are serving as practicum therapists on their treatment team.
At this stage, practicum therapists shift from the reflecting process to being the therapist in the room with clients, while receiving extensive support by the treatment team. Led by the faculty supervisor, the treatment team observes the practicum therapist provide therapy “live” and provides input and feedback to the practicum therapist and clients regarding therapeutic care.
This is the most intensive part of training for practicum therapists as they learn critical skills of being present with clients and engaging in reflective, therapeutic listening. In the meantime, the treatment team and clinical supervisor are observing “live,” and considering interventions that will be most useful for the clients. Intern therapists receive this input and implement it with their clients.
Clients find this to be a rewarding experience as they receive excellent care from the treatment team, led by the seasoned faculty expert.
Practicum therapists are now ready to provide therapy for clients without their “live” treatment team observing and providing real time input. Instead, students record their sessions using a secure, HIPAA-compliant technology system.
During their weekly supervision time, students review their session with their clinical supervisor and small team of colleagues, where they receive feedback and direction for client care. This type of supervision is a special part of Marriage and Family Therapy training and a benefit to both the client and trainee.
This closes out the first year of clinical training at The MFT Clinic and upon completion, students are ready to enter their clinical internship. Students apply for an internship position at local practices where they will work as advanced therapy interns for their second year of training.
During the second year of trainees’ clinical experience, they work more independently, taking care of most aspects of client care, including billing, appointment scheduling, and therapeutic services.
Intern therapists are still required to record their sessions and attend weekly supervision with their site supervisor and faculty supervisor, where they receive advanced training.
Our students find internships at a variety of local practices in the greater Chicagoland area. As well, The MFT Clinic hires several second-year intern students each year.
This developmental model has the trainee moving from close oversight and support to being more of an independent therapist under the supervision of a licensed therapist.