A clinically oriented terminal degree 
in fast-growing field of practice.

A clinically oriented terminal degree
in fast-growing field of practice.

Doctor of Couple & Family Therapy Overview

Marriage and family therapists are among the nation’s fast-growing professions—with expected job growth as high as 41.2% in the next decade, and with a place on U.S. News and World Report’s 2013 list of 50 best careers. Adler University’s innovative Doctor of Couple and Family Therapy (D.C.F.T.) program is designed to prepare advanced therapists in couple, marriage, and family therapy to meet the growing demand for these specialized services.

Designed for experienced clinicians as well as recent graduates of clinical master degree programs, the D.C.F.T. emphasizes excellence in clinical practice—training students to apply empirically based knowledge, research, and techniques to therapy, training, and clinical supervision. Graduates are positioned to make a significant contribution to the practice of couple and family therapy through supervision, education, leadership and scholarly work.

Over the course of the program, students will broaden their professional networks through active involvement with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) at the national and state levels. As practitioner-scholars, they are encouraged and supported to present their work at state and national conferences.

Adler University has earned a national reputation for training culturally competent clinicians with unique emphasis on socially responsible practice. This is evident through the work of our students and faculty—who empower others to identify and address shared problems, and foster the development of social equality and social justice throughout the global community. This distinction has earned us national recognition for innovative practices in graduate education.

Curriculum, Practicum, and Internship

Our immersive program entails intensive coursework, clinical practicum experiences, dissertation, and a one-year full-time internship. Our robust curriculum is taught in small classes by diverse faculty practitioners who bring real-world experiences to the classroom. Students enjoy a collaborative professional environment and mentorships that contribute to their success. 

We emphasize a systems perspective, enabling practitioners to understand children, individuals, couples, and families in the context of complex relational, family, and societal dynamics. Our students are trained to provide therapy for individuals, couples and families utilizing approaches based on the major models of couple and family therapy, which are grounded in systems theory. This enables them to assess, conceptualize, treatment plan, and intervene to promote positive change in clients’ primary relationships.

Our curriculum also provides in-depth training in the systemic supervision of couple and family therapists, including a focus on the lifelong learning process for clinicians. This training provides the foundation for earning the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation. Doctoral students who hold the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) credential and post-license experience may complete supervisor training during the course of the program.

Through strong faculty support, a dedicated Training Department, and the University’s partnerships with hundreds of community agencies, our students gain valuable practicum and clinical experience in practicums and internships at clinics, hospitals, mental health centers, community organizations, schools, and government agencies at all levels. Our doctoral students play a vital role in creating their internships, tailoring the experience to meet their professional goals.  

Our program embodies Adler University’s commitment to social justice, through graduating socially responsible and culturally competent therapists. In addition to their academic work in social justice, diversity and multicultural contexts, doctoral students gain hands-on practical experience in providing therapy, clinical supervision, and advocacy in clinical settings working with underserved individuals, couples and families.

Doctoral students also will be trained in parenting education, with the opportunity to provide educational programs for parents in the community. Family therapy has a deeply rooted history at Adler University. As the first community psychologist, Alfred Adler incorporated a systems perspective in his approach to human development and therapy. He later went on to establish more than 30 child guidance clinics in Europe to provide parenting education to the community. Today, this work continues through our training programs, the Adler Child Guidance Center, and practitioners worldwide who are trained in these methods. They are globally renowned as the basis for quality parenting education and successful programs including the Positive Discipline program and the services provided by Child Guidance Clinics worldwide.


A master’s degree in marriage and family therapy (MFT) typically provides the requisite education for LFMT licensure eligibility. Students who enter the D.C.F.T. program with an MFT degree but without an LMFT credential may complete the clinical supervision and therapy required for licensure.

Students with a master’s degree in a related discipline usually require additional MFT courses to meet the educational qualifications for LMFT eligibility. Such students can complete these courses in the first year of the doctoral program, and then obtain the supervised experience applicable for state licensure.

Admission Requirements

  • A master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related clinical field such as social work or counseling from a regionally accredited US institution or a comparable degree from an international institution.
  • An academic record that demonstrates ability to fulfill the academic demands of the program. Successful applicants typically have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale for graduate-level coursework.
  • Completion of a clinical practicum as part of a graduate program.
  • Approved applicants will be invited to complete an interview as the final step in the application process. Please submit all application materials to the Office of Admissions prior to the application deadline.
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