MFT Study Guide for Exam

It is interesting to me that many therapists either put too little emphasis, or too much emphasis on licensing exams. While I don't believe most people benefit from "studying for the exam" for an extended period of time (it can lead to burn-out, overwhelm, anxiety, and test trauma)- I do believe in preparing for the exam over an extended period of time. 

From the moment you enter graduate school, and maybe even before that- you are preparing for licensing exams. Your exams cover cumalative material that you will learn, experience, and practice in the several years it takes to finish your degree, finish your supervised hours, etc. 

If you are a student, an intern, or a clinical supervisor- I highly recommend you locate the list of topics that will be covered on the exam today. Not so you can start studying years or months in advance- but so you can start expanding your awareness. 

Look over the list for fun topics that interest you, or that relate to your current caseload. Bring those in to your individual or group supervision. Find books that inspire you, talk about these things in a way that isn't stressful or anxiety producing. Get confident knowing that you have the knowledgebase and theoretical background, play with the clinical expression of the material... 

When you are ready to schedule your licensing exam, study materials should simply be about filling any remaining gaps in knowledge, developing confidence in the expereince in actually taking the test, and learning strategies to translate your face-to-face clinical knowledge and judgment into a pencil and paper setting! 

Here is the California overview of what is covered on the current standard written exam, and the clinical vignette exam

But wait! I hear the exam in California is changing, or the national MFT exam is changing. What do I do? Breath. There will be some changes on the 2015 version of the exam (unless they push it back again). Understanding the DSM IV and the clear changes to the DSM V won't be a waste of time. It is important for you to understand the history of diagnosis as you talk to new clients. 

For example, I have clients who still refer to themselves as manic depressive- even though that isn't listed in the DSM. It is important to know the history- so I clearly know they are talking about Bipolar disorder! Remember, this is your career path, your passion- NONE of this will be wasted time or energy! 

Have you joined our free online study group for exams yet? Subscribe to the newsletter to get your invite and your free podcasts! Are you burnt out on exam studying? Clear your mind and start dreaming of private practice- we've got some groovy free trainings over including our newest live training- how to develop your specialty! 

Top 5 Reasons Why Therapists Need the Free Online Study Group

I started a free MFT study group back in July of 2005. I had failed a licensing exam, felt humiliated and wasn't sure what to do next. My clinical supervisor hadn't taken the written clinical vignette, and had failed the oral exams several times. She had no words of wisdom before, or after I took my licensing exams. 

I started the free study group for MFT Interns studying for the clinical vignette on a whim after failing my written clinical vignette exam by 1 point. Sometimes that is just how these things start, on a whim, selfishly. I am SO glad that I did, it was a major turning point in my professional career.

The study group currently has pre-licensed MFT, LPC, LCSW, MHC studying for California Exams, National Exams, and other state specific exams. There are over 1040 members currently helping each other down the path to successful, licensed practice. 

When I started the study group I thought for sure we would be practicing theory, quizzing one another, etc. And yes, that stuff happened. However, there is something much deeper, and more profound that happens in the free online study group:

1. Community

While some professional organizations have clubs for pre-licensed individuals, many do not. Many pre-licensed therapists feel less than, left out, unseen. They are biding their time patiently to get licensed and "emerge." In a pre-licensed group the sense is that you are great right where you are. Everybody is there with you, and rooting for you as you go forward. Nobody feels less than, just excited for one another! 

2. Crowd-sourcing

I remember asking the 1 person I knew who had taken the written clinical vignette exam what study materials I should get, or what advice she had. She had none. She felt like it was a fluke she passed. She didn't know what to tell me. My supervisor recommended a program with a lady whose picture looked a bit crazy. That picture did NOT instill confidence. With over 1000 therapists in one place, ask and you shall receive. Is this study program worth it? You can get dozens of responses within a few hours usually. What should I do to prepare for my exam that is 3 days away? Dozens of responses with tried and true tips- and TONS of encouragement. 

3. Power

It is easy to feel alone and powerless in the licensing exam process, and in the entire licensure process. Having hundreds of people who are in the process, finishing up the process, just starting the process. It is beautiful to see people stepping us as leaders, informing the next generation, who in turn step up as leaders, and inform the next people. I truly believe the online study group is going to train up an amazing group of future clinical supervisors. 

4. Encouragement

There is nothing like true, honest support while in the deep depths of a really bad day. Whether it is a letter from the BBS saying they didn't approve all your hours, frustration at a 10 month wait for exam approval, or failing your MFT exam by 1 point. Being able to post in a place where people really get you, or where others are experiencing the same thing is amazing. I've watched this process for almost a decade, and I might even say it is awe-inspiring. 

5. Informative

While asking a question like "What study materials should I buy for my MFT exams?" and getting dozens of responses is awesome. Sometimes, we don't need lots of opinions. Sometimes you just need someone who has the information. When you have questions like "How do I get someone at the BBS to pick up the phone?" Having someone who has a direct contact to share that meets your needs is the best feeling in the world. I wish I coudl see that I was that person with "all the answers." I'm not. I can't be. What is fantastic is that when you get hundreds and hundreds of passionate, determined therapists together someone has the answer. Or, someone is going to get the answer. 

These are the top 5 reasons why therapists need a free online study group. These are the reasons why even though I created the group selfishly, to meet my own needs, I've continued the group all these years. I always want pre-licensed therapists to know there is a place to go where they can get support! Would you like to join? We'd love to have you! 

Join the free online study group today.

Are you already in the study group? Post below why YOU love the online study group. And give this article a share!