5 Reasons Why Having to Take the MFT Exams is GREAT!

Why Licensing Exams are Awesome

1.  If you’ve been letting your self-care slide, these exams will force you eye-to-eye with how much you’re NOT doing what you teach your clients.  In these exams it doesn’t matter if you can memorize gobs of stuff or whether you were a good test taker in school.  These exams are about whether you can manage your anxiety and make well-reasoned decisions while enduring uncertainty.   Which, face it, is what our profession requires from us on a fairly regular basis.  If your “tank” is on empty because you haven’t been taking care of yourself that will limit your ability to do well on these tests.  Therefore, use this time not only to study but to reevaluate the current balance of your life. 

2.  These exams will bring you eye-to-eye with the misinformation you’ve picked up over the years from professors and supervisors who don’t take the time to stay current with professional guidelines.  The license you will be issued is precious, and these exams make it clear what you need to know and do to make sure you never lose that precious commodity.  Passing these exams means you’ve been launched into your licensed career with the most up-to-date legal and ethical guidelines – now it’s up to you to maintain them.

3.   These exams are a big deal.  And everything that comes after taking and passing them is ALSO a big deal.   You’ll be licensed and as such have options available to you.  The “goal” of getting licensed has now turned into a crossroads.  What do you do with the wide open space spreading before you?  Taking and passing these exams builds your confidence.  Taking and passing these exams lets you know that you have what it takes to forge ahead.   Taking and passing these exams gives feet to your dreams.

4.  Taking and passing these exams isn’t possible without support.  If you haven’t learned the importance of networking yet, you will learn it now.  You need a network of colleagues whom you can count on for information and encouragement.  That same network will be there on the other (licensed) side when you’re looking for a well-paying job, starting a private practice, building a non-profit…  The relationships you build and maintain with your peers while you’re walking through this crucible together is VALUABLE.

5.  Finally, taking and passing these exams is a rite of passage that inserts you into a top notch group of people who not only say they want to help to make the world a better place, but have actually put their time, money, sweat, and tears toward that goal.  It means you’ve come through the tests, papers, theses, comps, field experiences, pratica, internships, personal therapy, late nights, low pay, and, yes, 2 seriously kick-butt exams in order to stand by your values.  You ARE a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist!  

Angela French is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and is making her dream of private practice in Manteca, California a reality.  Angela loves working with women who care deeply about others but are losing their sense of self in the middle of all they do.  She is passionate about helping women to unhook from feelings of guilt or fear, and encouraging them to develop a deep satisfaction in who they are and how they live life.  Angela has extensive experience working with women and adolescent girls, as well as couples, to reestablish relational wholeness and build personal fulfillment.  To find out more about Angela click here.

Help, I just failed my licensing exam

Failed my licensing exam

There is little more devastating for a therapist than failing a licensing exam. The only way to be taking a licensing exam is if you have spent years being successful taking exam. SATs, GREs, Mid-terms, finals, exam papers... you have to get past all of those to even come close to sitting for a licensing exam. 

If you have failed a licensing exam, you are not alone! 

And you don't want to hear this- but it's not the end of the world. In fact, I'm extremely grateful for my experience of failing my licensing exam. So today, I wanted to give you a few tangible tips of what to do after failing your licensing exam: 

1. Be kind to yourself. 

Nobody will be harder on you than you will be. 99% of your colleagues will not think of you any differently, and will have compassion for your experience. Your colleagues know you are a good therapist from working with you- a silly exam isn't going to change that. 

2. Take a rest.

The preparations you made up to the day of your exam were probably exhausting. Your body and mind truly need rest before you will be able to make sense of all of this and make a game plan to pass on your next attempt. Now is NOT the time to make any long term decisions. 

3. Celebrate. 

You took the exam. You made the attempt. The are therapists out there avoiding this exam like the plague- afraid of failing- you did it- and guess what- you are still standing! And you still get to do therapy. And you still get to be you! 

4. Explore your anxiety. 

There is nothing people hate more than me letting them know that the biggest preparation they need to be successful on their next attempt is anxiety reduction. I talked to a wonderful woman who called me for exam coaching after she failed her exam by 1 or 2 points. We talked about what happened- turned out her child had to be rushed to the doctors at 2am... and she had gotten some pitiful amount of sleep. 

Guess what I told her? She is fine! She needs to do very little to prep- missing by 1 or 2 points on no sleep after your child's sick is fabulous! Now, she just needs to watch the anxiety the next time she takes the exam and realize that the first exam experience was not representative of her ability to pass the exam. 

5. Reach out to community

Connect with great people. Be social. Have fun. Use this as opportunity to build some great connections and network with other people. You might just meet some of your favorite humans through this experience. 

6. Take your power back. 

Tap into your strengths, take care of your body, your mind- and make a game plan to pass on attempt #2. You can and you will do this! 

Hope this helps inspire you today! 

Miranda Palmer

I have successfully built a cash pay psychotherapy practice from scratch on a shoestring budget. I have also failed a licensed exam by 1 point (only to have the licensing board send me a later months later saying I passed), started an online study group to ease my own isolation and have now reached thousands of therapists across the country, helped other therapists market their psychotherapy practices, and helped awesome business owners move from close to closing their doors, to being profitable in less than 6 weeks. I've failed at launching online programs. I've had wild success at launching online programs. I've made mistakes in private practice I've taught others how to avoid my mistakes. You can do this. You were called to this work. Now- go do it! Find some help or inspiration as you need it- but do the work!

Pre-Licensed Therapists Building Community

We talk a lot about the free online study group for therapists on here. Why? Because it is awe-some. And, I'll be honest- it has very little to do with me!

Today, I logged into the free study group and could have cried with everything I saw on there: 

  • Therapists sharing their exam success and getting cheers. 
  • Therapists sharing failing their exam and getting support, empathy, and encouragement. 
  • Therapists sharing study tips and tricks.
  • Therapists sharing job opportunities with one another. 
  • Therapists sharing important information and getting answers to specific questions that can really help them succeed!  

Ultimately, it is simple a place where we've somehow attracted thousands of awesome counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers and more into one place. Everyone has the same basic goal: Help and be helpful- and it works! 

It sounds silly, but my favorite example today are people sharing that there is a heating and cooling issue in one of the California testing sites. To be honest, I wouldn't have ever considered calling a testing center to find out if they were having an issue, or been prepared for it being NINETY degrees in a professional testing center! 

I'd be prepared with warm clothes for the traditional ice box that is testing centers- wouldn't you? But, several people have shared that this has been an issue for several weeks, people have dressed in summer clothes (in the Fall) just in case- and some have been able to make the determination to drive a little farther to take their exam so they could be more comfortable. 

Those little gems make me SO happy! The study group that I started out of my own selfish needs back in 2005 is more than I ever imagined, and here it is 10 years later provided support and encouragement to people who are looking for study materials, therapists who have failed the written licensing exam and don't know what to do, and therapists who just need a community to keep them inspired! 

How are you creating community in your life? How are you being helpful? Where are you getting help? Sign up for the free online study group today if you need some awesome community! 

So let's talk about the 5 steps to building community as a pre-licensed therapist. Realize that the work you do NOW to build an awesome community- will also build up your professional reputation and help you when you start a counseling practice! 

  1. Be on the lookout for a great community. Look, search, and be dogged about finding people you can trust to connect with. 
  2. Start with clear boundaries as you watch and learn the culture of the group, and determine how safe it is to be "real" in the group (online or offline). 
  3. As you find safe places, be bold, brave, and authentic! 
  4. Be a safe person for other people- hold what people tell you in confidence, be helpful, empathetic, and model what you'd want from others. 
  5. Don't be afraid to "keep looking" if your first attempts at community building lead to some disappointments. 

Let's create more community! That is how we are therapists grow, develop, and stay inspired (just like we did in grad school!). Share your ideas for creating great community below! 

p.s. I'll be in Seattle, LA, and San Diego in November, and have free trainings every month on all aspects of starting a counseling practice. Check out the upcoming events here