License portability is the ability to take an individual's qualifications for a license in one state and apply them for licensure in another state. For LMFTs, the process of license portability has been disjointed across the states, largely due to a popular policy of only approving applicants that prove their qualifications are "substantially equivalent" to the requirements of the state they're applying to. In theory, substantially equivalent sounds logical, but practice has shown that this policy creates additional barriers for LMFTs, even those that may have been licensed for years in another state. There are many cases where subjectivity in applying the substantially equivalent policy has resulted in LMFTs having to take the same classes over again, complete additional hours of supervision, and more. AAMFT has developed a model of MFT license portability in order to promote more objectivity in assessing qualifications, as well as standardization between states in our increasingly mobile society.
AAMFT's Model of MFT License Portability:
The licensure board shall issue a full and unrestricted license to an applicant to practice as a marriage and family therapist if the applicant:
- has a valid and unrestricted license to practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist in another state or territory; and
- has completed an application for licensure and paid any required fees.
This portability model is a full endorsement model, meaning that a state will license an applicant as an LMFT if the applicant has a valid and unrestricted MFT license in another state. Below are some specific comments pertaining to this model:
- As used in this model, the term “state” means any state or territory in the United States, and the District of Columbia.
- This model applies only to full licensure as an LMFT, not associate licensure. Since associate licensure is not currently available in all states and some of the provisions for associate licensure can vary, such as when the MFT clinical exam must be taken, associate licensure was left out of this model.
- This model would not apply to those applicants with a restricted license due to an ethics violation or other reason, or those who had their MFT licenses terminated.
- The requirement of completing an application also includes complying with any related requirements that apply to all applicants for licensure in a state, such as passing a background check or passing an exam pertaining to state law or ethics. The model is not meant to supersede any of these general requirements that apply to all healthcare licensees in a state.