State governments are a major employer of mental health professionals. States hire mental health professionals to treat patients in state hospitals or other health facilities, treat inmates incarcerated in state prisons, and hire providers to work within other state agencies.
In most states, state personnel departments must create a state job classification for MFTs before state agencies can hire MFTs to serve as behavioral health providers. Based upon research by AAMFT, almost all states have specific job titles for clinical social workers, psychiatrists, and psychologists, but few have classifications for MFTs.
To address this problem, AAMFT and its divisions have been advocating for a change in state laws, regulations, or policies so that family therapists, like other mental health professionals, have their own specific state job classification. The goal is to create a specific state job classification for MFTs that will allow MFTs to have access to all applicable mental health jobs with the state government. The job classification would include the phrase "Marriage and Family Therapist" within the job title.
As of 2010, three states, Arkansas, Connecticut, and Tennessee, have specific job classifications for MFTs that reference the name of the profession in the job titles. In a few states, MFTs are specifically eligible for employment under more generic mental health job classifications. In the remaining states, there are no known job classifications that reference MFTs. In some of these states, an MFT could apply for a clinical mental health job if the MFT can demonstrate that the therapist’s license or degree is comparable to the license or degree types specifically listed in the job classification.