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Becoming an Approved Supervisor

Marriage and family therapists who wish to obtain the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation must identify and contract with an Approved Supervisor at the beginning of their training. The Approved Supervisor will guide and monitor the progress of the supervisor candidate, and will eventually recommend that the AAMFT award the Approved Supervisor designation to a candidate who has successfully completed the training process. This process is referred to as supervision mentoring.

Once the Approved Supervisor is satisfied that the supervisor candidate has met all requirements for the designation's application, the Approved Supervisor oversees the supervisor candidate's application for the designation. AAMFT will conduct a quantitative review of the application to ensure that all requirements have been met and, if so, will award the Approved Supervisor designation to the supervisor candidate.

It is recommended that the Approved Supervisor Designation Standards and Responsibilities Handbook be reviewed in its entirety before beginning the training process.

Becoming an AAMFT Approved Supervisor involves three steps, described in detail below.  They are:

1. Prepare to train


  • Become an AAMFT Pre-Clinical Fellow or Clinical Fellow member (Student membership is acceptable for students in COAMFTE accredited doctoral programs);
  • Identify an Approved Supervisor with at least 120 hours of post designation supervision experience as defined in this handbook to serve as a supervisor mentor; and
  • Develop a plan for fulfilling the training requirements.


2. Complete training requirements


  • Complete an AAMFT provided or pre-approved Fundamentals of MFT Supervision course, described in Section Three of this handbook.
  • Provide supervision to MFTs/trainees as described in Section Two of this handbook while being supervised and guided by a mentor.
  • Complete the requirements for AAMFT Clinical Fellow membership and apply for this category of membership if not already an active Clinical Fellow. This requirement varies for graduates of COAMFTE doctoral programs as described in Section One of the handbook. In this instance applicants should follow the requirements described under the Doctoral Track.


3. Submit application

  • Complete and submit an application packet signed by the last supervision mentor to AAMFT.

Step 1: Preparing to Train for the Approved Supervisor Designation: Becoming a Supervisor Candidate


A marriage and family therapist who is a Pre-Clinical Fellow or Clinical Fellow of AAMFT who is in the process of meeting the requirements for the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation is called a supervisor candidate. A supervisor candidate must be and maintain Pre-Clinical Fellow or Clinical Fellow membership during the entire training period. Student membership is only allowed during candidacy under the doctoral track. The training process begins when the candidate begins clinical supervision and supervision mentoring. Supervisor candidates can provide supervision to MFTs or MFT trainees only while receiving ongoing supervision from an Approved Supervisor mentor. AAMFT’s Approved Supervisor Directory may be useful in locating potential mentors.

Select a mentor:

Before contracting to work together, the prospective candidate and mentor should discuss the MFT’s preparedness to practice from a systemic-relational perspective and reasons for seeking Approved Supervisor training. They also should compare the goodness of fit between their philosophies of supervision, their clinical approaches, and their interpersonal styles. The prospective candidate and mentor should carefully consider the time and attention required to mentor a candidate and to complete the Approved Supervisor requirements. Before proceeding, supervisor candidates and mentors must consult the AAMFT Code of Ethics, the current designation standards handbook, applicable laws and regulations for therapy and supervising, and the expectations of all involved settings (e.g., clinics, agencies, and training programs).

To serve as a supervision mentor, an Approved Supervisor should have at least 300 hours of supervision experience, of which at least 120 must be after their own supervisor designation was awarded by AAMFT. This is to ensure that Approved Supervisors have considerable experience of their own before mentoring a new supervisor.

Develop a contract and training plan:

Upon agreeing to proceed, a contract should be developed between the Approved Supervisor mentor and the supervisor candidate that delineates fees, hours, time and place of meetings, case responsibility, caseload review, handling of suicide threats and other dangerous clinical situations, and so forth. The schedule of meetings should be such that the supervisor candidate is able to complete the requirements in the time limits specified for training and provides adequate oversight of the candidates’ supervision of trainees.

Supervisor candidates may have one or two mentors (doctoral graduates may have three). All mentors will provide reports to AAMFT for the supervisor candidate’s application. Thus, supervisor candidates are advised to secure and keep a copy of a mentor’s report when moving to a second mentor. Whenever possible, all three parties should discuss the candidate’s training as a supervisor including areas of strength, areas needing improvement, and overall philosophy or supervisory style of the candidate. The last mentor must provide at least ten hours of supervision of supervision in order to provide an informed recommendation to AAMFT and the final mentor evaluation. Concurrent supervisor mentors are not advised. However, if there are concurrent mentors, they should confer with each other. All mentors must be aware of all of the supervisor candidate’s trainees.

The fee for supervision mentoring should be in keeping with the community standard. Supervision mentors are encouraged to provide supervision mentoring to deserving supervisor candidates on a pro bono or reduced fee basis.

Tools for developing contracts and training plans are located in the designation handbook. These are not to be submitted to AAMFT but may help guide and evaluate training progress.

Step 2: Training for the Approved Supervisor Designation: Meeting the Requirements

Once a contract with an Approved Supervisor mentor has been established, and a training plan developed, the supervisor candidate may begin training for the designation. The Approved Supervisor mentor will oversee each step of the training process, and ensure that the candidate integrates the various aspects of the training process into his/her evolving competence as a MFT supervisor.

There are nine learning objectives of the training process for supervisor candidates. By the end of the training process, supervisor candidates must have successfully integrated these nine learning objectives into a coherent theory and practice of MFT supervision. At the end of the training process, the Approved Supervisor mentor will be asked to evaluate whether the candidate has indeed met these learning objectives.  Please click here to view the nine learning objectives.


A supervisor candidate must be in training for a minimum of two years. The training period may extend beyond two years if necessary, assuming that the candidate is actively engaged in meeting the requirements and remains in ongoing supervision mentoring. Should the training extend beyond two years, Approved Supervisor mentors and candidates should be aware of time limits for certain requirements, such as the recency of the supervision course.

Supervision fundamentals course:

During the training process, supervisor candidates must complete a 30 contact hour course in marriage and family therapy supervision fundamentals. The course must include both interactional and didactic instructional methods. There are options for completing this requirement:

  • Completion of an AAMFT pre-approved course. These are graduate level courses offered by a university, post-degree institute, or an AAMFT Approved Supervisor.A list of pre-approved courses is available by clicking here.
  • Completion of a graduate MFT supervision course taught in a doctoral program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE). These courses are marked as "ACCREDITED" on the course listing.
  • Completion of the AAMFT supervisor course offered at the AAMFT Institutes.
  • Combining: (1) Attendance at the entire supervision track (15 hours) at the AAMFT Annual Conference, and (2) Completion of an AAMFT-sponsored distance learning course on MFT supervision.

Philosophy of Supervision paper:

The supervision fundamentals course must include the requirement to write a Philosophy of Supervision paper. This paper will be reviewed by the course instructor. It should also be reviewed by the Approved Supervisor mentor and discussed with the supervisor candidate. The Philosophy of Supervision paper should reflect the candidate's incorporation of the learning objectives. It provides a basis for the mentor and the candidate to review the candidate's evolving competence as a clinical supervisor. Guidelines for writing the Philosophy of Supervision paper can be found here.

Time limit on course:

The supervision fundamentals course must be taken within five years of the supervisor candidate's application for the designation.

Course verification:

With the final application, supervisor candidates must submit verification that the supervision fundamentals course was completed. The verification may be a certificate or letter of completion, and must indicate the dates, contact hours, instructor, and sponsor of the course. A transcript will suffice if the course was taken in a university setting.

Provide supervision to trainees:

The supervisor candidate must provide 180 hours of clinical supervision to MFTs and/or MFT trainees during the two-year training period. During this time, the candidate must actively supervise at least two supervisees for at least nine months each. Characteristics of MFT supervision are described in the Responsibilities and Guidelines section.

Receive supervision mentoring:

Supervisor candidates must receive at least 36 hours of supervision mentoring from a current AAMFT Approved Supervisor during the two-year training period. Supervision mentoring should continue throughout the entire period of one's candidacy, even if the 36 hours have been completed. If the training period extends beyond two years, at least 18 hours of supervision mentoring must be obtained within the two years prior to the submission of the application packet. 

A candidate may have two Approved Supervisor mentors. Each Approved Supervisor must provide a minimum of 18 hours of the supervision mentoring. At the conclusion of the training process, both Approved Supervisor mentors will sign the candidate's Approved Supervisor Application (Handbook). Each mentor will complete a Supervision Mentoring Report. Only one Approved Supervisor is required to complete the Approved Supervisor's Evaluation. Generally, this will be the Approved Supervisor mentor who is the last to mentor the candidate before the application is submitted to the AAMFT.

Additional characteristics of supervision mentoring are discussed in the Responsibilities and Guidelines section.

Obtain AAMFT Clinical Membership:

Applicants for the Approved Supervisor designation must be AAMFT Clinical Members, or demonstrate that they have been evaluated for and offered Clinical Membership. Often, MFTs will be Clinical Members well before becoming a supervisor candidate. If not, this should be completed as soon as possible during the training period.

Note: It is not required that a supervisor candidate or an Approved Supervisor accept or maintain AAMFT Clinical Membership, but they must be able to demonstrate that they have been offered Clinical Membership.

To join the AAMFT, please click here.

Clinical Experience:

Prior to applying for the Approved Supervisor designation, supervisor candidates must have two years of clinical experience beyond obtaining an MFT license or two years of clinical experience beyond receiving AAMFT Clinical Membership. If this requirement is met by an MFT license, the only qualifying license is a marriage and family therapy license. A license in another mental health discipline (social work, psychology, etc.) is not acceptable.

Step 3: Submitting the Approved Supervisor Application Packet

When the supervisor candidate and the Approved Supervisor mentor agree that all training requirements have been met, they should work together to complete the application packet. The application packet will include documentation that the candidate has fulfilled all the training requirements (course, supervision mentoring, etc.) It will also include the Approved Supervisor mentor's assessment of the supervisor candidate's readiness to receive the designation. If the Approved Supervisor mentor believes that the supervisor candidate has not fulfilled the training requirements or met the learning objectives for the designation, the mentor and the candidate should agree to a plan to rectify the deficiency.

The completed Approved Supervisor application packet will be mailed to the AAMFT along with the non-refundable application processing fee.  The application packet should include all of the following:

1. Approved Supervisor Application (Handbook): The application should be completed by the supervisor candidate. The Approved Supervisor mentors should review the application for accuracy. Both the candidate and the mentors should sign the application form.

2. Supervision Mentoring Report: The Approved Supervisor mentor should complete the mentor report. If two Approved Supervisor mentors were involved in the candidate's training, each mentor must complete a report form.

3. Approved Supervisor's Evaluation: The Approved Supervisor mentor must complete this form. With the submission of this form to the AAMFT, the mentor affirms that she or he believes the supervisor candidate should receive the Approved Supervisor designation.

4. Supervision Course Verification: The supervisor candidate must provide verification (certificate, letter, transcript) that he/she completed a MFT supervision fundamentals course as described earlier.

5. Non-refundable application processing fee - $200. This fee covers the processing and review of the application. If the supervisor candidate is awarded the designation, he or she will receive an invoice for the Approved Supervisor annual fee.

Application review:

The AAMFT will conduct a review of the application to verify that the requirements have been met. The review process generally takes two weeks to complete once the application packet is received by the AAMFT. If the review confirms that all requirements have been met and documented, the supervisor candidate will be awarded the designation.

Supervisor Directory

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) is providing this Approved Supervisor Directory (Directory) as a benefit for AAMFT members only. Access to and use of this Directory or any of the information contained in this Directory by persons who re not members of AAMFT is prohibited.

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