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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. The 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.  In short, they are:

1. Prepare to train

Ensure prerequisites are met; identify an Approved Supervisor to serve as the mentor; develop a plan for fulfilling the training requirements.

2. Complete training requirements

Take a pre-approved supervision fundamentals course (that requires a Philosophy of Supervision paper); provide supervision to MFT/trainees; receive supervision mentoring from an Approved Supervisor; obtain MFT license or AAMFT Clinical Membership.

3. Submit application

Complete and submit an application packet, endorsed by the Approved Supervisor mentor, to AAMFT.

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


A marriage and family therapist who is in the process of meeting the requirements for the AAMFT Approved Supervisor designation is called a supervisor candidate. Prior to becoming a supervisor candidate, the MFT must have completed a master's degree in marriage and family therapy or a closely related field, or completed a minimum of two years in a marriage and family therapy doctoral program.

Select a mentor:

MFTs who have met the educational prerequisite must identify a current Approved Supervisor to serve as the supervision mentor throughout the training process. The AAMFT's online directory may be useful in the identification of a supervision mentor. The selection of a supervisor mentor is an important step, as the mentor will guide the candidate throughout the training process, and will ultimately decide if the candidate is ready to receive the designation.  The prospective candidate should consider the Approved Supervisor's availability and reputation prior to asking the Approved Supervisor to serve as the candidate's mentor. By the same token, Approved Supervisors should carefully consider the time and attention required of supervisor mentors before agreeing to serve in that role.

A candidate may have two Approved Supervisor mentors during the training period. In such a case, each Approved Supervisor must provide half of the required hours of supervision mentoring. The two Approved Supervisor mentors and the supervisor candidate should agree at the beginning of the training process, or as soon as it is clear that two Approved Supervisor mentors will be utilized, which Approved Supervisor will conduct the final evaluation of the supervisor candidate when the training process has been completed. It is recommended that the three parties meet together to clarify roles and responsibilities, and that agreements be documented in writing. 

To serve as a supervision mentor, an Approved Supervisor should have at least 300 hours of supervision experience (which may include the 180 hours they provided during their own training). This is to ensure that Approved Supervisors have considerable experience of their own before mentoring a new supervisor.

Develop a contract and training plan:

Once a supervision mentor has been selected, the mentor and the candidate should develop a contract detailing how the Approved Supervisor will provide the required mentoring. The Approved Supervisor mentor and supervision candidate should also develop a training plan-a plan for how, and in what timeframe, the candidate will fulfill the requirements to obtain the designation. (Tools for developing a supervision contract and a training plan can be found by clicking here.)

Neither the supervision contract nor the training plans need to be submitted to the AAMFT. Rather, they will be used by the Approved Supervisor mentor throughout the training process to evaluate the candidates progress. They will serve as the outline of the mentoring relationship. Circumstances may require altering the contract and/or the training plan at some point in the training process. In such a case, it is recommended that the situation be discussed as soon as possible, and that the contract and training plan be re-written or amended to reflect any new agreements.

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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