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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists

Introduction

Effective January 1, 2017, New York State Education Law requires each licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) to complete 36 hours of acceptable formal continuing education during each three-year registration period. However, there is a phase-in period for this requirement for licensees whose next registration period starts during the first three years after January 1, 2017. These licensees will have to complete one hour of acceptable formal continuing education for each month in their registration period after January 1, 2017. Please refer to the chart below for the continuing education hours required during this initial phase-in period.

The statute and regulations that apply to these requirements are available on this site.

This document is designed to respond to frequently asked questions regarding the mandatory continuing education requirements. It is not a substitute for reading the relevant provisions of law, rule or regulation.

General Information
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Yes. In New York, upon satisfying the licensure eligibility requirements, a "license" is awarded. Licensure is for life unless suspended, revoked or annulled for reasons of misconduct. 

In order to both practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York and use the restricted titles “licensed marriage and family therapist,” “marriage and family therapist,” “licensed marriage therapist,” or “licensed family therapist,” a licensee must be currently "registered". Registration is for a three-year period, except for the first registration renewal after licensure, which is pro-rated to move licensees to month of birth renewal. See Question #9 below for information about periods other than 36 months.

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You can find the end date for your current registration on the green registration certificate that was issued when you registered to practice. You can also find the end of your current registration period on our verification site: Verification Search. Please note that your license number is the six-digit number; the -1 is not part of the license number.

Continuing Education Requirements
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Yes. Every licensed marriage and family therapist practicing with his or her New York license must complete the required acceptable formal continuing education in order to register, except in the first registration period after initial licensure (see Question #4 below). As a practicing licensed marriage and family therapist, you are required to complete 36 hours of acceptable formal continuing education during each three-year registration period. However, during the initial phase-in period, starting January 1, 2017, the number of hours necessary will be pro-rated at the rate of one hour per month for each month of the registration period. 

If you are returning to practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York, you may have to complete pro-rated hours of continuing education. This calculation will depend on whether or not you were practicing the marriage and family therapy profession in New York and/or another state before you apply to re-register in New York.

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You are not required to complete continuing education during your initial three-year registration period. However, you will need to complete a pro-rated number of hours based on the length of your second registration period which is adjusted based on your birth month.

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No, the law provides an exemption from the continuing education requirement for the first three-year registration period in which one is licensed as a licensed marriage and family therapist.

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You must complete continuing education from a Department-approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists after January 1, 2017 in order for it to be acceptable under the law and regulations. Courses or activities taken prior to the January 1, 2017 effective date of the law are not acceptable for satisfying the triennial registration continuing education requirements.

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You will receive your registration renewal notice about 4 months before the end of your current registration period. You have the option of registering online or by mail. However, you should not file your registration application until you have met the continuing education requirement. If you indicate you have not met the requirement, your registration will be placed on hold until you submit verification to the State Board.

If you will not meet the continuing education requirement by the end of your registration period, then you may apply for a conditional registration (see Question 38 below).

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Licensees whose first re-registration date following January 1, 2017, occurs less than three years from that date, but on or after January 1, 2017, will have to complete one hour of acceptable formal continuing education for each month in the period beginning January 1, 2017. Licensees must attest to whether or not they have met the requirement as part of the registration application for the next three-year period.

If you are renewing the registration of your license on or after January 1, 2017, the number of continuing education hours you will be required to complete will vary depending on when your current registration expires. Please see the chart below in order to determine the required number of hours you need to complete prior to your registration renewal date.

 

If you are due to register for the period beginning: You will be required to complete the following number of hours of continuing education:
January 1, 2017 0
February 1, 2017 1
March 1, 2017 2
April 1, 2017 3
May 1, 2017 4
June 1, 2017 5
July 1, 2017 6
August 1, 2017 7
September 1, 2017 8
October 1, 2017 9
November 1, 2017 10
December 1, 2017 11
January 1, 2018 12
February 1, 2018 13
March 1, 2018 14
April 1, 2018 15
May 1, 2018 16
June 1, 2018 17
July 1, 2018 18
August 1, 2018 19
September 1, 2018 20
October 1, 2018 21
November 1, 2018 22
December 1, 2018 23
January 1, 2019 24
February 1, 2019 25
March 1, 2019 26
April 1, 2019 27
May 1, 2019 28
June 1, 2019 29
July 1, 2019 30
August 1, 2019 31
September 1, 2019 32
October 1, 2019 33
November 1, 2019 34
December 1, 2019 35
January 1, 2020 36

Licensees whose registrations are due to be renewed on or after January 1, 2020, must complete 1.0 hour of acceptable continuing education for each month of their registration periods (see Question 9).

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No. Registration periods may be adjusted so that subsequent renewals will occur during a licensee's month of birth. If your registration period is less than three years, count the number of months of the registration period to determine the number of continuing education hours required. You must complete one hour of continuing education for each month. For example, if your registration period is from January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020, this is a 30-month registration period; therefore, you are required to complete 30 hours of acceptable continuing education during it.

If you are required to re-register after January 1, 2017, you will be required to complete the number of hours outlined in the chart above.

Continuing Education Hours
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A minimum of 50 minutes equals one continuing education contact hour. Courses must be offered in terms of contact hours; no other time measurement is acceptable.

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No. Under Education Law §8412(2), continuing education hours may not be carried over to a subsequent registration period.

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No. The required continuing education may be completed anytime during the current registration period. Thus, licensed marriage and family therapists have the flexibility to select and schedule the continuing education activities that are most appropriate for their professional practice.

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No. You may take all courses in one year, if you wish. However, you must complete the required number of hours prior to the expiration date of your registration.

Compliance
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There are three possible options that may be available to you, if there are circumstances that make it impossible for you to comply with the continuing education requirements in a timely manner. However, you must submit the Registration Remittance Addendum with your Registration Renewal Document before your request for one of the options listed below can be considered.

Inactive Status

A registration may be placed on inactive status if the licensee will not be practicing in New York. There is no time limit placed on an inactive registration, but you will have to complete continuing education hours in order to return to practice (see questions 15 & 16).

Adjustment

The Department may grant an adjustment to the continuing education requirements for the current registration period if the licensee documents and the Department determines that there is good cause that prevents compliance. The Department may grant an adjustment for the following reasons:

  • poor health or a specific physical or mental disability certified by an appropriate health care professional(s);
  • extended active duty with the Armed Forces of the United States; or
  • other good cause beyond the licensee’s control, which in the Department’s judgment, makes it impossible for the licensee to comply with the continuing education requirements in a timely manner.

For more information regarding an adjustment to this requirement, please contact the Office of the State Board for Mental Health Practitioners by email at mhpbd@nysed.gov.

Conditional Registration

A conditional registration will allow a licensee to continue working while making up the deficiencies in the continuing education requirement from the previous registration period. If granted, a conditional registration is valid for one year and cannot be renewed or extended. ( See Question 38) for more information about this option.

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If you have notified the Department that you are not practicing the profession, your registration will be placed on "inactive" status. You do not have to complete any continuing education hours during the period that you are on "inactive" status. Please see Question 14 for information on requesting an inactive status.

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Yes. If you wish to return to practice after January 1, 2017, you will have to complete the number of continuing education hours that would have been due, if you were actively practicing at the time of your current registration. For example, since the law is effective on January 1, 2017, a licensee who was inactive prior to that date and who wishes to return to practice on June 1, 2021 would be required to complete 41 hours of acceptable continuing education hours, which would be the total number of months from January 1, 2017 to May 31, 2021, the period during which the licensee was inactive. In order to register to practice during the period starting June 1, 2021, the licensee would have to complete the 41 hours before the Department will register the licensee to practice.

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As of January 1, 2017, in order to reactivate your registration in New York when you have been practicing marriage and family therapy in another state, you will need to complete at least one hour of acceptable continuing education for each month your registration was inactive. The Department will not reactivate your registration until you make up the continuing education requirement deficiency that you accrued during the period your registration was on "inactive" status.

Please be aware that in addition to making up the deficiency that you accrued during the period that your registration was on "inactive" status, you will have to complete the continuing education hours that would be otherwise due for the new registration period.

For example, a licensee who practiced in another state from January 1, 2018 until December 31, 2019 and returns to practice in New York on January 1, 2020 would be required to complete 24 hours of acceptable continuing education for the period from January 1, 2018 until December 31, 2019, before the licensee could be registered to practice in New York. The licensee would also have to complete 36 hours of acceptable continuing education for the period that ends on December 31, 2022, which would be the end of the licensee’s three-year registration period, after his or her registration is reactivated.

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If you were not practicing in another jurisdiction during the period when your New York registration was on "inactive" status, you may count continuing education hours that you completed with a Department-approved provider of marriage and family therapy continuing education within the 12 months prior to the beginning of your new registration period. In other words, you must satisfy the deficiency before you can re-register to practice in New York. 

If you were practicing in another jurisdiction, you may use acceptable continuing education hours that were accrued from a Department-approved provider of marriage and family therapy continuing education up to 36 months prior to the beginning of your new registration period.

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If the continuing education activities completed in another jurisdiction were offered by a provider of marriage and family therapy continuing education who was approved by the Department at the time you completed the continuing education hours in subject areas that are acceptable in New York, the Department may award you credit for such continuing education.

Courses and Providers of Continuing Education
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To be acceptable the courses must be administered:

  • by a New York State Education Department-approved provider; and
  • in an approved subject area (see Question 25 for a listing of approved subject areas)

Also, continuing education hours may be earned by:

  • preparing and teaching a course offered by a Department-approved provider of marriage and family therapy continuing education, provided that the course being taught has not been presented on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
  • preparing and teaching a course, acceptable to the Department, at a higher education institution or a psychotherapy institute, as defined in section 79-10.8(a)(2) and (3) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, relating to the practice of licensed marriage and family therapy, provided that the course has not been taught by the licensee on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
  • making a technical presentation at a professional conference sponsored by an organization that is a Department-approved provider of licensed marriage and family therapy continuing education, provided that the presentation has not been offered on more than one occasion without presenting new or revised material;
  • completing a self-study program, offered by a Department-approved provider, provided that self-study hours do not comprise more than twelve hours in any three-year registration period or one-third of the hours for a registration period other than three years;
  • authoring a first-time article in the practice of marriage and family therapy published in a peer-reviewed journal or a chapter in a published book; and
  • authoring a first-time book in the practice of licensed marriage and family therapy.
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Each Department-approved provider determines the length of the course to be offered and then will determine the hours according to the following: the awarding of continuing education hours is based on a contact hour which is equivalent to 50 minutes of an organized learning activity and a 10 minute break. Thus, a program of two clock hours would be awarded 2.0 continuing education hours. 

Other activities such as those listed in the following chart may be approved for the amount of hours indicated.

Acceptable Activities Continuing Education Hours
Successful completion of a credit- or non-credit bearing course at a higher education institution, that is related to the practice of marriage and family therapy and is offered by a provider approved by the Department to offer continuing education to licensed marriage and family therapists; and in a subject area that is acceptable to the Department. 15 continuing education hours per each semester course credit hour, i.e., 3 credit course = 45 continuing education hours.
Preparing and teaching a credit-bearing course in a higher education institution or psychotherapy institute approved by the Department to offer licensed marriage and family therapy continuing education and is in a subject area that is acceptable to the Department; and meets the requirements of regulations, i.e., the licensee is teaching the course for the first time or is presenting new or revised material. Continuing education hours may include the actual instruction time plus up to two additional hours for preparation time for each hour of presentation. This means that a licensee could be credited with acceptable continuing education hours for developing and presenting a three-semester hour credit course, as follows: 45 + (45 x 2) = 135 hours for a three-semester hour course.
Preparing and teaching a continuing education course for an approved provider  that is in an approved subject matter area; and meets the requirements of regulations, i.e., the licensee is teaching the course for the first time or is presenting new or revised material. For every in-class continuing education hour, one hour of continuing education credit may be awarded plus up to two additional hours for preparation time for each hour of presentation. A licensee could be credited with 6 hours of acceptable continuing education credit for a two-hour course, i.e., 2 + (2 x 2) = 6.
Making a technical presentation at a professional conference sponsored by an organization that is an approved provider of licensed marriage and family therapy continuing education that is in an approved subject matter area; and meets the requirements of regulations, i.e., the licensee is presenting the information for the first time or is presenting new or revised material. For every presentation contact hour, one hour of continuing education credit may be awarded plus up to two additional hours for preparation time for each hour of presentation.
Authoring a first-time article published in a peer-reviewed journal or a chapter in a published book on the practice of licensed marriage and family therapy. 2 hours of continuing education.
Authoring a first-time book on the practice of licensed marriage and family therapy. 5 hours of continuing education.
Completing a structured, self-study program offered by a licensed marriage and family therapy provider approved by the Department that is based on audio, audio-visual, written, on-line or other media; and does not include live instruction that allows the licensee to interact with the instructor and/or other students. One hour of continuing education credit for each 50-minute hour of instruction, as determined by the approved provider. Self-study may comprise no more than 12 continuing education hours in any three-year registration period, or one-third of the hours for a registration period other than 36 months.
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In order to offer continuing education to licensed marriage and family therapists, an entity must be approved by the Department, based upon an application, along with the submission of the required fee. For information about how to become an approved provider, please see: 

Requirements to become an approved provider

See here for a listing of providers that have been approved by the Department to offer licensed marriage and family therapy continuing education. The listing will be updated on a regular basis, as provider applications are reviewed and approved by the State Board office.

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Courses that are taken from a provider that has not been approved by the Department cannot be used to satisfy the continuing education requirement.

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A licensed psychologist, social worker or mental health practitioner required to complete continuing education must complete 3 hours of acceptable course work in appropriate professional boundaries, in each 3-year registration period starting April 1, 2023. 

The Board of Regents approved regulations on October 4, 2022 that requires psychologists, social workers and mental health practitioners licensed and registered under Articles 153, 154 or 163 of the Education Law, to complete 3 hours of acceptable continuing education on issues related to maintaining appropriate professional boundaries between licensees and patients. The course work must be taken from a provider approved by the Department and counts toward the 36 hours of continuing education required in each 36-month registration period. 

The regulations apply to each psychologist, licensed master social worker, licensed clinical social worker, mental health counselor, marriage and family therapist, creative arts therapist and psychoanalyst licensed and registered for registration periods starting on or after April 1, 2023. Licensees with a registration period commencing prior to April 1, 2023 do not have to complete coursework in appropriate boundaries until their next registration period. A licensee does not need to submit continuing education certificates to the State Board, unless audited by the Board or applying for a delayed registration. 

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Yes. The subject matter must contribute to the professional practice of licensed marriage and family therapy, as defined in section 8403 of the Education Law. Acceptable subjects may include, but are not limited to, clinical interventions and evidence-based practice and cross-disciplinary offerings from medicine, law, administration, education, behavioral and social sciences related to marriage and family therapy practice, patient communications, recordkeeping, and matters related to law and/or ethics which contribute to professional practice in marriage and family therapy and the health, safety, and/or welfare of the public.

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Yes. Any continuing education that is designed for the sole purpose of personal development, marketing, business practices, and maximizing profits for the practice of a licensed marriage and family therapist will not be considered by the Department as acceptable continuing education. 

Similarly, the supervision of a licensed marriage and family therapist, limited permit holder, student or intern in a placement that is part of a license-qualifying program, is not considered as acceptable continuing education by the Department.

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No. Independent study or informal group "study clubs" will not be acceptable for satisfying the continuing education requirement for licensed marriage and family therapists. Only formal courses or self-study courses offered by Department-approved providers may be counted toward the continuing education requirement. Formal and self-study courses offered by Department-approved providers assure relevant course content, effective evaluation, and recordkeeping by the provider.

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Self-study courses are acceptable. They are structured study, offered by a Department-approved provider that are based on audio, audio-visual, written, on-line and other media. Self-study courses do not include live instruction (transmitted in person or otherwise) during which the student may communicate and interact with the instructor and other students. Please note that there is a limitation of 12 continuing education hours in a 36-month registration period, or one-third of the hours for a registration period other than 36 months, for self-study courses as described above.

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Yes. There is no limit on the number of hours of acceptable continuing education you may take on-line through a Department-approved provider, when the course includes live interaction with the instructor and other students.

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In order to receive credit for in-service and training programs provided by an employer, the employer must be a Department-approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists. Additionally, the in-service training must be clearly related to the enhancement of licensed marriage and family therapy practice, skills, and knowledge and the health, safety, and/or welfare of the public. 

To become an approved provider, the employer must meet all the requirements in the Education Law and Commissioner’s Regulations, which, include, but are not limited to, submitting an application, with the required fee, to the Department. The application to become a Department-approved provider can be found here.

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All courses/educational activities must be taken from a Department-approved provider of continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists. As part of the provider approval process, the Office of the State Board for Mental Health Practitioners will review proposed courses/educational activities in the areas listed above that may be offered by a prospective provider of continuing education for New York licensed marriage and family therapists. Please refer to  Question 25 for more information.

Additionally, the above-referenced topics and offerings in other disciplines may be acceptable continuing education for licensed marriage and family therapists, if the course or courses clearly relate to the enhancement of licensed marriage and family therapy practice, skills, and knowledge and the health, safety and welfare of the public and are offered by a Department-approved provider.

 

Recordkeeping and Reporting
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Providers must issue a Certificate of Completion to licensees who complete courses for continuing education hours. Licensees must retain, in their records, information regarding completed acceptable continuing education for six years from the date of completion of the coursework/educational activity.

A Certificate of Completion should include the following information:

  • name of licensee completing the course, licensed profession and license number;
  • title of the course or program, subject area, and any identification number assigned to it by the provider;
  • the educational method used (e.g., live in-person, live online, and/or self-study);
  • number of contact hours completed;
  • the approved provider's name and any identifying number;
  • verification by the provider of the licensee’s attendance or participation;
  • the date and location (city/state) of the course or activity; and
  • a statement indicating that the organization is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as a Department-approved provider of licensed marriage and family therapist  continuing education.

The provider must also retain records for at least six years from the date of completion of the coursework/educational activity, in case the licensee or the Department requests verification of a course or educational activity offering. 

However, the licensee is responsible for providing documentation of other educational activities that are defined as acceptable continuing education under the Commissioner’s Regulations. The following examples are a non-exhaustive list:

  • course descriptions, handouts and brochures that may document the licensee’s first-time preparation and teaching a course offered by a NYSED-approved provider of continuing education to licensed marriage and family therapists;article published for the first-time in a peer-reviewed journal, or a chapter in a book in the practice of marriage and family therapy; or
  • article published for the first-time in a peer-reviewed journal, or a chapter in a book in the practice of marriage and family therapy; or
  • syllabi, power point slides, and examinations that are part of a course that was prepared and taught for the first time in a higher education institution or psychotherapy institute, as defined in sections  79-10.8(a)(2) and (3) of the Commissioner’s Regulations.
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You will be required to attest on your Registration Renewal Document that you completed the required continuing education hours. If you did not complete the required hours, you will have to apply for a conditional registration. Please refer to Question 38 for more information.

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No. However, you must retain your continuing education records for six years because you are required to make your continuing education records available for inspection by the Department upon its request. Random samples of mandatory continuing education records are audited by the Department to ensure compliance with the continuing education requirement.

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The Department randomly audits a percentage of licensees each month, as well as those licensees who applied for a conditional registration and those who previously failed an audit. You must provide the Department with your Certificates of Completion for each approved continuing education course or records for other educational activities, when requested. In no cases will self-reporting forms be acceptable.