Back to top
About the MedFT program
The health care delivery system is struggling to provide a care model that meets the needs of the consumer, provider, payer, and insurer. Therefore, the medical field is developing collaborative and integrated health care teams to address the physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational needs of patients both in primary care and hospital care.
Obtaining a medical family therapy certificate — taking classes one at a time to expand your knowledge or taking a class as a day-long seminar for continuing education credits — can expand your scope of practice in the growing field of collaborative and integrative mental health care while you continue to attend to people’s relationships and families.
At Seattle Pacific University, you have two options to obtain the Medical Family Therapy Certificate:
If you are currently enrolled in SPU’s Marriage and Family Therapy program:
- Add 14 additional credits (6 seminar and 8 practica/internship) focused on medical family therapy to receive the certificate during your master’s training program.
- Take the classes while doing the 3-year plan and do the internship after your MFT internship hours are completed. Or take the classes more slowly and complete the MedFT internship experience after completing your master’s degree.
Professionals with a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy or related mental health graduate degree:
- Complete all MDFT courses and four clinical practica quarters to earn the certificate. (A preliminary course in family systems or family therapy is required.)
- Classes may be taken individually, as well, if you do not wish to earn the certificate but want graduate transcript credit. (Clinical practica can only be done by someone enrolled in the certificate program.)
- SPU’s Medical Family Therapy Certificate program is the only certificate program on the West Coast geared toward training biomedical, psychosocial, and spiritual providers to work in medical settings as a part of an integrated health care team.
- Licensed marriage and family therapists are equipped to provide medical family therapy in outpatient medical clinics, in-patient hospital and hospice settings, and other health care clinics.
- Physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals can better understand and more effectively intervene in the psychological and spiritual implications of illness.
- Clergy can be equipped as a spiritual provider when working with families facing illness.
MedFT 2+1 year program plan (PDF)
MedFT 3-year program plan (PDF)
MedFT 3+1 year program plan (PDF)
If you hold a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy, you will only need to complete the core courses and the internship/practica to receive the Medical Family Therapy certificate. Classes may be taken individually, as well.
Physicians, allied health, and clergy
If you have received graduate training in social work, behavioral science, theology, nursing, or medicine, we will review your prior classes. Depending on past coursework, additional credits in systems theory and family therapy may be needed.
For most students, the certificate can be completed over a two-year period with two to three classes per quarter during the first year and internship/practica during the second year.
After all coursework is complete in late summer or early fall, you will be placed in a yearlong internship for 10-25 hours a week, usually in an outpatient medical clinic or a non-profit medical specialty mental health center. You will have a chance to discuss internship placement possibilities prior to placement.
Clinics specialties range from family medicine, oncology, women’s health, and other specialty medicine sites. You will work alongside physicians, nurses, and staff providing on-site care. You will be actively involved in charting, consulting with the medical team, program development, and clinical mental health treatment of patients and their families from a biopsychosocial-spiritual care model.
Clinic schedule will be determined in consideration of clinic need, space restrictions, and your availability. During the internship year, you will also be enrolled in the practicum course in which you will receive case-focused clinical supervision from an AAMFT Approved Supervisor or Supervisor Candidate.
Back to top
Offered two to three times per quarter, these one-day, Friday seminars are designed for busy graduate students and post-graduate mental health professionals and chaplains with an interest in mental health education. Please check the SPU graduate courses current schedule for this year’s course dates (time of year might change in response to faculty availability).
MDFT 6633 BPSS Care & Collaboration in MedFT (1) - Required
This seminar reviews the nature of biopsychosocial-spiritual therapeutic and behavioral health interviews and interventions used to work with individuals, couples, and families dealing with a medical illness. We will examine brief biopsychosocial-spiritual interview formats and practice using them. We will review medical language, charting, and different levels of integrated care, and will examine communication and collaboration skills required to work successfully with healthcare providers. Graduate students outside MFT and MDFT, as well as CE professionals, may register with permission of the Medical Family Therapy program director or class instructor. Email email@example.com to register.
MDFT 6652 Motivational Interviewing for Patient & Family Health (1) - Required
This seminar will focus on the impact of harmful health behaviors on health and wellness. It will review the need for psychosocial providers who can work with providers to help patients and families as they make a significant lifestyle change. Topics will include: US statistics of diseases caused largely by lifestyle; and assessing values, priorities, and barriers and motivations to change of patient and families. The focus of the class will be the introduction and practice of motivational interviewing skills. Graduate students outside MFT and MDFT, and CE professionals, may register with permission of the Medical Family Therapy program director or class instructor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
MDFT 6648 Assessment & Tools for MedFT (1) - Required
This course will cover several prevalent types of illnesses in children and adults, with a particular focus on the impact on the patient and family. Topics to be covered include: types of illness from a culturally responsive systemic and biopsychosocial perspective; family life cycle implications; family structure implications; several commonly used (in primary care) mental health assessment tools; the behavioral health consultation model; and health-focused systemic/relational family therapy. Graduate students outside MFT and MDFT, and CE professionals, may register with permission of the Medical Family Therapy program director or class instructor.
Email email@example.com to register.
MDFT 6649 The Brain Savvy Therapist (1)
This course reviews basic brain structure and human neural development within relationships, with an emphasis on the processes of attachment and psychotherapy. It touches on basic neurodiversity symptoms and professions to refer to for assessment and treatment (e.g., autistic spectrum and sensory integration). Students will learn about brain development in the first twenty years of life, including memory; the shaping the nervous system; left and right brain functions; emotional regulation; and other benefits of promoting metacognition skills and an integrated brain. Graduate students outside MFT and MDFT, and CE professionals, may register with permission of the Medical Family Therapy program director or class instructor.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
MDFT 6651 Spirituality & Health (1)
This course explores the impact of individual and family beliefs/meanings regarding anticipatory grief, forgiveness, grief across the lifespan and in family process, and death. Course readings, resources, and discussion will focus on a variety of cultural and religious beliefs and practices. Both individual and family models of grief will be examined. Students will be expected to demonstrate openness, respect, and curiosity, as well as the capacity to discuss models of grief with respect to one’s own biases and in regard to potential fit with others’ values and beliefs. Graduate students outside MFT and MDFT, and CE professionals, may register with permission of the Medical Family Therapy program director or class instructor. Email email@example.com to register.
MDFT 6650 Grief, Death & Families (1)
Review the latest information in brain science as it relates to psychotherapy. Learn about the basics in brain physiology and neurobiology; how to use the understanding of brain science to facilitate interventions with clients and families; treatment ideas; case reviews; and why therapists need to understand how a brain learns, changes, and functions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
MDFT 6632 Collaboration & Practice Roles in Integrated Care (1)
This course reviews the core concepts needed for medical family therapists to collaborate successfully with providers and interdisciplinary care teams. Topics covered will include levels of medical care, warm handoffs, continuity of care, referrals, and types/roles of other providers. The varied roles of the medical family therapist in primary care and specialty care will be reviewed. Students will practice teaching each other about the MedFT's role on a healthcare team. Graduate students outside MFT and MDFT, and CE professionals, may register with permission of the Medical Family Therapy program director or class instructor.
Email email@example.com to register.
MDFT 6653 Trauma-Informed Care in MedFT (1)
This seminar will examine the integration of trauma-informed biopsychosocial-spiritual (BPSS) care and medical family therapy. Topics may vary year to year based on the expertise and specialization of students enrolled in the course. The course will address important issues within trauma-informed care, such as definitions of trauma; biological experiences of trauma; vulnerabilities during and after trauma exposure (for individuals, families, and communities); possible roles for medical family therapists on trauma and crisis interventions teams (e.g., critical incident stress debriefing); and assessing barriers to medical and mental healthcare. By the end of the course, students will be able to describe how to apply a trauma-informed lens to their area of specialization in medical family therapy. Class is open to MFT graduate students and MDFT students. Other graduate students and CE professionals may attend with permission from the Medical Family Therapy program director or class instructor. Graduate credit requires registration, tuition payment, and completion of all assignments. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
2020–21 Tuition and Fees
Back to top
All tuition, fees, and other charges stated here are payable in U.S. dollars ($US).
In addition to direct instructional costs, Seattle Pacific University’s Medical Family Therapy Certificate tuition covers academic and student support services. Other benefits include use of athletic facilities (e.g., gym, locker room, and fitness rooms), and the SPU Library.
Scholarships and financial aid
Scholarship and other financial aid is available to newly admitted and continuing students in the School of Psychology, Family, and Community. For more information, visit Graduate Students Resources in Student Financial Services.
Resources available to graduate students to offset costs may include:
- Student loans. Includes amounts that exceed tuition and provide for living expenses.
- Graduate research fellowships. Department and grant-funded research and administrative assistant positions are offered to a limited number of graduate students each year. Selection is based on established criteria within each graduate department.
- Graduate teaching assistantships. Department-funded teaching assistantships are offered to a limited number of graduate students each year. Selection is based on established criteria and course need within each graduate department.
- Merit scholarships. Offered by the University as an offset to tuition.
- Department scholarship and awards. Selection is based on established criteria within each department. May not be distributed every year.
- The Dickinson Fellowship. Provides training and tuition to undergraduate and graduate students who have a calling to work with persons and their families who are impacted by chronic mental health conditions.
For part-time student employment opportunities on or off campus, explore these options:
To be considered for admission into the Medical Family Therapy Certificate program, you must apply online. Find the help you need with the admissions process for the program of your choice through Graduate Admissions. Program applications are reviewed in late July and August by the program faculty, and students are admitted by mid-September. Classes begin in October.
If you are an international student, also refer to International Graduate Students informationfor additional admission requirements.
- Screening. The Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Admissions Committee will complete an initial application screening process based only on your application materials.
- Interview. In late August or early September, finalists are invited to meet with members of the committee for an hour-long interview.
- Recommendation and approval. Your admission to the MedFT program depends on approval from the director of MedFT.
- Timeline. The entire process is usually completed within five weeks after the final deadline date for applications.
- Probationary period. Students are admitted on a probation status to allow faculty to be certain they are fully prepared for placement in a medical clinic. Once you have been assessed by MedFT faculty and cleared for your clinical readiness, the director will lift your probationary status.
Application checklist for current MFT students
Online application and $50 application fee
Two letters of professional recommendation
- Please include references’ name, title, phone number, and email.
- References should speak to your clinical readiness, clinical awareness, and personal character.
- Only one reference can be from an SPU MFT faculty.
- Current MFT students can opt to use references from their MFT application.
- A current vita or résumé showing your education, relevant work or volunteer experiences, and references.
Personal statement three to four pages, typed, and double-spaced. It should address:
- Your career goals related to mental health, or patient & family care related to fertility, health, and/or death.
- Personal interest in the Medical Family Therapy program.
- Your professional and personal strengths as they apply to the mental health profession.
- Related volunteer or work experiences.
- Personal and professional life experiences and how they have converged to motivate your application to the MedFT program at this time.
Back to top
In addition to the SPU general and the Medical Family Therapy Certificate program’s admission requirements, international students must also submit:
- An official, confidential affidavit of financial support covering the first year of intended enrollment. Without this document, SPU cannot issue an I-20 immigration form.
- Students holding undergraduate or graduate degrees from colleges, universities and/or seminaries located outside the U.S. are expected to have their transcripts evaluated by a professional credential agency. Such an evaluation is required before an application for admission to the SPFC can be granted and before any graduate credits taken elsewhere can be applied to a SPFC degree.
- If you earned an undergraduate degree in a country other than the United States, or your degree is in progress, an official course-by-course credential evaluation must be submitted from a NACES member-recognized credential service. Acceptable credential services include, but are not limited to, World Education Services (WES) and Foundation for International Services (FIS).
- In addition to the evaluation report, we also require official transcripts and diplomas to be submitted in English. International applicants are responsible for all costs associated with this service.
- English language proficiency: If you do not speak English as your first language, you must also submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A minimum score of 600 on the TOEFL paper, 250 on the TOEFL-CBT, or 100 on the TOEFL-iBT is required. ACE scores will not be accepted.
Back to top
Seattle Pacific University has seen an increase in alums with their Medical Family Therapy Certificates obtain jobs in different medical centers working with infertility, cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, and the depression and anxiety that often accompany chronic conditions. This is an ideal time for you to join the movement toward integrated health care.
As a graduate of the Medical Family Therapy Certificate program, you will be prepared to do the following:
- Work as a behavioral health care provider in outpatient medical clinics.
- Give psychosocial and spiritual care to patients and families dealing with chronic illness or chronic stress.
- Provide practical support to physicians and nurses treating complex illnesses and complex cases.
- Assess and treat the most common psychosocial and health behavior-related issues complicating treatment and medical outcomes.