School of Psychology, Family, and Community

Medical Family Therapy Certificate

Graduating skilled professionals committed to the well-being of individuals and their families

The field of collaborative health care is growing swiftly. That’s where Medical Family Therapy comes in, providing psychosocial and spiritual services to those suffering with chronic illness. The Medical Family Therapy Certificate program at Seattle Pacific University is committed to academic excellence, helping you build your intellectual capability and resilience as you serve families in need.

At a Glance

  • check mark icon Accreditation Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities
  • check mark icon Expected Time to Completion Two years
  • check mark icon Format

    On campus; nine-month internship (10 hours/week)

  • check mark icon Credits to Graduate 16; or 14 additional credits while in MFT program
  • check mark icon Application deadline July 1

Program Overview

About the MedFT program

Due to complex treatment protocols and life effects of chronic illness, health care systems are struggling to provide adequate care. Post-graduate students with advanced training in medical family therapy are vital to today’s health care teams. At Seattle Pacific University, you have two options in obtaining the Medical Family Therapy Certificate:

If enrolled in the Marriage and Family Therapy program

  • Add 14 additional credits (6 seminar and 8 supervision) focused on medical family therapy to receive the certificate.
  • Earn the certificate during or after completion of the MFT program. View specific MFT admissions information.

Professionals with a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Complete all core MDFT courses (16 credits) to receive the certificate. Classes may be taken individually as well.
  • If you have received graduate training in social work, behavioral science, theology, nursing, or medicine, you will need to review your prior classes. Depending upon past coursework, additional credits may be needed.

Distinctives

  • SPU’s Medical Family Therapy Certificate program is the only certificate program on the West Coast geared to training biomedical, psychosocial, and spiritual providers to work in medical settings as a part of an integrated health care team.
  • State-certified/licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, and social workers 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 are to understand and effectively intervene in the psychological and spiritual implications of illness.
  • Clergy are equipped to provide medical family therapy as a spiritual provider when working with families facing illness.
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Curriculum

Curriculum

MedFT 2+1 year program plan (PDF)
MedFT 3-year program plan (PDF)
MedFT 3+1 year program plan (PDF)

MFT graduates

If you hold a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy, you will only need to complete the core courses and internship (16 credits) 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 upon 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 practicum during the second year.

Internship

In the late summer or early fall after all coursework is complete, you will be placed in a yearlong internship for 10 hours a week in an outpatient medical clinic. You will have a chance to discuss internship placement possibilities prior to placement.

Clinics specialties range from family medicine, oncology, rheumatology, women’s health, and other specialty medicine sites. You will work alongside physicians, nurses, and staff providing on-site psychosocial care. You will be actively involved in charting, consulting with the medical team, program development, and clinical treatment.

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 supervision course.

Continuing education

Professionals looking to keep up-to-date with the latest information on specialized topics in medical family therapy may register to take MDFT classes as seminars for continuing education credits. We invite you to campus for the day to participate in a seminar and discussion, and we offer 5 hours of CEU credit per course at no additional cost.

For more information about individual seminars, or to register for a seminar, visit our Medical Family Therapy website.

MFT Classroom Photo

Professional Training Seminars

Offered twice per quarter, these seminars are designed for busy professionals. We invite you to come for a day and immerse yourself in stimulating ideas and discussion. You will be able to apply the information to your practice — and beyond — and receive 5 hours of CEU credit. For more information, email mdft@spu.edu.

Collaboration Between Therapists and Physicians - The Basics

This seminar covers the core concepts needed for psychotherapists to collaborate successfully with physicians. Topics covered will include: Brief history of medicine, the new paradigm emerging in medicine, primary care vs. specialty care, continuity of care, core skills in collaboration, review of models of best practice, complex cases and high medical utilization, the medical home. Email mdft@spu.edu to register. 

Friday, October 11, 2019
9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Marston Watson 255

Interviewing for Biopsychosocial and Spiritual Care

This seminar reviews the nature of the therapeutic interview versus the biomedical interview. We will cover various areas of import for therapists who wish to work successfully with physicians in service of their clients dealing with illness. Topics covered will include: understanding physician training, focus and language, evidenced based practice, outcome based practice, levels of collaboration and an introduction to motivational interviewing framework and concepts. Email mdft@spu.edu to register.

Friday, November 1, 2019
9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Library Seminar Room

Motivational Interviewing for Patient and Family Health

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 physicians to help patients as they make a significant lifestyle change. Topics will include: US statistics of diseases caused largely by lifestyle, the frustration of physicians who have time only for medical mandates, assessing motivation to change of patient and family, and motivational interviewing techniques used in both medicine and psychotherapeutic environs. Email mdft@spu.edu to register.

Friday, December 6, 2019
9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Library Seminar Room

Psychopharmacology for Mental Health Professionals

This course will provide a basic foundation of the neuromechanisms relevant to understanding the pharmecodynamics of psychotropic medications commonly prescribed in primary care settings. Current medications used for the treatment of depression, anxiety, bi-polar, attention deficit, and some mental illnesses with psychotic features will be covered as well as common side effect profiles that patients may experience. Additionally, effective strategies for interacting with prescribing providers and their patients as a mental health care provider on the topic of medication will be covered. The seminar will also focus on the particulars of child and adolescent psychotropic medication and medication management. Email mdft@spu.edu to register.

Friday, January 10, 2020
9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Library Seminar Room

Brain Savvy Therapist

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 mdft@spu.edu to register.

Friday, February 7, 2020
9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

Library Seminar Room

Family Therapy Tools for Treating Medical Illnesses

This seminar covers the most prevalent types of illnesses in children and adults, with a focus on their impact on the patient and family. Topics will include types of illness from a psychosocial perspective, family life-cycle implications, family structure implications, childhood diabetes and cancer, breast and prostate cancer, chronic progressive illness such as multiple sclerosis, and chronic pain. Email mdft@spu.edu to register.

Friday, March 6, 2020
9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Library Seminar Room

Marketing Your Practice to Physicians

What is the best way to present and market your services to a physician? We’ll cover various topics, including how to identify differing areas of medicine, cultural differences in medicine to be considered before approaching a physician, what medical family therapy covers that is not represented in other behavioral science fields, strategic connections in specialty and primary care, insurance obstacles and bridges, and the development of marketing products. Email mdft@spu.edu to register.

Friday, April 3, 2020 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Library Seminar Room

Spirituality and Health

Explore research regarding spirituality and health that encourages a biopsychosocial-spiritual paradigm of health care practice. We’ll examine the effects of prayer, meditation, and other spiritual practices, and spiritual communities/professionals within the contexts of health and longevity outcomes, mental health, stress-related diseases, substance abuse, and the management of chronic illnesses. Ethical and culturally sensitive interventions will be highlighted. Email mdft@spu.edu to register.

Friday, May 8, 2020 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
McKenna Conference Room

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Faculty

Faculty Contact

Claudia​ Grauf-Grounds

Professor Emerita of Marriage and Family Therapy
PhD, University of Southern California

Email: claudiagg@spu.edu

Staff

Allison Groseclose

Marriage and Family Therapy Program Coordinator

Email: groseclosea@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2762
Office: Marston 125

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Costs

2019–20 Tuition and Fees

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$799

per credit

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$50; $150

application fee; one-time matriculation fee

See additional fee details.
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16 credits

to complete

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.

Student employment

For part-time student employment opportunities on or off campus, explore these options:

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Application Info

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 of the program of your choice through Graduate Admissions

If you are an international student, also refer to International Graduate Students information about additional admission requirements. 

Admission process

  • Screening. The Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Admissions Committee will complete an initial application screening process based on your application materials only.
  • Group Interview. In late July, finalists are invited to meet with members of the committee for an hour-long group interview.
  • Recommendation and approval. Your admission to the MedFT program depends on recommendation by the MFT faculty and 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.

Résumé

  • 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.
  • 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.

International students

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 or 250 on the TOEFL-CBT, or 100 on the TOEFL-iBT is required. ACE scores will not be accepted.
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Career Opportunities

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 outcome.

Job leads

Supporting the careers of our MFT students and alumni is a high priority for the School of Psychology, Family, and Community. The following career resources are available:

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