The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass

The Department of Psychology


Dr. Anson J. Levine

After years of resistance, made up of equal parts of inertia and egalitarian ideals of serving as many students as possible, the clinical faculty has instituted some major changes in the Psychology Department's Marriage and Family Child Counselor (MFCC) training program. In the Fall of 1993, Dr. Wapner, who was then Chair of the department, invited clinical faculty members to join him in a discussion of how they understand the MFCC training program and what they would like to change, if anything. These meetings were held on a weekly basis and included Dr. Kohatsu, Dr. La Cour, Dr. Levine, Ms. Shain (Psychology Clinic assistant and graduate student in the MFCC program), and Dr. Wapner. During the initial meetings, Dr. Roffe was also a participant.

We began by collecting information about other MFCC training programs in California. Quickly, we saw that we were one of the few MFCC programs in the State University system that offered MFCC training in a Psychology Department. And, we were the only program in which admission procedures and requirements were identical with admission procedures and requirements for all Psychology graduate students. Essentially, anyone who was accepted to the Psychology Department for graduate study could become an MFCC student. When we considered our goals and our dwindling resources, we decided that it is imperative that we institute new and more stringent admissions criteria, as well as limit admissions to the MFCC program to those students who seemed well-suited for the work. This meant selecting students with higher academic requirements, as well as more maturity, experience, sensitivity, and motivation.

A second focus of our work was an examination of our curriculum. Much of the coursework for the MFCC is mandated by the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners, however, we wanted to examine if there is greater flexibility in courses that might satisfy statewide requirements, and if there are ways to improve the coherence of the MFCC training. We concluded that we all favored trying to do more to develop a cohort type program, one in which greater effort would be made to keep the MFCC students in classes together. Finally, a third focus of our meetings was to reconsider the Comprehensive Examination in light of its applicability to MFCC students. We decided that the exam was not sufficiently rigorous or comprehensive, nor was it particularly suited to the needs of the MFCC students.

After three quarters of weekly meetings, and debates over how to address the above concerns, the following changes were made and put into effect in the Fall of 1994:


  • All applicants must first complete a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology or complete an assigned list of Psychology courses BEFORE applying to the MFCC program.
  • In addition to University requirements, all applicants to the MFCC program must have a 3.0 GPA in their last 90 quarter units of academic coursework.
  • All applicants must submit 3 letters of recommendation.
  • All applicants otherwise eligible for the MFCC program must participate in an interview with faculty in which their suitability for the program will be evaluated.


  • Coursework in the MFCC program will be primarily
    during the day, as opposed to the MFCC program in
    the School of Education, which is primarily an
    evening program. In addition, the MFCC program in
    the Psychology Department will accept new students
    to begin training only once a year, in the Fall.
  • Upon admission to the MFCC program, all student
    will be advised to take Psychology 436A, Theories of
    Counseling and Psychotherapy. The first year of
    therapy training will be followed by Psychology 436B
    in the Winter and Psychology 536 in the Spring.
  • Students will not be allowed to register in the
    practicum course (Psychology 585), unless they are in the MFCC program and they have completed the Counseling and Psychotherapy sequence (Psy 436AB and 536), and Marriage and Family Therapy coursework (Psychology 426 and 427).


    The Psychology Department comprehensive exam for MFCC students is modeled after the exam that is given by the Board of Behavioral Science Examiners after MFCC candidates complete their internship hours.

  • The first day of the exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions covering all areas of MFCC coursework.
  • The second day of the exam consists of case vignettes in which students will be required to write how they would treat and manage the case presented in each vignette.


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