The School Based Family Counseling (SBFC) Program at California State University, Los Angeles is a graduate program within the Division of Administration and Counseling in the Charter College of Education.  Students have the opportunity to earn the Masters of Science degree in Counseling: Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling (MFCC) Option.  This Masters degree satisfies the academic requirement for the California State Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) License, which also requires 3000 hours of supervised experience, at least 1700 of which must be completed after earning the Masters degree.


Imbedded in this Masters degree is all the coursework necessary to earn the California State Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential in School Counseling with the Advanced Authorization in Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA).  The PPS credential provides the qualifications necessary to work as a school counselor in grades K-12 in the public schools.  The CWA authorization is necessary in many school districts in order to work in the Pupil Services and Attendance (PSA) divisions.


The School Based Family Counseling Program is designed to prepare students with the clinical skills of an independent marriage and family therapist and the wide range of competencies of an effective school counselor.  Students learn to work with families and children from a variety of systems-oriented perspectives in a variety of environments.  The SBFC option recognizes that the two most important sources of influence in a child’s life are the family and the school.  When a child is having behavioral or academic difficulties in school, efforts are focused on strategies to develop a collaborative effort between the family and school to maximize the academic and social success of the child.  School Based Family Counselors view the challenge of increasing parental involvement in their child’s educational process as essential in efforts to assist the child to become successful in school and in the community.


The SBFC program typically takes between two to three years to complete, depending on the life circumstances of each student.  Students usually need to take three courses per quarter in the first two years in order to complete the program in a timely manner.  All of the graduate courses in the SBFC program meet once a week from 4:20 to 8:00 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.  The only exceptions are the Counseling 523 clinical courses, which are offered on Mondays 5:30- 9:20 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30a.m.- 12:20p.m. during the Fall and Winter quarters of the second year.  These courses provide the opportunity for students to work in the CSULA Counseling and Assessment Clinic with families from the community who are referred for family and school-related problems.  Students work in co-therapy teams under the direct supervision of licensed faculty members.  At the end of the second year, students are eligible to begin their fieldwork courses in Marriage and Family Therapy and School Counseling.  At the completion of their coursework, students must pass comprehensive exams or complete a thesis or project.


The SBFC program at CSULA accepts two cohorts of 12 students once a year for the Fall quarter.  There are typically between 75 to 85 applicants each year for the 24 positions.  No specific undergraduate major is required nor is a standardized test (e.g. GRE) required.  An applicant must be accepted by the University as a graduate student for the Fall quarter in the year for which the applicant is applying, which is a separate application process.  In addition, the applicant must be accepted by the SBFC program through the Division of Administration & Counseling application process.  The paper application is due March 1 of the year in which the Fall Cohort begins.  Applications are then screened by the SBFC Admissions Committee and interviews are scheduled for qualified applicants. 


Historically, applicants with a grade point average of 3.0 or better are selected for interviews, although this depends on the quality of the applicants for each year's cohorts.  Those applicants selected receive a 20-30 minute individual interview with at least two faculty members.  The purpose of the interview is to assess the applicant's knowledge and experience of the Marriage and Family Therapy and the School Counseling professions, and the ability to demonstrate the interpersonal skills necessary for these professions.  For those applicants who are accepted, an orientation and group advisement meeting is held in late May.  Students who are qualified may begin taking courses (up to and including Counseling 503) as soon as they are accepted by the University as a graduate student, although this in no way guarantees acceptance into the SBFC program.  A maximum of 30% of the required graduate coursework (about 28 units) may be accepted for credit before formal acceptance into the SBFC program. 


While no specific undergraduate major is required for acceptance, there are four prerequisite courses for the program, which may be satisfied by undergraduate coursework.  These include (with CSULA courses in parentheses): abnormal psychology (PSYCH 410A or PSYCH 410B), counseling or psychological theories (COUN 450), statistics (EDFN452), and foundations of Special Education (EDSP 400).  While completion of these courses is not required before acceptance into the SBFC program, applicants are encouraged to complete the courses as soon as possible.