This project collected data on variables to better characterize the Marriage and Family Therapist workforce such as demographic composition, practice characteristics, job functions, and settings where services are being delivered.


Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) are among the core professional occupations in behavioral health, with estimates of over 62,000 practicing in the United States. To support standardized data collection of this important occupation in the behavior health workforce, the Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center (BHWRC), along with our partner Consortium and external experts and practitioners, developed a Marriage and Family Therapist Minimum Data Set (MDS). An MDS instrument with five main themes was developed, collecting information on the demographics, licensure and certification, education and training, occupation and area of practice, and practice characteristics and settings of individual Marriage and Family Therapists workers. Additionally, Marriage and Family Therapists were asked about their level of comfort sharing this information with a variety of stakeholders. With the assistance of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) the MDS instrument was distributed to a random selection of 5,000 Marriage and Family Therapists nationally.

Overall, most respondents reported being comfortable sharing the information requested through the MDS, with a preference in sharing their data with the AAMFT, state licensing boards, and university researchers. It should be noted that across the different themes asked of Marriage and Family Therapists, the most frequently type of information that was not provided was demographic information. The primary areas of practice included mental health, couple’s, child and adolescent, addiction/substance use disorder, military/veteran medical, and social services therapy. Findings from this study support the role and efficacy of collecting standardized workforce data for Marriage and Family Therapists. Future research will develop strategies on the implementation and integration of the MDS within the broader data collection environment.




Angela J. Beck, PhD, MPH
Roger D. Smith, JD
Phillip M. Singer, MHSA
Jessica Buche, MPH, MA