Changes to the MFT and LCSW Exams in California

By Amanda Rowan on May 19, 2012

The rumors are true.  The BBS will be changing the exam process for the MFT and LCSW exams but not until January 1, 2014.  This is a change from the January 1, 2013 date that was originally proposed.  

In January 2013, a new registrant  (MFT intern/Associate Clinical Social Worker) with the Board will be required to take the new California Law and Ethics Exam within the first year of registration with the Board.

If the Law and Ethics Exam is not passed within the first renewal period, the registrant must complete a 12-hour law and ethics course in order to be eligible to take the exam in the next renewal cycle.The exam must be retaken in each renewal cycle until passed. In addition, in each year the exam is not passed, the 12-hour law and ethics course must be taken to establish examination eligibility. Once a registrant has completed all supervised work experience, completed all education requirements, and passed the Law and Ethics Exam, he or she may take a Clinical Exam.
 
It remains unclear what the exact structure of the Law and Ethics Exam and Clinical Exam will be. The long plan includes a transition to the LCSW and MFT National Exams.
 
Why the change?
 
According to the BBS, “The goal of the examination restructure is to enhance consumer protection by requiring an applicant, while practicing as an unlicensed registrant (marriage and family therapy intern, associate social worker, or clinical counselor intern) to take and pass an exam on the legal and ethical practice of their profession. Additionally, the restructure sets up a framework for the Board to smoothly transition to a national testing system. The Board has already accepted a national clinical examination, the NCMHCE, for LPCCs. The Board is currently working with the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards and the Association of Social Work Boards in order to ensure that their national examinations will meet testing standards unique to the needs of California. Once the Board is able to accept the national LMFT and LCSW licensing exami­nations, they will replace the Board-administered clinical exam. Applicants would then take the California law and ethics exam as well as a national exam. Ultimately, accept­ing the national examinations will benefit applicants by allowing greater portability of licenses across states.”
 
What does this mean for you? It depends where you are in the process.
 
According to the BBS here are the EXAMINATION RESTRUCTURE TRANSITION SCENARIOS that will be implemented in January 1, 2014:
 
(a) Each applicant who had previously taken and passed the standard written examination shall also obtain a passing score on the clinical examination in order to be eligible for licensure.
 
(b) An applicant who had previously failed to obtain a passing score on the standard written examination shall obtain a passing score on the California law and ethics examination and the clinical examination.
 
(c) An applicant who had previously failed to obtain a passing score on the clinical vignette examination shall obtain a passing score on the clinical examination.
 
(d) An applicant who had obtained eligibility for the standard written examination shall take the California law and ethics examination and the clinical examination.
 
If you are currently cleared to take your exams, TDC thinks it is best to get them passed before the transition in 2014.  If you are waiting to be cleared by the board, you still have enough time to get both current exams passed. The BBS has staffed up, so they are getting through applications faster!
 
If you are still collecting hours, you shouldn’t worry about it right now — just focus on getting your hours done and once they are submitted you can call us and we will talk you through the different options. Remember, TDC is committed to helping you study smart and efficiently so you can pass with confidence, no matter which exam you’re taking.

 

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work or MFT exam? If you’re preparing for a social work exam, check out our Social Work Study Materials. If you’re preparing for an MFT exam, check out our MFT Study Materials. Learn more about our offerings at The Therapist Development Center.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

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