10 Things I wish I knew about......finding a paid MFT Internship

By Amanda Rowan on December 18, 2012


This article marks the first in a series of "10 Things I Wish I Knew about...." focused on helping MFT trainees and interns. Today we will discuss finding that gosh darn (paid?) MFT Internship. You finally have your Masters degree and have filed your application to be a registered intern. Congrats! Now your sights are squarely focused on finding a paid MFT internship to take you through those remaining hours. Easier said than done? Maybe, maybe not.

1. Location, location, location. Your ability to get a paid MFT internship may depend less on your fantastic background as a trainee and more on where you live or decide to live. For example, where I live in Marin County in Northern California, there is essentially no such thing as a paid MFT internship, unless you speak Spanish fluently. But if you drive 45 minutes to the East Bay, your luck will change. In Southern California a paid MFT internship seems to be the norm. If you can move, move to where they pay!

2. Craigslist and your local association. Once you have determined where you will live and work, craigslist is a great option for finding work. Type in MFT or therapist or counselor and voila -- jobs abound. If there is nothing there you like, try your professional association website (note you likely have to be a member to have access to the job postings). CAMFT, for example, posts numerous positions - but you will note that many are in SoCal.

3. Don't limit yourself If the position calls for a license, don't skip over it! Some places will consider you, especially if you are close to finishing your hours. If your background is exactly what they need, they might decide the license is not so important - so send in that resume anyway!

4. Get creative! Some positions require a license because they don't offer supervision. Don't let that stop you! You might have to pay for it, but if the hiring entity is willing, you can find your own supervisor. The hiring entity and your supervisor will sign a letter of agreement, which suffices for the BBS (you will need to submit it with your application eventually).

5. Unpaid to paid If you can afford not to be paid immediately, some unpaid positions can lead to paid ones. Pay attention to whether seasoned MFT interns are eventually offered paid staffed positions. If so, as they get licensed and leave, you may be able to move into their spot.

6. Creative unpaid to paid Again if you can afford not to be paid at first, consider offering your services to a private school or agency that could use counseling services but doesn't have a counselor. They may not be able to afford you at first, but might find after a while they like having you around and will pay. This is a gamble, as you will likely have to pay for supervision, but you might find a supervisor who will take pity on you and offer a sliding scale or pro bono supervision.

7. Consider a private practice internship Not for the feint of heart, a private practice internship has its' pros and cons. Unless you are bringing clients from your traineeship, it may take a while to accumulate your hours. On the other hand, you have more flexibility in choosing a supervisor and specialty and will be well set up when you become licensed to open your own practice. Stay tuned for more articles on this!

8. Where you land may determine your future success. A significant portion of your training will come from this internship. Do they specialize in a certain population? Do they only practice psychodynamically or with CBT? It is essential that their focus is something you are interested in and wish to pursue, as once you are licensed, that is likely what you will have to market yourself to clients.

9. Hot areas that pay these days. If you think you may be interested, areas that seem to pay these days are ones that focus on substance abuse, bilingual positions, and ABA for autism spectrum disorders.

10.Join LinkedIn After you set up your profile, you will discover that there are numerous groups of practitioners who focus on different areas. Join groups that interest you, then post that you are an intern looking for a paid MFT internship. You will be surprised at the help you get! Good Luck - and feel free to share your ideas and experiences here!

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your MFT exam? If you're preparing for the MFT exam, check out our MFT Study Materials. Learn more about our offerings at The Therapist Development Center.

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Commenter Name
June 9, 2018

I m look for an intership paid for mft/ pcc night or weekend no sunday

Commenter Name
May 29, 2020

Any suggestions to finding a trainee placement for practicum? I'm trying so far to find anything in california now that we are allowed to do it remotely for covid with the bss. But I'm located in socal and it's near impossible to find something right now. thoughts?

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