Chou, J. L., Lynch, L., Brooks, S., Krauthamer Ewing, E. S., Jordal, C., McDowell, D., & Bluteau‐James, V. A. (2022). Couple/marriage and family therapist extent of training for working with families impacted by substance use. Family Relations.


The goal of this study was to explore substance misuse training exposure and preparedness among couple/marriage and family therapists (C/MFTs) who graduated from Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) programs.


In 2018, approximately 53.2 million individuals aged 12 years and older reported using illegal substances. Substance misuse has a significant family impact, and family system patterns can contribute to the development or maintenance of substance misuse issues. Couple/marriage and family therapists (C/MFTs) are well positioned to work with families impacted by substance misuse, as their standard training focuses on the interplay of relationships and systems in the development and maintenance of individual and family functioning. However, the extent of substance misuse–specific training within accredited C/MFT graduate programs is still unclear.


The present study used a mixed-methods convergent design to explore substance misuse training exposure and preparedness among C/MFTs who graduated from COAMFTE programs. A total of N = 109 individuals participated in online assessments, and n = 8 completed interviews. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected during the same phase, analyzed separately, and then integrated and interpreted to gain a comprehensive understanding of substance misuse training and workforce experiences among C/MFTs.


Ninety-three percent of respondents (n = 101) reported very little to no substance misuse training in their programs (no course to one course in their COAMFTE-accredited programs), despite consensus among respondents that such training and related supervision would be valuable.


Training recommendations are provided for the inclusion of substance misuse coursework among graduate-level training programs.


A C/MFT educational program pursuing curriculum changes to include more substance misuse–related content may encounter several challenges. Implications for addressing challenges are discussed.