Dear Dr. Romance:

I am considering being a licensed psychotherapist. What was your education track if I may ask?

Dear Reader:

Of course you may ask. I was licensed in 1978, so things were quite different then. I took an independent study curriculum at Lindenwood  Colleges, and I used the California BBSE guidelines to set  up my courses. That way, I knew my Masters Degree would be acceptable to  them. I also needed 3,000 hours of counseling under supervision.  Those guidelines also vary.  I suggest you contact the licensing board in your state and get the current guidelines for your state. You  can also get help from the American Psychology Assn. and any good school  that trains psychologists will know what the guidelines are.  "Ten Things People Don't Know about Therapy" will help you understand what therapy is about.

I looked them up, and here are the current California guidelines:

In addition to holding a qualifying degree, an applicant for examination eligibility must complete specific pre-licensure required courses prior to submitting an application for MFT examination eligibility. These courses include:

• Child Abuse Assessment and Reporting (7 hrs)
• Human Sexuality (10 hrs)
• Alcoholism and Chemical Substance Abuse Dependency (15 hr/1 semester unit; must be within the qualifying degree program)
• Spousal/Partner Abuse (must be within degree program; must be 15 hours for those after 1/1/2004)
• Psychological Testing (2 semester or 3 quarter units)
• Psychopharmacology (2 semester or 3 quarter units)
• California Law and Professional Ethics (2 semester or 3 quarter units)
Aging and Long Term Care (10 hrs for those after 1/1/04)

Note: The dates above refer to when a person begins his or her degree program. Statutes and Regulations cited: B&P Code 4980.39, 4980.41; CCR Section 1807,1807.2,1810

Then, of course, you have to get supervised hours. In my day, it was 3,000  unpaid hours, but these days you can be paid.

If you would like a good example of how I work with clients It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will tell you a lot of what you need to know.

It Ends With You

Good luck with your career.

For low-cost counseling, email me at

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.

Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.