Family Therapy Schools and Training Programs

A family therapist counsels couples, families and individuals about how to overcome obstacles, end conflict and interact more effectively. Read on to find out about educational and licensure requirements. Schools offering Marriage & Family Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Family therapists are more commonly known as marriage and family therapists (MFTs). This is typically a master's-level position that requires substantial clinical experience and licensure.

SchoolsCompletion of undergraduate and graduate school is required
TrainingMaster's degree programs typically require an internship of approximately 500 hours; 2,000-3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience are required for licensure
LicensingRequired; candidates typically must hold a master's degree, have the necessary clinical experience and pass an exam to earn licensure

What Would I Do as a Family Therapist?

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), as a family therapist, you would help families cope with a crisis, deal with problems in interpersonal interactions or solve conflict between members (www.aamft.org). You would provide this help through therapy sessions, either with a single family member or multiple members. Sometimes, you may provide group therapy, but other times conduct private sessions.

What Degree Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require family therapists to have at least a master's degree (www.bls.gov). Examples of degrees you can earn include a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy, Master of Science in Applied Family and Child Studies with a specialization in marriage and family therapy or a Master of Science in Counseling with a concentration in marriage and family therapy. For admission to a master's degree program, you will likely need a bachelor's degree in psychology, counseling, social work or a related field.

What Will I Study in a Degree Program?

Most master's degree programs require 2 years of study. In these programs, you study wellness and spirituality, parent-child interaction, family social policy, abuse counseling, aging in the family, ethnic diversity in families, behavior assessment and adolescent health. You also complete approximately 500 internship hours at a local community, counseling or mental health center or at a physician's office.

Specific courses common to most programs might include:

  • Counseling theories
  • Human development
  • Group counseling
  • Career counseling
  • Couples and family therapy
  • Professional ethics in counseling

Where Will I Find a Degree Program in Family Therapy?

Most graduate degree programs in family therapy or similar degrees are offered in departments of psychiatry, psychology or human development/family science. Some are found in a university's school of medicine. Some schools that offer Master of Family Therapy (MFT) or other master's degree programs in marriage and family therapy or counseling include:

  • Oklahoma State University
  • Mercer University
  • University of Rochester
  • University of Southern California
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Texas State University
  • University of Oregon

Do I Need Licensure?

The BLS states that most states require family therapists to be a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and only offer licensure to graduates of master's degree programs. Graduation from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE) may make it easier to become licensed. Usually, the COAMFTE only accredits graduate-level programs. Completion of continuing education classes is typically needed to maintain licensure.

What Will I Need To Be Eligible to Take Licensing Exams?

In addition to a master's degree, most states require that you have around two years of supervised clinical experience and pass an exam to become licensed. Eligibility requirements vary from state to state; for instance, California requires completion of a graduate program totaling 60 semester hours, while North Carolina accepts completion of programs of 45 semester hours. Check your state's board for eligibility requirements when seeking to take family therapist licensure exams.

What Are My Career Prospects?

The BLS expects job opportunities for marriage and family therapists to increase by 23% over the 2016-2026 decade. A 2016 report by the BLS stated that there were 41,500 MFTs in the nation at that time, not including self-employed therapists, and that these professionals earned an average of $48,790 per year.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Regent University

    Regent University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado State University Global

    Colorado State University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado State University Global:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    Online Programs Available

  • CDI College

    CDI College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at CDI College:

    Campus Locations:

    • Anywhere: Anjou, Burnaby, Edmonton, Laval, Longueuil, Montreal, Point Claire, Richmond, Surrey, Winnipeg
  • Penn Foster High School

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    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • University of Miami

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Coral Gables
  • University of Florida

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Gainesville
  • University of Louisville

    Campus Locations:

    • Kentucky: Louisville