How Can I Work in Couples Counseling?

Couples counselors are trained in marriage and family therapy and help couples solve relationship problems. Read on to discover the steps you'll need to take in order to become a licensed marriage and family therapist in your state. Schools offering Marriage & Family Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Careers in Couples Counseling

To become a couples counselor, you need to take a few steps. First, you'll need at least a master's degree in order to work as a couples counselor or marriage and family therapist (MFT). Then, you'll need to check with your state's licensing agency to see what the requirements are so that you can get licensed to practice. The following information will give you some important facts about marriage and family therapists and take a deeper look at the steps required to become a licensed couples counselor.

Important Facts About Marriage and Family Therapists

On-the-Job Training Internship/residency
Key Skills Empathy, social nuance, close listening, clear communication, organization
Work Environment Individual and family services; state and local governments; outpatient care centers; offices of health practitioners; nursing and residential care facilities; occasional travel may be required
Similar Occupations Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors; social workers; social and human service assistants; social and community service managers

Earn a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

To enter a master's degree program in marriage and family therapy, a bachelor's degree in any field is typically acceptable. The length of your master's program will vary depending on the school, but you can expect to complete your degree program within 2-3 years if you enroll as a full-time student.

You'll attend classes and receive hands-on clinical training under the supervision of expert practitioners. Your program will teach you about the ways relationships, marriages and families can affect mental and emotional issues. Your courses might include:

  • Basic concepts and methods of systems therapy
  • Treatment of drug and alcohol dependency
  • Theories and research in family therapy
  • Intimate relations
  • Ethical and legal issues in marriage and family therapy
  • Culturally diverse and under-resourced populations

You'll need to complete roughly 500 hours of clinical experience in order to earn your degree. Some schools may have on-site clinics to provide you with training, and other schools may require you to spend part or all of your clinical hours at an off-site location. Your clinical work will be videotaped and observed by a licensed MFT, and you'll receive feedback based on the observations made.

Become Licensed

According to the BLS, you must be licensed in most cases to practice as a marriage and family therapist. While licensing requirements vary from state to state, you'll generally need to earn your master's degree, complete between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical training and pass a state-recognized exam. In some states, master's program graduates are required to obtain provisional licensure or registration before participating in post-graduate clinical training. Contact your state's licensing agency for more details.

Career Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), MFTs work with couples, individuals and families to improve mental health issues and relationships (www.bls.gov). Your treatment will always take a family-centered approach, even when working with individuals. You'll work on issues such as addiction, low self-esteem and stress and explore ways relationships and family roles may contribute to these issues.

Job Outlook

The BLS predicted that employment of marriage and family therapists would increase 15% between 2014 and 2024. This expected growth is due in part to mental health services being increasingly covered by insurance policies. Job prospects should be especially good for those working in rural and other underserved areas. In May 2014, the BLS reported that marriage and family therapists earned a mean annual wage of $51,730.

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

  • 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

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
      • Master - in Christian Counseling
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • 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

  • Maryville University

    Maryville University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Maryville University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Leo University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • New England College

    New England College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

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