LMFT: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Requirements

Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT) help individuals, families and couples pinpoint and solve emotional, mental and interpersonal disorders or problems. Learn the typical duties of an LMFT, as well as the education and licensure requirements. Schools offering Marriage & Family Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a LMFT?

As a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), you'll help couples, both married and not, to understand and work through conflicts. You'll also work with family groups and even individuals. You also might help improve the quality of their relationships by asking questions and encouraging communication. Like other mental health counselors, you'll be trained to treat an assortment of problems, including marital difficulties, depression, anxiety and child-parent issues, but your primary focus will be on relationships.

Some of the daily duties that will occupy your time include keeping client records and case files, recording notes, dealing with insurance companies and scheduling appointments. For each client, you'll need to develop an individualized treatment plan to help them address their issues and problematic behaviors. You'll assess clients to decide if they should be sent to a specialist, monitor their progress and plan post-therapy activities so they can maintain healthy relationships. Below is information that could be important and contains details about becoming a LIFT.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Marriage and family therapy
Licensure Licensure needed, through requirements vary by state
Key Duties Counsel couples and families
Job Growth (2014-2024) 15%*
Median Salary (2015) $48,600*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are My Job Prospects?

As an LMFT, you can practice in a variety of work environments, including employee assistance programs, family courts, community health organizations or hospitals; you may even choose to set up a private practice. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that, in 2014, there were an estimated 33,700 LMFTs practicing in the United States (www.bls.gov). As more and more people recognize the benefits of seeking therapy services to help improve their relationships, this field is expected to grow, with an estimated 15% employment increase between 2014 and 2024.

The BLS stated that, as of May 2015, LMFTs made a yearly median salary of $48,600. However, salaries varied according to work setting, with the highest levels of pay going to LMFTs who worked for state governments. The top paying states for this career were New Jersey, Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Maine.

What Qualifications Will I Need?

LMFTs come from diverse undergraduate backgrounds; many earn bachelor's degrees in social work, human services, psychology or nursing. They then typically go on to earn a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy. To practice as an LMFT, you must seek licensure. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy notes that, while licensure requirements vary by state, all require LMFTs to have a master's or doctoral degree, as well as a specified number of clinical experience hours, to sit for licensing exams (www.aamft.org).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are quite a few careers related to LMFTs. These include other types of mental health counselors, psychologists, social workers and rehabilitation counselors. Psychologists, often confused with mental health counselors, use the scientific methods to study human behavior, cognition and emotions. They typically need a master's degree or a doctorate.

Social workers work with individuals to help them overcome everyday life problems, and some may even be able to diagnose mental illnesses. A bachelor's is sufficient for social worker positions, though clinical social workers need a master's. Rehabilitation counselors also work with individuals who are suffering from mental illnesses, physical disabilities or emotional disabilities. Their objective is to help clients cope with these issues and become functional in life. They also need a master's degree.

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:

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