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What's the Job Description of a Family Therapist?

Family therapists work directly with couples and families to help ameliorate marital and family problems. Keep reading to learn more about what a family therapist does and how you can become one.

Job Description

A family therapist is a licensed therapist who treats the psychological and mental issues related to families or marriage. In this line of work, you'll provide guidance and mediation for clients, either in groups or individually, to help address problems that need resolving. You might assist them with psychological disorders, behavioral problems, or substance abuse or addictions that affect their marriages or family dynamics.

You'll also maintain client records, create treatment plans, help your clients set goals, and oversee clients' complete therapy programs. There might be situations that require the aid of other therapists, so you can expect to speak with your colleagues on a consistent basis. Additionally, because you may not always be able to effectively treat certain clients, referring them to other counselors or treatment programs may be required.

Important Facts About This Occupation

On-the-job TrainingTypically two years of supervised clinical experience before licensure
Key SkillsCompassion, interpersonal skills, good judgment and decision making, social perceptiveness, speaking
Work EnviornmentHospitals, mental health facilities, private practice, substance abuse centers
Similar OccupationsPsychologists, rehabilitation counselors, social workers, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors

Education and Licensing Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all family therapists must receive licensure from their state to treat patients (www.bls.gov). Earning a master's degree in counseling, or marriage and family therapy is usually the educational requirement for a marriage therapy license, but each state has its own additional licensing guidelines. Most require you to pass an exam, have clinical experience, and complete continuing education. Some states might have an age requirement for prospective therapists, or require you to complete coursework on child abuse laws, AIDS prevention, and domestic violence.

Salary and Job Outlook

As of May 2018, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for marriage and family therapists was $50,090. Therapists employed by state governments earned the most money on average, taking home a mean annual salary of $69,080 in 2018. The BLS also stated that employment of marriage and family therapists was expected to increase by 23% between 2016 and 2026, which was much faster than the average predicted for all occupations.