Marriage and Family Therapy and Counseling

Read about education and licensing requirements for marriage and family therapists here, as well as how much you can earn in this counseling field. Find out more about the job duties of marriage and family therapists.

Is Marriage and Family Therapy for Me?

Career Overview

Marriage and family counselors help families and married couples work through their emotional problems and issues. You may also refer clients to other professionals, such as psychiatrists. A background in sociology and psychology, as well as communication and organizational skills, are essential to working in the field; training in active listening is also required. You'll most likely work in an office setting; on-site sessions at clients' homes may also be necessary.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of family and marriage therapists was projected to increase by 31% nationwide, or much faster than average, between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2013, marriage and family therapists earned a mean annual salary of $51,690. Top-paying employers included home health care services and local and state governments. Some counselors can advance to supervisory, research or teaching positions with enough education (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Become a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Education

While each state has its own requirements, you'll most likely need a master's degree to work as a marriage and family counselor. Relevant undergraduate programs include a bachelor's degree in social work, available on campus or online. In addition to studying human behavior, you'll learn how to work with families and groups.

Graduate programs may lead to a master's degree in marriage and family therapy or a master's degree in counseling with a specialization in the same field of study. Once enrolled, you'll learn how to work with clients who are suffering from a variety of disorders, such as substance abuse, depression and dementia. You'll also pursue specialized coursework in human sexuality, family life cycles and interventions.

Licensing

In general, you'll need a state-issued license to practice as a marriage and family therapist. Prerequisites can vary but typically include a master's degree in a relevant area, two years of supervised training and a passing score on a state exam. Additional graduate studies are sometimes required to maintain licensure. Some employers offer tuition assistance for counseling-related courses.

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