How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist

Become a Marriage and Family Therapist

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Marriage and family therapists are the front-line professionals who help couples and families function better as a unit. If you would like to improve peoples' family lives, consider exploring this occupation. Retraining into this field requires advanced education and in-the-field experience. Online family therapy training courses can help you improve your skills.

What Career Skills Do Therapists Have?

Like other counselors and social workers, marriage and family therapists care about the well-being of others. However, their focus is not on individuals, but rather the couple or family. A well-trained family therapist understands the dynamics of marriage and family relationships. Conflict resolution, communication, listening, and education skills are all essential for this career. Some couples and families may need a marriage and family therapist to help them work through a serious crisis like substance abuse or domestic violence. A good therapist knows how to manage the crises and bring in other professionals when appropriate.

Have you been told you are a good listener? Are you empathic and perceptive? If you fit this description and like working with people in groups, then this field might be an interesting match for you. Family and marriage therapists usually work in private practices, group practices, or clinics. Sometimes they are employed by hospitals or school systems. This field is one that will continue to grow and is needed even when (or especially when) the economy isn't doing well.

Do You Want to Be a Family-Marriage Therapist? Career Advice

If you think you would like to retrain as a marriage or family therapist, the requirements typically include at least a master's level of education. Traditional campus-based classes or online family therapy training courses may provide the background in psychology, family systems, assessment, treatment methods, and more that you'll need to know. In addition, you can improve your career skills with the internships and supervised experiences that are often included in these programs.

As long as there are families and couples, there will likely be problems these groups cannot solve on their own. Family and marriage therapists step into these situations to find solutions where all of the individuals involved can feel better.

Career Outlook

  • Number of Jobs in 2012: 166,300.
  • Employment Outlook: The employment is projected to grow by 29% during 2012-22 which is much faster than the national average of 11%.
  • Median Annual Salary: In May 2013, Marriage and Family Therapists earned a median annual salary of $51,690 with top 10% making more than $78,580.
  • The Training You Need: Licensing as a marriage and family therapist typically requires a master's degree and 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.
  • The Things You Can Learn: Coursework for marriage and family therapists falls into eight main areas: human growth and development, relationships, group work, social and cultural diversity, career development, assessment, research and program evaluation, and professional identity.
  • Top Paying States: New Jersey, Wyoming, Nevada, Ohio, Hawaii.
  • States with Highest Employment:California, New Jersey, Florida, Virginia, Maryland.
  • Wide Membership. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy current has over 50,000 members.

About the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists, May 2013 Wages