The healthcare industry overall is showing extremely robust job growth, and this is surely the case with the marriage and family therapy field. Current government statistics show that the profession of mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy will experience 19% job growth in the coming decade.
That type of employment growth is driving many professionals to the field, which requires one to earn a Master of Family Therapy (MFT) to practice as a licensed therapist in all US states. An MFT degree will set the table for you to enjoy a personally and financially rewarding career in mental health and therapy in the following occupations:
#1 Marriage and Family Therapist
A marriage and family therapist assists their clients to manage and overcome a variety of problems with their relationships and families. They listen to their clients, and ask them pertinent questions to help them to better grasp their problems and to develop effective ways to have better relationships with their loved ones.
MFTs use many advanced, modern techniques to assist their clients with their relationship problems. Some of the techniques that you may apply in your work include:
- Focusing on the individual. Many modern MFTs begin their sessions with teaching the client how to communicate with their partner or family more effectively. Strategies focus on communicating without making the other party to feel defensive.
- Breaking patterns. Many couples and families struggle with negative patterns of behavior. Any time a controversial topic comes up, people revert to the same negative patterns. For example, tell the person to walk the room or even leave the room for a moment before bringing up the topic.
- A common problem for couples is to assume a negative interpretation of a given behavior. The MFT can ask each person to make the person come up with the most negative interpretation and most positive interpretation of a given behavior. This makes people more aware of different ways to interpret various behaviors in their partner.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a goal-oriented therapy approach that helps the client to better understand harmful thoughts, and beliefs, and to replace them with more positive ones.
A MFT with a master’s degree can work in private practice, but must work under the supervision and guidance of an MFT with a doctoral degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median salary for all MFTs is $49,170 as of May 2016, and the top 10% earn more than $81,000 per year. Those professionals tend to have a doctorate and at least a decade of experience. MFTs who work in state and local government tend to make the highest median salary, at $67,400.
Payscale.com reports that the median salary in the field is $46,768.
#2 Mental Health Counselor
A mental health counselor helps his or her clients to manage and overcome their various mental and health disorders. Some of their common job duties can include:
- Diagnose serious mental health and emotional problems. Some of the most common are mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Other counselors will help their clients to process grief, low self esteem, stress and thoughts about suicide and self harm
- Encourage patients to talk about their past experiences and the emotions that they feel due to them
- Assist patients to process their emotional reactions to events and problems in their lives, such as divorce, job loss, and death of loved ones
- Help patients to develop effective, positive strategies to alter behavior and to deal more effectively with difficult problems at home and work
- Refer patients to vital community resources, including inpatient treatment and mental health support groups
The median salary for mental health counselors as of 2016 was $42,840, but those who have a doctoral degree can earn in excess of $70,000. There will be plenty of jobs available in the next decade, with 20% job growth anticipated by 2024.
Payscale.com states that the median salary is $40,300.
#3 Social Worker
Social workers help their clients to solve and deal with many serious problems in their daily lives. Social workers usually have a bachelor’s degree in social work, and either earn a master’s degree in social work, or possibly a marriage and family therapy degree.
Social workers have the following duties:
- Assess the clients in determining what their strengths, needs and support networks are
- Help them to adjust to serious life challenges, including divorce, job loss, illness, unemployment and mental health problems
- Research and refer clients to vital community resources, including food stamps, child care services, and healthcare
- Provide psychotherapy to those in need of it (this requires a master’s degree in social work and a state license to practice)
The most common type is a child and family social worker; these professionals may work with couples and families to deal with their relationship and mental health problems. They may assist the couple or family to find important social services and to apply for benefits they need.
Another common type of professional in this field is a clinical social worker, who is trained to diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral problems. They have the skills to provide individual, family and and couple therapy. Many clinical social workers may work in private practice.
The median salary for all social workers, including with just a bachelor’s degree, is $46,890. Those with a master’s degree in social work, and possibly an MFT degree, can earn more than $78,000 per year.
Payscale.com reports that the median salary in the field is $44,328.
#4 Substance Abuse Counselor
Substance abuse and behavioral disorders counselors provide advice to people who have problems with drug addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders and other serious problems. They provide treatment and support to assist patients to overcome their addiction problems.
Substance abuse and behavioral counselors have the following duties:
- Evaluate the mental and physical health needs, as well as addiction problems, and assess if the client is ready to be treated
- Help the client to develop a plan for treatment
- Help them to develop the vital skills to recover from various types of addictive behavior
- Teach the family about addictive behaviors and help them to come up with strategies to deal with these problems in a more effective manner
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors can work with clients both one on one and in groups. You may use the principles of 12 step programs to guide how you do your work; Alcoholics Anonymous is an example.
Overall, they teach their clients how to deal with the problems and stresses of life without abusing drugs and alcohol.
Many professionals in this field may work in private practice, and others may work with groups of counselors and psychologists.
The median salary for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is $41,070 per year as of May 2016. Those with the most experience and a master’s degree in therapy or a related field may earn more than $65,000 per year.
This position could be a great fit for the professional with an MFT in the future; there will be a 22% increase in job growth in the next decade. A background in marriage and family therapy can help you to treat couples who both abuse drugs and alcohol.
Earning an MFT degree can lead you to many excellent career paths with ample financial and personal reward. Whether you wish to work with people in need in private practice, mental health or social work, this advanced degree can be a great way to accelerate your career.
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- Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/mental-health-counselors-and-marriage-and-family-therapists.htm
- Social Workers. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm