If you want to dedicate your career to helping people to work through their personal and emotional problems, you should consider marriage and family therapy.
Marriage and family therapists help couples and families to function in their home environment in a more healthy and productive manner. These therapists use their expertise in psychology to both diagnose and treat mental and emotional health issues that affect many personal relationships.
Marriage and family therapists may use many different frameworks and techniques, but in the en, their goal is to help clients to pinpoint obstacles to happiness and to help their clients to overcome them.
To practice as a marriage family therapist, you need to earn your master’s degree, and you may eventually choose to earn a doctorate as well. With your graduate degree, you can work in these areas:
- Mental health counselor: You will provide mental health treatment to individuals, couples, families and even small groups. Some counselors may work with specific populations of people, which may include college students, children or the elderly. Mental health counselors deal with many issues that may include depression, anxiety, grief, low self esteem, stress and ore.
- Marriage and family therapist: Work with couples, families and individuals, bringing a family based perspective to the treatment program, including when dealing with a single patient. They will evaluate family development and roles to understand how the family of the client affects the mental health of the person. They will treat the relationship of the person and not just the client. Low self esteem, addiction, stress and substance abuse are the most common things they treat.
- Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor: Provide advice and counsel to those who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders and other problems with behavior. They usually provide treatment and support to assist the client to recover from addiction and ways to modify problems with their behavior.
Why Earn a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy?
Many professionals choose to enter the field of marriage and family therapy for several reasons. First and foremost, they feel a passion to help people to work through their personal problems and emotional disorders. This gives counselors and therapists a high level of personal satisfaction.
Second, being a therapist gives you the opportunity to work for yourself or to work in a small practice of therapists if you choose to. Many people find this type of career attractive as it is very different and more rewarding than a typical business career.
Third, there is a strong, growing demand for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is going to be a 19% increase in job demand by 2024 in this field.
Experts believe that demand in this area will be driven by more people having access to mental health services in federal health care reform. More military veterans also need to have mental health treatment as they come back from military operations overseas.
The combination of these factors make becoming a marriage and family therapist a wise career decision for many people.
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To be admitted into a master’s program in marriage and family therapy, you will need to have these qualifications:
- 3.0 GPA
- Bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related liberal arts field
- Volunteer experience in the mental health field may be required
- Updated resume
- Writing samples, statement of purpose about your career goals in marriage and family therapy
- Three recommendations
Curriculum and Courses
A good choice for a master’s program in this field is the Master of Marriage and Family Therapy from USC Rossier. This degree will prepare you for a rewarding career as a counselor or therapist in a clinical, school, health care center or private practice.
This two year program will train you to deal with many personal and professional problems that families and individuals must deal with. These most commonly are relationship problems, family dysfunction, parenting problems and trouble with child behavior.
This program will require you to work in discussions and to write about how the concepts you are learning will apply to your own life. Students also are supposed to participate in practice sessions of therapy where they may need to reveal personal information about themselves.
Students who complete this program and fulfill other requirements by the state are eligible to be licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in California.
In addition to completing this program, you must meet the following requirements to earn your California license. Other states usually have similar requirements but you will need to verify this with your state agency:
- 3000 hours of clinical work that is supervised by a licensed therapist. At least 1700 of the hours have to be done after the degree has been completed.
- Passage of the state written examination and written clinical examination that is provided by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences.
Required classes include:
- Creating Communities of Interest
- The Counseling Process
- Professional Identity and Law and Ethics for Counselors
- Theories in Counseling
- Counseling through the Lifespan
- Psychopathology for Marriage and Family Therapists
- Research Methods and Data Analysis for Counselors
- Theories of Marriage and Family Therapy
- Measurement Procedures for Counselors
- Psychotherapy with Children and Adolescents
- Psychopharmacology and the Effects of Substance Abuse
Career Outcomes and Job Titles
You could have a career path that features these job titles:
- Family therapist
- Marriage and family counselor
- Educational counselor
- Couples counselor
- Substance abuse counselor
Job and Salary Outlook
- Marriage and Family Therapist — As noted earlier, demand for these professionals will increase by 19% by 2024. There are millions more people today who have access to mental health services through federal health care reform that was implemented in 2010. Also, more people are wanting to deal with their mental health and personal problems as they are living longer and more productive lives. The median salary in this field is $48,600.
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor — Employment in this field will rise by an impressive 22% by 2024, which is much faster than average for all jobs. It is expected that there will be more demand for this profession as there will be more need for addiction and mental health counseling services with federal healthcare reform. Further, there are more prisoners being released who have minor drug offense on their records, and some of these people will need to be given counseling. Median salary is $39,900.
- School Counselor — Employment for school counselors will increase by 8% by 2024, which is about as fast as average. Some with this master’s degree may decide to work in schools as counselors; this can include elementary, middle and high schools, and sometimes colleges and universities. Median salary is $53,500.
Scholarships and Grants
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: This organization is the leading group for marriage and family therapists and offers many scholarships each year.
- American Psychological Association: This leading psychology association has several graduate school scholarships from $1000 to $5000 per year.
- Association of Educational Therapists: This is a national organization that is dedicated to promoting the interests of educational therapists.
- International Family Therapy Association: This organization is made to promote continuing education and the development of higher quality standards for marriage and family therapy.