Marriage and family therapists address and treat mental and emotional disorders. In doing so, they improve communication and understanding among family members, and help to prevent family and individual crises. They may work with individuals, families, couples, and groups. Marriage and family therapy is different from traditional therapy because the focus is on viewing and understanding their clients’ symptoms and interactions within their existing environment. Marriage and family therapists are also trained to make referrals to psychiatric resources, perform research, and teach courses in human development and interpersonal relationships. Job settings typically include private practices, courts, offices, hospitals, community centers, businesses, and homes.
Steps Toward an MS in Marriage / Family Therapy
To become a marriage and family therapist, requirements vary significantly by state. Successful students typically complete the following steps:
- Earn proper undergraduate degree (requirements vary by state). Common undergraduate degrees include Bachelor of Science programs in education, psychology, or human services.
- Earn proper graduate degrees (requirements vary by state) from an accredited institution like Purdue, Liberty, or Walden University. Typically includes completing a Master of Science degree with a focus on marriage and family therapy.
- Obtain proper licensure. Requirements for marriage and family therapists typically include the accumulation of 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience beyond the master’s degree level, the passage of a State-recognized exam, adherence to ethical codes and standards, and the completion of annual continuing education credits.
- Understand certification options and requirements. Counseling organizations offer certification in particular counseling specialties. Usually, becoming certified is voluntary, but having certification may enhance one’s job prospects. Some marriage and family therapists with doctorates in family therapy, become supervisors, teachers, researchers, or advanced clinicians.
Professionals in the field should consider membership with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). The AAMFT offers membership at various levels, including the student level. Membership benefits include an online job search and career directory, networking opportunities, a database of magazine and journal articles dating back to 1960, and discounted liability insurance.
My Degree and What It’s Good For
A degree in family counseling gives you the opportunity to help families through crises, such as the death of a loved one, or through regular conflict arising from the stresses of marriage and family life. A marriage and family therapist’s job requires them to:
- Provide psychological support to those going through family and interpersonal relationship issues.
- Support the client’s participation in a treatment plan.
- Offer case management support and guidance.
- Arrange for medical care, vocational training, job placement and other outside services.
Annual salary varies within the profession based on specific type of job, location, and experience. For more on your earning potential in the field of marriage and family therapy, please visit our salary outlook for counselors page.
Online MS in Marriage/Family Therapy Degree Programs
- Grand Canyon University: MS in Professional Counseling – Marriage and Family Therapy
- Liberty University: MA in Human Services – Marriage and Family
- Liberty University: MA in Marriage and Family Therapy
- Northcentral University: PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy
- University of the Rockies: MA in Counseling – Marriage, Couples, and Family Counseling
Closely Related Programs
The following degrees are closely related to a master’s degree program in marriage/family therapy, often allowing you to pursue a career in this field or others: