How to Become a Family Therapist

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Relationships within the family can sometimes include conflict that requires professional intervention. Couples and families seek the counsel of licensed therapists trained to accurately evaluate and treat mental, behavioral, or emotional issues that affect the well-being of the family unit. Those who embark on a career as a family therapist (or marriage counselor) have the opportunity to counsel couples, parents and children in crisis or through difficult times and assist in improving relationships within the unit.


Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

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What does a family therapist do?

The main focus of a family therapist or marriage counselor is to gain an overall understanding of the issues that are faced by the couple or all members of the family rather than those of a specific individual. This is accomplished through scheduled appointments in which several family members meet jointly with the therapist to converse about the problems that are having a significantly negative impact on relationships within the family element.

Marriage counselors and family therapists are responsible for identifying psychological disorders that one or more patients in a couple or family unit may have, and counseling those patients who have suffered life-altering crises such as divorce or death, and helping all participants in the session to strengthen their communications with one another. They must also have the ability to recognize troublesome behavior patterns within a family unit and to suggest techniques that will allow these destructive behaviors to be replaced with ones that are conducive to the establishment of trust and positivity among family members.

Family therapists can work in a variety of settings. Some examples include private practice, inpatient facilities, social service agencies, rehabilitation centers, and community mental health centers.

What kind of training does a family therapist need?

Those who wish to establish a family therapist or marriage counselor career can gain experience at the undergraduate level by participating in research projects, volunteering at crisis centers, and earning a degree in concentrations such as biology, psychology, or sociology. Family therapists are required to have completed a master’s degree program of two to three years in length or a doctorate degree program of three to five years in length. It is also possible for those who earned a graduate level degree in another mental health field to become a family therapist upon completion of a post-graduate clinical program.

Licensure or certification in family therapy or marriage counseling is required in most states. The specific qualifications needed for completion of this process are set by individual state licensing boards. Those who seek eligibility for certification must have successfully completed an accredited graduate program and supervised training in a clinical setting. Click here for a list of programs to get your marriage counselor or family therapy degree online.

What are the prospects for a career as a family therapist?

Opportunities for family therapy careers are expected to grow at a faster than average rate due to an increase in the number of families who are seeking professional help. The number of people who are in family therapist jobs is expected to rise by 30 percent between 2006 and 2016. (1)

How much do family therapists make?

Reported in April 2009, family therapist salary (including other licensed professional counselor salaries) was between $30,400 yearly salary of $39,700, with the highest 10% earning more than $44,100. (2) Click here to find out how to become a family therapist.

A family therapist career is ideal for caring individuals who have an interest helping families or couples resolve issues that cause dysfunction. Click here to get a list of online family therapist degrees.

Joshua T Osborne

Founder/CEO – Mr. & Mrs. Leads

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