Marriage and family therapists are trained and licensed professions who assess, treat and mend patients’ relationships and family trauma. They do this by applying psychotherapeutic and family system theories into practice.
Duties and responsibilities
- Provide a safe and comfortable environment for patients
- Encourage clients to identify their feelings and behaviour patterns
- Counsel clients and offer healing methods
- Plan, implement and assess therapeutic treatments
- Maintain accurate and confidential records
- Help clients develop coping strategies to overcome their issues
- Encourage individuals to identify the root of their problems
- Attend clinical classes and meetings
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Standard business hours
Most marriage and family therapists work in private practice. Others can be found in mental health centres and hospitals.
You may be required to work weekends to accommodate your client’s schedule. This may also involve travel to patients’ homes to carry out their treatment.
The work can be emotionally demanding, as you will be dealing with highly sensitive cases that require a lot of mental support and stability.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Master’s degree is psychology or related field
To become a marriage and family therapist, you must first complete a four-year bachelor’s degree. You will also need to obtain an accredited master’s degree in psychology or a related mental health field, which typically takes two years to complete.
In addition to your studies, you’ll also need 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical training to acquire a state licence, which is usually gained through an internship or residency.
To obtain your certification, you must pass a state-recognised exam and complete annual training to maintain your licence.
Many marriage and family counsellors progress to set up their own private practice. Others choose to move into education and teach at a college or university.
You could also obtain a PhD and work in a research role in academia or consulting. Alternatively, you can focus on a specific age group, such as teenagers, families and the elderly.