Marriage & Family Therapy

Education and Careers

Couples therapy and marriage counseling are two names for the same thing: helping people work on their relationships. Marriage and family therapists offer guidance to couples and families who are dealing with issues that affect their mental health and the well-being of the whole family.

What They Do

Couples therapists and marriage counselors treat some of the same issues as other psychologists, such as depression and anxiety, substance abuse, and PTSD. But their work focuses on issues that are specific to their target group, the family. Some common issues that family counselors encounter are marital conflicts, adolescent behavior problems, domestic violence and issues related to infertility.

Marriage and family therapists observe how people behave within the family, and identify relationship problems. They then come up with treatment plans so that each individual has his or her needs met and the family unit can work for the benefit and happiness of all.

Skills You'll Need

Learn which personality traits and professional skills you’ll need to be a successful couples therapist or marriage counselor.

You should have…

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Clear boundaries
  • High ethical standards
  • Desire to collaborate
  • Goal-setting skills

Find the Right School For You

How to Become a Couples Therapist or Marriage Counselor

Licensing and certification guidelines for marriage counselors vary by state. Make sure to check the guidelines in your state before you start your studies.

  • 1

    Get a Bachelor's Degree

    Earning an undergraduate degree in psychology is the first step toward becoming a therapist or counselor.

  • 2

    Get an Advanced Degree

    Most states require a master's degree in professional counseling or marriage and family therapy.

  • 3

    Get Clinical Experience

    Most states require that you get two years of clinical experience before they will grant you a license.

  • 4

    Pass the Marriage and Family Therapy Exam

    Many states also require you to take and pass the exam given by the Association of Marital and Family therapy Regulatory Boards (AMFTRB).

  • 5

    Apply for Licensure in Your State

    In order to practice marriage and family therapy, you must be licensed by your state. Check your state regulatory board for specific requirements.

Salary Comparison

Marriage and family therapists can make a good living. But salaries vary greatly based on location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

Job Growth

Employment of marriage and family therapists is expected to grow 29 percent between 2012 and 2022. This is much higher than the 11 percent growth predicted for all professions combined. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

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