Marriage and Family Therapy Degree

Marriage and family therapy is a popular career choice for many as they are able to make a difference in the lives and futures of families. Marriage and family therapists are mental health professionals that work with married couples and families in need to diagnose and treat mental health conditions, including substance abuse problems. Marriage and family therapists usually hold a post-graduate degree and have various backgrounds prior to entering the field. Before entering the program, candidates must have two years of supervised work in a clinical environment. Additionally, their personalities are generally extroverted; and they get along well with people, as the main objective of their job is to interact with patients.

How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist

To become a marriage and family therapist, one must first achieve a post-secondary degree. There are several different options that one can pursue, including a master’s degree, doctorate or post-graduate training program in a clinical environment. Before people enroll in a marriage and family therapy post-graduate degree program, they often have work experience in a related health field, such as psychiatry, nursing or social work. However, this is not a requirement. Many people also network with marriage and family therapists, or volunteer in an office, to learn more about the career and its expectations.

Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Curriculum

Each marriage and family therapy degree offering and program varies, but are built upon the same fundamentals so marriage and family therapists are able to do the best job for their patients. Courses include:

  • Multicultural therapy
  • Couples and family systems
  • Couples therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Psychopathology
  • Lifespan development
  • Counseling: history and practice
  • Human sexuality

Marriage and Family Therapy Degrees & Certificates

For their undergraduate degree, most marriage and family therapists focus on a career that is health-related, especially since a pre-requisite for a marriage and family therapy degree is to have two years of supervised experience in a clinic. There are three post-graduate marriage and family therapy degree programs, including a master’s degree, which is typically two or three years; a doctorate program, which is three to five years; and a clinical training program for post-grads, which is about three to four years.

Upon graduation from a marriage and family therapy degree program, candidates can work as marriage and family therapists in several environments including private practice, government agencies and hospitals or other health care facilities. Various certificates are available for marriage and family therapists that demonstrate their expertise in a particular theory or method. This is particularly useful for therapists who choose to specialize in a particular area of marriage and family therapy, such as helping those suffering from adult schizophrenia or counseling adolescents with eating disorders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, salaries for marriage and family therapists can range from $45,720 to $72,280.