Family Therapist Job Description and Career Outlook

Family therapy is a specialized type of counseling that concentrates on the interpersonal dynamics in relationships. A family therapist works with individuals and families to change perceptions and promote communication between individuals, families and groups. Also referred to as group therapists, these individuals must be able to work under stressful situations with sometimes sensitive information. Many therapists will work closely with a case worker to delegate specific tasks.

Family Therapist Requirements and Common Tasks

A family therapist requires a bachelor’s degree in social work. The type of degree, certificates and training requirements needed vary by state. However, most states require a master’s degree to become a licensed counselor. The specialty area a family therapist chooses often dictates what other type of education will be needed. Family therapists work in a variety of settings including schools, vocation services and rehabilitation services. Many therapists work as a caseworker or case manager to gain experience before becoming a therapist. These case manager jobs help family therapists learn to work in stressful situations before taking on clients of their own.

Family Therapist Salary and Career Outlook

Currently there are more job openings in family therapy than there are qualified graduates. This decrease in qualified applicants indicates the need for qualified family therapists will continue to grow. The average salary for a family therapist varies from $33,780 to $57,800. The difference in range is determined by which genre of employment the family therapist chooses. Generally, individuals in private practice and local healthcare offices make more money than those who work for the government or residential treatment facilities.

How to Become a Family Therapist

To become a family therapist a person must have a desire to help people, whether they are individuals, married couples or a small group. The therapists must be able to inspire trust within the group and teach others how to respect themselves and those around them. A bachelor’s degree in family therapy is necessary. If a therapist would like to specialize in one area, marriage counseling, school counseling or substance abuse counseling, a special certificate would be required. A master’s degree is required in most states to become a licensed counselor.