Family Counseling Certificate and Diploma Programs

Learn about certificate and diploma programs in family counseling. Read about educational requirements, potential coursework and employment prospects upon completing a program.

Essential Information

Marriage and family counseling certificate and diploma programs are offered at the graduate level to students who hold a master's degree. Some schools allow applicants with a bachelor's degree to enroll; however, students earn a master's degree concurrent to the diploma or certificate. Certificate and diploma programs can vary in duration, taking 1-2 years. Students learn to help individuals, children and families cope with mental and emotional problems during practical field experiences, which comprise a large part of these programs. The coursework and practicums typically align with state requirements for licensure.

After graduation, students are eligible to earn professional certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors and Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Education Prerequisites

Applicants to post-graduate certificate programs in family counseling must first possess a master's degree in some other discipline, though the degree does not necessarily need to be related to counseling. Most programs also require a personal interview, official college transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume and a statement of interest.

Program Coursework

Roughly half to a third of any certificate program is comprised of supervised work as an intern, working directly with clients and other target groups. Certificate candidates study the roles of individuals in the family, how group dynamics affect marriages, couples counseling and working with children.

  • Family and marriage dynamics
  • Family counseling
  • Couples therapy
  • Counseling theory and technique
  • Family life cycle
  • Play therapy
  • Counseling for the older adult

Popular Career Options

With a graduate certificate in family counseling and marriage therapy, graduates may wish to enter private practice as an independent counselor. Graduates may also work in a wide variety of other social help agencies or organizations.

  • Family therapist
  • Child therapy specialist
  • Marriage counselor
  • Mental health worker

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

May 2012 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that annual median salaries for family and marriage therapists were $46,670. The BLS expected that these workers would have 41% job growth for the years 2010 through 2020, which is considered much faster than average.

Continuing Education Information

Though the curriculum for family counseling certificates is very similar from college to college, state licensure requirements may vary greatly; students are responsible for keeping abreast of current licensure requirements and any required continuing education. Graduates may also go on to earn doctoral degrees in mental health, family therapy, social work or psychology.

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