Master of Arts (MA): Marriage and Family Therapy Degree Overview

Marriage and family therapy master's degrees are designed to train students in psychotherapy as it pertains to familial relationships. Students are required to complete practica in order to graduate.

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Essential Information

A Master of Arts (M.A.) in Marriage and Family Therapy program explores the relational and systemic interactions between couples and families. Completing the program is the first step in attaining licensure to practice as a marriage and family therapist. Students can expect to participate in clinical training and fieldwork, alongside lecture-based courses in counseling techniques. Accredited online programs are available, but are rare to find.


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Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

A Master of Arts degree program in marriage and family therapy teaches students how to examine, assess and improve their clients' interpersonal relationships through psychotherapy. Students learn therapy fundamentals, such as recovery, wellness, collaborative treatment, systemic thinking and community mental health practice. Some common courses include:

  • Family dynamics
  • Psychopathology diagnosis
  • Law and ethics of therapy
  • Family violence
  • Substance abuse in the family
  • Cultural diversity

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for marriage and family therapists are expected to increase 15% between 2014 and 2024, a far faster than average rate (www.bls.gov). Helping fuel this growth rate is an increased willingness of insurance companies to offer reimbursement for this type of therapy. As of May 2015, marriage and family therapists earned an average salary of $53,520 per year, reports the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Most marriage and family therapy M.A. programs prepare students to become licensed marriage and family therapists based upon the standards set forth by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. All states require licensure to practice as a marriage and family therapist; however, licensure requirements vary for each state, reported the BLS. Typical licensure qualifications include having an approved master's degree, a minimum amount of supervised clinical training and a passing score on the state exam. Licensed marriage and family therapists may also need to follow professional and ethical practices and complete continuing education credits annually.

Graduates of an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy program can pursue their studies further by enrolling in a doctoral program. Doctoral students may conduct research studies, take more advanced courses and complete additional clinical training. Graduates can also enroll in post-graduate certificate programs that focus on transformative counseling, military families, youth and other specialties.

Students who earn a Master of Arts (MA) is Marriage and Family Therapy will be trained to give therapy to family and couples. In order to be a counselor, graduates must be licensed in their residing state.

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