Graduate programs for those interested in family counseling are commonly offered as Master of Science or Arts programs in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling or Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). These two-year programs generally include lecture-based coursework and practical experience through a supervised internship.
In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree, preferably in a related field and usually with a minimum GPA of 2.75 to 3.0. Students may also be required to attend an interview and submit GRE scores, letters of reference, and a statement of purpose.
Master's Degree in Family Counseling
In a family therapy master's degree program, students learn to assess and treat psychological issues affecting patients of various age groups and cultural backgrounds. They also study theories of development and psychopathology, and they are trained to help patients work through issues such as spousal abuse, divorce, adultery and parenting. Additionally, students gain an understanding of the ethical and legal issues related to healthcare provision. In most family counseling master's degree programs, students gain hands-on experience by completing approximately 100 hours of supervised patient counseling and 500 hours of supervised clinical training. Common course titles include:
- Analysis of family relations
- Addictions within families
- Sexuality and couples counseling
- Issues in pre-adolescent children
- Counseling teenagers
- Research methods and applications
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicted that employment of marriage and family therapists would rise 15% from 2014-2024. As of 2015, marriage and family therapists earned a median annual wage of $48,600.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
In order to practice as a licensed counselor, graduates of a family counseling program must meet individual state qualifications, which usually include completion of a master's degree, two years of post-graduate supervised clinical experience and the passing of an exam. Family counselors can also apply for professional certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors (www.nbcc.org). Continuing education is typically required to maintain licensure and certification. Alternatively, graduates of a family counseling master's degree program may decide to pursue a related doctoral degree.
In summary, a master's degree in the field of family counseling provides the specific theoretical and practical training that aspiring family counselors need to earn licensure and start practicing in the field.