Working as a child and family therapist requires graduate education, so students hoping to study family and child therapy online at the associate's level may want to instead consider more commonly available programs in psychology or human services.
Associate's programs include general education coursework and also cover some of the fundamentals to understanding family and child therapy. Graduates could use their college credits to transfer into a four-year bachelor's program in psychology, social work or human services, through which they might concentrate or minor in family and child therapy.
Community colleges and private online schools are the usual institutions that offer associate's programs in these fields of study. Many can be completed totally online, although some could have hybrid courses or internship requirements. Programs at this level can be completed in two years with full-time study.
Associate of Arts in Psychology
Online Associate of Arts in Psychology programs introduce learners to the basics of psychology, psychological theories and assessment tools. Students are given the opportunity to explore theoretical ways of working with individuals, families and groups in therapeutic settings. Although rare, some distance-learning associate's degree programs in psychology provide an emphasis in family studies.
Distance-learning associate's degree programs require students to fulfill general education requirements in math, science, English and liberal arts. Individuals enrolled in an online program encounter introductory courses, including the following:
- Foundations of Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Social Psychology
- Assessment Methods
Associate of Arts in Human Services
Online Associate of Arts in Human Services programs introduce students to the core of social work. Students are exposed to topics in social welfare, community service and psychology. They gain understanding in working with a broad group of people, including families and children. Some programs require an internship in a social services agency, which often utilize local preceptors who report back to the student's instructors on his or her progress.
As with an associate's-level psychology degree program, human services programs require majors to fulfill general education coursework. Common topics within a human services major cover development therapy for children, adults and the elderly. Major coursework introduces students to the field of human services and social work, with courses such as:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Sociology
- Developmental Psychology in Children
- Disabilities in Childhood
- Working with Families and Individuals
- Grief Coping Methods
Information and Requirements
Distance learners pursuing an online associate's degree in psychology or human services have flexibility in completing their coursework. Although they have to stick to class due dates, students can explore lectures and work on assignments at a time that's convenient for them by logging on to schools' virtual classrooms. Distance learning programs may call for online discussions with instructors and peers, which occur via Web chats, audio- or videoconferencing, message boards or e-mail.
While degrees at the associate level aren't sufficient for those looking to become child and family therapists, they do provide an introduction to the field of child psychology. Programs at this level are typically found online as associate's degrees in psychology or human services.