Family counselors use therapeutic techniques to assist couples, families and individuals who have a variety of interpersonal or mental health issues. The focus of family counseling is to improve communication, manage stress and modify behavior. Individuals who choose to specialize in family counseling must typically possess a graduate degree.
Bachelor's Degree in Family Counseling
A bachelor's degree program in family counseling is designed to prepare students to provide therapeutic services to patients in individual or group settings. Students might also learn how to analyze psychological conditions and discern treatment options.
Course topics may include patient assessment, research methodology, interpersonal communication and conflict management. In addition to coursework, students complete experiential training through an internship or counseling practicum. Enrollees may also study:
- Psychology and sociology
- Group dynamics
- Child development
- Marriage and family therapy
- Counseling ethics
Continuing Education Information
After completing a bachelor's degree in counseling, most individuals continue their clinical training for two years. Although a bachelor's degree provides the foundational education for entry into the counseling field, many employment opportunities require a master's or doctoral degree to practice. Areas of further study include psychology, social work, family therapy and counseling.
Those seeking advanced positions may pursue a graduate degree from a school accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Counseling certification and licensing opportunities vary by state; private organizations may also offer national registration.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for licensed family counselors is expected to be good due to growing demand for professionals in this field. In 2015, the BLS listed the median annual salary for marriage and family therapists, a category which includes family counselors, as $48,600. Additional employment prospects for those with a background in counseling include parent education, family ministries, mental health administration and family life education.
Family counseling bachelor's degree students will learn how best to support and help family units, whether in individual or in group settings. Over the course of their programs, students will learn about many different counseling and conflict resolution techniques, although they may need to seek further education in the form of graduate degrees in order to practice.