Family counseling certificate and diploma programs, which can vary in duration from 1-2 years, teach students to help individuals, children and families cope with mental and emotional problems. Much of the learning occurs through practical experiences which comprise a large part of these programs, and some programs allow students to focus on a specific area of counseling like play therapy or elder counseling. The coursework and practica 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).
Applicants to post-graduate certificate programs in family counseling must first possess a master's degree, although the degree does not necessarily need to be related to counseling. Students are required to complete a personal interview, have official college transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of interest to apply for the program.
Certificate in Family Counseling
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. Common course topics include:
- Family and marriage dynamics
- Family counseling
- Couples therapy
- Counseling theory and technique
- Family life cycle
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, or go on to take jobs with such titles as family therapist, child therapy specialist, marriage counselor, and mental health worker.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
May 2015 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that the annual median salary for family and marriage therapists was $48,600. The BLS expected that these workers would see a 15% job growth for the years 2014 through 2024, 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.
A student earning a graduate-level family counseling certificate will complete internships as well as take coursework in topics like family counseling and couples therapy to prepare for their career. After completing this program, students should be prepared to earn state licensure and professional certification needed to work as family and marriage therapists.