Marriage Counseling Certifications and Certificate Programs

Educational certificates in marriage and family therapy usually are awarded at the graduate level. Learn about these certificates, as well as information about careers and continuing your education with a doctorate.

Essential Information

Marriage counseling certificate programs are designed for individuals with master's degrees in counseling or related mental health fields who wish to become licensed marriage and family therapists. These professionals help clients to constructively resolve family or marital disputes, and they assist clients in coping with family members who suffer from mental illnesses or drug or alcohol problems.

Graduate certificate programs in this field typically cover theories and practices of family and marriage counseling, including methods to help clients develop effective communication skills. Many programs take a holistic approach to counseling, focusing on both the individual and the family unit. Certificate programs that meet state licensure requirements typically include supervised practicums or internships, in addition to coursework.

In addition to a master's degree, some programs require students to have prior clinical experience.

Marriage Counselor Certificates

Marriage and family therapy certificate programs prepare students to counsel couples, children, adolescents, and the elderly. These programs cover psychological and sociological theories relevant to relationships. Courses commonly offered through certificate programs in marriage and family therapy include the following:

  • Couples therapy
  • Family dynamics
  • Developmental psychology
  • Human sexuality
  • Mediation techniques
  • Multicultural and ethical issues in counseling

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary of marriage and family therapists was $48,600 in May 2015. BLS projections indicated that employment of marriage and family therapists was expected to increase by 15% between 2014 and 2024.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates of marriage and family therapy certificate programs who aspire to work as supervisors, researchers or educators, or who want to enhance their skills as clinicians, might choose to continue their education in a doctoral program. Licensure rather than certification is required to practice as a marriage and family therapist. State licensure requirements vary; however, many states require passage of the Marital and Family Therapy National Exam, which is administered by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

In summary, students who want to begin work on a marriage counseling certificate should have a master's degree. Certificate programs that meet state licensure requirements tend to combine hands-on experience with coursework. Licensed individuals may work as marriage and family therapists or continue their education with a doctorate.

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