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Become A Family Counselor

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Working As A Family Counselor

  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $41,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Family Counselor Do

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and other relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Duties

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists typically do the following:

  • Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
  • Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes in their life, such as divorce and layoffs
  • Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future
  • Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behavior and to cope with difficult situations
  • Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment facilities

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Many apply cognitive behavioral therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and teaches how to replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones. Furthermore, mental health counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach clients to eliminate unwanted and damaging behaviors and to replace them with more productive ones.

Although some disorders can be overcome, others need to be managed. With the latter, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help the client develop strategies and skills to minimize the effects of their disorders or illnesses.

Many mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.

Mental health counselors provide treatment to individuals, families, couples, and groups. Some work with specific populations, such as the elderly, college students, or children. Mental health counselors deal with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress, and suicidal impulses. They also help with mental and emotional health issues and relationship problems. 

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. Unlike other types of mental health professionals, they bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. They evaluate family roles and development, to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health. They treat the clients’ relationships, not just the clients themselves. They address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction, and substance abuse.

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychiatrists and social workers.

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How To Become A Family Counselor

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are typically required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.

Education

To become a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist, applicants typically need a master’s degree in psychology, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s program.

Counseling programs prepare students to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and to use effective counseling strategies. Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.

Many employers prefer to hire counselors who have graduated from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.

Training

Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In training, they learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions, under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

Licenses

All states require mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to be licensed in the state in which they practice. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In addition, counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Contact information for state boards regulating mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Counselors and therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different types of people is essential for counselors and therapists. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, both of whom need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.

Organizational skills. Good organizational skills are especially important for counselors and therapists in private practice, who must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.

Speaking skills. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express ideas and information in a way that clients can understand easily.

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Family Counselor Career Paths

Family Counselor
Therapist Case Manager
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinician Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Therapist Case Manager Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Senior Technician Specialist Nursing Director
Director Of Health Services
10 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Supervisor Program Director
Director Community Programs
7 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Licensed Professional Counselor Adjunct Professor Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Case Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Program Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Office Manager House Manager
Housing Director
6 Yearsyrs
Licensed Professional Counselor Adjunct Professor Nurse Manager
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Unit Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Group Facilitator Addictions Counselor House Manager
Housing Program Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Professional Service Provider Integrator
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Family Therapist Psychotherapist Social Work Case Manager
Geriatric Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Faculty Pastor Family Service Counselor
Family Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Juvenile Counselor 3.2 years
Family Therapist 2.7 years
Work Counselor 2.7 years
Primary Counselor 2.5 years
Family Specialist 2.4 years
Family Consultant 2.3 years
Group Counselor 2.1 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Crisis Counselor 2.0 years
Family Counselor 2.0 years
Top Careers Before Family Counselor
Internship 13.8%
Counselor 11.5%
Therapist 8.3%
Teacher 3.8%
Clinician 3.7%
Volunteer 3.4%
Supervisor 2.4%
Top Careers After Family Counselor
Therapist 10.6%
Case Manager 10.3%
Counselor 9.5%
Clinician 6.5%
Internship 5.2%
Supervisor 3.0%
Teacher 2.9%
Consultant 2.6%

Do you work as a Family Counselor?

Average Yearly Salary
$41,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$25,000
Min 10%
$41,000
Median 50%
$41,000
Median 50%
$41,000
Median 50%
$41,000
Median 50%
$41,000
Median 50%
$41,000
Median 50%
$41,000
Median 50%
$67,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
NATIONAL MENTOR HOLDINGS, INC.
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.4 years
How much does a Family Counselor make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Family Counselor in the United States is $41,092 per year or $20 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $25,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $67,000.

Real Family Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Pastoral Youth and Family Counselor New Vision Youth Community Center Irving, TX Sep 14, 2016 $49,045
Individual and Family Counselor Family Insight, PC Roanoke, VA Jul 10, 2013 $46,874
Msw/Ma-Level Family Counselor SCO Family of Services New York, NY Feb 13, 2014 $44,840
Bilingual Family Counselor Lincoln Child Center Oakland, CA Jan 10, 2011 $44,346 -
$74,000
Msw/Ma-Level Family Counselor SCO Family of Services New York, NY Apr 09, 2011 $42,000
Msw/Ma-Level Family Counselor SCO Family of Services New York, NY Jun 22, 2012 $41,200
Family Counselor SCO Family of Services New York, NY Aug 10, 2011 $41,000
Family Counselor SCO Family of Services New York, NY Oct 01, 2012 $40,000
Msw/Ma-Level Family Counselor SCO Family of Services New York, NY Jun 22, 2009 $40,000
Family Counselor The Aleph Institute, Inc. Surfside, FL Oct 20, 2010 $37,200
Family Counselor Youth Villages Arlington, VA Apr 29, 2008 $37,000 -
$41,000
Family Support Counselor Y.O.U. Inc. Worcester, MA Apr 03, 2011 $35,000
Family Support Counselor Y.O.U. Inc. Worcester, MA Sep 15, 2011 $35,000
Youth and Family Counselor Omni Youth Services Buffalo Grove, IL Oct 01, 2011 $35,000
Christian Family Counselor Saenuree Alliance Church, Inc. Palisades Park, NJ Mar 01, 2010 $34,916
Family Counselor Serenity Mental Health, LLC. Carson City, NV Sep 09, 2014 $33,363
Family Support Counselor Kids In Distress, Inc. Wilton Manors, FL Jun 12, 2010 $31,270

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Top Skills for A Family Counselor

  1. Group Therapy Sessions
  2. Crisis Intervention
  3. Child Abuse
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Provided individual and family counseling Facilitated educational and group therapy sessions Advocated for individuals in court.
  • Administer direct services such as case management, crisis intervention and individual and family clinical assessments.
  • Provided Structural Family Therapy to court ordered child abuse/neglect families in their home environment.
  • Documented accurate family session notes, developed Individualized Treatment Plans, wrote narrative summaries for Medicaid approval and extensions.
  • Participated in resources fairs to educate students and community about available mental health services.

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Top 10 Best States for Family Counselors

  1. Maine
  2. Hawaii
  3. New Jersey
  4. Alaska
  5. Wyoming
  6. Nevada
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. Idaho
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Georgia
  • (64 jobs)
  • (42 jobs)
  • (297 jobs)
  • (29 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (118 jobs)
  • (437 jobs)
  • (60 jobs)
  • (802 jobs)
  • (170 jobs)

Family Counselor Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 4,087 Family Counselor resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Family Counselor Resume

View Resume Examples

Family Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

63.6%

Male

23.1%

Unknown

13.3%
Ethnicity

White

62.6%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Black or African American

12.1%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.9%

Portuguese

3.8%

French

3.3%

Italian

3.3%

Russian

2.7%

Belarusian

2.2%

Japanese

1.6%

Polish

1.6%

Vietnamese

1.1%

Mandarin

1.1%

Braille

1.1%

Chinese

1.1%

German

1.1%

Dakota

1.1%

Arabic

1.1%

Korean

0.5%

Ukrainian

0.5%

Malay

0.5%

Bengali

0.5%

Tamil

0.5%
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Family Counselor Education

Schools

Capella University

11.1%

University of Phoenix

9.5%

Liberty University

9.2%

Webster University

6.1%

Nova Southeastern University

6.0%

Walden University

5.8%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.8%

New York University

4.4%

University of Southern Maine

4.1%

Florida State University

3.9%

Arizona State University

3.7%

Troy University

3.7%

University of Maine

3.7%

Wayne State University

3.6%

Barry University

3.6%

University of Central Florida

3.6%

University of Florida

3.4%

University of South Florida

3.2%

Fordham University

3.2%

Norfolk State University

3.2%
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Majors

Social Work

21.7%

Psychology

12.1%

School Counseling

11.3%

Counseling Psychology

8.7%

Mental Health Counseling

7.6%

Family Therapy

6.5%

Business

4.3%

Criminal Justice

4.0%

Clinical Psychology

3.4%

Education

3.2%

Human Services

3.2%

Sociology

2.9%

Educational Leadership

1.7%

Rehabilitation Science

1.7%

Human Development

1.6%

Nursing

1.5%

Theology

1.5%

Human Resources Management

1.1%

Liberal Arts

0.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.9%
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Degrees

Masters

55.7%

Bachelors

22.4%

Other

10.7%

Doctorate

5.1%

Associate

2.9%

Certificate

2.5%

License

0.4%

Diploma

0.3%
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