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Family Therapist Careers

Family therapists help couples and families resolve conflicts and learn how to communicate efficiently. They are responsible for treating marital problems and underlying issues that create problematic family dynamics. They conduct therapy sessions and mediate between spouses and family members towards a better understanding of each other.

Working in this position, you might have one-on-one or group sessions with your clients. You will deal with mental and psychological disorders, substance abuse and addiction, emotional and behavioral problems on a daily basis. It will be your job to assess your clients' situation and come up with efficient treatment plans to improve their relationships, self-esteem, and general well-being.

You must be licensed to practice this profession, and a degree in psychology or counseling is also a regular expectation of people filling this role. You must be an excellent communicator and listener, treat your patients with compassion, and have the ability to help them understand themselves and their world better, without judgment. If you succeed, you can earn a comfortable living with annual salaries averaging around $38,000.

What Does a Family Therapist 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.

How To Become a Family Therapist

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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Average Salary
$47,413
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
22%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
58,648
Job Openings

Family Therapist Career Paths

Top Careers Before Family Therapist

Therapist
12.1 %

Top Careers After Family Therapist

Therapist
19.2 %

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Average Salary for a Family Therapist

Family Therapists in America make an average salary of $47,413 per year or $23 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $63,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $35,000 per year.
Average Salary
$47,413

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Chicago, IL
Salary Range44k - 69k$56k$55,915
New York, NY
Salary Range45k - 65k$55k$54,735
Milwaukee, WI
Salary Range42k - 66k$53k$53,180
Pittsburgh, PA
Salary Range42k - 64k$52k$52,235
Newark, DE
Salary Range42k - 62k$51k$51,356
New Haven, CT
Salary Range42k - 60k$51k$50,840
$31k
$69k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Socio-Therapist Treatment Family Foster Care Bronx, NY, US
Socio-Therapist Treatment Family Foster Care Bronx, NY, US
Graham Windham
Graham Windham
01/26/2021
01/26/2021
$62,61001/26/2021
$62,610
Youth & Family Therapist-Bachelor's Level (FBH Clinician I)
Youth & Family Therapist-Bachelor's Level (FBH Clinician I)
Catholic Community Services of
Catholic Community Services of
01/25/2021
01/25/2021
$54,65901/25/2021
$54,659
Family Services Outpatient Therapist
Family Services Outpatient Therapist
Jefferson Center for Mental Health
Jefferson Center for Mental Health
01/25/2021
01/25/2021
$48,20001/25/2021
$48,200
Youth & Family Therapist-Master's Level (FBH Clinician III) (LCA)
Youth & Family Therapist-Master's Level (FBH Clinician III) (LCA)
Ccsww
Ccsww
01/23/2021
01/23/2021
$63,06301/23/2021
$63,063
Youth & Family Therapist-Master's Level (FBH Clinician III) (LCA)
Youth & Family Therapist-Master's Level (FBH Clinician III) (LCA)
Catholic Community Services
Catholic Community Services
01/23/2021
01/23/2021
$63,06301/23/2021
$63,063
See More Recent Salaries

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Family Therapist Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming a Family Therapist. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write a Family Therapist Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Family Therapist 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.

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Family Therapist Demographics

Gender

female

69.5 %

male

25.9 %

unknown

4.6 %

Ethnicity

White

76.4 %

Black or African American

10.2 %

Hispanic or Latino

8.4 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

72.7 %

French

7.2 %

German

3.1 %
See More Demographics

Family Therapist Education

Majors

Degrees

Masters

77.6 %

Bachelors

10.8 %

Doctorate

6.3 %

Top Colleges for Family Therapists

1. California State University - Long Beach

Long Beach, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$6,798
Enrollment
31,503

2. Hunter College of the City University of New York

New York, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,182
Enrollment
16,205

3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

4. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

5. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

7. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

8. SUNY at Albany

Albany, NY • Public

In-State Tuition
$10,011
Enrollment
13,434

9. San Jose State University

San Jose, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$7,796
Enrollment
27,125

10. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$59,430
Enrollment
8,216
See More Education Info
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Internship
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Top Skills For a Family Therapist

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 11.8% of family therapists listed treatment plans on their resume, but soft skills such as listening skills and speaking skills are important as well.

Best States For a Family Therapist

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a family therapist. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, West Virginia, Illinois, and New York. Family therapists make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $58,385. Whereas in West Virginia and Illinois, they would average $55,635 and $55,624, respectively. While family therapists would only make an average of $54,667 in New York, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Maine

Total Family Therapist Jobs:
495
Highest 10% Earn:
$70,000
Location Quotient:
1.87
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Pennsylvania

Total Family Therapist Jobs:
2,878
Highest 10% Earn:
$74,000
Location Quotient:
1.24
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. North Dakota

Total Family Therapist Jobs:
254
Highest 10% Earn:
$71,000
Location Quotient:
1.37
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Family Therapist Employers

1. NHS Human Services Inc
4.3
Avg. Salary: 
$46,212
Family Therapists Hired: 
42+
2. Youth Villages
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$47,007
Family Therapists Hired: 
38+
3. Catholic Charities USA
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$49,911
Family Therapists Hired: 
38+
4. Pressley Ridge
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$47,558
Family Therapists Hired: 
36+
5. Children's Aid Society
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$50,355
Family Therapists Hired: 
34+
6. Community Solutions
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$50,645
Family Therapists Hired: 
30+
Updated October 2, 2020