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Become A Family Therapist

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Working As A Family Therapist

  • 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 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.

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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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Family Therapist Career Paths

Family Therapist
Therapist Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Therapist Case Manager Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Therapist Case Manager Program Director
Director Of Program Services
8 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Supervisor Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Clinician Team Leader Program Director
Director Community Programs
7 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Supervisor Clinical Manager
Manager Of Clinical Services
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Medical Social Worker Ambulatory Care Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Clinical Therapist Program Manager Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Coordinator Nurse Coordinator Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Medical Social Worker Ambulatory Care Coordinator Nurse Manager
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Nurse Manager Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Therapeutic Support Staff Lead Teacher Center Director
Community Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Behavioral Specialist Social Worker Mental Health Clinician
Mental Health Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Treatment Coordinator Medicaid Service Coordinator Integrator
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Psychotherapist Social Work Supervisor Social Work Case Manager
Geriatric Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
School Counselor Family Counselor Family Service Counselor
Family Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Family Therapist 3.0 years
Clinical Therapist 2.9 years
Family Worker 2.8 years
Therapist 2.7 years
Health Therapist 2.4 years
Group Therapist 2.4 years
Family Counselor 2.4 years
Family Specialist 2.4 years
Primary Therapist 2.3 years
Family Caseworker 2.3 years
In Home Therapist 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Family Therapist
Internship 15.8%
Therapist 12.7%
Counselor 8.4%
Clinician 3.6%
Volunteer 3.3%
Top Careers After Family Therapist
Therapist 17.7%
Clinician 7.6%
Counselor 5.8%
Internship 2.9%
Supervisor 2.8%
Consultant 2.8%

Do you work as a Family Therapist?

Family Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

64.7%

Male

22.2%

Unknown

13.1%
Ethnicity

White

65.5%

Hispanic or Latino

13.5%

Black or African American

11.0%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

72.7%

French

7.2%

German

3.1%

Russian

2.6%

Hebrew

2.1%

Portuguese

1.5%

Japanese

1.5%

Hindi

1.5%

Italian

1.5%

Urdu

1.0%

Swedish

0.5%

Indonesian

0.5%

Dutch

0.5%

Chinese

0.5%

Mandarin

0.5%

Greek

0.5%

Persian

0.5%

Cebuano

0.5%

Arabic

0.5%

Croatian

0.5%
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Family Therapist Education

Schools

Capella University

10.3%

Nova Southeastern University

8.9%

New York University

6.3%

University of Pittsburgh -

6.1%

Liberty University

5.7%

University of Phoenix

5.2%

Fordham University

4.9%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

4.6%

University of Denver

4.6%

Walden University

4.5%

Barry University

4.4%

Temple University

4.3%

Howard University

4.1%

Webster University

4.0%

University of Louisville

3.9%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

3.7%

University of Georgia

3.7%

Wayne State University

3.6%

Arizona State University

3.6%

Wilmington University

3.5%
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Majors

Social Work

27.9%

Family Therapy

11.8%

School Counseling

11.4%

Counseling Psychology

11.1%

Mental Health Counseling

9.6%

Psychology

7.6%

Clinical Psychology

5.8%

Education

2.3%

Human Services

2.0%

Criminal Justice

1.5%

Rehabilitation Science

1.4%

Human Development

1.3%

Business

1.2%

Sociology

1.2%

Educational Leadership

0.9%

Nursing

0.7%

Elementary Education

0.6%

Special Education

0.6%

Physical Therapy

0.6%

Human Resources Management

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

73.4%

Bachelors

8.7%

Other

7.2%

Doctorate

7.2%

Certificate

2.5%

Associate

0.5%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$41,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$27,000
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%
$62,000
Max 90%
Highest Paying City
Fort Worth, TX
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.7 years
How much does a Family Therapist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Family Therapist in the United States is $41,620 per year or $20 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $27,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $62,000.

Real Family Therapist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Family Therapist Glass & Associates, A Psychological Corporation CA Oct 02, 2009 $125,220
Family Therapist Ocala Physician Associates Ocala, FL Apr 05, 2012 $72,650
Family Therapist/Organizational Development Specia Central Iowa Psychological Services Ames, IA Sep 15, 2012 $60,000 -
$75,000
Family Therapist/Organizational Development Specia Central Iowa Psychological Services Ames, IA Sep 20, 2012 $60,000 -
$75,000
Family Preservation Therapist Griffith Centers for Children Westminster, CO Mar 23, 2010 $53,219 -
$26
Family Therapist Seneca Family of Agencies San Francisco, CA Aug 22, 2016 $50,000
Family Therapist Seneca Family of Agencies San Francisco, CA Jul 06, 2016 $50,000
Functional Family Therapist Strengthening Foundations Counseling LLC Longview, WA Dec 10, 2016 $48,630
Functional Family Therapist Strengthening Foundations Counseling LLC Longview, WA Dec 10, 2016 $48,040
Family Therapist Ujima Family Recovery Services San Pablo, CA Sep 15, 2014 $46,561
Family Therapist East Bay Family Institute Oakland, CA Jun 08, 2012 $46,300
Family Therapist Franklin & Associates Oakland, CA Feb 01, 2011 $45,184
Family Therapist Franklin & Associates Oakland, CA Feb 15, 2011 $45,100
Family and Marital Therapist University of Rochester Rochester, NY Feb 28, 2011 $43,375
Therapist II-Family Wesley Spectrum Services Greensburg, PA Nov 14, 2014 $36,998
Therapist II-Family Wesley Spectrum Services Greensburg, PA Feb 02, 2016 $36,400 -
$40,000
Family Therapist Ujima Family Recovery Services San Pablo, CA Sep 15, 2011 $36,189
Family Therapist Family Development and Intervention Services, Inc. Oklahoma City, OK Oct 01, 2012 $36,000
Marraige and Family Therapist Reinicke Counseling Associates San Diego, CA May 28, 2008 $35,479
Family Based Therapist NHS Human Services Kennett Square, PA May 01, 2012 $34,978

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Top Skills for A Family Therapist

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Crisis Intervention
  3. Substance Abuse
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Complete crisis plans, relapse prevention plans and individualized treatment plans focusing on recovery and protective capacities.
  • Provide in home intensive crisis intervention for families utilizing conflict mediation and solution focused and structural family therapy.
  • Provided family therapy to families of teenage substance abusers, parent education group, individual substance abuse counseling and crisis counseling.
  • Provide reflective supervision to developmental specialists that are working towards an infant mental health endorsement.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in the evidenced-based Functional Family Therapy model by providing in-home therapeutic services to families.

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Top 10 Best States for Family Therapists

  1. Maine
  2. Hawaii
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Alaska
  5. New Jersey
  6. Idaho
  7. Connecticut
  8. Colorado
  9. Utah
  10. Rhode Island
  • (40 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (407 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (157 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)
  • (136 jobs)
  • (116 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)
  • (35 jobs)

Top Family Therapist Employers

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