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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

  • $42,500

    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 Jobs

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Family Therapist Career Paths

Family Therapist
Clinical Social Worker Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director Case Manager
Career Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Clinician Program Director Educator
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Behavioral Specialist Mental Health Counselor Social Worker
Clinical Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Therapist Program Director
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinician
Clinical Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
Program Director Educator Case Manager
Director Of Case Management
11 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Social Worker
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Mental Health Counselor Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
7 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Education Director Case Manager
Family Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Medical Social Worker Career Manager
Geriatric Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Human Resources Generalist Case Manager
Mental Health Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Program Director Specialist Case Manager
Senior Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Behavioral Specialist Social Worker
Social Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Outpatient Physical Therapist Clinician Medical Social Worker
Social Work Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Outpatient Physical Therapist Clinical Social Worker
Social Work Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Instructor Case Manager Child Protective Investigator
Targeted Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Clinical Social Worker Director Of Social Services Therapist
Therapist And Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Family Therapist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Family Therapist 3.0 years
Clinical Therapist 2.9 years
Lead Therapist 2.9 years
Therapist 2.7 years
Play Therapist 2.4 years
Primary Therapist 2.3 years
Family Counselor 2.3 years
Health Therapist 2.3 years
In Home Therapist 2.1 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 15.6%
Therapist 12.6%
Counselor 8.6%
Clinician 3.7%
Volunteer 2.9%
Supervisor 2.6%
Teacher 2.3%
Top Employers After
Therapist 17.2%
Clinician 6.9%
Counselor 5.8%
Internship 3.1%
Supervisor 2.9%

Do you work as a Family Therapist?

Family Therapist Demographics

Gender

Female

73.1%

Male

24.7%

Unknown

2.2%
Ethnicity

White

65.4%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

10.6%

Asian

7.1%

Unknown

3.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

75.0%

French

7.3%

Russian

2.4%

Hindi

1.6%

Hebrew

1.6%

Urdu

1.6%

Swedish

0.8%

Portuguese

0.8%

Indonesian

0.8%

Chinese

0.8%

Mandarin

0.8%

Ukrainian

0.8%

German

0.8%

Japanese

0.8%

Greek

0.8%

Persian

0.8%

Arabic

0.8%

Italian

0.8%

Cebuano

0.8%
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Family Therapist Education

Schools

Capella University

10.3%

Liberty University

7.6%

Nova Southeastern University

5.7%

Howard University

5.5%

New York University

5.0%

University of Pittsburgh -

5.0%

Fordham University

4.8%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

4.8%

University of Louisville

4.8%

University of Phoenix

4.8%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

4.8%

Walden University

4.6%

University of Denver

4.6%

Temple University

4.1%

Webster University

4.1%

Syracuse University

3.9%

Wayne State University

3.9%

University of Pennsylvania

3.9%

University of Georgia

3.9%

Michigan State University

3.7%
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Majors

Social Work

26.8%

School Counseling

12.5%

Counseling Psychology

12.1%

Family Therapy

10.9%

Mental Health Counseling

8.9%

Psychology

7.0%

Clinical Psychology

6.4%

Education

2.5%

Criminal Justice

1.7%

Human Services

1.7%

Rehabilitation Science

1.6%

Sociology

1.4%

Human Development

1.2%

Business

1.2%

Educational Leadership

0.9%

Nursing

0.8%

Special Education

0.7%

Elementary Education

0.6%

Theology

0.6%

Physical Therapy

0.5%
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Degrees

Masters

72.4%

Bachelors

8.9%

Doctorate

8.0%

Other

7.5%

Certificate

2.2%

Associate

0.6%

License

0.3%

Diploma

0.1%
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Part Time
Internship
Temporary

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

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  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Crisis Intervention
  3. Group Therapy Sessions
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed treatment plans with realistic, concrete goals and objectives to promote stabilization and improve communication.
  • Provided crisis intervention, supervision, monitoring, assessment, documentation, and recommendations to families with at-risk adolescents.
  • Coordinated and scheduled all group therapy sessions to ensure ongoing therapeutic programming.
  • Performed clinical assessments of child welfare client families to make future treatment recommendations; assessed for appropriateness for family based services.
  • Utilized Solution-Focused Therapy and the Solution-Focused scale to assist families facing mental health issues and monitor client progress.

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