What Does a Marriage and Family Therapist Do?

Marriage and Family TherapistYou may have heard about marriage and family therapists; however, you also may wonder exactly what do marriage and family therapists do. There are various kinds of therapists that help people to work out their problems. Marriage and family therapists assist people in the closest of relational units to overcome the difficulties that may be plaguing them and keeping them from functioning optimally in their family unit. Here is an overview of the position and a bit of insight into the skills and characteristics required to become an effective group therapist.

About Marriage and Family Therapists

According to the US News and World Report, a marriage and family therapist meets with families or couples to help them identify problems, figure out triggers for these issues and discover measurable ways to overcome the difficulties. The counselor works most often with the family unit or couple, but each person can be seen individually in order to examine his or her own unique concerns, as well. There are a number of issues that groups may be facing such as child behavioral problems, depression, difficulty in communication, anger management or substance abuse. The therapist will evaluate and identify the issues with the clients and will develop a treatment plan to help address the presenting problems.

Personal Characteristics Needed

A key requirement of a good marriage and family therapist is the ability to communicate well. You’ll need to be able to talk to and relate to people of all ages from various social and economic backgrounds. You must also be a good listener, as well as possess a high degree of intuition and empathy. If you genuinely care about people, that will be evident to your clients. Keen intuition guides the counselor when determining which questions to ask and what direction to take the therapeutic interventions. Tact and tenacity are also good qualities to possess, as you will need to approach situations delicately, but be prepared to push through any discomfort or objections from your clients.

Educational Requirements

A typical educational requirement to become a marriage and family therapist is a Master’s degree in an educational program that is counseling based. Such programs include Social Work, Counseling and Psychology. You may also need to participate in a hands-on learning experience like a practicum or internship. Some states may have licensing requirements, as well. A Master’s program in counseling usually takes between two to three years and is compromised of subjects like child and adolescent psychology, therapeutic methods, group therapy, psychological theory and family systems. The internship component is ordinarily quite intensive, lasting at least a semester and sometimes longer.

Related Resource: Master’s in Mental Health Counseling

How Do You Know If It’s the Right Job For You?

If you think becoming a marriage and family therapist may be a good job for you, now’s the time to start some research. Visit your school’s career counselor who can administer career inventories to give you insight as to whether your skills and personality are a good fit for this kind of profession. You can also do some further reading and research on your own. The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a great deal of information on employment statistics and demographic insight into the field of counseling.

Being a therapist can be a very rewarding career. It can also be quite stressful, so it’s important to have an understanding of just what is involved in the job. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of just what does a marriage and family therapist do.