Schools and Education
- A master’s degree in counseling or marriage and family therapy is usually required.
- A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enroll in a master’s degree program.
- Many schools provide master’s and doctoral degrees in marriage and family therapy. Many of these programs include field experiences and residencies.
Master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy are available online. Prospective students should find out if the online program includes field experiences and residencies. Online doctoral degrees in marriage and family therapy are also available.
What you study:
- Counseling theory and practice
- Research and evaluation in psychology
- Family therapy theories
- Adolescent psychology
- Group therapy
- Clinical applications of human development
- Human growth and development
- Marriage and family systems
What courses you’ll take
Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as a marriage and family therapy student.
|Marriage/Family Systems Fundamentals||Applies concept of marital and family lifecycles to consider the family as an interactive and changing system. Presents historical perspectives touching upon well-known models in the profession developed by Haley Satir Bowen and others. Topics include: application of systems theory to therapeutic interventions; communication frameworks; and traditional and non-traditional family structures.||Provide foundational knowledge and concepts for use in further advanced studies.|
|Theories of Marriage and Family Therapy||A review of major theories in use including: psychodynamic; structural; strategic; experiential and post modern. Theories are presented in the context of a systems dynamics framework. Other topics can include: verbal and nonverbal treatment techniques; family rules; interaction patterns; functional and dysfunctional families; and ethnicity considerations.||Teach the underlying theories that guide the creation of therapeutic treatments for specific patients.|
|Couple/Marital Therapy||Emphasizes basic skills for treating two people in a coupled relationship particularly in the early stages of their problems. Coursework covers: diagnosis; intervention; influences from each individual’s family; roles of emotion between the couple; special issues such as interracial or same-gender relationships; extramarital affairs; sexual dysfunction; alcoholism; and ethics.||Prepare students with the skills for treating couples.|
|Family Therapy||Focuses on building of skills for diagnosis and treatment of problems within a family system. Family problems reviewed include: suicide; child abuse; substance abuse; domestic violence; divorce; and incest.||Ready students with a set of skills for treating a diverse range of family problems.|
|Legal and Ethical Issues||Surveys the most common ethical and legal considerations family and marital therapists. Topics covered include: ethical standards; legal standards; risks; and professional credentialing.||Ready students to consider and address the legal and ethical issues they will face as full-time professionals.|
|Research in Marriage and Family Therapy||Reviews foundations of research in the field including: methodologies; design; statistics; data analysis; ethics; quantitative vs. qualitative research; and cultural factors as related to research practices.||Teach students how to understand critique and apply published research in the profession. Also prepare students to carry out their own research projects.|
|Practicum||Applies marital and family theories and techniques studied in the classroom to supervised application in the field typically at community mental health cnter or community agency. Sites are chosen to expose students to as much patient diversity as possible such as racial cultural ethnic and socioeconomic.||Give reality to classroom studies and give students the practice needed to prepare them for full-time positions as therapists.|
A brief introduction to marriage and family therapy careers. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.
Certifications and Licensing
Marriage and family therapist educational requirements vary depending on state licensure and certification requirements. Typically marriage and family therapy providers need a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or in counseling as well as two years or three thousand hours of supervised clinical experience.
Usually marriage and family therapy providers are required to pass state recognized exams. In some states counselors in public employment are required to have a master’s degree whereas some states require a bachelor’s degree with applicable counseling courses.
Full-time versus part-time: Marriage and family therapists usually work full-time. To accommodate their clients’ schedules they often work weekends and evenings.
Work location: Marriage and family therapists work in health clinics state government agencies local government agencies private practices outpatient care centers and hospitals. Many marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They usually have their own office.
- The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) focuses on increasing research understanding and education in the marriage and family therapy field as well as ensure the quality of training of marriage and family therapy providers. The organization’s Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education is a recognized accrediting agency providing accreditation for marriage and family therapist academic programs in the United States and Canada. Its directory of Marriage and Family training programs provides a list of accredited programs.
- The American Counseling Association (ACA) is dedicated to the growth and development of the counseling profession as well as those who are served. The ACA provides students an array of resources to help them prepare for a professional counseling career. The ACA assists students with their personal and professional growth. The American Counseling Association also provides networking opportunities. The ACA Conference & Expo offers a variety of networking and educational offerings. Students who attend the ACA Conference & Expo have opportunities to meet peers counselor educators authors and scholars.
- The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) website provides a state board directory as well as exam registration and state licensure information. The NBCC administers four national examinations. Three of its exams are utilized for national certification and state counselor licensure.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook — Created by the US Department of Labor this article on marriage and family therapy careers (and mental health counseling) gives a comprehensive summary using statistics and textbook-like descriptions.
Salaries by City
See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.
|State||City / Region||Typical Salary||Salary Range||Job Count||% of All Jobs|
|AL||Birmingham – Hoover||$44690||120||0.03%|
|AZ||Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale||$62620||150||0.01%|
|CA||Bakersfield – Delano||$45870||50||0.02%|
|CA||Hanford – Corcoran||$51980||60||0.15%|
|CA||Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)||$47790||2280||0.06%|
|CA||Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)||$56800||410||0.04%|
|CA||Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura||$51570||60||0.02%|
|CA||Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario||$50310||120||0.01%|
|CA||Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville||$31230||330||0.04%|
|CA||San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos||$46160||380||0.03%|
|CA||San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)||$56530||470||0.05%|
|CA||San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles||$40510||40||0.04%|
|CA||Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)||$53770||550||0.04%|
|CA||Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta||$63470||140||0.08%|
|CA||Santa Rosa – Petaluma||$55270||120||0.07%|
|CA||Visalia – Porterville||$58450||50||0.04%|
|CO||Denver – Aurora – Broomfield||$30680||230||0.02%|
|CO||Fort Collins – Loveland||$51420||N/A||N/A|
|CT||Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk||$55330||30||0.01%|
|CT||Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford||$42810||100||0.02%|
|DC||Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)||$55150||660||0.03%|
|DE||Wilmington (Metro Area)||$50730||220||0.07%|
|FL||Cape Coral – Fort Myers||$41840||80||0.04%|
|FL||Deltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach||$27750||N/A||N/A|
|FL||Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)||$48850||480||0.07%|
|FL||Lakeland – Winter Haven||$38330||N/A||N/A|
|FL||Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)||$51030||430||0.04%|
|FL||North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota||$50130||N/A||N/A|
|FL||Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford||$33920||140||0.01%|
|FL||Pensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent||$34510||60||0.04%|
|FL||Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater||$39120||260||0.02%|
|FL||West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)||$46290||80||0.02%|
|GA||Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta||$54910||N/A||N/A|
|IA||Davenport – Moline – Rock Island||$38110||30||0.02%|
|IA||Des Moines – West Des Moines||$36780||90||0.03%|
|IL||Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)||$38910||90||0.00%|
|IN||Gary (Metro Area)||$38570||N/A||N/A|
|IN||Indianapolis – Carmel||$37270||380||0.04%|
|KY||Louisville – Jefferson County||$29090||90||0.01%|
|LA||New Orleans – Metairie – Kenner||$37250||30||0.01%|
|MA||Boston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area)||$51560||550||0.03%|
|MA||Peabody (Metro Area)||$48760||N/A||N/A|
|MD||Baltimore – Towson||$47180||750||0.06%|
|MD||Bethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area)||$42200||120||0.02%|
|MD||Hagerstown – Martinsburg||$41630||80||0.08%|
|MI||Detroit – Livonia – Dearborn (Metro Area)||$49200||130||0.02%|
|MI||Warren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area)||$44640||50||0.00%|
|MN||Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington||$44740||690||0.04%|
|NE||Omaha – Council Bluffs||$36210||70||0.01%|
|NJ||Atlantic City – Hammonton||$68940||N/A||N/A|
|NJ||Edison – New Brunswick (Metro Area)||$65340||1350||0.14%|
|NJ||Newark – Union (Metro Area)||$67800||1130||0.12%|
|NJ||Trenton – Ewing||$68940||370||0.17%|
|NV||Las Vegas – Paradise||$52030||N/A||N/A|
|NV||Reno – Sparks||N/A||50||0.03%|
|NY||Albany – Schenectady – Troy||$28270||80||0.02%|
|NY||Buffalo – Niagara Falls||$36150||N/A||N/A|
|NY||Nassau – Suffolk (Metro Area)||$47990||N/A||N/A|
|NY||New York – White Plains – Wayne (Metro Area)||$57530||1580||0.03%|
|OH||Cincinnati – Middletown||$32870||70||0.01%|
|OH||Cleveland – Elyria – Mentor||$51840||150||0.01%|
|OH||Youngstown – Warren – Boardman||$53110||60||0.03%|
|OR||Eugene – Springfield||N/A||50||0.04%|
|OR||Portland – Vancouver – Hillsboro||$51750||550||0.05%|
|PA||Allentown – Bethlehem – Easton||$60440||110||0.03%|
|PA||Philadelphia (Metro Area)||$51,640||490||0.03%|
|PA||Scranton – Wilkes – Barre||$40,350||60||0.03%|
|RI||Providence – Fall River – Warwick||$59,430||N/A||N/A|
|TN||Kingsport – Bristol – Bristol||$28,890||N/A||N/A|
|TN||Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin||$34,780||220||0.03%|
|TX||Austin – Round Rock – San Marcos||$47,180||170||0.02%|
|TX||Dallas – Plano – Irving (Metro Area)||$39,780||N/A||N/A|
|TX||Fort Worth – Arlington (Metro Area)||$36,200||30||0.00%|
|TX||Houston – Sugar Land – Baytown||$47,240||200||0.01%|