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Do I Need a Masters in Counseling to Be a Marriage Counselor?

Marriage counselors help couples, married or not, deal with conflicts and issues that can arise from being involved in a romantic relationship. If you are pursuing a Bachelor's in Psychology, you may be wondering if you need to earn your Master's degree in counseling before you can become a licensed therapist in your state. The basic answer to this question is yes, but you need to understand what education is actually required for licensure in your state before you enroll in a Master's degree program. Here is your straightforward guide to understanding which path you should take to become a Marriage and Family Therapist.

Minimum Educational Requirements to Become a Marriage Counselor

When you meet with your college counselor, you will quickly discover that you can take several different routes to make your way to the same destination. Some of these educational paths will open up new opportunities that other paths will not. On the other hand, some of the paths that you can travel will take longer to complete. This is what you need to keep in mind when you are comparing your options to become a marriage counselor.

The minimum educational requirement to apply for licensing to become a marriage and family therapist is a Master's degree. Professionals applying for licensing may possess a Master's degree in Psychology, Counseling, Family Therapy, or a related mental health field as long as the degree was obtained from an accredited facility approved by the Commission of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The Commission on Accreditation will accredit all of the Master's programs and even the doctoral programs in the United States to determine which programs teach the clinical skills and academic skills necessary to counsel couples. Anyone with dreams or aspirations to become a marriage counselor will need a Master's degree at a minimum to achieve their career goals.

Resource: Top 30 Most Accessible COAMFTE-Accredited Marriage and Family Therapy Master's Degrees 2014

Determining Which Educational Path is Appropriate for You

As a student, it is your responsibility to meet with a college counselor and discuss all of your options to become a marriage counselor. While a Master's degree is the minimal requirement to apply for a license to become a marriage counselor, this is not the right path for every person. Depending on your short-term and long-term goals, it may be in a student's better interests to pursue a doctorate. It will take a graduate student about 2 to 3 years to complete a graduate program, and about 3 to 5 years to complete a doctoral program. One of the major differences between the two is that students can enter a doctoral program immediately after completing the bachelor degree program. Master's programs require on-the-job experience as a training therapist before you can actually take the MFT licensing exam.

A Master's in Counseling or a graduate-level program with a focus in psychology will satisfy licensing requirements, but you must consider what your goals in the field are before you decide which route to take. Identify which route will lead you to the best opportunities and become the marriage counselor you have dreamed of becoming in a time where demand for these therapists are high in demand.

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