The BLS states that the employment outlook for marriage and family therapists is excellent. The BLS projects that the job outlook for these therapists will continue to grow at 19 percent through the year 2024. Below explains why the employment outlook is good for this career, the degree details, program outcomes and how to become a licensed therapist.
There are different reasons why the employment outlook for a marriage and family therapist is good. First, national legislative changes have forced insurance providers and health care organizations to expand mental health services and increase coverage options. These laws include the Affordable Care Act, the Mental Health Parity Act and the Addiction Equity Act. Second, more and more psychology students are turning to specializations and graduate-level work for better employment stability and salaries.
Third, more and more family therapists are self-employed professionals who work in private or group practices. This type of collective career shift is occurring because society, businesses and the government recognize the important benefits of therapeutic counseling from well-trained professionals. Fourth, the traditional social stigmas and negative connotations associated with therapy are weakening as more couples openly seek assistance for working out family and marital problems.
A Prestigious Degree
A graduate-level degree in therapy or counseling will prepare graduates to provide counseling to individuals, couples and families from different backgrounds and life cycles. Students will be prepared to work in private, religious, community, institutional and health care settings. Most of these degree programs are rooted in the beliefs that individual, family and community health can be achieved through properly balancing social, emotional, physical and psychological needs and issues.
A marriage and family therapist must be able to understand clients through the lenses of psychology, humanism and medicine. They must be able to understand problems, interpret cultural cues, articulate feedback and provide treatment from scientific psychology principles. Although a marriage and family therapist may start out with the academic skills of a generalist professional, they often train to work with unique clients, diverse backgrounds and varied developmental stages.
A degree specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy should be approved by organizations like the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. These degrees will emphasize the practical applications of family therapy principles to diagnose and treat problems in human relationships. These degree programs will use intensive course work, clinical experience with clients and supervision by mentors.
Coursework may cover contemporary models of couple and family therapy, family systems theories and practices and clinical assessment and psychotherapy for families. Classes may teach students how to conduct assessments and implement interventions based on family dynamics. Students learn about the prevention and resolution of problems arising from unemployment, substance abuse, chronic illness, domestic violence and legal challenges. Case studies illustrate real-world scenarios in hospital, mental health and human service settings.
Degrees for marriage and family therapists should prepare students to sit for the national licensure exam, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), as well as state-level licensure exams to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).