Marriage and Family Therapists

Career, Salary and Education Information

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Top 3 Marriage and Family Therapist Jobs

  • Therapist or Behavior Analyst - Adapt Behavioral Services - Saint Augustine, FL

    PAY: 1099 Contractor $35/hour (unlicensed) - $40-45/hour (licensed) - $45-$50/hour (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) paid weekly APPLY: Reply with

  • Psychologist - Life Skills Psychological Services - Cadillac, MI

    All candidates MUST be licensed by the State of Michigan: LP, LLP Preference will be given to psychotherapists with advanced training and experience

  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist - Department of Veterans Affairs - Washington, DC

    Readjustment Counseling Service (RCS) is a program of the Department of Veterans Affairs created to provide a broad range of psycho-social services

See all Marriage and Family Therapist jobs

What Marriage and Family Therapists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Marriage and family therapists help people manage problems with their family and other relationships.

Duties of Marriage and Family Therapists

Marriage and family therapists typically do the following:

  • 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
  • Complete and maintain confidential files and mandated records

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.

Many marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They must market their practice to prospective clients and work with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. 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.

Marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychologists and social workers.

Work Environment for Marriage and Family Therapists[About this section] [To Top]

Marriage and family therapists hold about 41,500 jobs. The largest employers of marriage and family therapists are as follows:

Individual and family services 28%
Outpatient care centers 15
Offices of other health practitioners 14
State government, excluding education and hospitals 13
Self-employed workers 8

Marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings, such as mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, and hospitals. They also work in private practice and in Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which are mental health programs that some employers provide to help employees deal with personal problems.

Marriage and Family Therapist Work Schedules

Marriage and family therapists generally work full time. Some therapists work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients' schedules.

How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Marriage and Family Therapists near you!

Marriage and family therapists are required to have a master's degree and a license to practice.

Education for Marriage and Family Therapists

To become a marriage and family therapist, applicants need a master's degree in psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor's degree in most fields is acceptable to enter one of these master's degree programs.

Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.

There are several organizations that accredit counseling programs, including the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), and the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).

Marriage and Family Therapist 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, Certifications, and Registrations for Marriage and Family Therapists

All states require marriage and family therapists to be licensed. 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, therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Important Qualities for Marriage and Family Therapists

Compassion. Marriage and family 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. Marriage and family therapists work with different types of people. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.

Listening skills. Marriage and family therapists need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.

Organizational skills. Marriage and family therapists in private practice must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.

Speaking skills. Marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express information in a way that clients can understand easily.

Marriage and Family Therapist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for marriage and family therapists is $49,170. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,600, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,960.

The median annual wages for marriage and family therapists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals $72,180
Outpatient care centers 48,900
Offices of other health practitioners 47,650
Individual and family services 44,560

Marriage and family therapists generally work full time. Some therapists work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients' schedules.

Job Outlook for Marriage and Family Therapists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 20 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected due to the increasing use of integrated care, which is a treatment of multiple problems at one time by a group of specialists. In providing integrated care, marriage and family therapists are working with counselors such as substance abuse, behavior disorder, or mental health counselors, to address patients' issues as a team.

Job Prospects for Marriage and Family Therapists

Job prospects are expected to be good for marriage and family therapists because of a combination of the projected increase in number of jobs over the next ten years and the expected need to fill jobs vacated by separating employees.

Employment projections data for Marriage and Family Therapists, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Marriage and family therapists 41,500 49,900 20 8,400


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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