Marriage and Family Therapists use their skills and knowledge in counseling, therapy and psychology to help individuals (children, adolescents and adults), couples and families. Some therapists may focus on one person’s behavior and issues, while Marriage and Family Therapists consider the whole family and the dynamics within. Concepts like family development and roles within the family all affect the mental health of each individual member. Issues like self-esteem, stress, addiction and substance abuse are all influences on families, child development, relationships and more.
How do you become a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)?
MFT Education Required
Marriage and Family Therapists are part of the mental health team. The profession requires a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy followed by licensure in the state of practice.
Graduates of a marriage and family therapy program will be prepared to understand relationships between marital and family dysfunction and mental and emotional disorders, including such issues as chemical dependency, substance abuse, eating disorders, disorders of childhood and adolescence, and other forms of psychopathology that have contributed to the family’s or couple’s problems. It is rare today to treat either inpatients or outpatients without attention to the family and dynamics of the family system.
Within the marriage and family therapy graduate program at TUW, students may choose from three different tracks: non-clinical track MFT or MFT clinical tracks that lead to licensure as an LMFT or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC). The main difference among the different tracks is the number of practicum hours required to complete the degree. The LPCC track has additional required courses and practicum hours, as this track enables the student to meet the criteria to obtain dual licensing as both an LMFT and LPCC.
Family Therapist Skills
Marriage and Family Therapists need many skills related to communication. Listening skills are essential for success in this field. These therapists must give their full attention to their clients in order to understand their problems and issues and make better treatment decisions. Therapists must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with clients of all backgrounds and ages.
Other skills like organization and compassion are important as well. Compassion is needed because therapists work with people who are often in difficult or stressful situations. Empathy is needed in these environments. Organizational skills help with keeping good patient records, payments, and other administrative tasks.
MFT Career Growth
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupational outlook for mental health counselors, in general, is excellent, with job growth expected to be 20 percent by 2024. That is much faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth for Marriage and Family Therapists specifically is expected to be 15 percent by 2024.
Family Therapist Salary
The average salary for Marriage and Family Therapists is $48,600 a year. Those who work in state and local government can make up to $69,700 annually.