A frustrated couple considering divorce talks with a therapist.

Divorce Rates and Need for Marriage and Family Therapists

Divorce rates have declined in recent years, but the chances of ending up in a divorce remain high, especially for couples in the United States. For those considering a divorce or families dealing with a divorce’s aftermath, marriage and family therapists can play a crucial role in helping all involved deal with the complex emotions and behavior that often arise post-divorce.

According to World Population Review, in the U.S., between 35% and 50% of first-time marriages end in divorce, increasing to about 60% for second marriages and more than 70% for any marriages after the second. This gives the U.S. one of the highest divorce rates in the world. 

Professionals who earn a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) are essential in supporting couples considering divorce or are recently divorced. This includes support for individuals, couples, and entire families.

Divorce Rates Down for Some, Up for Others

In recent years, the U.S. has seen a decline in both marriage and divorce rates. From 2011 to 2021, the marriage rate decreased from 16.3 to 14.9 marriages per 1,000 women aged 15 and over, while the divorce rate fell from 9.7 to 6.9 per 1,000 women in the same age group. Despite these decreases, certain states like Arkansas, Idaho, and Florida have seen higher divorce rates.

This decline in divorce rates could be attributed to various socio-economic factors, including changes in societal norms that favor cohabitation or delaying marriage until older. Additionally, economic considerations, particularly following the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, have played a role in reducing divorce rates as couples may choose to stay together due to financial necessity or uncertainty.

Despite the overall decline, divorce rates have increased for older Americans. The divorce rate among adults ages 50 and older has surged upward. “Divor“e is still more common among younger people, with roughly two-thirds occurring among the under-50 crowd, but the change is nevertheless significant. In 1990, 8.7% of all divorces in the United States occurred among adults 50 and older. By 2019, that percentage had grown to 36%,” according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

How Marriage and Family Therapists Can Help Those Considering Divorce

If a couple is considering a divorce, an MFT can help them sort through their complex emotions and make the best decision possible. One of the primary ways MFTs assist is by improving communication between partners. They provide a safe, neutral environment where each person can express their feelings and thoughts without judgment. This improved communication can often help resolve misunderstandings and enable couples to understand each other’s perspectives better.

MFTs can also help identify the root causes of marital dissatisfaction. This might include issues like infidelity, financial stress, or differences in parenting styles. By addressing these underlying problems, therapy can provide couples with the tools to make informed decisions about their relationship. 

For couples uncertain about whether to proceed with a divorce, MFTs can help explore all the options. This may involve discussing the potential outcomes of staying together or separating and what each scenario could look like for the family.

How Marriage and Family Therapists Can Help Families After a Divorce

After a divorce, a family therapist can play a critical role in helping the family navigate the complex emotional and practical changes that follow. Divorce can trigger a range of emotions for all family members, including grief, anger, confusion, and relief. A family therapist provides a safe space for each family member to express and process these feelings.

One of the most crucial roles for therapists post-divorce is helping parents establish a healthy co-parenting relationship. They can offer strategies and guidance on maintaining consistency, effective communication, and conflict resolution between parents, which is essential for children’s emotional stability. 

Divorce changes a family’s structure, and a therapist can help redefine roles and expectations. This involves helping family members understand their new roles and how to interact within the new family setup. Therapists can also help set up the boundaries that are required post-divorce for those with extended families.

The need for MFTs is reflected in federal data that shows a projected 15% increase in the number of marriage and family therapists over the next decade. That’s far faster than the 3% increase projected for all jobs.

Touro University Worldwide created its MFT and Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy programs with this projected growth in mind. TUW graduates will enter the field with the skills they need to succeed and the tools necessary to help families in need. Upon graduation, they will have the qualifications to locate a job and excel in the field.

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