Job Universe: Marriage Counselor

Marriage and family therapists will experience growth of 30 percent.

  • The job: Marriage and family therapists apply family systems theory, principles, and techniques to individuals, families, and couples to resolve emotional conflicts. In doing so, they modify people's perceptions and behaviors, enhance communication and understanding among family members, and help to prevent family and individual crises. Marriage and family therapists also may engage in psychotherapy of a nonmedical nature, make appropriate referrals to psychiatric resources, perform research, and teach courses about human development and interpersonal relationships. Marriage and family therapists often work flexible hours to accommodate families in crisis or working couples who must have evening or weekend appointments.
  • Outlook: Marriage and family therapists will experience growth of 30 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This is due in part to an increased recognition of the field. It is more common for people to seek help for their marital and family problems now than it was in the past.
  • Experience: Education requirements vary based on occupational specialty and state licensure and certification requirements. A master's degree is usually necessary for licensing as a counselor. Some states require counselors in public employment to have a master's degree; others accept a bachelor's degree with appropriate counseling courses. People interested in counseling should have a strong desire to help others and should be able to inspire respect, trust, and confidence.
  • The not-so-good: Counselors must possess high physical and emotional energy to handle the array of problems that they address. Dealing daily with these problems can cause stress.
  • Pay: Median annual wage and salary earnings of marriage and family therapists in May 2006 were $43,210. Self-employed counselors who have well-established practices, as well as counselors employed in group practices, usually have the highest earnings.

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This information is from the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.