Do Marriage and Family Therapists have a lower than average divorce rate? Have you ever wondered if there was a link between divorce rates and your profession?
McCoy and Aamodt (2010) compiled the divorce rates for 449 occupations in the United States. They stated 16.96% reported that they “had been in a marital relationship, but were no longer with their spouse [separated or divorced]” (p. 3). This number is the average of each occupation’s average, which may account for the low number. The current employment status of the sample was not given.
The same study suggests that divorce rates were higher for occupations with higher numbers of African Americans and females, while rates were actually lower for occupations with higher numbers of Asian Americans and higher average incomes.
The top five highest divorce/separation rates by occupation were the following:
- “Dancers and choreographers” at 43.05%,
- “Bartenders” at 38.43%,
- “Massage therapists” at 38.22%,
- “Gaming cage workers” at 34.66%, and
- “Extruding and forming machine setters, operators, and tenders, synthetic and glass fibers” at 32.74%.
The five lowest divorced/separated rates reported by occupation are as follows:
- “Media and communication equipment workers, all other” at less than 1%,
- “Agricultural engineers” at 1.78%,
- “Optometrists” at 4.01%,
- “Transit and railroad police” at 5.26%,
- “Clergy” at 5.61%.
There was not a specific occupation listed as Marriage and Family Therapist in the same study, however, there were multiple occupations in which a Marriage and Family Therapist may fall. McCoy and Aamodt listed the occupation “Therapists, all other” as having a divorce/separation rate of 24.20%, “Sociologists” as 23.53%, “Social workers” as 23.16%, “Counselors” as 22.49%, “Miscellaneous social scientists and workers” as 19.65%, and “Psychologists” as 19.30%. Each one of these categories had a divorce/separation rate well above the national average for all occupations of 16.96%.
The specific goal of that study was to further investigate the divorce rates of police officers as compared to other occupations. The researchers did not speculate as to why the divorce/separation rates of those in the field of psychotherapy might be so much higher.
To all my Marriage and Family Therapist colleagues, why do you think our divorce rate is not better when compared to other professions? Should we not all be marriage rockstars?
Please read the next article in this series, Marriage & Family Therapy: Why Do Therapists Divorce?
- McCoy, S. P., & Aamodt, M. G. (2010). A comparison of law enforcement divorce rates with those of other occupations. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 25, 1-16.
*Courtney Stivers, PhD, earned her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, and she is licensed as Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Counselor in Arkansas. Additionally, she is an adjunct professor for Liberty University and has a passion for teaching family systems theory and professional issues.