Life has been rather busy for us lately, and I have finally found a few minutes to get back to writing again. The U.S. World News & World Report wrote that by 2022, the occupation of marriage and family therapy will grow by 30.6 percent, and this is significantly faster than the average for all other occupations. It also ranks marriage and family therapy as #16 of best jobs in healthcare and #35 of the best 100 jobs. Wow!
Recently, I have been thinking about was advice I would give to someone considering becoming a marriage and family therapist. You will need a masters level graduate degree. Here is what I came up with:
#1 Stage of Life
It is important to consider where you are in life when starting such an intense and personal degree. If you are experiencing a major life change, it might not be a good idea to start any new degree right now.
#2 Just Go to Therapy
If you want to get this degree only to fix yourself, your marriage, or your family, please go to counseling. It is much cheaper in the long run. Though marriage and family therapists experience tremendous personal growth during their training, you need to have a greater motivation to make it a satisfying career.
Can you afford graduate school? Do you have huge student loans? I would recommend taking as few loans as possible (or none at all) because you are not likely to make a great deal of money in this field. If you want to just make money, do something else.
#4 Be Prepared to Grow
You will likely learn and develop as a person and professional as you work toward a degree in marriage and family therapy. This can be exciting, painful, overwhelming, and even fun. If you want to ignore our own problems, this is not the career path for you.
#5 Research Marriage and Family Therapy
Make sure you know what marriage and family therapists actually do. I remember when first applying to graduate school thinking I could just do premarital counseling and work with “happy couples.” I was very fortunate to soon learn the many places that marriage and family therapists work and clientele they can treat. This article will tell you more.
#6 Interview a Marriage and Family Therapist
One of my favorite assignments from a professional issues and ethics class that I taught was to interview a practicing marriage and family therapist. This gave the students an opportunity to hear the good and bad of different people’s experiences.
#7 Program Accreditation
Make sure when you are choosing a school that you look into how they are accredited. There are many states with specific requirements (such as AAMFT, CACREP, CORE, etc.) and this might limit some of your options in the future if they do not meet certain standards.
#8 Know Your State
Right now, every state has a marriage and family therapist licensure, but they do not have the same requirements. Be doubly certain that you are starting a program that meets the requirements for the state (or states) that you would like to live in. I have had several seasoned therapist friends who had to take additional classes before receiving their license in a new state. This can make finding a job quite difficult.
I hope you are not discouraged by this post, but I wanted to be honest about some important items to consider. You can read about the many benefits of being a marriage and family therapist here.
There were just a few of the items I thought would be helpful to know. To our counseling professionals, what else do they need to know?