To work as a marriage and family therapist, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- have a bachelor's degree or significant course work in psychology, sociology, or social work;
- have a master's degree in marriage and family therapy;
- complete an internship; and
- pass a state licensing exam.
Education after high school
You must have a master's degree in marriage and family therapy to work in this field. Several colleges and universities offer graduate programs in marriage and family therapy or counseling. For your bachelor's degree, you should take courses in social work, psychology, sociology, and statistics. Majoring in one of these fields, especially psychology, is a good idea.
In marriage and family therapy programs, you take courses in therapy techniques, human psychological development, social research methods, and statistics. You also learn how to counsel individuals (both adults and children) and families and how to identify specific behaviors and problems. Master's degree programs take two years to complete.
Part-time or volunteer work at a social service agency is good background for this occupation.
Marriage and family therapist students complete an internship while in school. As an intern, you work with clients and an experienced therapist supervises your work. Internships last from one to two years depending on the degree you are earning. An internship is usually required to become a licensed therapist.
Employers often provide training to new marriage and family therapists. You often work with an experienced therapist for a period of time before receiving your own caseload. You learn agency procedures, forms, and patient management. This type of supervision may last for up to one year.