Do you have a desire to enter the world of psychology? Do you think that you have a lot to contribute to the couples and family units who are in need of counseling? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then you should pursue a career path in marriage and family therapy. Family therapy, which is commonly referred to as family systems therapy, family counseling, or couple and family therapy, is a branch of psychotherapy. This branch will have you working with couples or families to nurture change and development in their intimate relationships. In your role as a family therapist you will likely emphasize family relationships and view the necessary changes with relation to the interactions that take place between family members.
Family therapists work within a common belief that no matter whether the entire family has a problem or if an individual family member has an issue, the entire family unit will benefit from all family members being actively involved in the therapy process. It will be important that you have effective communication skills that will allow you to encourage growth, support, and wisdom of the entire family unit. It is critical to understand that recent changes in our society as to what is defined as a family will require you to work with family systems that are atypical and that may not solely contain individuals who are blood relatives.
As you work as a marriage and family therapist you will likely employ a wide range of counseling techniques and methods. It is common for you to use therapeutic practices such as: psychotherapy, communication theories, media and communications psychology, relationship education, systemic coaching, systems theory, psychoeducation, reality therapy, systems therapy, or attachment focused family therapy. Although the specific number of therapy sessions will vary from one patient to another, it is most common to conduct between five and twenty therapy sessions. It is also common for family therapists to involve several family members in one therapy session.
This encourages members of the family to work through any differences they are dealing with, to interact with each other on a positive level, and to work on how family members perceive one another. Keep in mind, in your capacity as a family therapist you will be focusing your attention on the patterns of relationships as opposed to impulses that individual family members act on, which causes other events to occur.
In most states within the United States, a marriage and family therapist must have a minimum of a master’s degree. You should also expect to be required to complete an internship under the direct supervision of a more experienced therapist before you take your licensure examination. Typically, you should expect to be required to complete about 3,000 hours of supervised intern work before you will be eligible to sit for the licensing exam. As with many other psychology related licensure requirements, each state identifies their own. You will want to check into what is required by the state that you reside in to ensure that you are following an appropriate career path.
Once you have completed your requirements and you are ready to work on your own and without any supervision, you will want to be sure that you are consistent in your morals, ethics, and advice to your patients. This is important because patients will usually seek out therapists who have similar beliefs, goals, and morals. If you have wavering beliefs then you may find it difficult to keep patients or have your patients make referrals for you.