A family and marriage counseling degree is a necessary option for many working individuals. It can also be a great career move into an area that provides stability in terms of both salary and potential for career advancement. There are some states that require individuals who obtain their education to be certified in this field, but licensure varies from state to state. For those who desire to obtain the necessary credentials and who reside in a non-reporting state, they can still apply for licensure through the accredited board. Either way, becoming licensed in this field shows a commitment to the field and an ability to successfully and efficiently serve others in need of sound advice in regards to marriage counseling.
Those wishing to become family counselors must pass a written examination administered by the State Board of License Counseling, or the ALFC. This examination covers all areas of mental health and family development, from pre-marriage counseling to family therapy and beyond. There are several different types of professional organizations that offer licensing exams to potential counselors, including the Marriage and Family Therapy Association, or MBTA. In order to participate in one of these programs, it is essential that you have completed your Master’s degree in mental health, social work, or a related discipline, before pursuing licensure.
Licensed marriage and family counseling counselors can also be found in some larger metropolitan areas, such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Tampa, and Orlando. In these cities, it is possible to find a large number of organizations that offer these types of services. Licensing examinations are administered in some of these larger cities each year, although the requirements and course work for each exam differs from year to year. It is often a good idea to get a general understanding of what the requirements are in your area before going in to begin training.
Marriage and family counseling degree programs are offered both online and in traditional classroom settings. While many students attend classes in either a traditional classroom setting or an online setting, others prefer to complete their training in the privacy of their own home. There are some very good accredited online marriage and family therapy degree programs available to students today. You will find that there are many excellent resources available to help you with all of your education, from the information provided on each individual counseling website to the accredited online schools that make up the MBTA.
Marriage and family counseling degree programs also require that candidates complete specialized courses in psychology, sociology, history of marriage and family issues, and other areas of counseling. Candidates who wish to pursue this career can expect to spend four years in school and at least two years of supervised clinical practice. The specific areas of focus for these programs are based upon the specific college or university that you choose. Many students go on to become full-fledged psychologists, while others choose to go on to teach in various settings, such as community colleges or vocational schools.
Another area of emphasis is that of the professional religious communities, as well as marriage and family counselors employed by the churches themselves. Pastoral counseling, similar to the psychological approach, usually requires a Master’s Degree. There are some very good schools available for pastoral counseling, including those located at the University of St. Thomas, the Catholic School of ministry, the Evangelical Biblical Seminary in Dallas, and the pastoral faculty at Saint Ann Catholic School. You can also find a large number of fully accredited schools at the seminary level, including Bethel College, evangelical Pentecostal Churches, Vineyard College, Grand Canyon University, and the pastoral faculty of St. John’s College, New York. If you are interested in entering a field which has a good reputation for providing high quality, highly paid professionals with a wide variety of education and professional experience, you may want to consider earning a degree in pastoral counseling.