National Avg. Salary$53,520 More Salary Data →
Job Growth Rate14.8% More Growth Data →
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Marriage and family therapists are mental health counselors who help people repair and strengthen relationships with their spouses, partners, children, and other family members. They listen to patients to understand what issues they’re experiencing, and guide them toward behaviors that strengthen bonds.
What is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)?
The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in marriage and family therapist roles:
- Engage in counseling sessions with patients individually, as a couple, or as a family
- Encourage patients to share their thoughts and feelings openly during sessions in order to best evaluate patient needs
- Educate patients on strategies for overcoming discord, repairing relationships, and maintaining a pleasant home environment
- Refer patients, when needed, to other services when counseling and behavior modifications are insufficient at treating issues
- Help patients better understands the needs of the people they share homes with
A Day in the Life
Marriage and family therapists are mental health counselors who’ve chosen to focus their efforts on strengthening and repairing the bonds between members of a family. They may conduct individual, couples, or family counseling sessions, but in each session, the goal is to treat relationships over individuals. They do this by working to understand family dynamics and roles, and use their training and experience to identify issues and offer solutions for resolving those issues and improving home life.
When working with patients, marriage and family therapists listen to patients in order to understand and evaluate needs. They may look for signs of stress, abuse, psychological disorders, or substance abuse that could be causing or contributing to discord in the family. Their goal is to arm patients with strategies for overcoming these issues and dealing with partners and children in a healthy—rather than destructive—manner. This may include thought and behavior modification or continued counseling.
When a marriage or family therapist suspects abuse or neglect, he/she may work with social workers to investigate suspicions further. Additionally, the therapist may refer patients with treatable psychological disorders to psychiatrists who can prescribe medications that may improve conditions. Marriage and family therapists may work with couples before they get married to solidify the marriage decision, after marriage to repair bonds when things aren’t working, or after divorce to help people move on.
Typical Work Schedule
Most marriage and family therapists work full time, but they may need to be available for clients on evenings and weekends for therapy. Since these therapists commonly work with children, they often need to be available to provide care outside of normal school and business hours.
Projected Job Growth
Demand for marriage and family therapists is expected to grow significantly in the coming decade due to greater access to health insurance and an increase in the number of health insurance plans that cover mental health care.
Marriage and family therapists are most commonly employed by companies that provide family services. They may work for nonprofits or government agencies that provide family services and counseling, they may operate their own counseling practices, or they may work in offices owned by other therapy providers.
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How To Become a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
The first step in becoming a marriage and family therapist is earning a bachelor’s degree. Degrees in psychology, counseling, or social work are common for aspiring family therapists. Because you’ll also need to earn a master’s degree to work as a therapist, many pursue bachelor’s degrees in social work because they allow you to gain some experience in the field while pursuing a master’s degree. With a bachelor’s in social work, you can find entry-level positions working with families and children.
The next step in your career trajectory is to earn a master’s degree. Master’s degrees in psychology are common, but a program in marriage and family therapy may provide more detailed education in your core subject area. A master’s degree will be required to earn therapist licensure, which is required to practice as a therapist in all states. After earning a master’s degree, you’ll need to begin the process of becoming licensed to work as a marriage and family therapist.
Licensure procedures vary by state, but typically require completion of as many as 2,000 hours of supervised training under a professional therapist as part of an internship or residency, and passing a written exam. Additionally, continuing education is commonly required in order to maintain your license. After earning your therapist license, you should be able to find work with local family services agencies or through another provider who’s seeking to add a family therapist to his/her practice.
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Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Salary Data
We've provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.
National Annual Salary
National Hourly Wage
How do Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)'s can make an average annual salary of $53,520, or $26 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $37,500 or $18 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.
Salary Rankings And Facts
#349 Nationally for All Careers
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Highest Education Among Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
- 5.4% Doctorate
- 48% Masters
- 25.1% Bachelors
- 5.4% Associates
- 10.1% College
- 5% High School
- 1% Less than High School
Job Growth Projections and Forecast
2014 Total Jobs33,700
2024 Est. Jobs38,700
Job Growth Rate14.8%
Est. New Jobs5,000
How does Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 5,000 jobs for a total of 38,700 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 14.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.
Growth Rankings And Facts
#107 Nationally for All Careers