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Marriage and Family Therapists Career

Career Description

Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.

What Job Titles Marriage and Family Therapists Might Have

  • Clinical Therapist
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
  • Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
  • Therapist

What Marriage and Family Therapists Do

  • Ask questions that will help clients identify their feelings and behaviors.
  • Counsel clients on concerns, such as unsatisfactory relationships, divorce and separation, child rearing, home management, or financial difficulties.
  • Encourage individuals and family members to develop and use skills and strategies for confronting their problems in a constructive manner.
  • Maintain case files that include activities, progress notes, evaluations, and recommendations.
  • Develop and implement individualized treatment plans addressing family relationship problems, destructive patterns of behavior, and other personal issues.
  • Collect information about clients, using techniques such as testing, interviewing, discussion, or observation.
  • Confer with clients to develop plans for posttreatment activities.
  • Confer with other counselors, doctors, and professionals to analyze individual cases and to coordinate counseling services.
  • Determine whether clients should be counseled or referred to other specialists in such fields as medicine, psychiatry, or legal aid.
  • Follow up on results of counseling programs and clients' adjustments to determine effectiveness of programs.
  • Write evaluations of parents and children for use by courts deciding divorce and custody cases, testifying in court if necessary.
  • Provide instructions to clients on how to obtain help with legal, financial, and other personal issues.
  • Provide public education and consultation to other professionals or groups regarding counseling services, issues, and methods.
  • Gather information from doctors, schools, social workers, juvenile counselors, law enforcement personnel, and others to make recommendations to courts for resolution of child custody or visitation disputes.
  • Supervise other counselors, social service staff, and assistants.
  • Provide family counseling and treatment services to inmates participating in substance abuse programs.

What Marriage and Family Therapists Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

What Marriage and Family Therapists Should Be Interested In

  • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Artistic - Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

What Marriage and Family Therapists Need to Learn

  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Philosophy and Theology - Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Diploma iconThis career requires a graduate degree.
Median Salary: $49,170

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.