Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $46,240
- 2010, number of jobs: 156,300
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 37 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Master’s degree
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists; what they do:
The challenges of modern life send many people looking for extra support. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists play a vital role in helping people deal with life’s stumbling blocks, which those with emotional and mental disorders find especially difficult to negotiate.
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists listen to their clients and ask questions that help them understand their problems. From there, a mental health counselor, marriage therapist or family counselor develop strategies by which their clients can improve their lives.
Marriage and family therapists diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders in the context of marriage and family. A marriage and family therapist uses psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques to assist individuals, couples and families with diagnosed nervous or mental disorders.
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists job duties:
- Questioning clients to help them identify their feelings and behaviors
- Diagnosing and treating disorders, such as anxiety and depression
- Counseling clients about their concerns, such as unsatisfactory relationships, child rearing, home management and money problems
- Encouraging clients to talk about their emotions and experiences
- Using testing, interviewing, discussion and observation to collect information about clients
- Guiding clients through the process of making decisions about their future
- Conferring with other professionals to analyze cases and coordinate counseling services
- Referring clients to other community services, if necessary
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Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists job titles:
- Clinical services director
- Clinical therapist
- Licensed marriage and family therapist
- Marriage and family therapist
- Family Counselor
- Marriage Therapist
Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists Education, Certification and License Requirements
Candidates for jobs as a mental health counselor, family counselor or marriage therapist must have a master’s degree such as a Master of Counseling degree or a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree. Bachelor’s degrees from most fields are acceptable to enroll in a master’s degree program.
Instruction prepares mental health counselors to recognize mental and emotional disorders and effectively counsel patients. A marriage therapist or family counselor learns how marriages, families and relationships work and can affect mental and emotional disorders. Both typically require supervised experience, such as an internship.
A master’s degree and copious supervised experience can lead to licensure, a requirement for employment as a mental health counselor, marriage counselor or family therapist. Regulatory boards offer certification.
Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists programs cover subjects such as:
- Individual and group therapy methods
- Group dynamics
- Psychological development
- Social theory
- Behavioral theory
- Substance abuse counseling
- Legal issues and ethics in counseling
- Counseling skills
Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists Job Outlook
Forecast: 36 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for mental health counselors and 41 percent for marriage therapists and family counselors. A marriage counselor or family therapist provides services at a lower cost than psychologists and psychiatrists, thus insurance companies increasingly cover such therapy.
Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $46,240
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $59,600
- 2011, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $35,350
- Individual and family services
- Outpatient care centers
- State government
- Other health care practitioners
- Local government