How to Become a Marriage Counselor

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Couples and families can face numerous challenges ranging from parenting issues to dealing with baggage from previous relationships. If these issues aren’t dealt with in a healthy manner, they can cause major strain on a relationship. It is the job of a marriage counselor to help families work through their struggles and form healthy interactions. If you want to become a marriage counselor, your area of interest can help you determine your career path.

  • Decide which aspect you want to pursue. Having a specialty can make you more competitive as a job candidate and lead to a higher salary for you. The issues that marriage counselors offer support in include adolescent behavioral problems, bereavement, depression, domestic violence, infertility, infidelity, marital conflicts and substance abuse.

  • Get the required education. You’ll need to get a masters degree in marriage and family counseling. It’s a 2 to 3 year program. The courses typically offered include adolescent psychology, counseling theories, group therapy, human growth and development, human sexuality, marriage and family systems, principles and techniques of counseling, substance abuse and theories of psychotherapy.

  • Get as much experience as possible. You can get started by volunteering while you are still in school. This will give you the opportunity to see if this is really a career you want to pursue. It’s also a great way to get some training and potential references. If you really impress the company you are volunteering for, you may even be offered a job there after you graduate.

  • Learn about your state's requirements for licensing. Each state varies. Visit the American Counseling Association's website for links to your state (see Resources below).

Tips & Warnings

  • Upgrade your skills periodically through workshops and seminars.
  • Add your own unique qualities to your work. There are a lot of marriage counselors. Offer something different, and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

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