How to Train to Become a Pre-Marriage Counselor

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With more marriages ending in divorce than staying together nowadays, premarital counseling has become quite popular. It used to be that those who attended pre-marriage education sessions were couples that planned to get married by clergy, as most require it before performing a marriage ceremony. However, many couples now seek premarital counseling no matter what their religious beliefs in order to increase the chances of their marriage being healthy and lasting. Becoming a pre-marriage counselor can be done in a number of ways, and no special licensing or degree is needed.

  • Decide where you'd like to be a premarital counselor--this will determine the type of training you will need. You can work with your church or a religious organization, on your own, with a company that provides premarital retreats or conferences, in a clinical setting or on a military base. If you plan to work in a clinical setting or military base, a degree and licensing may be required because you will also be expected to work as a therapist and not just an educator.

    No state certification or certain degrees are needed to become a a pre-marriage counselor in most settings because you will not be providing therapy or making any diagnoses. However, it is a good idea to network with those who are licensed therapists, so you can refer clients who need therapy or a diagnosis to a professional that can help them.

  • Choose how you want to deliver your services and whether you want to specialize in certain premarital niches. For example, you may want to have regular office hours, offer counseling through internet conferences, email or chats, provide sessions on pre-recorded video, or counsel by telephone.

    Premarital specialties include couples who are minors, blended families, couples who follow a specific religion, military couples, those who have already been married, and couples of a certain ethnic background.

  • Research the training programs available that meet your needs. Distance and in-person premarital educator courses are available. Home courses are also known as "teach out of the box" programs and are often accelerated. Training courses can take as long as nine weeks or as little as eight hours.

    In your training, you will learn different methods you can employ to give couples the knowledge they need to have a healthy, lasting marriage including conflict resolution, learning to communicate effectively and balancing marriage with parenthood.

  • Take courses in psychology or sociology. Although you don't have to get a degree, many community colleges and universities will allow you to take individual courses. Taking psychology and sociology classes, specifically those in gender studies or family and marriage can better help you understand those you are helping and give you deeper insight into why premarital counseling is important.

  • Keep your training current by attending networking events, conferences, taking continuing education courses and studying research pertaining to marriage and marital counseling. You can typically get continuing education from the same institution where you got your initial premarital educator's training.

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