Marriage and family therapists work with individuals and families in an attempt to make them healthier, better functioning people. To enter the field, an individual must earn a master's degree, doctorate or complete a postgraduate clinical training program. In addition to taking a licensing exam, most marriage and family therapists must complete two years of supervised clinical work. The median salary is $45,000 in 2008, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Provide a Professional Sounding Board
One of the primary functions of a marriage and family therapists is to be a sounding board to people who need to express their fear, frustration and grief with the world. They are there to listen and provide their patients with grounded, well-researched ways to change the direction of their lives.
Advocate for Children
It is often a marriage and family therapist who recognizes when the children in a family are being neglected, abused or otherwise damaged. A therapist is there to help direct families toward healthier ways of interacting and to advocate for the needs of the children. A family therapist may be the only person a child feels safe confiding in and is responsible for helping to protect that child.
Help Build Families
It is a dichotomy that families can often say things in the presence of a therapist that they can't tell each other at home. Regardless of the state of a couple or family when they first come to see her, a therapist is there to assist in the building of a strong family unit. This may be accomplished through learning how to better communicate or redirect anger. She may help them find new ways to function on a daily basis, providing a more comfortable living situation for every member of the family.
Marriage and family therapists work with a variety of patients, with a myriad of issues to work through. A single day may be filled with appointments that deal with teen anorexia, child abuse, sexual issues, communication trouble, mental illness and depression. Most marriage and family therapists are truly generalists who treat a wide range of problems.
Positive Job Outlook
Another reason that some people seek to enter the field of marriage and family therapy is the positive job outlook. Because it has become more accepted in our society to work with a therapist, the number of marriage and family therapists has grown to meet the need. Employment in the profession is expected to rise 14 percent between now and 2018.
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