How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
How to Become a Marriage and Family Therapist
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
2. Earn a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy or Related Mental Health Field
Marriage and Family Therapy
Mental Health Counseling
3. Complete Additional Hours of Supervised Clinical Experience
4. Pass the Required Licensing Exams
5. Apply for Licensure
6. Complete Continuing Education
What Does a Marriage and Family Therapist Do?
Licensure Requirements for Marriage and Family Therapists
Certifications for Marriage and Family Therapists
Career Outlook for Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family counseling treats not just a single person but the relationships they have in their immediate family, even if only one person is being treated. Marriage and family counseling, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, is brief, solution focused, specific with attainable goals and designed with the “end in mind.”
According to U.S. News & World Report, most MFT degree programs take full-time students two to three years to complete due to the number of clinical hours and different settings needed to prove competency as a therapist. In that time, you will learn to master the fundamentals of counseling to be prepared for work in your own private practice or setting of choice.
Marriage and family therapists earn $56,660 per year, according to the BLS. MFT employment is projected to grow 16% from 2020 to 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Some of this growth is expected because of an increasing use of teams for treatment as counselors work together to address patients’ needs.
Licenses for MFTs certify that they’re permitted to practice in a state and are issued by each state regulatory board. Prior to becoming a fully licensed marriage and family therapist, graduates of a program need to obtain an initial license. This allows the graduate to be supervised by a licensed independent practitioner in post-graduate practice and can be thought of as a temporary professional license. After obtaining the initial license, graduates will need to take additional steps to earn their independent practice license, typically including completion of a specific number of hours under the supervision of a licensed independent practitioner, though the requirements will vary by state.
Families and married people struggle even under the best of circumstances. When these people need help, a trained professional may be the best route. If you want to help families that are hurting, becoming a marriage and family therapist may be right for you. An MFT will have a dedicated commitment to improving the lives of their clients and show a strong sense of empathy and compassion.
The main degree held by MFTs is a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy. There are other degrees that may lead to an MFT career, including a Master of Mental Health Counseling, Psychology or a related field, though it may depend on the state you wish to practice in. Whatever degree plan you choose, state licensure must be obtained to begin counseling and it is recommended to check with your state board for more information.