How to Become a Marriage Counselor
If you have a natural inclination to help other people in stressful situations, then you might like to become a marriage counselor. Working as a marriage counselor, you will help a couple facing some of the toughest challenges of their marriage. You'll need to be patient and understanding, as well as approachable. When you become a marriage counselor your clients will need to be able to trust you.
A marriage counselor doesn't just help couples who may be facing a crisis. They may also see a person for individual counseling, or sometimes other family members who are effected by a break up. Working as a marriage counselor can be very trying, since not all relationships will survive. When a couple are able to reconcile, your role can be very rewarding.
Education Requirements to Become a Marriage Counselor
While the requirements to become a marriage counselor vary from state to state, in most places you will require a masters degree in counseling to work in this field. To start with, you will need to complete a four year bachelors degree with a major in counseling, psychology, or a similar field. Concentrate on getting good grades so as to gain entry to graduate school.
You'll then need to go to graduate school to complete a masters degree in counseling. These programs take two to three years to complete, and they are made up of coursework as well as a component of practical experience. You will also need to complete an internship where you will work with clients under the supervision of a qualified counselor.
A good idea is to have a specialty within the field of marriage counseling. Some possible specializations include depression, bereavement, child and adolescent issues, or family therapy.
Gaining some practical experience while studying to become a marriage counselor is also a good idea. You might volunteer some time working in a hospital or social welfare center. You could also work for a phone hot line that helps people with mental health issues.
Marriage Counselor Job Description
When you become a marriage counselor your clients could include couples, individuals, families, or even group therapy sessions. You will apply your knowledge of psychology, mental health, and family systems to help those facing a crisis, or possibly help them to avoid a crisis all together.
A marriage counselor helps improve communication within families. They help their clients to identify negative or destructive behavior, and to develop strategies to help stop these behaviors occurring in the future.
While traditional counseling involves concentrating on internal conflict or deep seated psychological issues, family and marriage therapy is different, because it concerns the way that people relate to each other. More emphasis is put on communication and behavior, and the cause behind it.
Some marriage counselors don't work with clients at all, but may work in education or as a researcher.
Here are some of the tasks of a marriage counselor:
- Making appointments with clients
- Speaking with individuals and couples about problems in their relationships
- Introducing strategies to improve communication and reduce conflict
- Providing counseling to family members
- Running group therapy sessions
- Conducting research and writing papers
- Taking classes on marriage counseling
Marriage Counselor Salary and Career Path
After you have completed your education you will be ready to begin work as a marriage counselor. When you become a marriage counselor you will most likely be employed in a hospital, by a social welfare organization or in a medical center. Usually a marriage counselor works as an employee for some time, later going ton to start their own practice or work out of consulting suites.
Some marriage counselors will move on to other areas of counseling. Others will work in education, teaching courses in counseling or conducting their own research.
The median salary for a marriage counselor is $49,000 a year. The top 10% of earners make over $70,000 a year. The best opportunity to earn a higher income comes from being self-employed.
Some similar roles to that of marriage counselor include:
- Social worker
- College professor
- School counselor
- Occupational therapist
- Registered nurse
If you are genuinely interested in helping people and have a kind and understanding personality, then you might like to become a marriage counselor. This area is predicted to have strong growth in the coming years, and will offer plenty of opportunity for qualified candidates.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics