What do Marriage and Family Counselors Do?

June 11, 2013


Family help

Marriage and family therapists are professionals who are trained to help with the unique interpersonal problems that arise with individuals, couples, families issues, and groups. Family issues and problems are prevalent, and marriage and family therapists are equipped with the skills and knowledge to help people resolve their family issues.

Marriage and family therapists receive training that allows them to sit for licensure, and to perform assessments, diagnoses, and treatments with mentally ill and psychologically distressed populations that fall under the realm of marriage and family systems. Marriage and family therapists provide counseling services for a host of different clients and for various problems, including premarital counseling and relationship counseling. In terms of family help, marriage and family therapists also provide services in child counseling, as well as separation and divorce counseling.

On any typical day, a marriage and family therapist may perform many different services and tasks that can include, but are not limited to advice on family issues or help family problems. Marriage and family therapists diagnose and treat mental disorders, conduct psychotherapy with clients, develop treatment plans, help clients develop interpersonal communication skills, and perform assessments, such as self report instruments, interviews, observations, discussions, and more formal psychological inventories. It is a common misconception that marriage and family therapists only deal with family issues. In fact, they have many skills and responsibilities, and are employed in various settings.

Marriage and family therapists do not differ drastically from other therapists and mental health professionals. They attend to mental health issues, much like mental health counselors and counseling psychologists, but they have a particular focus on family issues and how family dynamics influence psychological well being. Family issues may be at the roots of many client issues, including poor self esteem, self injurious behavior, depression, anxiety, grief, anger, and relationship problems.

While assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses are the primary goals for marriage and family therapists, they also spend much of their time marketing their practices or services, completing paperwork, communicating with insurance companies, and maintaining detailed and accurate progress notes. Marriage and family therapists work in many different settings, including private practices, inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities, mental health clinics, school, colleges, and many more.

The median salary for a marriage and family therapist varies depending on the employer. The national median salary is just over 46 thousand dollars, but higher paying industries include state and local governments, home health care services, and hospitals. Delivering professional therapy services for family issues, as well as a host of other problems, can prove to be a rewarding and enjoyable career.

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