Counseling Marital Difficulties with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

The number of U.S. marriages today that will end in divorce is approximately 50%, depending on which organization is providing the numbers. Although divorce rates are steadily declining according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the high probability of divorce gives rise to an ever increasing need for marriage and family counseling services. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts the profession of counseling will grow 18 – 26% through the year 2018, promising news for any student considering a career in marriage and family counseling.

Role of a Marriage Counselor

A marriage counselor provides therapy and sometimes non-medical psychotherapy for individuals, couples, families, and other groups in order to solve emotional conflicts. A marriage counselor’s training is focused on viewing problems in the context of family and relationship systems. Then, the majority of this specialist’s work focuses on enhancing communication and understanding between the conflicting parties, by way of the provision of marriage and family counseling services.

Counseling Marital Difficulties with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

Educational Requirements of a Marriage Counselor

Counseling marital difficulties requires an advanced degree in most states, such as a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. Each state’s requirements vary by specialty and location. Typically, two years of full-time study in marriage family counseling is required along with 600 hours of supervised practice in counseling marital difficulties.

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Although not a requirement, it is important to seek out a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy program that is accredited through the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Schools such as Capella University offer CACREP accredited programs in marriage family counseling which can be very instrumental in obtaining state licensure.

Qualities for Success as a Marriage Counselor

Perhaps most important is a passion for the discipline of marriage family counseling, and a genuine desire to provide assistance to couples through counseling marital difficulties. Marriage counselors should also be skilled at encouraging a comfortable environment where clients feel safe discussing emotional difficulties.

Further Opportunities as a Marriage Counselor

Beyond offering direct marriage and family counseling services to clients, a professional with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy may choose to obtain a PhD in Psychology. Doctoral training can expand a career in marriage and family counseling to include teaching, researching, and supervising. Some marriage counselors go on to hold leadership positions in their professional agency. Others become professors, offer consulting services, or go into private or group counseling.

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Prospective students who are interested in pursuing a career in marriage and family therapy may contact Capella University for more information. Students may also visit, the education and career resource, for an extensive list of available programs and educational resources.