What You Should Know About This Degree
Because of the sensitive nature of counseling and the vulnerable populations with whom therapists often work, professional therapists are carefully regulated. Each state grants licenses authorizing marriage and family therapists to practice. In general, the prerequisites for licensure include a master’s degree, post-graduate supervised clinical experience, and successful completion of the licensure exam.
As each state sets its own licensure requirements, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your state’s regulations prior to enrolling in a master’s program. For example, in some states, completion of a COAMFTE- or CACREP-accredited program is mandatory. In other cases, you may only be able to get licensed in the state in which you obtain your degree. These considerations are particularly important for individuals looking to enroll in an online program.
Because marriage and family therapy revolves around working with people, experiential learning is a key component of most master’s programs. The exact number of experiential hours and the type of setting in which you complete those hours may vary by program. Some programs will assist you in finding your clinical placement, while in others, it will be your responsibility to find a setting where you can complete your real-world learning experience. Be sure to carefully review the program’s policies for experiential learning when researching schools.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy programs:
- Does this program offer a dual degree in professional counseling? Some programs allow students to earn a dual degree in general or professional counseling alongside their marriage and family counseling degree. This additional degree is not required to practice as a marriage and family therapist, but it may open up more job opportunities in other areas of counseling.
- Is this program secular or religious-oriented? Programs offered at religious-affiliated institutions typically teach a faith-based approach to marriage and family counseling, which may or may not align with your own personal beliefs. It’s important to select a program that teaches counseling approaches that you will feel comfortable incorporating into your own professional practice.
Reviewing the program’s admissions procedures and deadlines is another important step in the research process. You can usually find information about a program’s application process, eligibility requirements, and important dates on their website or by contacting the school’s admissions office.
Now is also a good time to think about financing your master’s education. Talk to financial aid representatives about loans, scholarships, and assistantships. If you are currently employed, find out if your employer offers tuition assistance benefits.