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How Do I Get a Master's of Family Therapy?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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In order to earn a master’s of family therapy, most schools require you to first complete an undergraduate degree at an accredited college or university. After doing so, you will need to determine whether you want a master’s of family therapy degree to counsel others or whether you want a degree to perform research in this area. Once you have decided what you intend to do with a marriage and family therapist degree, you can enroll in a program to begin the appropriate coursework.

Earning a master’s of family therapy degree generally requires that a bachelor’s degree be earned first. Most experts recommend a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology or another behavioral science, but a bachelor’s degree in non-related subjects is sometimes sufficient in order to apply to graduate school to work toward a master's in family therapy. In order to gain entrance to many graduate schools, successfully passing an exam to demonstrate readiness for a master’s level education may also be required.

Some individuals decide to earn a master’s of family therapy degree to counsel individuals and families in a private practice or through a family therapy center. In particular, this type of counseling exists to help couples, parents, children and extended family members cope with certain issues and challenges affecting the family unit. Deciding to become a family therapist generally requires a certain number of classroom hours, as well as clinical experience before a degree is earned.

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Individuals may prefer to earn a master’s of family therapy to perform research instead of counseling. Often, however, such a degree is designated as a master’s of science degree, whereas a counseling degree is likely designated as a master’s of arts degree. Identifying a career path before you begin working on your degree is, therefore, an important first step in pursuing family therapy training.

Rigorous course work of 60 hours or more is generally required to complete a master’s of family therapy degree. An example of some of the types of family therapy you may want to specialize in include sex therapy, marriage counseling, couples therapy and types addressing specific issues such as coping with alcoholism or supporting family members with special needs. Other courses include those relating to adolescent counseling and counseling special needs clients. A certain number of research courses are also required in most master’s of family therapy programs whether you are pursuing a counseling degree or a research degree.

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