What does a Family Counselor do?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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A family counselor is a licensed professional who helps people overcome stress, mental health issues, behavioral problems, and family issues. He or she typically works in a group or private practice, providing counseling services by appointment to individuals and entire families. A family counselor must understand the different social, economical, and personal issues people of all ages may face. A large part of his or her career involves providing guidance to couples trying to work through marital issues and helping children adapt to difficult situations.

Families face many different struggles, from divorces to managing children with behavior problems. A family counselor attempts to uncover the nature of such problems by interviewing family members and asking about their feelings regarding their household situation. He or she might provide one-on-one counseling with family members or facilitate group therapy sessions. The counselor uses his or her knowledge of family structures, developmental psychology, and mental health problems to help families deal with their problems in a healthy way. He or she often attempts to improve communication between family members and suggests ways that individuals can approach difficult situations.


Counselors are often experts on the different problems a married couple may face. A family counselor might meet with a couple that is experiencing a number of issues, such as financial concerns, intimacy problems, conflicting opinions about raising children, and trust issues. The counselor evaluates a couple's problems, suggests ways to improve them, and provides ongoing therapy to help the couple maintain a good relationship.

To become a family counselor, a person must typically obtain a master's degree in clinical psychology or counseling from an accredited university. New counselors often work as interns, observing sessions conducted by licensed professionals. They may be allowed to provide some counseling services under the supervision of other counselors in order to learn gain experience. Counselors are usually required to become licensed in their specific state or country, which entails completing a certain number of supervised hours of counseling and passing a written examination. Additional certification by a national accrediting board may be needed to work in some institutions, though requirements can vary greatly between employers.

Family counselors typically work standard forty-hour weeks, though some professionals in private practice opt to work on weekends and evenings to better suit the needs of their clients. Some counselors invite clients to call them outside of business hours in the event of a crisis or family emergency. Occasionally, a family counselor will choose to split his or her time between providing therapy and teaching university courses on related subjects.


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Post 3
My dad was a family therapist and the job really wore on him. He worked very long hours and seemed to be visibly stressed out all the time. I think it was having to listen to people's problems and hear their secrets all day. You don't really get the best picture of humanity.

He practiced for over 35 years though, and he was good at what he did. I have heard several glowing stories about how my dad managed to save someone's family from the brink of collapse. There is always a lot of gratitude.

Post 2
When people think of family counselor they usually think of a trained mental health professional. Or at least someone that has a background in social work. But there are counseling sources offered in unorthodox places. For instance, my church has a family counseling minister.

He offers a kind of Christian counseling that draws on the Bible and Christian teachings while also incorporating some of the best practices of contemporary counselors. All the sessions are strictly confidential and all or some of the family members can join. I have heard that the service is very popular, but of course I don't know many of the details having never been myself.

Post 1

Family troubles are complicated and consequential so the job of a family counselor is not easy. Often it involves treating the individual members of the family as well as treating the family itself like a person that needs treatment. It can get tricky and the need to be delicate is very real.

I know because I have been to a family counselor, both as a child and now as an adult with my own family. I think in both cases we resolved issues and came out stronger, but I cannot claim that it was easy either time. It was hard enough being in counseling, I can barely imagine what it would be like to provide the counseling.

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