How Long Does It Take To Become A Marriage Counselor

Last Updated on January 17, 2023

Most people have a vague concept of how long it takes to become a marriage counselor, but just how long is it possible to go without schooling? What are the typical career paths for marriage counselors to take?

How long does it take to get a license to practice as a marriage counselor? That depends on the state where you plan to practice. States have different requirements for becoming a marriage counselor, some using different titles. This article talks about the length of time it takes to become a marriage counselor in different states and how long it might be to get licensed in any given state.

All this information leads to the same conclusion – it takes 1-2 years to get a license and become a marriage counselor. Such work requires serious knowledge and abilities, so it is important to choose a right program this includes the basic counseling skills and training.

What you read on the internet doesn’t need to be science to know whether or not the info is true. Fear not, simply read on below for the right insights on electrical engineering careers. 

You will also find related articles on how to become a marriage and family counselor, how to become a marriage counselor uk on infolearners.

If you want to become a Marriage Counselor in New York,there are 3 educational paths you can follow. The quickest way to get there is to go to college – in the state of New York,there are 6 colleges that have college coursework for your degree. The shortest degree you will earn is a Bachelor’s degree – and it should take about 3 years.

How to Become a Marriage and Family Counselor

If you’ve decided on a career in counseling, you’ve likely determined that you want to help people and that you’re willing to collaborate with them on goals to deal with obstacles and improve their lives. The length of time it takes to become a counselor depends on a variety of factors. To become licensed it can take a minimum of three to five years, including the time it takes to get a master’s degree, complete internship hours as well as the hours of post-degree supervised experience. If you want to pursue school counseling, that might have different requirements than couples counseling. If you have a bachelor’s degree and it does not relate to counseling, you may need to take time completing marriage counseling certificate online.

Marriage counselors, or marriage and family therapists, are licensed mental health practitioners who work with couples to help them improve their relationships. This counseling is a form of psychotherapy that involves helping couples analyze and resolve their problems. These professionals can play a vital role in helping couples determine whether or not their conflicts are reconcilable. Working with adults whose personal lives are in distress might be challenging or unsettling. Counselors often work weekends and evenings to meet their clients’ scheduling needs.

The first step to becoming a marriage counselor is to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Programs typically require the completion of 120 credits, of which at least 30 must be general credits. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is also necessary. To become licensed as a professional counselor, it is necessary to earn a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or clinical mental health counseling, with a concentration on marriage and family therapy….

Marriage counseling sometimes can seem like a complicated process to begin. You and your partner should start this conversation with the best intentions of working through your problems together, but how long does it take to complete this education program?

What is Marriage Counselling?

Marriage counseling helps couples; married or not; understand and resolve conflicts and improve their relationship. It is a form of psychotherapy that involves helping couples analyze and resolve their problems.

Also called couples therapy, it gives couples the tools they need to communicate better, negotiate differences, problem solve, and also, discuss in a healthier way.

How Long Does It Take To Become a Therapist?

Marriage counseling is usually short term. This means that you need only a few sessions to help you overcome a crisis.

On the other hand, if your relationship has deteriorated greatly, you may need marriage counseling for several months. As with individual psychotherapy, you will see a marriage counselor once a week.

When is marriage counseling needed?

As all couples experience tension or conflict at some point in their relationship, many people do not know when they should seek marriage or couple counseling.

However, according to most marriage counselors, it is best to seek counseling the moment you experience discontent in the relationship.

Below are some of the reasons why couples go for marriage counseling:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Financial issues
  • Anger issues
  • Infidelity
  • Major life adjustments 
  • Frequent conflict or high-stress levels
  • Conflicting ideas on childrearing Power struggles
  • Communication issues
  • Substance abuse
  • Sexual dissatisfaction

What are the Qualities of a Marriage Counselor?

Working with adults whose personal lives are in distress can be difficult or unsettling. Therefore, it is expected of any marriage counselor to possess the following qualities:

  • Compassion
  • Listening skills
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills

What are the roles of Marriage and Family Counselors or Therapists?

Basically, marriage counselors and therapists help people manage problems in their homes and also profer solutions to overcome these problems. However, according to BLS, below are some of the responsibilities of these professionals:

  • Encourage clients to talk about their emotions and experiences.
  • Help clients manage their reactions and also, adjust to difficult changes in their lives, such as divorce and layoffs.
  • Guide clients in the decision-making process about their future.
  • Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behavior and to cope with difficult situations.
  • Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment centers.
  • Complete and maintain confidential files and mandatory records

Marriage Counselor Requirements

Degree LevelMaster’s degree
Degree FieldsCounseling, marriage and family therapy
LicensingState license required
ExperienceTwo years of clinical experience
Key SkillsCompassion, people skills, listening abilities, speaking skills
Salary (2019)$49,610 per year (Median)
What You'll Study in an MFT Degree Program | All Psychology Schools

How Long Does It Take To Become A Marriage Counselor

According to U.S. News & World Report, most MFT degree programs take full-time students two to three years to complete due to the number of clinical hours and different settings needed to prove competency as a therapist.

Steps to Becoming a Marriage Counselor

Step 1;Earn a relevant bachelor’s degree.

Many colleges and universities offer four-year degrees specifically for marriage counseling. These degrees can also be in marriage and family therapy, since the two terms are often interchangeable. Other relevant bachelor’s degrees include psychology, social work, or a similar degree. However, almost any bachelor’s degree will be sufficient to be accepted into a master’s degree program.

However, students can obtain their undergraduate degree in marriage and family therapy since the two terms are often interchangeable, social work, psychology, or another related area.

In addition to teaching students the basics of psychology and social work, these programs education in many areas directly related to marriage counseling. Areas such as social psychology, cognitive psychology, sexuality, sociology, and interpersonal relationships.

Most bachelor’s degree programs require completion of relevant internships or clinical practice prior to graduation.

Step 2;Earn a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.

Before you can begin your career as a marriage counselor, you’re going to need to earn at least a master’s degree. Most master’s degree programs also offer specializations, so here you can pick a type of marriage counseling that fits best with what you want.

You can also choose the type of marriage counseling that suits what you want as most master’s degree programs offer specializations.

Marriage counseling master’s degree programs also place great emphasis on applied clinical experience and research, with students often having to complete numerous credit hours of clinical research and internships to earn their degree

Step 3Gain clinical experience in the field.

To become a licensed marriage counselor, you will need to gain clinical experience. You’ll have to complete somewhere between 2,000-4,000 hours in a supervised setting before you can continue your career path. Expect to earn around 2 years of clinical experience before you’re eligible for licensure.

Sometimes, these requirements exist independently of any clinical practicum credits obtained during the completion of master’s degree programs.

Basically, these clinical experiences are measured in weeks or hours, depending on the state. The standard supervised clinical requirement for marriage and family therapists is two years.

The Importance of Marriage Counseling

Step 4:Earn licensure in your state.

After finishing your clinical experience and earning a master’s degree, you’ve likely satisfied all the prerequisites for licensure. Keep in mind that licensure varies from state to state, so completing the requirements in one state might not be satisfactory for another.

n other words, prospective marriage counselors can apply for a state license as this is the last step required before starting a marriage counselor career.

Note that the licensure varies from state to state. Therefore, meeting the requirements of a State might not be satisfactory to another.

Obtaining the marriage counselor licensure always requires a written exam. Classes and exams on ethical standards may also be required, depending on the state.

Some states have their own licensing exams, while others use a standard exam provided by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards. After meeting the educational requirements, clinical work experience, and exams.

Step 5: Continue your education to retain licensure.

Some marriage counselors choose to further their education with a doctoral degree. This can expand your field, opening up new opportunities.

However, the rules and regulations differ from state to state and the courses you need to take may also differ.

For instance, most licenses expire on an annual or biannual basis and require completion of about 30 continuing education units for renewal. Also, different states have lists of approved topics or course providers that are accepted towards the fulfillment of these requirements.

The Marriage Counselor program teaches you how to communicate with couples and individuals. You will learn the skills needed to help others work through their problems in a professional manner while helping them identify their personal issues and find their own solutions.

Education – Marriage Counselling Degrees

As seen above, enrolling in a fitting educational program is the first step to becoming part of the Mental Health and marriage Counseling field.

However, to specialize in marriage or family counseling, you need to get to the masters level as there are little or no options for it at the undergraduate level.

Bachelor’s Degree

A student who wants to pursue a career in marriage counseling should opt for programs that focus on human behavior, relationships, health, and therapy.

Earning bachelor’s degrees in psychology, counseling, or social services are great options for a future in the marriage and family counseling field. Most programs here last for 4 years.

Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
Couples Counseling 101 | Psychology Today

Typically, this program offers education in human behavior and related sciences, as well as core psychology coursework. The coursework covers topics such as the following:

  • Perception
  • Psychological research methods
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Child development
  • Personality theories

Master’s Degree in Marriage Counseling

Typically, a master’s degree program in marriage counseling will take approximately 2 years to complete.

Top Schools for Marriage and Family Counseling

As a basic requirement for a career as a marriage counselor, master’s programs train students in social science-related areas of marriage counseling.

Master’s degree in Marriage counseling courses cover areas such as:

  • Marriage counseling ethics
  • Therapy techniques
  • Psychological development
  • Group and family dynamics
  • Marriage therapy techniques
  • Human sexuality
  • Adolescent and family counseling
  • Cultural diversity
  • Couples therapy
  • Family systems sociology.

Here, students get to pick specializations that best fits the type of marriage counseling you want.

Doctoral Degree in Marriage Counseling

A doctoral degree will help expand your marriage counselor career opportunities in academia and research. Most counselors choose to continue their education by earning a doctorate in marriage and family therapy.

A Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy consists of classes in MFT theory and practice, research, and clinical work with clients. To enroll in this program, students must have a master’s degree and satisfactory standardized test scores. They generally last five to seven years.

Basically, the coursework here will cover:

  • Quantitative research methods
  • Adolescent development
  • Statistical methods
  • Dynamics of family relationships
  • Aging

Marriage Counselling Accreditation and Licensure

Prospective marriage counselors are advised to enroll in programs that are recognized by accrediting bodies. There are several organizations that accredit counseling programs; they include but not limited to the following: 

  • Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
  • Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE)
  • Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).

Licensure for a marriage counseling career varies among states. However, the requirement for getting licensure is basically a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, that is, an internship or residency.

In addition, counselors must pass a state-recognized exam and also complete annual continuing education classes for renewal of the license.

For more information on licensing for marriage and family counselors and therapists, contact the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards through the link below.

What is the Salary of a Marriage Counselor?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 report, the median annual wage most marriage counselors and family therapists earn is $50,090 per year and $24.08 per hour. With the lowest 10 percent earning less than $31,850, and the highest 10 percent earning more than $82,240.

Still on the BLS marriage counselor salary, below are the median average wage for those working in top industries

  • The state government, excluding education and hospitals – $69,900
  • Outpatient care centers – 51,270
  • Offices of other health practitioners – 49,190
  • Individual and family services – 44,760

Meanwhile, according to GlassDoor, marriage and family therapists earn an average base pay of $53,045 annually.

What Is the Job Outlook for Marriage Counselors?

According to the US BLS, the employment of marriage counselors and family and therapists is expected to increase by 22 percent between 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

This growth is expected because of the increasing use of integrated care. Integrated care is a treatment of several problems at one time by a group of specialists.

By providing integrated care, marriage and family therapists work with counselors who provide community and social services such as substance abuse, behavior disorder, or mental health counselors to address patients’ issues as a team.

Marital counseling is a process of solving the problems faced by couples in their marriage. The need for marital counseling can arise due to any cause other than abuse or violence. Counseling plays a major role in ensuring that issues between couples do not deteriorate. All couples are bound to experience a rough patch during the course of their relationship and its during this point when they may seek guidance from a qualified counselor

Where Do Marriage Counselors Work?

Basically, marriage counselors and family therapists work in the public and private sectors of every country. Some may run their own private offices while some work in hospitals and social service centers.

In addition, some may decide to work with a specific group like homosexual couples, incarcerated, elderly, families or newlyweds.

However, below is a breakdown of where marriage counselors work:

  • Private Practice
  • Social Service Agencies
  • Medical Centers
  • Mental Health Centers
  • Nursing and Residential Care Facilities
  • Government
  • Legal and Correctional Systems
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Inpatient Care Facilities & Hospitals
  • Offices of Health Practitioners
  • Schools
  • Substance Abuse & Addiction Treatment Centers
  • Military
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
  • Health Maintenance Organizations – HMO’s
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Facilities
  • Churches and Religious Settings

Generally, most marriage counselors work full time. However, some work evenings and weekends to accommodate their clients’ schedules. 

What are the Benefits of being a Marriage Counselor?

As you proceed in your career as a marriage counselor, you will get to enjoy some benefits. Below are some of these benefits:

  • If you love to meet people, then you are certainly going to enjoy your marriage counseling career. Here, you get to work with people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
  • You get satisfaction from the fact that you can help people work through mental and emotional stresses and disorders.
  • The flexibility of work especially when you run your own private practice.
  • Variety of work environment. As a marriage counselor, you have various job options from community services to running your own practice.
  • Since marriage counselors deal with human behaviors and emotions, they get to learn about various psychological approaches, such as Solution Focused Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. These skills can be used in other lines of work, as well as in your personal life.
  • You enjoy independence as you work. Marriage counselors work independently, assessing the needs of their clients and coming up with forms of treatment and intervention that are suitable to them.
  • Opportunity for life long learning. Typically, to maintain your license as a marriage counselor, there is room for life long learning.
  • As a marriage counselor, you get to see the immediate impact of your interventions in your clients.
  • You enjoy fantastic job security, regardless of where you decide to work.
  • Mobility of work; you can work in any location across the country. However, you may need to update your license in order for it to be valid in a particular state.

Marriage Counselor Associations And Groups

Below are some associations and groups you can belong to as a marriage counselor.

  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
  • International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors (IAMFC)
  • National Council on Family Relations (NCFR)
  • Delta Kappa MFT
  • European Family Therapy Academy
  • American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA)

About the author

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