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How do I Become a Couples Therapist?

Couples therapists help couples, married and otherwise, deal with the complexities of sharing one’s life with another person. In order to become a couples therapist, a person typically attends and completes high school and then goes on to complete a college degree in psychology or a related field. Following college, most people who want to pursue careers in couples therapy go on to earn master’s degrees or even Doctors of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. Generally speaking, securing the highest level of education possible often gives a prospective couples therapist more job opportunities. An individual in this field may also have to seek licensing by his jurisdiction before he can begin to provide therapy.

A couples therapist provides therapy for couples dealing with a wide range of difficulties, including married couples who are considering divorce. He may also provide therapy to couples who are struggling but committed to staying together. Sometimes a couples therapist helps couples in which one party is abusive or unfaithful. For example, a person in this field may counsel people who are physically or verbally abusive.

Sometimes a couples therapist provides therapy for the whole family, including children and adolescents. Though couples therapists do spend time helping couples who are struggling in some way, they may also help couples who aren’t having difficulties at all. They may, for example, offer premarital therapy. In this way, they may help to head off difficulties before they begin.

A person who wants to become a couples therapist usually starts off by attending high school or its equivalent. Students can take courses in biology, chemistry and psychology to prepare for college. Finding volunteer work related to the counseling field may be helpful for a student's college application as well. Volunteer opportunities often are available at area boys and girls clubs, churches and community centers.

After high school, a person who wants to become a couples therapist usually pursues a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. For example, he may earn a degree in social work or counseling. Typically, a person who wants to become a couples therapist spends about four years earning a bachelor’s degree. After earning his degree, a prospective couples therapist usually goes on to earn a master's degree in marriage or family counseling or a related field. A person who wants to become a couples therapist may also have to seek additional regional or national licensing to practice, depending on the laws of his particular jurisdiction.

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