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How Do I Get a Marriage and Family Counseling Degree?

By D. Nelson
Updated May 17, 2024
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In most areas around the world, to become a marriage and family counselor, it is necessary to earn a marriage and family counseling degree. Your first step toward getting this degree is to enroll in an undergraduate program, where you should concentrate in subjects such as counseling, psychology, or sociology. You can benefit from any undergraduate courses that prepare you to develop a strong understanding of the different issues that impact communication among family members. Once you have earned an undergraduate degree, you should enroll in a master's program where you prepare for professional certification.

A marriage and family counselor is a professional who specializes in helping individuals who feel that social, emotional, or psychological issues are causing stress that is damaging their relationships. Individuals who become counselors tend to have an aptitude for listening to others. They also tend to have a gift for inspiring trust in those with whom they speak.

As you are studying for your undergraduate degree, it can be a good idea to begin thinking about the kind of marriage and family counseling degree you would like to pursue. While most counselors in this field provide general services to those with related issues, many counseling professionals have areas of expertise. For example, one counselor might specialize in working with families who must deal with alcoholism, while other counselors might specialize in working with abuse survivors. Take classes in a number of different specialized areas to learn where your areas of primary interest are.

Finding out as an undergraduate which kind of marriage and family counseling degree you would like to pursue can also help you choose the best graduate program. As you explore different programs, look to see that concentrations are offered in areas of your choice. It also can be a good idea to make sure that a marriage and family counseling degree program has a number of established faculty members who specialize in topics that you find interesting.

Before you enroll in a graduate program, you probably need to take a proficiency exam. In many cases, you also need to compose a statement of purpose. This is a personal essay in which you state your career goals and describe why you are interested in a counseling profession.

Clinical experience is especially important for an individual who would like to earn a marriage and family counseling degree. Even students who enroll in online courses need to participate in internships that allow them to work closely with patients and trained professionals. Choose a program that offers internships in respected health and counseling facilities.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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