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What Are the Different Types of Family Therapy Training?

Lainie Petersen
Updated May 17, 2024
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The exact requirements of family therapy training vary both by jurisdiction as well as the mental health discipline in which a therapist chooses to be trained, although the training typically consists of both coursework as well as practical experience counseling families and couples. In many jurisdictions, an individual must complete a postgraduate degree as well as an in-school internship as the first part of his family therapy training. After graduation, the aspiring family therapist may have to complete a period of supervised practice before receiving a license to practice family therapy independently.

Individuals who want to become family therapists typically have a choice of several different career paths. For example, in the United States there are several different types of mental health practitioners who can provide family or marital therapy. These include psychologists, clinical social workers, and counselors as well as psychiatrists. Some states also offer a license specifically in marriage and family therapy. Clinical social workers, professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists typically need to hold a master's degree in their field, while clinical psychologists and psychiatrists are required to have a doctoral-level degree.

In all of these fields, a student must take foundational courses in his discipline and will eventually take more specific courses in the area of family systems and marital counseling as he proceeds in his education. In most cases, the student will be placed in a supervised internship while he completes his coursework. This will allow him to have practical experience conducting family therapy under the supervision and guidance of more experienced therapists. If the student successfully completes his degree program, he begin the licensure process through the appropriate government agency where he lives.

Many jurisdictions require aspiring therapists to complete an additional period of supervised practice before they can receive their license to practice independent of supervision. These post-graduate periods of clinical supervision can last for a year or more and typically require the therapist to meet regularly with her supervisor as well as a peer group. Once this period of supervision is completed, the candidate can submit documentation of her work to the licensing board and can begin practicing without the need for a supervisor.

Other types of family therapy include certification and continuing education programs. Established therapists who would like to branch into family therapy may choose to seek family therapy training through a professional certification program. These programs may provide mental health practitioners with the coursework and supervised practice that they need to provide quality family therapy services. Therapists may also receive family therapy training through continuing education programs, which may be offered by schools, institutes, and individuals.

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.
Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an editor. With a unique educational background, she crafts engaging content and hosts podcasts and radio shows, showcasing her versatility as a media and communication professional. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any media organization.
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Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an...
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