Marriage & Family Therapist

Female marriage & family therapist offers advice and counseling to a husband and wife sitting across from her
Career Clusters: Human Services

What you need to know


Marriage and family therapists help people manage problems with their family and other relationships.

What is this career like?

Marriage and family therapists work in a variety of settings, such as mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, and hospitals. They also work in private practice and in Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which are mental health programs that some employers provide to help employees deal with personal problems.

Some of the things marriage and family therapists might do:

  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
  • Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes in their life, such as divorce and layoffs
  • Guide clients through the process of making decisions 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 facilities
  • Complete and maintain confidential files and mandated records
What skills are needed?
  • Compassion. Marriage and family therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.
  • Interpersonal skills. Marriage and family therapists work with different types of people. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.
  • Listening skills. Marriage and family therapists need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.
  • Organizational skills. Marriage and family therapists in private practice must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.
  • Speaking skills. Marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express information in a way that clients can understand easily.
What is the pay?

The average pay for marriage and family therapists in the United States was $58,510 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A marriage and family therapist’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 5,900 new job openings for marriage and family therapists are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of marriage and family therapists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Growth is expected due to the increasing use of integrated care, which is a treatment of multiple problems at one time by a group of specialists.

In providing integrated care, marriage and family therapists are working with counselors such as substance abuse, behavior disorder, or mental health counselors to address patients’ issues as a team.

What education is required?

To become a marriage and family therapist, applicants need a master’s degree in psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter one of these master’s degree programs.

Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Psychology.