In the United States, there are about 2.3 million couples who get married every year. Unfortunately, almost half of these marriages will end up in a separation or divorce. These marriage break-ups are brought about by several factors and issues that surround the family and marriage itself. The good news is that there professionals who work on bringing the family together.
Marriage counselors are experts who provide therapy for couples and families that are having behavioral, emotional and communication problems. Their ultimate goal is to alter individual’s perceptions and behaviors, develop a good communication within members of the family and prevent both individual and family potential crises.
If you have the desire to help individuals and families to work through their problems, possesses an understanding personality, then becoming a marriage counselor might be the right choice for you. Your first step in achieving this goal is to learn how to become a marriage counselor. There are several requirements for one to become a marriage counselor, first you need to comply with several educational requirements, then be certified or licensed and finally obtain continuing education to maintain your license.
- Assess Your Skills
To be an effective marriage counselor, you must possess the qualities that will make you successful in your chosen career. It is important for a marriage counselor to have patience in listening and understanding your counselees’ problems. You must have the ability to provide healthy, moral and ethical guidance. You must project a positive and professional attitude towards your client and be able to gain trust and confidence from them in order for you to work effectively.
- Complete a High School Diploma or Equivalent
As a preparation for your career as a marriage counselor, taking relevant courses in high school would be a great start for you. Obtaining courses in high school that includes sciences, mathematics, health, family courses, consumer studies and psychology will provide an opportunity for you to be accepted in accredited colleges or universities once you apply after completing high school.
You may also volunteer as a peer counselor in your school. This will help you determine if you have the compassion and patience to counsel individual on their issues and problems.
- Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree
The educational requirement for marriage counselors varies from state to state. Depending on the requirement your state has stipulated, there are several options for your college education to become a marriage counselor.
- First, you may choose to take an associate degree in humanities or social studies. During your first year as an associate degree student, you must be able to meet several fundamental requirements such as communications, math and science. Your second year will concentrate on psychology, human studies and statistics. After completing an associate degree in arts or science degree, you can then work as a social worker or pursue attaining higher degrees.
- Although each state has different educational requirements, most state requires aspiring marriage counselors to have a minimum of a master’s degree that technically requires you to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Aspiring individuals must receive a bachelor’s degree in related field such as psychology, education, sociology, or psychiatry.
- Complete a Post-Graduate Degree
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require aspiring marriage counselors to get hold of a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling. This degree will take you 2-3 years of studies. The coursework will provide you with the knowledge about adolescent psychology, marriage and family systems, group therapy, human growth and development, human sexuality, theories, principles and techniques of counseling, substance abuse and psychotherapy. It also often includes legal subjects related to marriage counseling such as custody issues and divorce law.
You may also obtain a higher degree like a doctoral program that would take you 3-5 years. Doctoral degrees will provide you an advanced education in the marriage counseling field. The program includes extensive learning in courses like personality and advanced counseling theories, consultation procedures, supervised research, statistics and ethics. Other options will be to complete a post-graduate clinical training program that will usually take you 3-4 years of studies.
- Get Post-Degree Clinical Experience
The prerequisites for the state licensure exam for marriage counselors vary from one state to another. During your master’s degree, you will be required to finish two years or approximately 2000 hours of supervised clinical experience for you to finish your master’s degree program. There are also marriage counselors who gain relevant experience through internships while studying. You may also do volunteer work in line of peer management and mental health care settings.
It is an advantage for you to get as much experience as possible. Gaining relevant work experiences will provide you a practical knowledge of the career and will give you prospective references and potentially be accepted as a full-time counselor after gaining your license.
As a marriage counselor, you will encounter various issues or problems within a family or an individual. It is best that you have a specialization or an area of expertise. This way, you will be able to increase your understanding, making you more competitive as a marriage counselor in that particular area.
The areas of support counseling that a marriage counselor may offer includes child and adolescent behavioral problems, depression, domestic conflict or violence, marital conflicts, substance abuse, infidelity and infertility, bereavement and depression. These areas are distinct from one another, which require a full understanding from a marriage counselor.
- Obtain License or Certification
Every state has different licensing and testing guidelines. But all states require marriage counselors to be licensed and follow ethical codes and standards. You must meet the requirements declared by your state board in order to eligibly sit for the licensure exam.
Most states will be requiring applicants to have completed a graduate degree related to marriage and family counseling. They will also require you to have completed a particular amount of experience hours. Some will require you to be registered as an intern while others would accept working experiences under the supervision of a licensed counselor. Others will also require you to have specific hours in a certain task such as family and couple counseling.
Some states may require you to have additional training seminars or assignments in reporting and identifying child abuse, human sexuality and psychopharmacology. Others will require you to obtain courses relating to marriage, legal separation, custody and visitation rights according to state decrees.
The American Counseling Association (ACA) also provides a complete list of requirements stipulated by each state. After meeting the prerequisites, you can then register and take the state licensure examination.
Certifications are not necessary for marriage counselors. This does not permit a counselor to practice the profession, but this will rather provide the holder a professional credential and will serve as a documentation of the counselor’s competence in the profession. The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) is one of the leading certifying organizations for the counseling profession.
- Continuing Education
After passing the licensure examination and getting hold of your license to practice it will then be a requirement for you to take continuing education every year in order to maintain your license and continue to practice your profession. Most would require you to have further studies in sociology, psychology, modern foreign language, and also participate in post-graduate conferences and workshops in order to learn and apply latest techniques related to counseling.
Learning how to become a marriage counselor can be an excellent choice, especially for individuals who have the will to help couples and families with their marital and familial issues. To be a successful counselor, you must be patient in listening to your clients’ problems. You must have the ability to give moral and ethical advices and a respectful understanding but not judgmental attitude towards them. You must instill trust and confidence in your clients for you to establish a healthy relationship with them and be efficient as a marriage counselor.
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are markedAdd Comment