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LMFT: Training to be a LMFT and Degree Programs

Majors Overview February 1, 2013

An individual seeking to become a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) is required to hold at least a graduate degree. Some students could choose continued education by enrolling into a doctorate program. Education choices are usually guided by state laws on certification and licensing.

Marriage and Family Therapist Master Degree Program

By completing a master degree program in marriage and family therapy students are prepared to work with individuals to help them confront and handle issues relating to a marriage or family. Students are taught how to analyze personal relationships as well as the mental and emotional influence such relationships can wield on individuals. Students learn through the programs to develop skills to work with all individuals regardless of their age. Once they have graduated, students become adept at understanding client needs, developing therapy plans, improving the relationships of clients with the members of their families, staying within ethical and legal boundaries and defining desired outcomes for clients. An undergraduate degree is mandatory for admission into a graduate degree program.

Course Topics

Coursework in a marriage and family therapy program usually includes a practicum in an internship and/or counseling environment. Topics covered in the coursework could include Addiction in the family, Family violence, Marital systems and Family origins.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

In May 2010, family and marriage therapists earned an average annual salary of $47,530 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ( In 2008, there were 27,300 marriage and family therapists employed in the United States (BLS). Job growth of fourteen percent has been projected in the period from 2008 to 2018.

Licensing Information

Individuals who want to work as marriage and family therapists are required to satisfy some form of state licensure norms (BLS). Licensing requirements vary from state to state, but often require applicants to hold a graduate degree, receive supervised experience in a clinical setting, and complete a licensing exam.

Marriage and Family Therapy Doctorate Degree Program

A doctorate degree program in marriage and family therapy makes students adept at performing in-depth research in the field and in developing business skills. A doctorate degree focuses on preparing students for employment in clinics, as opposed to a Ph.D. program that prepares students to work in an academic environment. Successful completion of training improves their clinical skills and develops their skills in performing clinical research. Some programs offer majors in areas within the field such as child therapy, school counseling and drug and alcohol counseling.

Educational Requirements

Applicants for admission to a doctorate program are required to hold an undergraduate degree. Some programs require applicants to complete a graduate level marriage and family therapy program coursework before they are admitted to the Ph.D program. Some programs call for a specific number of hours of supervised clinical experience.

Course Topics

Coursework relevant to understanding family units and counseling generally start the program. Completion of a dissertation or research project is also required from students; in addition, work study or internship. Coursework covered through classroom instruction could include subject areas such as Counseling evaluation methods, Marriage and family statistics and Family therapy research methods.

Career Options

Completion of a marriage and family program gives students several career options within the field. An individual may seek employment in a medical facility, group practice or private practice as a Marriage counselor, Couples therapist, or Clinical supervisor, among other positions.

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