A career in marriage counseling can be both lucrative and rewarding. Professionals typically earn salaries in the middle 30s to the middle 60s depending on degrees and place of employment. Counselors are highly trained to help couples in crisis work through emotional conflicts and hopefully reach a point of reconciliation. The work is rewarding in that therapists can help husbands and wives avoid joining the ranks of couples who choose to permanently end relationships. Divorce not only has devastating affects on spouses, but also adverse impacts on children, extended family and the community at large. Aside from the emotional and economic turmoil troubled couples produce, a byproduct of divorce is troubled youth. At-risk children may perform poorly in school or drop out altogether. Drop-outs will not be qualified to meet the demands of higher paying jobs. A shortage of qualified workers adversely impacts a nation's economy. Additionally, the stability of the traditional family unit is compromised as children of divorced parents are more likely to fail at their own marriages than those from two-parent homes. A career in marriage counseling could place an individual in the unique position of "rescuing" future generations by helping couples resolve issues and stay married. "Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14).
Educational qualifications for individuals seeking a career in marriage counseling include a minimum of a master's degree from an accredited university or college, and two years of practical clinical experience under supervision. Master's degrees earned in guidance and counseling, sociology or human relations are usually acceptable. During a graduate's practicum, students have the opportunity to observe professionals interacting with clients as they are being interviewed. A student might also have access to privileged or confidential information and must comply with certain ethics. Sharing client information is strictly prohibited, just as in a doctor/patient or attorney/client relationship. After an extended period of time, clinical experiences should enable students pursuing a career in marriage counseling a chance to interact with a select number of clients with minimal supervision and input from a senior counselor.
In addition to degree requirements, most states require professionals to take continuing education courses to keep licenses current. State licensing agents determine the curricula and credits awarded for continuing education courses offered throughout the year. Most licensed practitioners pursuing a career in marriage counseling attend evening or weekend courses at local colleges or universities or enroll online. Professional counselors and therapists must pass a written exam for renewing licenses, typically every three or four years. The cost for attending continuing education courses online or in person is the responsibility of the counselor. Occasionally, continuing education credits are given for attendance at certain career seminars or conferences. Interested parties can benefit by attending such educational programs to help meet state requirements.
Due to increased divorce rates in the U.S. and abroad, there is an increased need for people seeking a career in marriage counseling. Local public and private social service agencies and clinics; some churches, non-profit agencies, and religious organizations; and public and private companies may employ marriage counselors. Those who elect to go into private practice and undertake a career in marriage counseling may find ample opportunity to make a good income. Private practitioners may offer one-on-one sessions on a fee-based program with couples in crisis over a short or long term. Group sessions are the least expensive, while intensive weekend or week-long interventions at a resort or secluded setting can get quite pricey. Sessions are usually initiated by one spouse and followed by meetings with husbands and wives present to assess concerns. Skilled professionals can ascertain individual grievances and help guide partners towards a mutual understanding of relevant issues and how to resolve them. Therapies include behavior modification, mediation, or conflict resolution.
Unlike secular therapists, Christian counselors use biblically-based principles to aid couples in marital crisis. They reason that the best advice comes not only from textbooks, but also from the Book, the Holy Word of God. Most marital conflicts can be addressed by guiding couples through the scriptures; applying biblical principles to resolve differences; or helping husbands and wives forgive one another through mediation. Born-again believers in Jesus Christ often feel more comfortable dealing with a Christian therapist rather than secular agencies. Spirit-led counsel gets to the core of marital conflict by applying tried and true biblical wisdom, knowledge and understanding to help husbands and wives reconcile differences and find the way back to marital harmony. "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130).
Individuals interested in pursuing a career in marriage counseling may browse websites from colleges and universities or private organizations. Prospective students should be sure to enroll in an accredited institution to ensure the best possible education and to safeguard their professional reputation. Institutions may award certificates or diplomas based on the level of expertise. Certified counselors can find employment at public and private social service agencies, but cannot expect to earn the same salary as a professional, especially those who hold doctoral degrees. Becoming certified, securing employment, and then enrolling in programs which offer higher educational degrees might be a viable option for those seeking career advancement. By enrolling in an accredited institution, pursuing continuing education credits, and staying current on licensing requirements, therapists can expect to reap the rewards of a lucrative occupation for decades. The potential to help thousands of troubled couples resolve marital conflicts exists, ensuring the future viability of the traditional family and society at large.
Types Of Marriage CounselingWithin Christian and secular types of marriage counseling, there are several different methods ministers or therapists may employ to help couples in crisis. Sessions may be held with both partners present, with individual spouses, in group meetings, couples' workshops, or one-on-one intensive retreats. Meetings are designed to help partners isolate and define specific areas of conflict, share ideas and concerns with other couples undergoing similar problems, establish goals and objectives, and ultimately work toward reconciliation. During each of these types of marriage counseling, the goal of therapists or spiritual advisers is to enable husbands and wives to clear the cobwebs of confusion, accusations and innuendos, and begin to have the same perspective and outlook on their relationship. "Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established" (Proverbs 15:22).
Initially, one spouse may approach a professional or spiritual relationship therapist about types of marriage counseling available and how to schedule appointments. Many counselors like to meet with individual spouses initially to hear both sides before forming an opinion or making qualified suggestions as to how to put the marriage back together again. By communicating with individual spouses, therapists can glean more insight, as some husbands and wives may feel freer to share without the spouse being present. Of course, therapists are well aware that one partner's perspective might be erroneous or imbalanced; hence, the need to schedule a second meeting either with the other partner alone or both spouses. The first interviews are basically fact-finding ventures to determine one partner's perspective.
Out of the other types of marriage counseling, the initial meeting with both husband and wife present may be the most informative. During this phase, a therapist can see how each spouse interacts with the other, read body language and other non-verbal signs, or intently listen as each partner shares their point of view. A good behavioral specialist can determine which mate is more aggressive or domineering, or if both partners really want the relationship to work. Initially one partner may balk at counseling or even refuse to offer opinions or answer relevant questions. An astute therapist will be able to address sensitive issues, encourage cooperation, or break down communication barriers in a reluctant mate. The therapist will first try to establish a measure of trust and mutual rapport before proceeding. "He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility" (Proverbs 15:32-33). Whether Christian or secular, mediators should remain impartial and allow each partner equal time to express concerns or offer explanations of certain behaviors that are problematic for the relationship.
Support group meetings are types of marriage counseling that involve open discussions or forums for more than one couple undergoing marital conflict. Discussions are usually led by a facilitator who guides participants seeking to discover successful means of making the marriage better or to avoid taking the plunge to dissolution. Forums offer a non-threatening atmosphere in which to exchange ideas, concepts, and solutions to marital problems. By openly sharing common concerns without divulging information that is too personal, attendees are able to realize that some issues are common to almost every marriage. In fact, participants on the verge of breaking up may walk away from a group encounter encouraged to reconcile or work harder at keeping the relationship viable.
Types of marriage counseling that include couple's workshops may involve role playing or opportunities for husbands and wives to collaborate on specific projects in or out of the classroom. Workshops are usually one- or two-day events with different speakers presenting a variety of topics relevant to rebuilding relationships. Conferences are held at hotel meeting rooms, campus colleges, or retreat centers. Couples may or may not have the opportunity for one-on-one interaction with a therapist or presenter, as the number of participants may be higher. The objective of a workshop is to give attendees as much information as possible in as short a time frame as possible so that they may take away valuable tools for changing negative patterns of behavior, discover how to become better communicators, or practice conflict resolution skills.
The most expensive types of marriage counseling may involve intensive weekend or week long retreats at a secluded location. During a retreat, couples are not only exposed to new concepts but also able to participate in individual counseling, group meetings, and one-on-one encounters with a professional or spiritual therapist. The idea behind lengthier, more concentrated counseling consisting of one or two days of intensive therapy is to get down to the core of marital conflict; engage spouses in several classes or exercises to break down communication barriers or resistance to reconciliation; work at reestablishing marital intimacy; find a common ground of understanding; and rebuild intimacy. An intensive retreat is like a rebirth as couples shed old wounds, hurts, and resentment and labor to regain the close knit bond initially experienced when first married.
Whatever types of marriage counseling spouses choose, the key to success is to remain open to follow the therapist's suggestion for reconciliation and to be willing to let go of the past and bury painful experiences through forgiveness. Therapists or spiritual advisers may recommend a combination of individual or couples interviews, workshops or retreats to help partners reconnect with each other. The cost for private counseling, workshops or weekend events may vary with each counselor or faith-based organization. To find information on relationship counseling, couples should browse the Internet or call a local church, Christian organization, or professional agency to schedule an appointment or enroll in programs.