Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are health professionals that provide clinical services to individuals, couples, and families from a systemic perspective. What makes MFTs unique to other counseling professionals is their focus is not only on what is happen internally for their clients but what is occurring between clients and their most important relationships.
MFTs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient care facilities, substance abuse treatment centers, public and private agencies, and in private practices. Florida has the third highest employment rate for marriage and family therapists according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Based on reports from Burning Glass, employer demand is considered high for the state of Florida. A 33% projected employment growth is expected between 2016-2026 in the state of Florida. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the annual mean wage in Florida for a licensed marriage and family therapist is $50,680.
MFTs are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of client issues such as, depression, anxiety, divorce adjustment, blended families, couple distress, parenting issues, and grief to name just a few. However, these issues are addressed from the context of how interactions with relationships and larger systems impact the creation and maintenance of these issues. As a result, this line of work can be interesting, challenging, and very rewarding.
All 50 states regulate the profession through licensure boards. The MFT program at USF meets the education and practicum hour requirements to obtain your registered intern status with the state. Once you are a registered intern with the state of Florida you can take your national MFT exam and start collecting your hours for licensure under the supervision of a Florida board approved MFT supervisor.
If you are deciding between MFT and other clinical programs like social work and mental health counseling, some questions to consider are;
- What professional identity do I want to have?
- What specialty, if any, do I want?
- What presenting problems or populations interest me the most?
- How do I view the significance of relationships in individual functioning?
If you find yourself wanting to intervene on a relationship level and are interested in specializing in working with families, kids, couples, or sex therapy then a family therapy program would be a good fit in preparing you with the knowledge and skills needed.