Marriage and family counselors are counselors distinctively trained to work with family systems and provide therapy for people who wish to solve emotional conflicts. Their goal, with therapy, is to revise people's perceptions and behavior, expand communication, and prevent individual and family crises. Although marriage and family counseling has a broad history, formal recognition of the professional counseling specialization can be traced to the establishment in 1989 of the International Association of Marriage and Family Counseling (IAMFC), which is a division of the American Counseling Association. Requirements for marriage and family counselors typically include a master’s degree in counseling, two years or three thousand hours of supervised clinical experience, and state-recognized exams.
Marriage and family counselors can work in mental health centers, clinics, hospitals, social service agencies, and private practice. Those in private practice, for example, may specialize in one or two kinds of problems. If they are not practiced in a certain area, they may refer clients to other counselors if they determine that their clients' problems are outside their areas of expertise. Counselors who work in clinics may work in teams, consulting each other on appropriate therapy techniques as well. Counseling are encouraged to work with others counselors to better solve and understand problems that come their way instead of guessing on their own. This holds true in marriage and family counseling as well.
The techniques used in marriage and family counseling can be different. For instance, counselors will sometimes handle family therapy in different ways than they would couples or marital therapy. Both family and marriage counseling have different origins and theories around them that marriage and family counselors know and practice. Therapy in the field of marriage and family counseling usually consists of talk sessions, lasting about an hour. Using techniques learned in classrooms and in fieldwork, counselors guide their clients through a sequence of conversations that reveal their clients' anger, fears, and needs. When couples are considering divorce, for example, counselors work to uncover the underlying reasons for the divorce and discover whether reconciliation is possible. Marriage counselors usually speak with a husband and wife at the same time, although they may have some sessions with them separately as well. They may also counsel groups of married couples, groups of husbands, or groups of wives depending on the setting. Family counselors work with entire families or with individual family members, using similar methods of therapy. Although today, marriage and family is taught together, this was not always the case. Family counseling and marriage counseling had different beginnings.
The beginning of family therapy was established in the early 1900s with the development of the child guidance movement in 1909 and marriage...