Schools in the USA
Back to Career Search     

Family Counselor


Very few of us are lucky enough to have been raised in ideal family situations, with picket fences hemming in perfect birthday parties, home-cooked meals, and joyful summer holidays filled with barbecues, potato sack races, and camping trips. Most families have problems, and if those problems go untreated, they will slowly take over, creating problems for parents and children alike.

Luckily, family counselors involve themselves in those lives. They recognize that every family has its own problems, and that, for some families, those problems can get too overwhelming, leading to a breakdown in communication and trust amongst the family members. Family counselors are trained professionals who help families through those tough times. They meet with families who have endured the pain of illness, death, unemployment, and divorce, helping each family member deal with the troubling issues and restore communication and support within the family unit. Family counselors concentrate on using the family's existing skills to reconnect and confront their problems in useful, positive ways. Together the family and the counselor try and develop new strategies to deal with the existing problems. By discussing feelings, emotions, and destructive behavior, and by allowing the family to identify how their actions and feelings may be negatively affecting them, a counselor helps them put the pieces back together. After each session, the counselor should keep thorough, clear notes, in order to make plans for future sessions.

A family counselor must be able to identify the problems in the first place. Often, it could be that the parents need couples' counseling, or the children may need to see child or youth counselors, as well.

Family counseling is not an easy job. Each facet brings its own challenges and rewards. A family counselor must be emotionally stable, compassionate, and willing to fight for their clients.
View Schools for this Career: 
         Related Careers
arrow Addictions Counselor
arrow Bereavement Counselor
arrow Career Counselor
arrow [ view all related careers ]

Program Spotlight
Matching School Ad
Grand Canyon University
Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Behavioral Health Science - Family Dynamics
  • M.S. in Christian Counseling
  • M.S. in Christian Counseling of Substance Abuse and Addictive Disorders
  • And more...



  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
Median Salary:
Highest 10% of Earners:

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in a career in family counseling? Family counselors should be mature, patient, sensitive and non-judgmental. They must also be resourceful, emotionally stable, and flexible when it comes to hours, workplace, and client behavior. They have a genuine desire to help all people, and are willing to come up with creative, innovative solutions for each family they encounter. They need good verbal and written communication skills as well as empathy for those whom they are counseling.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Interview family members alone, and as a unit, to obtain family history and understand dynamics
  • Help parents and children to understand their feelings and behavior through various techniques
  • Ask leading questions, in an effort to guide family members' thinking
  • Help family members to develop healthy communication skills
  • Coach them in new skills and strategies to deal with family issues
  • Consult with or refer clients to other social services
  • Keep clear, confidential records of clients' progress
  • A typical day for a family counselor will involve a lot of listening. Listening to family histories, listening to communication skills, listening to how parents relate to each other, and how the children relate to their parents. They will try and restore a feeling of trust and community within the family they are working with, through private sessions, group sessions, games, role playing, and by speaking with other social service workers who may have come in contact with the family before. Comprehensive reports documenting the family's progress should also be regularly updated.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Family counselors work for religious organizations, school boards, and with government agencies and with social service initiatives, but they can also be found in private practice, working alone or alongside a team of marriage, family, and child counselors. If they work in private practice, their hours will be fairly regular, with weekends, evenings and holidays off. If they choose to work in the public sector, however, they may work in group-home settings, or shelters, where they can be on-call at all hours, everyday of the week. They may work alongside other health care practitioners, social workers, and therapists.

  Long Term Career Potential  
A family counselor in private practice can switch over to working with government agencies or non-profit organizations, or vice versa. There is also the option of returning to school, completing a PhD, and becoming a registered psychologist. They can also write self-help books for families, go on lecture tours, or run workshops dealing with issues like communication and respect.

  Educational Paths  
In order to work as a family counselor, it is a good idea to work towards becoming a member in a professional organization. This will prove the counselors dedication to their work, and create a sense of trust between themselves and their clients. In order to become a member in one of these organizations, prospective counselors need to have a bachelor's degree in any subject, a master's degree in psychology, social work or family studies, and then complete two years of supervised, post-degree work in family therapy and counseling. They can practice as a family counselor without joining a professional organization, but may choose to work in the public sector, as it will be harder for them to find clients in the private sphere.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

Matching School Ads
Grand Canyon University
Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!
Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Behavioral Health Science - Family Dynamics
  • M.S. in Christian Counseling
  • M.S. in Christian Counseling of Substance Abuse and Addictive Disorders
  • And more...

Colorado Technical University Online
A degree from CTU connects you to what matters most: powerful professional network, real-world professional faculty and innovative technology. Once you earn your degree you hit the ground running.
Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology - Consumer Behavior
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology - Organizational Behavior
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Northcentral University

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

Programs Offered:
  • DMFT - Mental Health Administration
  • MAMFT - LGBTQ Couple and Family Therapy
  • DMFT - Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship
  • And more...

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Pursue a certificate, master, or doctorate degree in Psychology at The Chicago School for Professional Psychology.
Programs Offered:
  • Psy.D. Marital and Family Therapy
  • M.A. Clinical Psychology, Marital and Family Therapy Specialization
  • Psy.D. Applied Clinical Psychology
  • And more...

Argosy University

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

Programs Offered:
  • Counseling Psychology/Marriage & Family Therapy (MA)
  • Counseling Psychology (EdD)
  • Psychology (BA)

Liberty University

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

Programs Offered:
  • MA in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Doctor of Education: Community Care & Counseling: Marriage & Family
  • Master of Arts: Pastoral Counseling: Discipleship and Church Ministry
  • And more...

Baker College Online

Baker College is proud to be the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. With one of the highest graduate employment rates in the country, our mission is to help our students find meaningful employment.

Programs Offered:
  • Psychology - Bachelor

Florida Tech

See What’s Possible When You Earn a Degree at Florida Tech 100% Online

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology/Clinical Psychology
  • Associate of Arts in Applied Psychology
  • Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology

Keiser University

For over 35 years, Keiser University has provided student-centered, quality career education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions.

Programs Offered:
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Post University Online

At Post University, we believe you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold to further your education.

Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Human Services / Counseling
  • B.A. in Psychology

Matching School Ads
  Universities and Colleges
Clarkson UniversityColorado School of MinesDalhousie University
Oral Roberts UniversityPenn State HarrisburgTemple University
The University of HoustonThompson Rivers UniversityUNB Saint John
University of AlabamaUniversity of ArkansasUniversity of British Columbia
University of IowaUniversity of New BrunswickUniversity of Oregon
University of OttawaYork University
Agriculture and Bio-resources | Allied Health and Health Sciences | Applied Business Technology | Architecture
Business Administration | Computer Science | Cosmetology and Esthetics | Culinary, Travel &Hospitality | Dance 
Engineering Technology & Applied Technology |Engineering | Film | Fine Arts and Design | Humanities and Liberal ArtsJustice and Security
| Natural and Applied Sciences | Naturopathic and Holistic MedicineNursingPublic Administration & PolicyReligious and Theological Studies
Sport Sciences and Physical Education | Teacher Education | Theatre
Articles | College News | Videos | Feedback | Career Search
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Faq | Terms of Use | Policy Statement | Site Map | Cities Site Map

Copyright 2003- 2017 QuinStreet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.