Family counselors help individuals, families, couples or community groups who are experiencing difficulties. They try to strengthen families by helping them work out their problems together. Family counselors deal with a wide range of family problems, from communication difficulties to financial problems. They may use a variety of techniques such as open family discussions, role-playing, and individual counseling to help families work through their problems. They may also be called family therapists or marriage and family therapists.
Duties: In order to effectively advise clients, family counselors may do any or all of the following:
• Appraise, assess, and analyze collected information
• Assist clients in identifying problems
• Collect information about individuals through interviews, case histories, and observation techniques
• Consult reference material to identify symptoms, make diagnosis, and develop treatment plans
• Determine advisability of counseling or referral to other professionals
• Refer clients to supportive services to supplement treatment
Working Conditions: Dealing daily with the problems of others can cause stress. Because privacy is essential for confidential and frank discussions with clients, counselors usually have private offices. Family counselors may have irregular working hours in order to accommodate the schedules of all family members. Weekend and evening work may occasionally be required.
Educational Requirements: Recent data indicate that the majority of marriage and family counselors have a master's degree. High school students may prepare for this career by taking courses in English, speech, social studies, and child and family studies. College courses will include psychology, counseling, sociology, and family intervention.