PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

Graduate students who are serious about turning their passion for counseling into a potential career as a marriage and family therapist might consider enrolling in a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy program. Earning a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy​ is a way for current Mental Health Professionals to acquire the knowledge, skills, practical application and values that may help to form them into competent, ethical and qualified professionals with a refined sense of how to counsel couples and families.

Marriage and Family Counseling Doctorate Degree Program Information

Some MFT PhD programs not only develop critical thinking and research skills, but also help learners to understand how to apply theory to a specific clientele such as children and adolescents, couples, military families and marriage and family therapy within the context of Christian Counseling. Therapists might also choose to focus their Marriage and Family PhD in Medical Family Therapy, in which patients are treated within the family context when there is either serious illness or trauma. Enrolling in a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy program is your opportunity to deepen your understanding in this one area of the complex field of counseling psychology.

How to Select A Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy Program

An MFT PhD program generally includes 1,000 hours of internship. Some therapists who have already completed a master's degree may get credit for 500; exact requirements vary from school to school. A doctoral candidate may need to complete an internship or practicum, a research project and a dissertation is required. As such, you will want to spend some time to decide which type of learning format you have the time to devote yourself to. has some great search tools. If you are going to look into a campus program, location might be an important consideration. Enter a city, state or country to browse results in that area. Campus formats offer more face-to-face interaction with peers and faculty. Online PhD MFT programs on the other hand may offer busy working professionals more flexibility to continue their practice while they update credentials.

Some of the listings that might come up are Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT), Doctor of Couple and Family Therapy, Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy –Couple Therapy and PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy.

To narrow down the type of doctoral level degree in Marriage and Family Therapy works for you, request info from the school, and keep a list of their admissions requirements, faculty, tuition, curriculum and other important factors.

Types of PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy Degrees

In most colleges, counseling doctorate degree programs are managed from either the psychology or the education department, since most counselors either work directly with patients or teach counseling to others. When you narrow down your search, bear in mind that you need to measure programs according to the career path you aspire to. Are you interested in educating or supervising marriage and family therapists? Do you want to carry out research or pursue scholarly interests? Or are you interested in exploring some branch of the field to be able to apply the theoretical perspective to a practical application with patients? Counseling Psychologists need to complete a PhD in psychology or a PsyD degree.

Doctor of Psychology Degree in Counseling Psychology (PsyD)

A PsyD in Counseling Psychology teaches students to understand the science behind human behavior while still keeping sight of the patient as a person. This type of doctorate degree is often used as a basis for teaching counseling at the college level or working as an academic researcher.

Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT)

For therapists who have a desire to work directly with families, either in private practice, in outpatient care centers, as part of an office health practitioners, or for a government agency, obtaining a Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) degree may be the best option for you. Typically the DMFT is less research intensive than other PhD Marriage and Family Therapy Programs and provides students with the tools to practice counseling services with patients on a day-to-day basis. The emphasis of a Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy Degree is to view patients as individuals and as part of a family or couple that can be analyzed scientifically to arrive at scientifically valid treatment methods. As such, this makes a DMFT a good option for practitioners

Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy (PhD MFT)

The PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy is a scholar/practitioner research program that prepares students for leadership roles in academia, research, behavioral healthcare or pastoral care. Students may explore topics that prepare them to work with group dynamics, or learn management techniques and data assessment strategies. Broadly, a Ph.D. in psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family is a research degree that culminates in a comprehensive exam and a dissertation based on original research. In clinical, counseling, school, or health service settings, students usually complete a 1-year internship as part of the doctoral program.

Explore a Career as a Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. Whereas other types of mental health professionals may focus on just the individual, MFT professionals bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. Some of their job involves evaluating family roles and development, in order to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health. To them, the relationship is the patient, not just the clients themselves. They address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction, mental and emotional disorders and substance abuse. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a high growth field, with employment predicted to rise by 29% between 2012 and 2022, as more people are being covered for therapy under their insurance policy. In May of 2012, the annual median wage for MFT professionals was $40,080.

Licenses For MFT Professionals

Marriage and family therapists must be licensed; licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience. In addition, MFT professionals must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Ready To Pursue a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy?

If doctorate level expertise in Marriage and Family Therapy appeals to you, whether to help you potentially advance a current career in counseling, or pave the way for one, start looking into options on today!

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