Alabama PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs

Those who are serious about using their passion for counseling to help others as a marriage and family therapist might consider enrolling in a Marriage and Family Therapy PhD Program. Earning a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy​, or related doctorate degree, is a way for current and future Mental Health professionals to expand their knowledge and skills to try to become competent, ethical and qualified professionals with a refined sense of how to counsel couples and families. Programs often integrate research with practical theory to allow students to explore systemic challenges in the field and contribute new knowledge and solutions.

Marriage and Family Therapy PhD Program Information

PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy Concentrations

Some Marriage and Family Therapy PhD programs not only seek to 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 Phd in Marriage and Family program on Medical Family Therapy, in which patients are treated within the family context when there is either serious illness or trauma. Enrolling in a PhD Marriage and Family Therapy program could be your opportunity to deepen your understanding in a specific area of the complex field of counseling psychology and potentially help more families in need.

Types of Doctorate 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? Keep in mind Counseling Psychologists need to complete a PhD in psychology or a PsyD degree.i

Each school may design their Doctorate in Marriage and Family programs differently, awarding different degree types and having different end goals. For this reason it's important to read descriptions carefully and contact an advisor to ensure you find a great match. Below is a general overview to help you sort through your choices.

Doctor of Psychology Degree in Counseling Psychology (PsyD)

A PsyD in Counseling Psychology program 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 a perfect option. Typically the DMFT is less research intensive than other PhD in 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. This makes a DMFT a good option for practitioners.

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

The Marriage and Family Therapy PhD 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 Marriage and Family Therapy PhD 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 20% between 2016 and 2026, as there is an increasing reliance on integrated care, which is a treatment of multiple problems at one time by a group of specialists. In May of 2016, the annual median wage for MFT professionals was $49,170.ii

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.ii

How to Select A Marriage and Family Therapy PhD Program

A PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy program generally requires students to complete an internship or practicum, a research project and a dissertation. This could require 1,000 hours of internship, though some therapists who have already completed a master's degree may get credit for 500; exact requirements vary from school to school. As this is a considerable committment, you will want to decide which type of learning format you have the time to devote yourself to.

PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy Schools offer the traditional classroom experience, with more face-to-face interaction with peers and faculty. Campus programs may have partnerships with nearby clinics to support internship requireiments or other opportunities. Libraries, labs and other facilities might also be easily available. Contact schools to learn what resources they might provide.


Online Phd Programs in Marriage and Family Therapy, on the other hand, could offer busy working professionals more flexibility to continue their practice while they update credentials. Lectures, readings and assignments are often available online 24/7, providing a convenient way to earn your PhD in MFT degree. Keep in mind, however, that some Marriage and Family Therapy PhD Online programs may still have in person requirements, such as practicums. These may require short campus visits or finding a placement nearby. Contact your preferred programs to learn what this might entail.

Ready To Pursue a Marriage and Family Therapy PhD?

Once you've determined the type of degree you want to earn and your preferred learning format, it's time to start the final part of your search for Marriage and Family PhD programs. You could begin by reviewing the listings on this page. Or narrow down your list of potential PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy Programs using the menu bars. Select a format, or search by location.

Then work through the list and determine which Marriage and Family Therapy PhD Programs could work for you. Request info from the school by clicking the link and using the on page form. Keep a list of their admissions requirements, faculty, tuition, curriculum and other important factors. Then get your application together and send it on its way!


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/marriage-and-family-therapists.htm

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