Required Certification or Licensure:
Many people entering into the family therapy field for the first time are concerned about whether or not they will need to seek licensure, certification, or both or neither. In truth, there is no one size fits all answer to this question. Whether or not certification or licensure will be needed depends greatly on the area of family therapy into which a person is entering. It also depends upon the state of practice. Some states require certification for certain jobs, while others only require educational training. The only way to know for sure is for students to check with the licensing board in their area. In the event that some type of certification or licensure is necessary, students should make sure that their educational programs prepare them for this process. A good program will know what is required of students in the field and will make every effort to ensure that all standards and demands are met.
In most cases, certification and licensure processes will require students to take an exam. This exam is usually made by the state, and a certain score will be necessary in order to practice in that state. A certain number of experiential learning hours, usually completed in the form of an unpaid internship, will also be required by many states. The number of hours and how long the entire process will take varies from state to state. Additionally, some states will require those who are licensed or certified to take continuing education classes or to complete other processes in order to keep the licensure or certification current and valid.
Types of Family Therapy Credentials:
Family therapists also have the option of seeking other types of credentials. Obtaining these credentials can be an excellent way for them to further their career opportunities and advance in the field. Those who practice counseling have the option of becoming certified by the National Board of Certified Counselors. Likewise, family therapists who work in a rehabilitation aspect have the option of being certified by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification. Having this certification is often a necessity for practice in many states.
Family therapists who pursue these certifications have many more chances for advancement than those who do not. Certified individuals have a better chance of becoming clinicians, researchers, supervisors, teachers, and of securing other highly paid positions. Having a doctoral degree in addition to the certifications listed above, when applicable, can also be extremely beneficial.
Aside from all of these fancy certifications, it is important for family therapists to be of a certain disposition. They should be kind and ethical individuals who are good listeners. Other desirable and needed traits include patience, strong work ethic, intelligence, understanding, and empathy. All of the certifications in the world cannot turn a person with the wrong personality traits into a successful family therapist. These are traits that cannot be learned, but are instead innate qualities. This is why it is so important for students to do research and to be sure they are choosing career paths that they are personally well suited to.