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What are the Various Types of Family Therapists?

Family therapists have a very broad range of options when it comes to choosing what kind of work they will do. Before discussing the different kinds of family therapists, however, it is important to explain what, exactly, a family therapist is. A family therapist can be defined as any qualified individual who helps one or more members of a family, either individually or as a group, to overcome problems or issues that affect the family as a whole. The goal of a family therapist is to help the entire family become more functional as a unit. Furthermore, these professionals may also work with families who are going through particularly difficult times or major life changes such as a divorce or the death of a loved one.

Some family therapists will choose to work with a specific group. Many therapists, for example, choose to work with families in which one or more members have a substance abuse problem. Others might work with families who are recovering from some type of abuse or with those families who currently have an abusive or problematic family member. Some family therapists focus on improving parent child relationships, while others work as marriage counselors and strive to strengthen the communication and bonds between a couple. Basically, a family therapist can work in just about any specialized facet, so long as it relates to the family. Every family therapist, however, will likely use some combination of the following types of therapeutic techniques: communication theory, psychotherapy, relational education, systemic coaching, and reality therapy.

Where Do Family Therapists Work?

Just as family therapists can specialize in lots of different areas, they may also work in many different environments. Some family therapists will work in private practices with the most elite owning their own practices. Others may work for the department of health and human services or with specific programs. These programs will often deal with issues that affect the entire family, such as alcoholism or substance abuse, domestic violence, or even child abuse. Others may work in churches or other organizations that offer marriage therapy, while some may also opt to work in group homes or group settings.

The area in which a family therapist chooses to specialize is usually the determining factor in what work environment options that person will have. Someone who is a licensed marriage therapist, for instance, would most likely work with individual couples in a private setting, not in a large group home or special program. Other career choices, however, open up further options. This is why it is a good idea for therapy students to have a good idea of what kind of work they would like to do before they begin therapy school. This helps students to take an educational path that will eventually lead to having the job of their dreams. Picking the wrong specialization can make it difficult or even impossible to secure a job in the desired environment.