What Certifications are Available for Marriage and Family Counselors?

A person who is earning a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology may wonder what certifications are available for marriage and family counselors. Different organizations and associations offer certifications for marriage and family counselors. While none of these certifications is required to provide therapy, they may help provide more specific services to certain patients.

Gottman Method

The Gottman Method uses specific types of counseling for married couples and families. It focuses on issues of resentment that can accumulate in a marriage. The goal of the Gottman Method is to cleanse the negative emotions that are associated with resentment. Another area of focus of this type of marriage and family counseling is recognizing and accepting that there will always be conflict in a relationship, and there is no need to fix or solve every conflict. Rather, the patient is encouraged to develop conflict management strategies that do not result in feelings of resentment in the relationship. For example, the Gottman Method could help a married couple in which one spouse quit their full-time job to raise the children, and now that the children are grown, they resent the fact that they have to start their career over or that they feel like they have no profession or purpose since the children are adults.

Certified Domestic Violence Counselor

The certification for a domestic violence counselor is through the National Association of Forensic Counselors. Annual renewal is necessary which requires the candidate to take an oral or written exam and continuing education units. They also must have at least two years of work experience as a counselor. The certification allows the counselor to provide therapy services for juveniles and adults who have committed domestic violence and provide therapy to people who have survived it.

Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems Therapy is a certification that involves inter-generational, strategic and structure-based counseling approaches. In the structural form of family therapy, the counselor looks at each individual’s place within the family structure and how it affects their emotions and behavior. In the strategic approach, the counselor attempts to evaluate family processes and functions. The idea is that families can change behaviors quickly if desired. In the inter-generational approach, counselors identify how generational patterns of behavior affect a person’s actions and ability to cope.

Certified Christian Counselor

According to the National Foundation for Forensic Counselors, another certification for marriage and family counselors to consider is the Certified Christian Counselor. Some married couples who practice a Christian denomination of religion may prefer to go to a counselor who can use Biblical references in the counseling sessions. This type of counselor may be desirable in a situation of adultery or other types of deceit that are prohibited in the Bible.

Related Resource: 5 Best Online Ph.D. Marriage and Family Counseling Programs

Earning a certification for marriage and family counselors allows a professional to learn more while also providing specialized care to their patient. The certifications are not required for state licensing to practice as a counselor, but they may benefit the professional and patient through more ideas, techniques and ways of identifying issues. Knowing what certifications are available for marriage and family counselors could help a person plan their continuing education credits and provide exemplary services.