5 Career Settings for Marriage and Family Counselors

careers for marriage and family counselors

5 Places Where Marriage and Family Counselors Work

  • Private Practice Office
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Outpatient Mental Health Centers
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
  • Public and Private Hospitals

When a person is considering a career as marriage and family counselors, the type of work setting may play a role in selecting a job. Marriage and family counselors work in many different settings, and they may be independent or a part of a clinic, healthcare facility or counseling practice. Understanding the five most common career settings for a family and marriage counselor could help a person make an informed decision about their job choices.

1. Private Practice Office

Family and marriage counselors may establish their independent practice. These may be in an office building or suite where other types of therapists also have their practices. Some counselors share a practice, allowing them to have one administrative assistant handle the scheduling and billing tasks. A private practice office could also be located in the counselor’s own home. Some private practice counselors travel to the client’s home and conduct in-home therapy services.

2. Employee Assistance Programs

Medium and large-size employers often have an employee assistance program. These programs are set up to support the health and well-being of employees. Healthy employees are more productive and miss less work, so it benefits the employer to have these programs in place. Marriage and family counselors may be on the full-time staff of such an employer, or they might have a contract with several companies, visiting each one once per week or some other schedule. This type of setting involves working with people of different backgrounds, ages and family situations. The employer would pay for the costs of the counseling, and the sessions might be before, during or after work hours. The counselors might also provide educational sessions to groups of workers at those companies.

3. Outpatient Mental Health Centers

Marriage and family counselors may also work at outpatient mental health centers. These mental health centers may have different types of counselors and therapists for helping people in a wide variety of life situations. Their services might be paired with those of another therapist. For example, if one member of a married couple has a gambling addiction, the individual with the addiction might get individualized therapy for that issue, and they might see the marriage counselor with their spouse to heal their relationship with their partner.

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4. Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, marriage and family counselors also work in substance abuse treatment centers. These include both outpatient and inpatient facilities. When a person has a substance use disorder, their relationships suffer. The marriage or family counselor offers help with repairing those relationships.

5. Public and Private Hospitals

Some marriage and family counselors work in hospitals. They may meet with families who are experiencing bad news, such as a diagnosis of a terminal illness. They may also meet with a person who is hospitalized after a domestic violence situation. The counselors could also help the employees of the hospital with their family and marriage issues.


Each of these career settings for marriage and family counselors offers a slightly different perspective. A person who likes to work independently might choose to set up their practice, while a person who enjoys working with other counselors, psychologists and mental health professionals might choose a more team-oriented setting. Knowing about these five career settings for marriage and family counselors allows a candidate to hone the types of positions they apply for when searching for a job.

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