When investing in an education, many students look not only at a quality education, but also at the flexibility and career options the degree will offer them. After all, life is a journey that will take you to many exciting and unexpected destinations along the way.
Marriage and family therapists are trained to provide a family-oriented treatment approach that encompasses mental, emotional, behavioral and interpersonal problems. A therapist may work with couples and families together, or with individuals to improve relationships to positively affect the family dynamic and improve communication between loved ones.
The MFT degree program also offers a wide variety of career options.
“Marriage and family therapists are unique in that they operate from a systemic lens when working with individuals, couples, and families,” said Dr. Tara Signs, Marriage and Family Therapy clinic director at Oklahoma Baptist University, which is home to one of the most comprehensive MFT programs in the state.
“The MFT degree equips you with knowledge, research, and hands-on experience to prepare you for licensure and clinical practice. Because of this extensive training, MFTs can be successful in diverse settings, including community and government agencies, hospitals, religious settings, residential/inpatient along with outpatient facilities and private practices,” she added.
Dr. Paul Emrich, an OBU graduate and now undersecretary of Family and Mental Health Services at the Chickasaw Nation Department of Family Services, said the skills he learned are widely applicable.
“The Marriage and Family Therapy degree at OBU provided me with skills to facilitate strong relationships with families in therapy and with the diverse types of medical providers in a large healthcare organization,” he said.
This foundation in marriage and family therapy helped him establish integrated medical family therapy services in one of the largest healthcare systems in the region.
“I have also applied marriage and family therapy skills in helping to lead a mental health and family service system serving families across the state. The skills I learned in the OBU Marriage and Family Therapy program contributed to success in advancing an integrated mental health and family service system focused on strengthening families,” Emrich said.
Better yet, the job is in demand. More than 6.1 million people annually are seen by marriage and family therapists, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. The federal government recognizes the profession as qualified mental health providers and the Public Health Service Act recognizes marriage and family therapy as a core mental health profession under the Health Professional Shortage Area.
Recognizing the growing need for marriage and family therapists, Oklahoma Baptist University is expanding its MFT class offerings in January. In addition to classes at their campus in Shawnee, the university will begin offering classes in Oklahoma City at the OBU College of Graduate and Professional Studies Offices at 3800 N. May Ave. and in Broken Arrow at First Baptist Church at 100 W Albany St.
Enrollment for the new classes is under way now, and financial aid is still available.
“I’m excited that OBU will be expanding its contribution to improving the quality of mental health care in Oklahoma,” said Dr. Canaan Crane, the director of the MFT program at OBU. “Offering classes for the MFT program in OKC and Broken Arrow will afford opportunities for more people who want to consider a degree in marriage and family therapy from OBU.”
Career options in MFT
Church and faith-based organizations
Many people associate marriage and family therapy with ministries offered at churches. In fact, many marriage and family therapists find themselves working at a church or faith-based organization.
“The MFT program focuses on helping students find a way to express their calling to bring light and healing to a dark and hurting world. Our faculty and students are intentional about integrating faith and the practice of marriage and family therapy,” Crane said.
According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, 25 percent of MFTs work in faith-based settings.
As a faith-based university, OBU trains its MFT students to work with clients for whom Christian faith is an important part of their lives.
Those looking for the best salary outlook may want to explore careers in a government setting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, MFTs working for the government are typically paid the highest salary.
Therapists may work in government offices, the military, a nonprofit, or a for-profit agency offering counseling and social services to families, seniors and youth.
Mental health and substance abuse counseling
Other MFTs may work for substance abuse or mental health centers, providing counseling to people struggling with addiction or serious mental health issues.
“Oklahoma continues to struggle with epidemics of substance abuse and mental health care challenges. Research shows that the systemic focus that MFT brings to treating these issues results in improved lives and families brought back from the grip of disease and pain,” Crane said.
Hospitals and healthcare
Hospitals also employ a growing number of marriage and family therapists, as hospitals are recognizing that health is strongly interlinked with the patient’s environment and mental health.
These MFTs may help families work through challenges such as dealing with terminal illness, or coping with a life-altering diagnosis.
Some of these therapists may be referred to as medical family therapists. This certification is also available with OBU’s program.
With a degree in marriage and family therapy, graduates may also find work in education. Family therapists are needed at any level, from elementary schools to colleges and universities.
Students who pursue a doctorate degree after earning their MFTs could also work as a professor, either for undergraduate or graduate students.
Many MFT graduates have also founded successful private practices.
Read more detailed information about MFT career options including salary information and job growth statistics, here.
If you think marriage and family therapy is the right career for you, apply to OBU’s marriage and family therapy graduate program. For more information, about the new classes offered in Oklahoma City and Broken Arrow, call (405) 585-4601.