Online Schools for Family Counseling: How to Choose

The field of family counseling includes the concepts and practices used to provide therapeutic services to people who are related to each other. Online degree programs in the subject are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels.

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How to Choose and Online Family Counseling School

Program Philosophy and Focus

Online programs often have unique philosophies and viewpoints. Some colleges offer family counseling programs that have a religious or spiritual perspective, while others are offered by secular colleges without any religious undertones. Students should be aware of these differences and are advised to find a program that matches their own views.

Licensure Requirements for Counseling

Licensing requirements for family counselors vary from state to state, but most states require counseling professionals to graduate from programs that are approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Because the CACREP does not often accredit online degree programs, students who are interested in a career as professional counselors should research licensing requirements in their state and make sure that whatever program they choose fulfills those requirements. Most states also require family counselors to hold at least a master's degree.

Available Online Programs in Family Counseling

Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies

Graduates of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs are not usually eligible for licensure as professional counselors, but they do learn the skills and theories needed to further their education in the field. B.S. programs cover subjects like early childhood development, parenting dynamics and marriage relationships. Coursework is usually offered primarily online, but students are often required to complete in-person field experiences.

Master of Science in Family Therapy

A master of science in family therapy degree program is designed to give students the necessary skills and knowledge to enter into a career in family counseling. The topics discussed include substance abuse counseling techniques, community counseling, human development and counseling ethics. Depending on the state, graduates often have to complete a number of hours of supervised counseling experience in order to earn a state license.

Doctor of Philosophy in Marriage and Family Therapy

Doctoral degree programs in family counseling are normally designed to give counseling professionals the opportunity to complete their doctorate while still working full-time. These degree programs are presented in hybrid or online formats and teach students about advanced counseling theories and skills taking into account issues like diversity, social justice and family dynamics.

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