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5 skills that make a great marriage & family therapy master's degree candidate

10.23.2015 | By: Texas Wesleyan University
Successful marriage and family counselors share these five skills.

If you’ve ever taken any kind of career test, you know that most of them ask you about your skills, experiences, and interests, in order to match you with a potential career.

Consider this a shortened version of this process. If you’re interested in earning your marriage and family therapy degree, it’s good to question whether or not you have these five skills:

1. Empathy

Clients often seek counselors during the most difficult moments of their lives. They may be dealing with an ugly divorce or being pushed away by their children. Perhaps they were just fired from their job or recently admitted that their anxiety was severe enough to ask for help. While you may not have experienced these issues yourself, it is extremely important to be able to put yourself in their shoes in order to help them. While your marriage and family therapy degree will teach you how to talk to your clients, empathy is something that cannot be taught.

2. Communication

If clients aren’t able to effectively communicate with you, no amount of professional advice you can give them is going to work. Communication is a two-way street, meaning that you need to be able to listen to your client and explain how they can resolve issues in a clear and precise manner.

While counseling is most commonly connected with speaking in person, you will also need to communicate effectively through email and over the phone. Effective communication is addressed in the classes required to earn your marriage and family therapy degree.

3. Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking involves breaking something, like an emotional issue, down into parts, like past experiences, in order to find an overall solution. People are complicated, and getting to the core of what is fueling their anxiety, anger or sadness will be a daunting task. While someone’s overall complaint may be a loss of interest in the things they typically enjoy, that may stem from relationship issues or feeling unfulfilled in their job. These issues may also be related.

As you work toward your marriage and family therapy degree, you will be presented with situations that challenge you to think analytically in order to come to the best solution.

4. Business Know-How

While you may not have a background in business, business skills are a wonderful thing to have on your tool belt.

A counselor who is efficient with billing, email, phone calls, scheduling, faxing, etc. will spend less time on clerical work and more time helping their patients.

And business skills take on a whole new level of urgency when you work in a private practice. On top of all of your daily tasks, you may need to add advertising and hiring to your schedule!

5. Detachment

When working with families who share intimate details, it is important to know your limits as a counselor and be able to detach yourself from them in order to help them most effectively. Counselors and clients should not have a relationship outside of the office, but they must be open and honest with one another.

Being able to detach yourself from your patients’ issues will make your job easier and your professional relationship stronger. The real-life counseling experience you will get as you earn your marriage and family therapy degree will help you get accustomed to building relationships with clients.

If you have the skills to be a successful counselor, contact our admissions counselors today to discuss Texas Wesleyan’s master’s degree in family and marriage therapy.

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