What is Family Psychology?

family psychology definition

Family Psychology is a broad specialty in professional psychology based upon the principles of systems theory with a strong focus on the interpersonal system of the family.

What are the Primary Responsibilities of a Family Psychologist?

Family psychologists are responsible for a wide variety of tasks and roles. Some of these include family assessment, family and couples therapy, consultation with external authorities, education and training, advocacy for policies that affect families and conducting research relating to couples and families. Many of these professionals also perform interventions with individuals and families, testing and evaluation, guiding workshops, shaping policies that affect families, teaching, consulting and conducting research related to families and other social systems.

Where do Family Psychologists Typically Work?

Family psychologists can be found in hospitals, clinics, private practice, schools, colleges and universities, businesses, research facilities and government and other organizations.

What training is needed to become a Family Psychologist?

In order to practice as a Family Psychologist a professional must complete their doctoral degree and receive supervision at the postdoctoral level. Students earning these degrees must be immersed in a thorough understanding of general systems theory as well as the application of these important concepts to human behavior and interaction. These psychologists must also be trained in developmental psychology, personality theory and psychopathology, group and organizational dynamics, ecological psychology, communication theory, models of family functioning, methods and models of couple and family therapy, family assessment, family legal and ethical issues, and methods of family research.

How Much Money Can I Earn As a Family Psychologist?

According to the 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook, the median salary for Marriage and Family Therapists was $48,160. This includes both Master’s and Doctoral Level Therapists. In 2012, the BLS Handbook noted that Professional Psychologists make, on average, $69,280 annually.

Are There Any Professional Organizations for Family Psychologists?

The American Board of Couple and Family Psychology (ABCFP) is a member board of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). The ABCFP is responsible for generating guidelines for the definition, education, training, competencies, and the examination leading to certification as a specialist in Couple and Family psychology.

The specialty of Family Psychology is an important sub-field of professional psychology. These highly skilled clinicians are critically important to couples and families in turmoil. By working with a Family Psychologist, couples and families can find ways to take the maladaptive behavior patterns and turn them into more positive ones. Working with these professionals can mean families stay together. For those individuals interested in working with families in need, an advanced degree in Family Psychology is an excellent option.