Top Five Tips for Marriage and Family Therapy Students

Congratulations on your career choice! As a marriage and family therapy student, you’re en route to becoming a sought-after healthcare professional. This exciting journey involves self-discovery as well as acquiring clinical knowledge and skill. To assist in obtaining your training, this article presents five tips from educators in the field. Here’s how to derive the most from your education on the way to career fulfillment.

1. Actively participate in class.

When you ask probing questions, you’re demonstrating the ability to think analytically, a requisite skill for a marriage and family therapist. According to Faculty Focus, by engaging in classroom dialogue, you fine-tune speaking skills, using the language of the profession. This practice prepares you for work in the field.

Do you fear public speaking? Colleges of Distinction offers helpful tips to overcome this obstacle. First, try to establish a relationship with your instructor. Then experiment with ways of communicating that gently stretch your courage muscles. You might comment briefly on course material. You can ask for clarification of a point you haven’t grasped. Obtain feedback by sharing your opinion. Practicing aloud outside the classroom will ease the hesitancy of speaking publicly.

2. Join a study group.

For marriage and family therapy students, a study group can be a huge stress reliever, pairing productivity with socialization. Common meeting locations are the campus library and coffee shops. If you’re uncomfortable in the group setting, try studying with one person from class. A general study guideline is to dedicate two hours of homework per every hour of class time.

There are several benefits to being a member of a study group. You receive insights that you might not gain otherwise. You’ll be better motivated to complete projects, work on presentations, and prepare for tests. Other students can provide information you may have missed in class. The support system of a study group reduces academic stress and makes learning fun. For additional benefits of joining a study group and how to organize one, click here.

3. Engage in balance and self-care strategies.

This advice comes from Dr. Keely Kolmes, a San Francisco psychologist, author, speaker, researcher, and consultant. Interns are especially vulnerable to stress overload, the result of working long hours on challenging cases. If you feel your caseload is too large, speak with your supervisor to reduce the volume of clients. Here are Dr. Kolmes’ suggestions for administering self-care:

  • healthy eating
  • exercise
  • meditation
  • yoga
  • deep breathing
  • stretching
  • time with family and friends

Best College Values suggests that when planning each day, allot time for studying, extracurricular activities, socializing, and self-care. This will help your brain and body function optimally.

4. Polish your writing skills.

A command of language reflects your intelligence. Psychological Science states that high-quality written communication is vital in both psychology education and employment. In 2002, the American Psychological Association cited effective writing as one of the primary goals of the educational curriculum. 1/ Here are ways to refine your writing:

  • Enroll in a college course that teaches various types of writing, such as authoring journal articles, reports, grant proposals, and resume cover letters.
  • After taking notes for a class, spend five minutes summarizing the session’s content.
  • Invest in writing enhancement software. Programs correct mistakes in grammar, spelling, and syntax and make suggestions for improvement. Some of the top software products are Grammarly, WhiteSmoke, and Writer’s Workbench.
  • If your school has a writing and tutoring center, take advantage of their services.

5. Become a member of a professional organization.

According to, a professional association is a valuable networking resource. By joining, you’ll also stay current on the latest findings in psychology research and practice. Your professional development will be enhanced through attendance at conferences and seminars publicized by the association. On your resume, memberships impress a prospective employer since they reflect dedication to your field of study. You’ll also have access to more jobs since many organizations limit job listings to members.

Although you can opt to join a professional organization after graduating, students receive reduced membership fees. In addition, some associations offer tuition assistance through grants and fellowships.

In the US, there are thousands of psychology associations from which to choose. lists 11 student organizations. If your career goal is to work as a psychologist, consider joining the American Psychological Association (APA). The largest psychology organization in the US, the APA offers membership to students, educators, researchers, clinicians, and consultants. To join a local or campus chapter, visit your school’s career center and library.

A Promising Career

As a marriage and family therapist, you’ll be helping clients work through issues of abuse, depression, infidelity, grief, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Your expertise will empower couples and families to manage mental and emotional stress. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you’ll be working in a field that’s expected to grow by 19 percent by the year 2024.

Here’s another statistic that will inspire you! A 2016 article by US News reports that family and marriage therapists rank #3 among the best social service occupations. Ratings are primarily based on salary, job prospects, career fulfillment, and advancement opportunities. Other evaluating criteria are stress level and work-life balance.

After obtaining your bachelor’s and master’s degrees, you’ll be adept at providing effective treatment for families and couples in crisis. To reap the greatest rewards from your education:

1. Actively participate in class.
2. Join a study group.
3. Engage in balance and self-care strategies.
4. Polish your writing skills.
5. Become a member of a professional organization.

By fully dedicating your time, intelligence, and efforts to study and training, you’re laying a solid foundation for a successful future. A bright and rewarding career awaits you!

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