I recently attended a career day fair at the local junior high school. I was happy they invited me, albeit a little curious about whether there would be any interest in my profession. When it comes to understanding the broad range of things that MFTs do, I know that the words "Marriage" and "Family" in the title can be somewhat confusing to others. In this case, the kids were curious, and I enjoyed helping them learn about what I do for a living. But I noted something interesting.
The range of professions at the fair was impressive for a small school. I immediately noticed that the cops, surgeon, veterinarian, and explosives expert got a LOT of initial attention. I think that would fall under the category of actual interest. The kids thronged to those respective tables with a motivated certainty, as if they had already determined to sign up for a life in one of those careers. They were like wolves on the hunt for meaty professional success.
The kids approached my table differently. I was cautiously checked out, with much more curiosity than unchecked enthusiasm. But at least they were curious. In contrast to the pack behavior of wolves they became like meerkats, investigating a National Geographic photographer, and I was the photographer.
In spite of their initial reticence, I believe there were a number of kids ACTUALLY interested by the time our brief interviews were over, and I certainly made no sales pitch. Almost every student I talked to during those two hours was interested to know about helping, who could be helped, and even a few definitely took notes on how to become an LMFT. Some students even shared a little story about someone they knew who had been helped by seeing a therapist. That was exciting and it gave me a sense of professional pride.
In addition to giving some entertaining answers when asked what they know about therapists or MFTs, I noticed that most of these eighth graders got stuck on the word "marriage". I think this is significant because these kids have very few years before adulthood and will likely see those pass with little or no exposure to psychology courses. So how do they learn to find counseling help should they ever need it? It seems that possibly they will rely on limited, random, or mythical information.
There is probably no major lesson here, except it seems to illustrate that some people may have a limited view of how MFTs can help them. This is unfortunate, because people tend make the best decisions when fully-informed. To assist anyone wondering, I have attached the career profile sheet I composed for the students. It's dry, but informative. Enjoy...and don’t forget to send me an email if you have any MFT questions.
Marriage and Family Therapist
Job Description: Marriage and Family Therapists diagnose and treat mental health and behavioral disorders in the context of relationships. Marriage and Family Therapists commonly provide therapy to individuals, couples, teens, and children. This is a specialty area of psychology that focuses on how specific issues can impact how people interact in relationships.
Who can do this job? MFT’s can come from all walks-of-life, but people who succeed in the training are good students (but not necessarily straight A’s), can work independently, are able to take constructive criticism and feedback, and are really interested in helping people. MFT’s work with highly personal information, so it is important that they are non-judgmental, empathic, and take their work seriously. The ability to listen, understand, and care about all sorts of people and situations is very important.
Private or public (government) mental health agency employee
Private practice therapist
Church or community center counselor
Psychiatric hospital therapist
Education and Licensing Requirement:
Master’s or Doctorate degree from an accredited university in Counseling Psychology or MFT
Post-Graduate Internship (typically paid, 2-3 year)
Licensure requires licensees to pass board licensure exam and have completed 3000 hours of therapy under close supervision by an experienced therapist.
Additional requirements may be necessary in some states to practice independently or to supervise other professionals.
Prepared by Brock Caffee, LCMFT For the Perry-Lecompton Middle School Career fair 11/2017 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brock Caffee, LCMFT is a Marriage and Family Therapist, licensed in California and Kansas. He has over a decade of practice experience. He has a private practice in Lawrence, KS. At home he has three children, three dogs, and a very patient wife.
The views expressed in this blog are meant to help foster perspective, to entertain, and to be fun when possible. Any intent to regard the blog as counseling or therapy constitutes misuse. Advice offered in the blog should be considered only if consistent with your family values and with advice given by your own mental health professionals. Please seek consultation with a mental health professional in your area if you experience distress or feel you are in crisis. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.