How Can I Get Experience in the Marriage and Family Counseling Field?

Those who have more experience in marriage and family counseling have a better chance at finding full-time employment after graduation than those who have just a degree do. With the amount of time that you spend in the classroom and completing homework, you might find that you don’t have much free time. Add in a part time job, the hours you spend socializing with friends and all your other commitments, and you may think you don’t have time to gain the experience that you need. As long as you have a few hours, you can volunteer and gain experience in other ways.

Do an Internship

One of the easiest ways to get some more experience is with an internship through your school. Talk to the career office on campus and check with the counseling department as well. Campus departments often have a job board and let those in the community advertise for workers. The career department should have a detailed list of internships and jobs available in the counseling field. Not only will you get some experience, but many of those positions come with a small stipend or an hourly wage. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that most counselors work for individual and family service organizations, and you might land a job with one of those groups through your school.

Volunteer for a Charity or Organization

If you can’t apply for an internship or dedicate enough hours to a part-time job, consider volunteering for a charity or organization that helps families in need. Many cities have shelters designed for battered women and their children, but you can also gain some experience volunteering at a homeless shelter, a food pantry or a nonprofit organization devoted to exclusively to children. You can have some fun playing games, watching movies and talking to those kids, and the experience that you gain will help you understand how children of different ages think and act.

Work the Suicide Hotline

A suicide hotline is a toll-free number that people of all ages can call to talk to someone when they’re dealing with depression or other problems. Manning one of those hotlines is difficult, but it will help you gain experience in marriage and family counseling and learn more about how to talk with others. Many of the people call simply because they want someone to listen to their problems and talk with them about their feelings. The connections that you make working for that hotline can also help you land a job at the counseling center later.

Look Around Your School

Finding a way to gain additional experience is as easy as looking around your own school. Consider applying for a position as an resident advisor. These positions often come with free room and board and a small stipend for each semester that you work. You agree to talk with the students living on your floor or your section of the residence hall, help them work through the problems they have with their roommates and friends and give them practical advice. Some colleges also use a peer mentoring system, which pairs an older college student with an incoming freshmen to help new students adjust.

Family counselors work with couples, children of all ages and even entire families. Gaining experience in marriage and family counseling that will help you after graduation is easy when you work with charities and nonprofit organizations and look for opportunities around your own college campus.  Doing so will increase your job outlook once you are ready to join the workforce.