What Can you Do with a Child and Family Counseling Degree?
If you have ever watched the NBC drama “This Is Us,” you know that childhood and family trauma does not stay in the past.
Family trauma is something that we carry with us into our adult years, and if we do not face it head on, it can show up in ways that we don’t expect it to. But the main characters, Kevin, Randall, and Kate, are not alone in this.
The truth is, if you were to pull a random man off the street, there’s a good chance that he has experienced childhood trauma. According to the American Psychological Association, “In community samples, more than two thirds of children report experiencing a traumatic event by age 16.” If the problem is so prevalent, what do we do about it? How do we go about handling trauma from our past? And who can help children and families who are in the thick of it?
Counselors and psychologists are a great help to those with childhood trauma — especially those with a specialized child and family counseling degree.
If caring for the mental health of children and families is something that sparks your interest, this field just might be for you.
What is a Child and Family Counseling Degree?
Child and family counseling is therapy that focuses on addressing emotional and behavioral problems and family dynamics, equipping families with the skills needed to help a child cope with their struggles. Family counselors often engage in marital counseling and therapy as well.
Dr. Joey Graham, an associate professor in the School of Behavioral Sciences, and long-time professor of the Marriage and Family course at Grace, says, “If you don’t deal with the whole family’s needs, then you haven’t helped to fix the situation. You need to view it as a system,” he said. “When kids or marriages struggle, the struggle is within the family unit as a whole, and not just in an individual.”
In light of this philosophy, the child and family concentration offered at Grace helps prepare students to work with children and families in a myriad of ways. It prepares individuals to assess, engage, and treat children and families at a deeper level than a counselor on a general track.
What Can I Do with a Family and Child Counseling Degree?
There are multiple pathways that you can take with a degree in child and family counseling. Your options include:
> Child and Social Services
> Foster Care Agency
> Case Management
> Family Resource Management
> Home-based Services
As a pre-professional degree, Child and Family Counseling generally leads to a graduate school for counseling. The undergraduate degree alone will most likely land you a job in home-based services.
As an undergraduate in child and family counseling, you will learn the basic theories behind counseling techniques and applications. According to Dr. Graham, these fundamentals are used as a foundation for your understanding and philosophy of counseling.
Why Go to a Christian Liberal Arts School to Study for a Child and Family Counseling?
Your philosophy about counseling plays a huge role in where you decide to study psychology, according to Dr. Graham. Are you looking for Christian family counseling degree or a secular family counseling degree? Dr. Graham says that the purpose of the counseling is the main distinction. “Generally, Christian counseling has the goal of renewing or returning an individual to their purpose in life and in their faith, while secular counseling encourages a general, overall mental health,” distinguishes Graham.
“As a Christian school, Grace College provides a broad base of information with the integration of faith,” says Dr. Graham, who instills a faith integration assignment in all of his classes to help students remain focused on faith-based counseling.
Olivia Calnin, a second-year counseling student at Grace from Kalamazoo, Michigan, feels the new concentration meets a demand in the field.
“I wish they’d had this concentration last year when I started because it’s my goal to go into marriage and family counseling,” she said. “I think a lot of aspiring counselors have a heart for the specific needs surrounding children and families.”
In our society, child and family counseling is in large demand.
Do you want to help families thrive? A Christian family counseling degree might be right for you.