Marriage counselling is one of the many areas that individuals can choose to work in the field of counselling psychology. Unfortunately, there are no government-recognized or mandated certifications or regulations to practise as a marriage counsellor in India. However, we must acknowledge that when clients come for therapy, they place a lot of trust in the therapist concerning their mental health, which makes a therapist ethically responsible for delivering good quality service to their clients. Only ‘intention to help’ isn’t enough to be a good marriage counsellor!
While there are no government-mandated regulations to practise as a marriage counsellor in India, there are steps and qualifications one can take to become an ethical marriage therapist. They are as follows:
Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology
A Bachelor’s degree in psychology is the first step towards becoming an ethical counsellor in India. This degree sets the base and orients individuals to the various subfields that exist within psychology. Getting an idea of the sub-fields will help you pick your interest area and specialisation for a Master’s Degree. Having psychology as an optional subject in 12th can be an advantage while pursuing a Bachelor’s.
Pursue a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology
Having a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology is a must to practise as a psychologist. This degree orients individuals to the various techniques and skills required by a counsellor. It also provides knowledge of different schools of thought or theories in psychology. In the Master’s degree, there will be one paper on couples/family counselling. Master’s Degree programs may also offer students with internship experience.
Pursue a Certification in Marriage Counseling or Couple’s Therapy
A marriage or couples counsellor specialises in helping couples assess and deal with relationship issues. Although skills and training in a Master’s Degree are useful, couples counselling may present new and unique challenges for a therapist, Hence it is advisable to get specialised training in Couples Therapy after the postgraduate degree. You can look for recognized institutes that provide training for couples therapy. Some good courses for couples/marriage therapy are:
- Postgraduate certificate program in Couple and Family Therapy by TISS
- Clinical Foundations in Gottman Method Couples Therapy by the Gottman Institute
It is important to note that the courses and steps mentioned above are just a few suggestions and a general path that one can follow to be a marriage counsellor and it certainly shouldn’t be considered an end to one’s learning. In fact, continuous growth and learning is one of the important qualities of a good couples therapist. You can continue to pursue training and certification in any theoretical orientations of your interest that might add to your skills in Couple Therapy. For Ex. Emotion Focused Therapy has been found to be an effective method in couples therapy.
Supervision is Key
Having considerable hours of supervised counselling sessions can go a long way in the making of an effective couples therapist. Supervision is an indispensable part of being an ethical therapist as it provides an opportunity for therapists to reflect on their work and also helps them to address any stuck points that they are facing. Being in regular supervision ensures that the therapist is able to sustain their practice effectively.
Although India does not have regulations for couples therapists currently, being a couples therapist involves a lot of responsibility towards the clients that a therapist works with. Practising as a couples therapist without appropriate training might end up doing more harm than good for both the therapist and their clients. Thus it is not only important for a couples therapist to seek proper training but also to be in regular supervision so that they are able to help clients in the best possible way.
- Want to Help People in Distress? Consider a Career in Counselling! (2019, March 2). Mindler Blog. https://www.mindler.com/blog/how-to-become-a-counsellor-in-india/