What is a Family Consultant in Social Work?

Family ConsultantFor those who have received the calling to help families cope with recent adjustments or changes in new situations for creating a healthier family environment, it is highly recommended that you consider becoming a family consultant in social work. If the career title does not seem familiar to you, it is probably because it is an emerging profession that was first coined in 2009. As trained psychologists and/or social workers with expertise in family counseling, family consultants specialize their services in solving child and family issues, including divorce, substance abuse, mental illness, disabilities, and the loss of a loved one. In order to determine whether this new social work profession is the right fit for you, the following is a full job description for family consultants.

What Family Consultants Do

After meeting with family members to discuss concerns within the familial system, family consultants in social work are responsible for assessing a family’s needs, creating family activities that promote communication, leading workshops on parenting children, informing parents of available community resources, responding to family needs during stages of transition, and offering counseling services. According to Legal Aid, family consultants in a legal environment can focus on dealing with the most complex legal disputes to achieve the best outcomes for children in court proceedings on divorce, child abuse, domestic violence, or misuse in parenting capacity. Furthermore, many family consultants in social work are now working with military families to help members adjust to soldiers being away on active duty as well as reintegrating into the family when veterans return home.

Where Family Consultants Work

Family consultants are vital members of the social work field that provide professional services specifically to families in an effort to respect the central role of the familial system as the constant in a child’s life for achieving optimal human development. Depending on their area of expertise, family consultants can find employment within government agencies, family law courts, military bases, hospitals, community-based clinics, outreach programs, and other agencies that provide family life services. With years of training and experience in the profession, a family consultant could also choose to start their own private practice to work with other healthcare professionals in providing available resources to help families.

How to Become a Family Consultant in Social Work

In most cases, professionals have entered the social work field as a family consultant after receiving extensive training in social work, psychology, education, or behavioral sciences. While a bachelor’s degree is required for most entry-level positions, many family consultants have received a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree or an equivalent from an accredited institution. Rather than focusing on a specific degree requirement, employers typically require family consultants to have a minimum of five years of experience working directly with families and children before receiving this role.

Related Resource: Clinical Social Worker

Through critical transitions, family consultants play a prominent role in providing direct social services to families and children to cope with major life changes. As the demand for social services continues to rise, employment of social workers is expected to grow much faster than average at 19 percent before 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Therefore, if you have received a social science degree and have strong interpersonal skills for working with people in challenging situations, you may want to become a family consultant in social work to help families strengthen parenting skills, prevent child abuse, cope with divorce, and overcome life obstacles.