Careers in Family Science - National Council on Family Relations

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Careers in Family Science - National Council on Family Relations

Transcript Of Careers in Family Science - National Council on Family Relations

4-H Development, Academic Advising/Student Services, Adoption and Foster Care, Adult Education Centers, Child Protective Services, Colleges and Universities, Community Action Programs, Community Education/Extension, Community Health Centers, Consumer Credit and Protection, Correctional Facilities, Courts, Criminal Justice, Crises Centers, Crisis or Hotline Services, Disability Services, Divorce Mediation, Domestic Violence Prevention, Drug/Alcohol Rehab Centers, Early Childhood Family Education, Employee Assistance
Careers in Family Science Programs, Extension, Faith Communities, Family, Couple & Individual
Therapy, Fathering Programs, Financial Management Programs, Funeral Services, Girl Scouts/Boy/Scouts/Campfire Girls, Government, Head Start & Early Head Start, Health Care, Health Promotion Organizations, Hospice, Hospitals, International Agencies, Marriage & Couple Relationship Education & Enrichment, Military Family Support, Neighborhood Youth Corporations, Nursing Homes, Parenting Centers, Peace Corp., Planned Parenthood, Pre-School/Daycare, Recreation Programs, Research, Residential Treatment, Schools - Public & Private, Senior Citizen Programs, Sexuality Education, Social Security, Social Welfare Offices, Transitional Housing Programs, Vocational Rehabilitation & Job Training, Women’s Centers, Work Life Balance, YMCA/YWCA, Youth Organizations,
4-H Development, Academic Advising/Student Services, Adoption and Foster Care, Adult Education Centers, Child Protective Services, Colleges and Universities, Community Action Programs, Community Education/Extension, Community Health Centers, Consumer Credit and Protection, Correctional Facilities, Courts, Criminal Justice, Crises Centers, Crisis or Hotline Services, Disability Services, Divorce Mediation, Domestic Violence Prevention, Drug/Alcohol Rehab Centers, Early Childhood Family Education, Employee Assistance Programs, Extension, Faith Communities, Family, Couple & Individual PubThliesrhapeyd, bFaythtehreingNaPtroiognraamlsC, oFuinnacnciliaolnMFaanmagielmy eRnet laPrtoiogrnasms, Funeral Services, Girl Scouts/Boy/Scouts/Campfire Girls, Government, Head Start & Early Head Start, Health Care, Health Promotion Organizations, Hospice, Hospitals, International Agencies, Marriage

National Council on Family Relations The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) was founded in 1938 as a multidisciplinary professional association to provide a forum for family researchers, educators, and practitioners to share in the development and
dissemination of knowledge about families and family relationships, to establish professional standards, and to promote family well-being.
NCFR publishes three journals, Journal of Marriage and Family, Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of Applied Family Studies, and Journal of Family Theory & Review, and sponsors the Certified Family
Life Educator (CFLE) program.
ISBN# 978-0-916174-74-3 Copyright © 2015 by the National Council on Family Relations. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher.
National Council on Family Relations [email protected]

Careers in Family Science

Table of Contents



Family Science: The Discipline and Profession


Family Science

Domains of Practice for Family Professionals

Family Science: Capitalizing on a Family Science Degree


Academic Coursework

Minors and Concentrations

Importance of Experiential Opportunities

Service-learning and Internship Experiences

Study Abroad Experiences

Skills Valued by Employers

Family Science: The Graduate Path


Research, Education, Administration, Practice

Master’s Degree


Selecting a Graduate Program

NCFR Resources

Family Science: Career Opportunities for

Family Science Graduates





Marriage and Family Therapy

Child Life Specialist

NCFR Career Resources and Job Center

Family Career Profiles


Bachelor’s Level

Master’s Level


National Council on Family Relations


About NCFR

NCFR Member Groups

NCFR Honors Student Recognition

Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential

Editors: Dawn Cassidy, M.Ed., CFLE NCFR Director of Education
Jennifer Crosswhite, Ph.D., CFLE NCFR Director of Public Affairs
Contributing Authors: Sharon Ballard, Ph.D., CFLE, Associate Professor and Chair, Child Development and Family Relations, East Carolina University
Stephen Duncan, Ph.D., CFLE, Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University
Raeann Hamon, Ph.D., CFLE, Chair, Distinguished Professor of Family Science and Gerontology, Messiah College
Lyndal B. Khaw, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Family and Child Studies, Montclair State University
Alan Taylor, Ph.D., CFLE, Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Programs, Child Development and Family Relations, East Carolina University


Careers in Family Science

One of my all-time favorite actors, Michael J. Fox once said, “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” All of us are intricately connected to others whom we deem as family in some way, through bonds that are biological, emotional, psychological, or fictive. Thus, it is only natural that some who are curious about families will want to address that curiosity by pursuing a family science degree.
But what can you do with a family science degree? This booklet will help you discover the many rewarding family science career possibilities. It opens with information on Family Science as a Discipline and Profession with consideration of three domains of practice. Family Science: Capitalizing on a Family Science Degree provides helpful points to consider when researching family science degree programs as well as information on skills and traits valued by employers. Family Science: The Graduate Path discusses options for those pursuing an advanced degree.
The second part of the booklet, Career Opportunities for Family Science Graduates, provides information on employment opportunities in a variety of general practice settings and on possible areas of focus. The Family Career Profiles section, which includes information on 18 currently practicing family professionals, provides a wonderful sampling of the variety of employment opportunities available to those with a family science degree.
In addition to exploring potential careers, this booklet will help you learn more about the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and how you can get involved. As families and family issues have evolved over time, so have the needs for comprehensive theoretical and practical understanding of families that can support the families of today and of the future. This is where NCFR comes in. NCFR’s mission includes strengthening the well-being of families, advancing family science, and establishing professional standards through the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) designation. Consistent with this mission is NCFR’s commitment to students, like you, who want to work with families as future leaders, researchers, educators, and/or practitioners.
NCFR is a “professional home” to many students and new professionals, both in the U.S. and worldwide. Many have found NCFR to be a student-friendly organization, which I wholeheartedly agree. The Annual NCFR Conference is an ideal venue to network and meet peers and mentors with similar academic and career interests. The conference also is a wonderful setting to present your undergraduate or graduate work where the audience and atmosphere are nothing short of friendly and supportive. I still think fondly of my first ever NCFR conference in 2005 and how the experience has left me coming back for more! Additionally, students are given many opportunities to actively participate, develop, and thrive as professionals and leaders. Currently, our students and new professionals serve as leaders in state, regional, and student affiliate councils across the country, as elected representatives of their Sections, and as elected members of the NCFR Board of Directors. We even have a representative on the conference planning committee, who develops innovative conference sessions that

Careers in Family Science


are tailored to the professional interests of students and new professionals each year. Indeed, serving on the Board of Directors over the last four years has taught me so much about the field and fostered a deeper appreciation for the efforts NCFR puts into engaging students and new professionals.
On behalf of the Board and NCFR, I wish you the very best in your academic journey in family sciences. It truly is an exciting time to be a part of this evolving and all-encompassing discipline. As you explore your career niche, I invite you to consider NCFR as your “professional home.” You are most certainly welcome here.
Lyndal B. Khaw, Ph.D. Students and New Professionals Representative NCFR Board of Directors


Careers in Family Science

Family Science Family science is rooted in many social science disciplines including anthropology, communication, law, political science, psychology, sociology, and family and consumer science. While recognizing its interdisciplinary origins and nature, family science has evolved into its own discipline with unique scholarship and diverse specialties. But what is family science exactly?
An NCFR Task Force, convened in 1988 to explore the field of family science, stated that it is a field of study where “the primary goals are the discovery, verification and application of knowledge” about families (NCFR Task Force, 1988). NCFR convened a similar task force in 2014 to further consider the definition of family science and the visibility and identity of the discipline. While this work continues, we have chosen to use the term family science in this publication to describe the vast array of programs preparing students to work in family research, practice, and policy. These programs fall under a variety of department and program names including Family Science, Family Studies, Human Development, Child Development, Family and Consumer Sciences, Marriage and Family Therapy, and more, but all share a common focus on the role and importance of family and family systems.
Family systems thinking recognizes the interrelationship between family members and their environment. Family scientists also understand that individuals are not limited to a single family environment, but often co-exist among a variety of multidimensional, multi-layered family settings. They believe that societal problems such as substance abuse, domestic violence, financial struggles, delinquency, and child abuse can be more effectively addressed from a perspective that considers the individual and family as interrelated and part of a larger system. Knowledge about healthy family functioning can be applied to prevent or minimize many of these problems. The skills gained through education in family science enables graduates to bring a family perspective to their professional work. This perspective often translates into an interpersonal awareness and skill set to relate with others that is less common among students from other disciplines. The same knowledge and understanding of families that family scientists bring to their profession also can be of practical use in strengthening their personal relationships.
Domains of Practice for Family Professionals Family professionals can specialize in a number of areas as diverse as the families they serve. They may develop expertise in specific stages of life such as infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or later adulthood. They also may focus their practice on certain topics or issues such as sexuality, spirituality or faith, health and wellness, parenting, adoption, relationships, family law, family policy, family resource management, poverty, or immigration, to name just a few. The approach that family professionals take when working with families can vary as well. Family professionals can practice as family life educators, counselors or therapists, or in family case management.

Careers in Family Science


The Domains of Family Practice Model (DFP) facilitates understanding of family science and the various ways that family science is translated into work with families. The DFP model incorporates a collaborative paradigm of family life education (FLE), family therapy (FT), and family case management (FCM), which are three of the primary roles that family scientists can take in working with families. (For a more detailed discussion of the DFP model see Myers-Walls, Ballard, Darling, & Myers-Bowman, 2011). The following questions: Why? What? When? For whom? and How? differentiate the domains and boundaries of these three professions.
The “Why” of the DFP model focuses on the purpose of each of these professions and why each profession works with families. While all three professions want to promote strong healthy families, FLE tries to help families build knowledge and skills, FT helps repair families and functioning, and FCM helps families comply with legal and policy systems and locate resources (see Figure 1).
The “What” element of the model refers to the content or research base in family science that family professionals use when working with families. Certain elements of the “what” can be found in all three professions such as family systems theory and an ecosystems context, sensitivity to diversity, research-based practice, and values and ethics. A discussion of how the methods used to actually work with families varies with each approach is included in the How section below.
The “When” dimension of the model focuses on the timing of when services are delivered by the family practitioners. The timing of services is based on primary prevention (protection of healthy people from harm before something happens), secondary prevention (protection after problems, conflicts, or risks have occurred so the progress of the problem can be halted or slowed as early as possible), and tertiary prevention (helping people manage complicated, long-term problems to prevent further harm). FLE most often includes primary and secondary prevention, FT manages secondary and tertiary prevention, and FCM focuses on tertiary prevention. In regard to timing of services, FT often focuses on the past to determine family background factors that may be affecting the family, and on the present to help families manage their problems. FT also projects into the future to prepare families for a future that minimizes the issue of concern. FLE deals with the present with a goal to help families in the future by teaching new skills, and FCM deals with the present by trying to find resources to manage their daily lives.
For whom are the services of these three professions intended? There are two primary factors involved in determining for whom services are to be delivered - eligibility and motivation. Eligibility is determined by family professionals delivering services and often based on ascribed needs, which are identified by others as something a family needs. Motivation represents the participants’ perceptions that a service is needed and appropriate, and is based on felt needs, which are needs identified by the participant based on his or her personal experiences. While FLE and FT often deal with felt or ascribed needs, FT and FCS are often based on ascribed needs, referrals, or mandated attendance. For example, parents who want to better understand their teenager and want guidance on how to parent might chose to attend a family life education course on parenting or voluntarily seek a therapist, (felt need) while a


Careers in Family Science

parent whose child is in the juvenile justice system may be mandated to see a family therapist or family case manager to help with their parenting issues (ascribed need).
The How, or techniques and strategies of these three professions, is highly variable and dependent on the responses to the questions of Why, What, For whom and When. In other words, one has to examine the participant’s needs as well as the best delivery system. It is important to consider whether the needs are felt or ascribed and how these needs were assessed. The delivery method, setting, and mode of learning (mass, distance learning, group, or individual) will vary in order to best meet each family’s needs.
There is not one profession that is better than the others as all three are interrelated and collaborative. All have different purposes, methods, timing of services, and individuals and families that can benefit from the services provided. However, at times a family may benefit from being involved with one, two, or all three of these family professionals. Understanding the domains and boundaries of these professions can be helpful when thinking about your career goals.
The authors of the Domains of Family Practice Model have created several related lesson plans, one of which (Self-reflection) can assist in the identification of personal characteristics, knowledge, and skills that can help a potential family professional determine for which role they are best suited. These lesson plans can be accessed via the NCFR Professional Resource Library (search Domains of Family Practice in the keyword field).

Myers-Walls, J. A., Ballard, S. M., Darling, C., & Myers-Bowman, K. S. (2011). Reconceptualizing the domain and boundaries of family life education. Family Relations, 60, 357-372.

Careers in Family Science


Since you are reading this booklet you most likely have an interest in families and are considering or already enrolled in a family science program. You may be wondering what to expect as a family science student. Most family science programs provide students with opportunities to learn valuable content through academic coursework, acquire new skills, and gain experiences by working within the community.
Academic Coursework Students are given educational opportunities to explore various family forms, functions, issues, and challenges – all viewed within a lifespan and multicultural lens. Family science students are equipped with the skills and abilities to consider the multitude of societal and human-based issues within the context of the family. Most family science majors are eager to be trained and equipped to empower families through education and to prevent problems through a strengths-based approach.
While academic departments will vary in focus, academic coursework is an important aspect of career preparation. Many family science programs include coursework relevant to the ten family life content areas included within the Certified Family Life Educator (CFLE) credential. These content areas include: Families and Individuals in Societal Contexts, Internal Dynamics of Families, Human Growth and Development across the Lifespan, Human Sexuality, Interpersonal Relationships, Family Resource Management, Parent Education and Guidance, Family Law and Public Policy, Professional Ethics and Practice, and Family Life Education Methodology. An internship experience also is required for the CFLE designation. In addition to courses that specifically align with the ten CFLE content areas, other common courses include family theories, family cultural diversity, research methods, statistics, and evaluation.
The knowledge obtained through these courses provides students with an understanding of the relationships among research, theory, and practice and the ability to apply these concepts to family systems and family processes. This knowledge base also allows students the ability to identify evidence-based programs and to evaluate the effectiveness of educational offerings.
Minors and Concentrations Undergraduate students often opt to strengthen their marketability by augmenting their major with a minor or a concentration in a different program area. This can add value to any undergraduate degree because employers desire employees who are wellrounded. Family science students might augment their degree by minoring or pursuing a concentration in business or marketing, early childhood education, political science, sociology, psychology, social work, communication, gerontology, Spanish, health promotion and wellbeing, or criminology or criminal justice. A family science student with a minor or concentration in political science would have the academic preparation to work in family policy; a minor or concentration in criminology would provide a family science student with the ability to bring a family perspective when working


Careers in Family Science
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