What is Marriage and Family Therapy?

A family’s patterns of behavior influences the individual and therefore may need to be a part of the treatment plan. In marriage and family therapy, the unit of treatment isn’t just the person – even if only a single person is interviewed – it is the set of relationships in which the person is embedded.

Marriage and family therapy is:

• brief
• solution-focused
• specific, with attainable therapeutic goals
• designed with the “end in mind.”

Marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including: depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems.

Research indicates that marriage and family therapy is as effective, and in some cases more effective than standard and/or individual treatments for many mental health problems such as: adult schizophrenia, affective (mood) disorders, adult alcoholism and drug abuse, children’s conduct disorders, adolescent drug abuse, anorexia in young adult women, childhood autism, chronic physical illness in adults and children, and marital distress and conflict.

Who are Marriage and Family Therapists?

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems. They evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders, other health and behavioral problems, and address a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the family system.

Family therapists believe that difficulties arise in relationships because of the way in which people interact with one another. Family therapists do not believe that these difficulties are related to any one person being the “problem” or having a “dysfunction”. Family therapists focus on a relationship’s dynamics and help clients view the relationship differently allowing them to approach the relationship in a new way.

Why use a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Research studies repeatedly demonstrate the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating the full range of mental and emotional disorders and health problems. Studies also show that clients are highly satisfied with services of Marriage and Family Therapists. Clients report marked improvement in work productivity, co-worker relationships, family relationships, partner relationships, emotional health, overall health, social life, and community involvement

What are the qualifications for a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Marriage and family therapy is a distinct professional discipline with graduate and post graduate programs. Three options are available for those interested in becoming a marriage and family therapist: master’s degree (2-3 years), doctoral program (3-5 years), or post-graduate clinical training programs (3-4 years). Historically, marriage and family therapists have come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds including psychology, psychiatry, social work, nursing, pastoral counseling and education.