What is a marriage and family therapist?
Marriage and family therapists, also known as MFTs or family therapists, are mental health professionals that have extensive training in understanding and treating problems in the context of relationships. MFTs work with individuals, couples, families, and groups, and they provide a range of counseling services in a variety of settings, including hospitals, agencies, and private practice. MFTs can diagnose mental health disorders and apply a systemic perspective in treating such diagnoses.
Each MFT has their own style and areas of specialty, but all MFTs’ approach to treatment is relationship oriented. In couple/family therapy, MFTs help to guide conversations between individuals in a relationship or between family members to help all participating individuals to better understand one another’s perspectives and needs. That is one unique aspect of working with an MFT – sessions often include multiple individuals (couple or family members), even if the others aren’t physically present. This allows for the MFT to observe how individuals behave within their relationships.
In individual therapy, MFTs seek to not only address the individual’s psyche, but also include all of the interconnected components of the client’s life that relate to the client and their issues. This includes the client’s partner, children, family members, neighborhood, church community, school, work, and community at large. This is a very unique and powerful method of working on the individual, as MFTs account for all the different people and systems that affect and are affected by the client. This approach allows for a more robust therapeutic experience and often more accelerated change.
MFTs work to understand problems in the larger context (environment, culture, lifestyle, etc.) in order to provide holistic treatment and empower individuals. MFTs collaborate and coordinate services with other professionals, including but not limited to psychologists, physicians, and school counselors, to address all important parts in an individual’s life.
Overall, with MFTs relationships are key. Marriage and family therapy is specialized and unique, and it provides positive benefits to individuals, couples, and families.