Marriage and family therapy is built on a foundation of systems theory which, when applied to life’s problems, paves a path to wellness without stigmatization. MFTs are specifically trained to view problems in the context of our primary relationships – partners, parents, children, for example, as well as our secondary and tertiary relationships. This might include our relationships with co-workers or the community we live in. MFTs use a wide lens designed to capture the bigger system that makes up a client’s experience. When an individual, a couple or a family is dealing with a difficult situation, working with an MFT is an excellent choice. He or she will acutely assess your situation and provide treatment tailored to the unique problem or problems you face. Here are some of the things that MFTs want you to know…
As a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), I would like others to know how my training sets me apart from other mental health professionals. I believe that if clients understood this better they would be more capable of making an informed decision about what type of approach would benefit them. Just because someone says they have expertise in relationships, doesn't mean that they do. Heather Holmgren, MFT, Salt Lake City, UT
Therapy is a place where struggle is honored and we, as MFTs, acknowledge the many barriers to seeking help. Whether you are seeking help for the first time or have been in therapy before, you have agency over your care. Don't hesitate to ask your provider questions about the process and don't wait to reach out. Therapists are there to help you and your loved ones in a way that you see as beneficial. Whether individually, as a couple, or with your family, there are many MFTs trained to help get you back to living a happy and healthy life. Eugene Hall, LAMFT, Minneapolis, MN
The number of people present in a session does not define what a family therapist is. In fact, helping even one member within the family unit in counseling while the remaining family members do not attend, is a service that is well within the wheelhouse of family therapy. Karen Ruskin, PsyD, LMFT, Sharon, MA
Sometimes things will get worse before they get better. During the first session, couples spend a lot of time going over the various issues they have struggled with over the years—essentially stirring the pot. After this session, it is common for couples to have some painful feelings as a result of talking through these old hurts. Some couples even have a few fights during that first week. This does not mean therapy is a failure. It just means you are dealing with the emotions surrounding those hurts. Keep going. It gets better. Angela Skurtu, M.Ed. LMFT, St. Louis, MO
We are working on our own issues. MFTs often come into the field due to our own recovery journeys. I myself became interested after dealing with the fallout of my parents’ divorce and learning how to make my own progress, I wanted to support others facing the same hardship. That doesn’t mean we are looking for our own therapy in the room with you, but often we are doing our own therapy, getting guidance from a supervisor, or doing personal work to address our health. John Stinebaugh, LMFT, Fort Morgan, CO
If you know that it is time to seek therapy, we can help. Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems. The unique feature you will find during treatment with an MFT is the therapist will focus on understanding your symptoms and diagnoses within interactions and relationships. The existing environment and context is given careful examination paying particular attention to the family system – as defined by you. MFTs treat predominantly individuals but always from the perspective that “relationships matter.” Find a therapist here.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy represents over 50,000 marriage and family therapists worldwide.