A Marriage and Family Therapist is trained in the mental health profession to diagnose and treat mental and emotional issues and concerns within marriages, couples, families, and individuals.

A Marriage and Family Therapist focuses on getting to the core of problems that arise within groups of people. The therapy itself is relatively short-term because it concentrates on treating the problem at the source and aims for quick and effective results. A Marriage and Family Therapist is trained, licensed and certified to deal with a multitude of problems and concerns that cause tension and distress within families, couples and individuals.

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 imbedded.

Therapists believe that all members of a family or group work together to influence the behavior of each individual. Therefore, in order to treat one, all members must be treated. This will serve to assist everyone involved at the same time, rather than focusing efforts on one person.

What are some signs that one should seek the help of a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Those who are dealing with any stressful situation in a relationship should seek out a Marriage and Family Therapist. Some common issues an MFT can help with include: anger, blended families, recovering from infidelity, infertility, finances, substance abuse, and unemployment.

What is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist?

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) meet the highest criteria established by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapist (AAMFT) and have passed a licensure exam qualifying them to practice this discipline.

In Pennsylvania, LMFTs complete a rigorous graduate training and obtain a minimum of 3,600 hours of supervision, at least half of which is done by an AAMFT-approved supervisor, before they can be licensed to practice.

Why choose a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Marriage and Family Therapists have been proven to be more effective and successful at treating family problems because this is their area of expertise. The number of sessions required is usually quite low because the therapist tackles the underlying concerns at the core and focuses on immediate solutions rather than long-term care. It has been shown to improve behavior and school performance in children.

Who are Marriage and Family Therapists?

Marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of clinical issues including: depression, marital struggles, anxiety, individual psychological concerns, communication, and child-parent disagreement.

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.

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and licensed to assess and treat mental and emotional challenges within the context of marriage, couples and family systems.

Marriage and family therapists are a highly experienced group of practitioners, with an average of 13 years of clinical practice in the field of marriage and family therapy. They evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders, other health and behavioral issues, and address a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the family system.

Marriage and Family Therapists broaden the traditional emphasis on the individual to attend to the nature and role of individuals in primary relationship networks such as marriage and the family. MFTs take a holistic perspective to health care; they are concerned with the overall, long-term well-being of individuals and their families.

MFTs have graduate training (a Master’s or Doctoral degree) in marriage and family therapy and at least two years of clinical experience.

Marriage and family therapists are recognized as a “core” mental health profession, along with psychiatry, psychology, social work and psychiatric nursing.

Since 1970 there has been a 50-fold increase in the number of marriage and family therapists. At any given time they are treating over 1.8 million people.

What is a Marriage and Family Therapists’ education and training?

Those who wish to enter the field of marriage and family therapy must first complete undergraduate training. This can either be in the form of a Masters degree or a Doctoral Degree. A Masters degree typically takes 2 to 3 years to complete and a Doctoral degree is usually 3 to 5 years. Then, 2 years of clinical experience and 3 to 4 years of clinical training must be completed. On average, a marriage and family therapist must undergo at least 12 years of training before he or she can complete the state licensing exam to become certified.

How are Marriage & Family Therapists different?

In summary, Marriage and Family Therapy is:

  • Brief
  • Solution-focused
  • Specific, with attainable therapeutic goals
  • Designed with the goal to end therapy in mind

What does the research say about Marriage & Family Therapy?

Research studies repeatedly demonstrate the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating the full range of mental and emotional disorders and health problems. Adolescent drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, obesity and dementia in the elderly — as well as marital distress and conflict — are just some of the conditions Marriage and Family Therapists effectively treat.

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

In a recent study, marriage and family therapists are the mental health professionals most likely to be recommended to friends by clients. Over 98% of clients, who chose to work with a marriage and family therapist, report therapy services as good or excellent.

After receiving treatment, almost 90% of clients report an improvement in their emotional health, and nearly two-thirds report an improvement in their overall physical health. A majority of clients report an improvement in their functioning at work, and over three-fourths of those receiving marital/couples or family therapy report an improvement in the couple relationship. When a child is the identified patient, parents report that their child’s behavior improved in 73.7% of the cases, their ability to get along with other children significantly improved and there was improved performance in school.

How often do people see a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Many see a MFT for a short period of time. Some see a MFT for only a few sessions and others go for several months, depending on the issue brought to therapy.

How do I find a Marriage and Family Therapist in Pennsylvania?

Use our online directory to do a search to find the Marriage & Family Therapist nearest you.

Find an MFT now.