What is Marriage and Family Therapy?
Marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including: depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems. A family’s patterns of behavior influences the individual and therefore may need to be a part of the treatment plan. Marriage and family therapy is:
- Specific, with attainable therapeutic goals
- Designed with the “end in mind.”
Premarital therapy is increasingly popular, as in postmarital therapy (of divorced couples who share children, extended family, friends or property). Persons who are involved in other relationships, whether friendships, alternative marriages, a parent and child, siblings, or co-workers also seek therapy to solve problems to strengthen their relationships.
Why should I 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. 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.
What are the qualifications of a Marriage and Family Therapist?
MFTs are mental health professionals 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 American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has developed standards for the education and training of marriage and family therapists. AAMFT Clinical Members have a minimum of a masters degree, including specific graduate training in marriage and family therapy. They are trained in diagnosis, assessment, and treatment and are trained to use a variety of therapeutic techniques and processes. They observe a strict code of ethics and welcome inquires about their training, experience, theoretical orientation, and fees.
Does it work?
Research shows that marriage and family therapy is a cost-effective, short-term, and results-oriented form of treatment. In a recent study, researchers found that clients report high satisfaction with marriage and family therapies, with significant improvements in areas of emotional and physical health, functioning, and relationships. 98% indicated that they felt they had been helped in dealing more effectively with problems (Doherty; Simmons, 1996).
How long does it take?
MFTs regularly practice short-term therapy; 12 sessions on average. Most clients see meaningful improvement within 6 to 8 sessions. About half of the treatment provided by marriage and family therapists is one-on-one with the other half divided between marital/couple and family therapy, or a combination of treatments. Paulette Trueblood uses a brief therapy approach, focusing on solutions not problems. Because no one wants to spend years, or even months in therapy – nor need they.
Do I have to be married?
No. Individuals often seek marriage and family therapy for help with behavioral problems, relationship issues, or mental and emotional disorders. Individuals may also enter marriage and family therapy to work on issues which may be preventing them from being in a relationship or to work on issues from a marriage or a relationship that has ended.
What if my spouse or family members won’t participate?
Not all family members have to take part in marriage and family therapy for it to be effective. Uninterested family members often get involved in the therapy later if there is a least one motivated person in the family.
What credentials should I look for in choosing a therapist?
The American Medical Association recommends you choose a therapist with an advanced degree from an accredited institution who is licensed to practice in your state and who is a member in good standing of at least one behavioral health professional organization. Paulette Trueblood is a graduate of Fairfield University with a Masters Degree in Family Therapy. She is licensed in Connecticut to practice psychotherapy and is a Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Connecticut Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and verified by Psychology Today. In practice for over 20 years, she has helped hundreds of individuals, couples and families achieve their relationship goals.