Marriage and family therapists are mental health professionals trained and licensed to independently diagnose and treat mental health and substance abuse problems. Diagnosis and treatment occur with an awareness and understanding of the larger context within which an individual lives and works. This may include, but is not limited to, couples, families, and work and social groups. Hence, our focus tends to be on relationships among people in addition to distress within an individual. This approach is based on the research and theories that individuals are social creatures and do not exist in a vacuum. Therefore, their problems are best treated within a systemic context. As such, our orientation is unique among mental health professionals. The federal government has recognized marriage and family therapy as a core mental health profession along with psychiatry, psychology, social work and psychiatric nursing.
Marriage and family therapists focus on understanding client symptoms and interaction patterns within their existing environment. MFTs diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems. MFTs treat predominantly individuals, but also provide couples, family and group therapy; all in the context of relationships that incorporate family systems.
MFTs offer treatment for a variety of serious clinical problems include, but are not limited to: anxiety, depression, individual psychological problems, marital problems and child-parent relations. Other disorders and problems regularly encountered by MFTs include conduct disorder and delinquency, childhood behavioral and emotional disorders, substance abuse and alcoholism, marital problems, relationship enhancement and domestic violence.
Depending on one’s diagnosis and needs, approaches will vary. Marriage and family therapy’s prominence has increased due to its demonstrated effectiveness and its recognition of the contexts in which people live and work. Marriage and family therapy involves a broader emphasis on the person to examine the nature and role of all factors in primary relationship and networks.
Our members meet rigorous standards for education and training and are held to the highest ethical standards of the profession. Clinical Members have met the highest standards of the profession for education and clinical experience. Associate and Student membership categories are available for therapists in training for clinical practice. Members of allied professions and other persons who are interested in marriage and family therapy are eligible to become Affiliate Members.