Why use a Marriage and Family Therapist?
Marriage and Family Therapists are Relationship Experts!
They work in private practice as well as various other settings with
individuals, couples, families, children and adolescents, and the
elderly, providing support and perspective as patients struggle with
Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) practice early crisis
intervention and brief, focused psychotherapy to resolve problems or
reduce symptoms in the shortest time possible. They also have the
expertise and skills to work with persons where more intensive,
long-term treatment is necessary to cure or relieve mental or emotional
They work in California's courts and schools as well as its health
institutions, child protective services, mental health treatment
centers, research centers, organizations and businesses.
Patients who are treated by marriage and family therapists are more
productive at work, visit their doctors less often, and have lower
average lengths of stay at in-patient facilities.
Marriage and family therapists are licensed by the State of
California. They must undergo extensive education, training, clinical
fieldwork and pass two rigorous exams to demonstrate professional
In California, record numbers of citizens are seeking treatment for
mental disorders that affect their work performance and personal lives.
Personal and family stresses are greater, expectations for quality of
life are higher, and access to qualified mental healthcare providers has
improved as society has come to recognize the impact of mental health on
physical well being.
Marriage and family therapists are core mental health practitioners
educated and trained to help with relationship difficulties, and
diagnose and treat the mental disorders and emotional problems of
individuals, couples, families and groups. Marriage and family therapy
is highly effective because of the "systemic" orientation that its
therapists bring to treatment. In other words, they believe that an
individual's mental or emotional problems must be treated within the
context of his or her current or prior relationships if the gains are to
be meaningful and productive for the patient. This treatment philosophy
is consistent with current thinking in the health care field, which
increasingly emphasizes inter-agency cooperation, involvement of the
family, integration and coordination of services. Our health care system
is now moving toward a more systemic approach and is increasingly
rejecting individually focused care.
As a result, marriage and family therapists are often able to treat a
patient's condition quickly - a cost-effective and practical approach to
mental healthcare and a prime reason so many physicians and others refer
patients to marriage and family therapists. When it is in the best
interest of the patient or outside the scope of the marriage and family
therapist's license, therapists collaborate with and refer to other
health professionals, such as physicians or psychiatrists in the case of
Policy-makers, both in business and government, are beginning to
understand and support the notion that mental health services play a
critical role in prevention. Healthy individuals and families promote
socially acceptable behaviors, increased self-esteem, more tolerance for
society in general, increased capacity for intimacy, work, maturity and
responsible functioning. This ultimately results in less unnecessary
utilization of medical services.
- A competent Marriage and Family Therapist in California will . .
- Be licensed by the Board of Behavioral Science
- Be bound by a professional code of ethics
- Abide by the laws and regulations affecting the profession
- Participate in a professional association such as the California
Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)
- Engage in activities to keep up-to-date in a changing professional
- Treat patients only within the scope of their license and
- Refer patients to other qualified practitioners when appropriate or
- Welcome inquiries about methods, background, experience and
Competent therapists do not offer solutions or take sides. They help
clients work out solutions according to individual values and
lifestyles. Seeking professional assistance is a sign of courage and a
willingness to deal with life's many changes.
Distress signals where Marriage and Family Therapists can help
- Emotional stress or anxiety
- Child behavior problems
- Feelings of loneliness, isolation
- Sexual disturbances
- Unexplained fatigue
- Unusual eating patterns
- Unexplained injuries to family members
- Excessive alcohol or drug use
- Family conflict or tension
- Divorce or separationing lifestyles
- Fear, anger or guilt
- Grief or emotional pain
A Marriage and Family Therapist helps individuals, couples, families
and children explore and solve problems.
Clients can expect that discussions will be kept confidential, except
as otherwise required or permitted by law. Examples of times when
confidentiality must be broken are when child abuse has occurred or
where the patient threatens violence against another person.