What Does A Marriage And Family Therapist Do?
Marriage and family therapists or MFTs are mental health professionals who diagnose and treat clients who are suffering from mental disorders, addictions and substance abuse in the context of family systems. That means they don’t only treat their clients but also try to help fix the broken relationships their clients have with their families and loved ones. The core idea behind marriage and family therapy—which is also supported by studies and research—is that treatments for psychological dysfunctions and mental issues are more effective when undertaken within the context of family systems. These professionals are trained to help clients manage and treat emotional and mental disorders and the issues they face with their spouses or partners and/or with their families.
When marriage and family therapists first see their clients, they often conduct preliminary interviews and ask them questions to ascertain what their problem is. They also record the client’s answers as well as their own observations about the client’s behavior. They may also assess the client further by letting them take personality tests and psychological tests. Based on their records, observations of their client’s behavior and their knowledge of the different types of disorders that afflict patients, marriage and family therapists will then decide on the best course of action to take to treat the client.
The therapeutic approaches taken by marriage and family therapists will inevitably involve the family. For example, if depression and distress is threatening a marriage, couples therapy may be chosen as a mode of treatment. They may also recommend family therapy among families who may already be emotionally and psychology burdened with the stress of caring for children who are battling a debilitating and chronic illness. Multifamily group therapy may also be employed with some clients. Approaches that draw on family systems are typically used for individuals suffering from depression, alcoholism, marital discord and child problems. Like other counselors, psychotherapy may also be employed. Cognitive behavioral therapy, an approach which enables clients to process their harmful feelings and thoughts and replace them with positive ones geared towards enhancing their productivity and improving their welfare, is also used by MFTs.
Marriage and family therapists must possess excellent interpersonal skills so they can encourage their clients to share their experiences and let go of their emotional baggage. In cases where the clients have to deal with the blow of life-changing events like divorce or losing a job, the job of MFTs is to allow clients to process their feelings and be able to adjust to the sudden event. Through the various treatment methods that they will subject their clients to, MFTs then empower them to come up with coping strategies that will allow them to weather the storms in their lives.
Results to given treatment modes won’t come overnight. MFTs may have to conduct a number of sessions with their clients before they are able to see any changes in behavior that will indicate that the treatment mode chosen is effective. They may also shift to another form of therapy if they see that their original treatment plan is not working. Thus, this is a profession that requires a great deal of patience.
Marriage and family therapists also serve as the liaison between their clients and other support groups in the community. Thus, if they feel that their clients will benefit from being part of a support group or will be helped from obtaining a service offered by government agencies or private organizations then the MFTs will make the necessary referrals.