Marriage and family therapy is effective for a range of relationship, family, and individual concerns. It is a brief, solution-focused, relationship-centered, and goal-oriented approach that seeks to pinpoint problems, solve them, and conclude therapy as soon as goals are met.
The discipline is based on research demonstrating that individuals and their problems are best seen in context, and the most important contexts are couple and family relationships.
Trained in both psychotherapy and family systems theory, marriage and family therapists (MFTs) focus on understanding their clients’ symptoms, as well as the interaction patterns with partners, families, and friends that may contribute to the problem.
MFT Education and Training
MFTs attend graduate schools that specifically focus on couples and families. Recently graduated MFTs are recognized in the mental health field as being especially well-trained, because graduate programs usually accept fewer than 20 students per year, and the student-professor ratios are higher than average.
It is important to check whether a therapist is trained specifically in MFT before seeking marriage or family therapy. Graduate programs in social work, counseling, and psychology include only a course or two in MFT, since they focus primarily on individual pathology.
Working with an appropriately trained MFT can provide tangible, lasting benefits. The largest, most comprehensive clinical trial of couple therapy to date found that marriage therapy helped even very distressed couples. The study, in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, focused on married couples who were chronically, seriously distressed and argued frequently. The study found:
- After 6 months of MFT, about two-thirds showed significant clinical improvement.
- Five years after ending MFT, about one-third were described as normal, happy couples.
A recent meta-analysis in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy identified additional significant benefits of MFT. More than 250 studies were critically examined in 10 articles. Among the findings:
- Over 98 percent of those surveyed reported that they received good or excellent couples therapy.
- Over 97 percent of those surveyed said they got the help they needed.
- Over 93 percent said they had more effective tools for dealing with their problems.
In other studies, MFT was found to be more effective than standard individual treatments for emotional problems such as mood disorders, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and trauma (e.g., PTSD).
In an unexpected finding, another study found that MFT improved physical health. In the case of heart disease, for example, MFT reduced blood pressure and mortality more than individual counseling or support groups.
In consumer surveys conducted by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, about 98 percent of MFT clients rate their experience with MFT as good or excellent, and the vast majority state that MFTs are the mental health professionals they would most likely recommend to friends.
As highly educated, trained, and experienced MFTs, we are each personally committed to helping you save your relationship, renew passion and romance, and get back to having fun again.