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Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs)

One of the fastest growing subfields within the mental health profession is that of the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). While similar to a psychologist or a Licensed Professional Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapists specialize during their post-graduate education to work with the unique dynamic of interpersonal relationships found in couples, families and children.

MFTs will commonly work with both individuals and groups, and the focus is generally geared toward improving communication and enhancing the quality of a specific relationship or family dynamic. Within the subfield, the professional title of Marriage, Family and Child Counselors (MFCCs) is also quite common - the titles are interchangeable and often dictated by state laws and licensing organizations.

What Does a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Do?

Marriage and Family Therapists are quite versatile in the realm of psychotherapy, working with individuals who are struggling with past or present events within their family dynamic, as well as individuals who are struggling with estrangement from a parent, sibling or other relative. For couples, Marriage and Family Therapists provide a wide scope of therapy, from premarital counseling to education on how to make a divorce as easy as possible on a child. MFTs are highly skilled at identifying problems within a larger family dynamic and leading family members to discovery and solutions.

Through the process of working with a Marriage and Family Therapist, a family may spend several sessions in group therapy, as well as time alone as individuals to delve deeper into potential underlying issues that need to be addressed. Ultimately, within any therapy involving interpersonal relationships, it may take time to reach the root of a problem. The best Marriage and Family Therapists are incredibly skilled at "fair fighting," providing an environment in which all grievances can be aired without individual parties taking on a role of bullying or dominating a debate or discussion.

Working With Children

For parents who have concerns for their children, whether they have suffered through an traumatic early childhood event, or show signs of consistent, disconcerting behavior, Marriage and Family Therapists serve as a highly qualified, therapeutic option. Using techniques such as play therapy, as well as taking them out of a relationship dynamic in which they might feel ashamed or embarrassed, perhaps with a parent or sibling, children will often open their world view to a therapist and reveal their self worth. The practical skills possessed by a Marriage and Family Therapist are also geared toward helping children function happily within the family dynamic.

Earning the Title of Marriage and Family Therapist

The title of Marriage and Family Therapist is a licensure that is issued by a state and thus, protected by law. The education associated with the professional title includes a post-graduate degree as well as thousands of hours (usually a minimum of 3,000) of practical application in the professional field, including actual therapy sessions.