What is a Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT)?
Marriage and Family Therapists are mental health professionals trained to evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders as well as diverse forms of relational problems. MFTs specialize in treating mental and emotional disorders in the context of marriage and family relationships. Marriage and Family Therapists work with the individual, couple or family to change behavioral patterns so that symptoms and relational problems can be resolved.
Marriage & Family Therapists will typically ask questions about roles, patterns, rules, emotional states, goals, beliefs, spirituality, extended family, ethnicity/culture and stages of development. This information is used to assist the individual, couple and/or family in changing mental and emotional disorders and improving interpersonal relationships.
Research studies repeatedly demonstrate the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating the full range of mental and emotional disorders and health problems. Adolescent drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, obesity and dementia in the elderly — as well as marital distress and conflict — are just some of the conditions Marriage and Family Therapists effectively treat.
The profession of marriage and family therapy (MFT) emerged as a distinct mental health profession in 1942. There are now 48 states that actively regulate the profession of Marriage & Family Therapy through licensure or certification. MFTs have been designated by the federal government as one of the five core mental health professions along with psychiatry, psychology, social work and psychiatric nursing. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) now represents nearly 25,000 therapists with over 50,000 in practice nationwide.
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