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What is the role of Marriage Family Therapists?

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Marriage family therapists (MFT) are trained healthcare professionals that resolve emotion and psychological issues related to marriages, families, elderly and children. They usually work in private practices of their own or under a hospital. Their duties include assessing patients behavior and improving them with the aid of therapy models. Here is an example of the many issues therapist work with on their day to day careers from http://www.camft.org

  • Emotional stress or anxiety
  • Child behavior problems
  • Feelings of loneliness, isolation
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • 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

There are many models of therapy such as group (a form of psychotherapy), cognitive-behavioral and psycho-analytical therapy.

Group therapy involves resolving psychological/emotional issues in a group setting while cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on specific behavior. For instance, one patient may come in one day and would like to erase their fear of spiders. Reinforcements techniques of conditioning would be used by the therapist on the patient to gradually reduce their fear. Psycho-analytical therapy is the most dominantly perceived view of psychology. You’ve probably seen it on mass media. The patient lays on a comfy couch while a psychologist/therapist with a note pad is scribbling down important details the patients shares. This was the therapy introduced by Sigmund Freud. Some psychologists/therapists still use this while other practitioners have moved to more modern approaches. There are may be many politics with each model of therapy but provide the therapist a great tool kit to facilitate behavior modification and  improve lives.

What does it take to become a marriage family therapist?

Before you even think of school ask yourself…

Do I enjoy working with others? Do I find joy in seeing others grow and control their lives? Am I patient and empathetic enough to listen to a client and aid them?

If you answered yes to all of the above questions then you may have a great future as an MFT. Before you begin you are required to attend a 4 year college intuition majoring in something related to your future career. It is suggested to major in psychology since it provides a great foundation for psychology graduate studies. If you major in something else graduate school may be hesitant to let you enroll. In order to get past that hurdle find the nearest behavioral center or suicide hotline to volunteer at. Put in a few hundred hours to show graduate school that you have the experience and interest. After your  undergraduate studies are completed you are required to obtain a masters (2 years) in counseling psychology from an accredited school.  After your masters is completed the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) requires you to get 3,000 hours of supervised therapy. You may also be required to get therapy as a way to familiarize yourself with the field and get screened. Once your hours are completed you are required to test for a license to practice as a health care professional.

Check your state on the requirements since policies and laws can always change.

How much do marriage-family therapists make annually (a year)?

On average MFTs make $45,720 a year and can make up to $72,280. For more information on how much you can make in your state being a MFT visit:  http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211013.htm