What is an MFT?

A Marriage and Family Therapist is considered a Family-Friendly Mental Health Professionals (information from the Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, AAMFT).

Marriage and family therapists are professionals with a minimum of a master’s degree from an accredited university and two years of supervised clinical experience. Marriage and family therapists (commonly referred to as MFTs or family therapists) are trained and licensed to independently diagnose and treat mental health and substance abuse problems. MFTs are trained in psychotherapy and family systems and focus on understanding their clients’ symptoms and interaction patterns within the current environment. MFTs treat predominantly individuals, but also provide couples, family, and group therapy. Whomever the client, MFTs approach therapy from a relational perspective
that incorporates the family in some way.

Studies demonstrate that therapy is a preferred approach for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, alcoholism, marital problems, child problems, couple enrichment, and schizophrenia, to name a few.

Family therapy is even known to be effective for severe mental illness: it is one of the most well-studied and effective interventions in the mental health literature. Family involvement—including family psychoeducation, multifamily group therapy, and family therapy—has been consistently linked to better individual and family functioning. Research on couples therapy for depression indicates that couples therapy is the treatment of choice for couples in which there is both depression and couple distress. Family therapy outcomes for severe mental illness include improved overall well-being, fewer medical illnesses, less medical care utilization, and increased self-esteem.

Family-based interventions are also effective for persons with medical problems. Therapy outcomes show improvement in the person being seen, as well as in other family members. Family therapy is particularly effective with families who are providing care to elders and to a child with a chronic illness (e.g., asthma, cancer, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, etc.).

Who are Therapists?

Licensed or registered practitioners
Educated with a master’s or doctoral degree
Trained with a minimum of two (2) years supervised clinical experience
One of the five core mental health professionals (along with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurses)

What Disorders Are Commonly Treated by Family Therapists*

Depression and other Affective Disorders
Childhood Behavioral and Emotional Disorders
Marital and Relationship Problems
Conduct Disorder and Delinquency
Substance Abuse
Domestic Violence
Severe Mental Illness
Physical Illness
Who are the Clients of Family Therapists*

6.1 Million People are seen annually by Therapists (2.1% of the Population)
2,294,728 Individuals Per Year
808,798 Children Per Year
752,370 Couples Per Year
526,659 Families Per Year
3.4% of Households have seen an MFT

Do I have to be married to go to a Family Therapist?

No. Individuals often seek therapy for help with anxiety and depression, behavioral problems, relationship issues, or mental and emotional disorders. MFTs provide the same services as other mental health professionals, with a approach where the whole family is taken into consideration.

Can you do family therapy with only one person?

Family therapy is effective with just one individual or with couples, families or groups.

Do Clients typically appreciate the services of Family Therapists? *

98.1% rated services good or excellent
97.1% got the kind of help they desired
91.2% were satisfied with the amount of help they received
93% said they were helped in dealing more effectively with problems
94.3% would return to the same therapist in the future
96.9% would recommend their therapist to a friend
97.4% were generally satisfied with the service they received
63.4% reported improved physical health
54.8% reported improvement in functioning at work
73.7% indicated improvement in children’s behavior
58.7% showed improvement in children’s school performance

What is the Cost for a Family Therapist’s Services?

Mental health services provided by Family Therapists are cost-effective. MFTs provide results with lower costs to the client.

MFT fees are 60% of psychiatrists and 80% of psychologists, therefore it is more cost-effective to be seen by an MFT.

68% of Private Practice MFTs reduce fees based on an individual’s ability to pay

Family therapy has been shown to reduce health care use by 21.5%