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What does a Marriage and Family Therapist Do?


Navigating relational issues can be a challenging task. Family dynamics are incredibly complex, as unique personalities come together, each bringing their own perspectives, circumstances, and problems. Occasionally, the outside help of a family counselor is needed to unite these personalities and give clarity to situations—and that’s where a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) comes into the picture.

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What Is A Marriage And Family Therapist?

An MFT therapist is a licensed mental health professional that generally receives training in both psychotherapy and family systems. Marriage and family therapist’s work with families and married couples, helping them reconcile differences, overcome difficult situations or deal with mental or emotional issues. Yet the day-to-day activities of an MFT can hardly be boiled down to such a short overview. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the functions of an MFT, and see the top 4 ways they impact lives and family units on a daily basis.

Diagnosing Psychological Disorders

If one family member is experiencing psychological distress, all the members within the family are affected. Depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems can slowly chip away at an individual’s emotional health while causing rifts in familial relationships. An MFT is trained to recognize, diagnose, and address psychological disorders so that healing can begin both within the individual and in the family as a whole.

Assisting in Difficult Circumstances

When families face difficult situations like divorce, job loss, illness, or death of a loved one, the MFT is there to help them cope and navigate through the struggle. These life changes can place a great deal of pressure on individuals and relationships, and it’s the MFT’s role to counsel and support families as they confront these trying times.

Mediating Relationships

All families experience conflict, albeit to varying extremes. MFTs are trained to help mediate these conflicts and provide individuals with useful communication tools to promote reconciliation. Whether it’s marital tension, mental and emotional disorders, behavioral problems in children, or anything in between, a marriage and family therapist brings their insight and impartiality to bear on the situation at hand, provoking thought, discussion, and positive life changes.

Breaking Dysfunctional Cycles

MFTs are also trained to handle much more severe problems such as substance abuse, addiction or domestic violence. These circumstances require significant treatment, as often the safety of individuals is a concern. MFTs must quickly and accurately assess the situation, ensure the safety of their client or clients, and help develop plans to break destructive cycles.

How to become an MFT

In order to become an MFT, you need to have the proper tools. A marriage and family therapy degree will equip you to handle the various situations that you may face, giving you insight into the most effective family therapy activities, methodologies, and up-to-date industry information. An online MFT program is also a valuable option for candidates who want to fulfill their goals and make an impact in a more flexible environment.

If you’re considering a COAMFTE accredited degree in marriage and family therapy, learn more by contacting Alliant International University’s California School of Professional Psychology. You’ll learn everything you need to achieve your dream of becoming an MFT, and make your impact one family at a time.

Learn about our master’s program in Marital and Family Therapy and our PsyD in Marital and Family Therapy doctoral degree today!


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