About Marriage & Family Therapy
What is Marriage & Family Therapy?
A family's patterns of behavior influences the individual and therefore may need to be a part of the treatment plan. In marriage and family therapy, the unit of treatment isn't just the person - even if only a single person is interviewed - it is the set of relationships in which the person is imbedded.
Marriage and family therapy is:
Research studies repeatedly demonstrate the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating the full range of mental and emotional disorders and health problems. Studies show that marriage and family therapy is as effective, and in some cases, more effective than standard and/or individual treatments for many mental health problems such as: adult schizophrenia, affective (mood) disorders, adult alcoholism and drug abuse, children's conduct disorders, adolescent drug abuse, anorexia in young adult women, childhood autism, chronic physical illness in adults and children, and marital distress and conflict.
Marriage and family therapists regularly practice short-term therapy; 12 sessions on average. Nearly 65.6% of the cases are completed within 20 sessions, 87.9% within 50 sessions. Marital/couples therapy (11.5 sessions) and family therapy (9 sessions) both require less time than the average individuated treatment (13 sessions). About half of the treatment provided by marriage and family therapists is one-on-one with the other half divided between marital/couple and family therapy, or a combination of treatments.
Why Use a Marriage & Family Therapist?
Marriage and family therapy is an approach to therapy where relationships are privileged. So if you're an individual, a couple, or a family, whatever's brought you into the office, it's looked at in the context of your relationship. It's such a vulnerable thing when people let us into their lives. These are the things that they're most worried about. These are the things that they're most scared about. These are the things that they don't want other people to see. It's really an incredible feeling for somebody to let us in on that process, and to get to be a partner in that process.
We see things such as health, illness, loss, trauma, and personal experiences in the context of relationships. If you are a client who comes in and you have depression; how does your depression affect your relationships with your family, with your friends, with a significant other, and how does their support help you deal with, and cope with some of the different problems that you have.
The typical way that treatment works, is that people come in to the office, they're struggling with an issue, we take a look at that in terms of what sort of relationships are informing that situation. In understanding the context, it then gives us an idea of what could change in terms of how they're trying to solve the problem, that might make it possible for it to resolve, as painlessly as possible.
The holistic approach is beneficial, because it is an act of 'radical hospitality'. Someone comes in and they're going to share something that is often deeply personal, and maybe they haven't told anyone about it before. It isn't uncommon for us to work with individuals. We work with couples and families. The strength of marriage and family therapy is that we can also think about the families that extend beyond those that are in our home. We think about our work families. We also often work with providers, and their own self-care. A main difference between marriage and family therapy and other kinds of therapists, is we're always conscious about who's in a client's life, and who's not in the room. When people call us, they realize that whatever it is that they're facing, they do not, and cannot, face it alone. Even if we're working with an individual, we're thinking about that person in context: how does their situation, how does their circumstance, how does their suffering make sense in terms of what's been happening historically, and then understanding the contextual complexity of that; we look for how to introduce some kind of difference in that so that people aren't continually trying to make efforts that aren't helpful to them.
We live in an individualistic society, and in so many different ways we're isolated, but we try our best to help connect people back into relationships that sustain them to grow, and to develop, and to achieve their highest potential.