Marriage and family therapists typically do the following:
- Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
- Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes in their life, such as divorce and layoffs
- Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future
- Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behavior and to cope with difficult situations
- Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment facilities
- Complete and maintain confidential files and mandated records
Marriage and family therapists use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Many apply cognitive behavioral therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and teaches how to replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones.
Many marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They must market their practice to prospective clients and work with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.
Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. They bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. They evaluate family roles and development, to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health. They treat the clients’ relationships, not just the clients themselves. They address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction, and substance abuse.
Marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychologists and social workers.