It would be an incomplete description to summarize a family therapist merely as a “therapist for families”. A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) is educated and trained to provide therapeutic care and psychological counseling to both individuals and couples, as well as families. In fact, a family therapist is a valuable resource to anyone in need of professional support as they seek to achieve improved mental health, strengthened relationships, and an enhanced ability to prioritize their overall self-care.
According to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, research studies repeatedly demonstrate the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating the full range of mental and emotional disorders and health problems. When considering the goals and treatment in marriage and family therapy, attention isn’t solely placed on the individual alone, but the focus also includes consideration of the various relationships and systems of interactions in which the person is interconnected. Often, these outside influences are contributing to the distress or dysfunction; therefore, it is also important to take note of them in sessions.
A licensed marriage and family therapist has completed both academic and professional training that includes master’s level coursework culminating in a graduate degree, as well as direct clinical instruction, and internship hours. They have also accrued additional post-graduate supervised clinical hours. Through this advanced education and clinical preparation, LMFTs are certified to evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental and emotional disorders, health issues, and behavioral issues. In addition, they are also able to address a wide range of relationship dynamics within a “family systems” construct. A systems-oriented mindset enables family therapists to use the perspective of family dynamics to better understand people and their intrapersonal and interpersonal patterns of interaction.
In the search for an ideal family therapist, it is helpful to understand that numerous therapy modalities exist in order to provide useful and purposeful therapeutic support to a variety of populations. In fact, there are hundreds of different forms of therapy, and a family therapist may differ in the types of therapy they provide. Four common therapy approaches are listed below.
Structural therapy focuses on established roles and boundaries in the family structure. It is commonly used in traditional family hierarchies.
Strategic/systemic therapy solves specific family problems by finding solutions that work for everyone.
Postmodern/narrative therapy challenges and discusses what is considered normal or acceptable in a family.
Behavioral/cognitive-behavioral therapy addresses maladaptive behavior through communication. Transgenerational therapy deals with beliefs and understanding across multiple generations in a family.
In order to determine if a specific family therapist aligns well with your circumstances and preferences, it may be helpful to consider asking the therapist informative questions similar to those offered below.
Where did you receive your education and training, and how long have you been in practice?
Which family therapy modality do you primarily use in your clinic, and do you specialize in any that are trauma-informed?
Is your professional fee the same whether the session is for an individual, couple, or family?
Do you contract with insurance providers and, if not, are you able to provide documentation to assist with reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses?
Are there a specific number of therapeutic sessions generally recommended for certain mental health issues or disorders?
There are many benefits to seeing a licensed marriage and family therapist. An LMFT is nationally recognized and designated as a core mental health professional. A family therapist treats a wide range of clinical problems such as depression, relationship issues, anxiety, individual psychological disorders, and child-parent concerns. In addition, because of their broad spectrum of training including a foundation in systemic therapy and assessment of family dynamics, they are able to have an expanded awareness of the various influences and subsystems that are potentially impacting an individual’s overall mental health.
Here at Therapy for Families, we help individuals and families, and we would be honored to support you. Meet our therapists and we would love to teach you coping and communication skills to help your family get on track, contact us today!
If You are Interested in In-Person or Virtual Sessions in League City