Marriage and family therapy is a specific way of caring for individuals, couples, and families. Unlike other mental health professions, licensed MFTs are uniquely trained and required by their professional code of ethics to treat individuals and relationships systemically, much like the way physicians care for their patients. For example, when a patient visits his or her physician with a physical complaint, the physician considers that complaint in the context of all the body's systems in order to understand all the possible physical contributions to that symptom. In that sense, the symptom is seen as a "communication" about what may be occurring in various parts of the body. When one part of the body is impaired or injured, the entire body responds to help that part. The physician therefore conducts a "review of systems" in his or her attempt to understand the ailment in its larger bodily context. MFT's use this same systemic approach when caring for individuals and relationships.
Marriage and family therapists regularly treat the full range of mental and emotional disorders, other health and behavioral problems, and address a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the family system. At any given time, MFTs are treating over 1.8 million people. People treated in this systemic way report marked increase in work productivity, co-worker relationships, family relationships, emotional health, overall physical health, social life, and community involvement. In a recent study, consumers report that MFTs are the mental health professionals they would most likely recommend to friends. Over 98 percent of people receiving this systemic approach to care report services as good or excellent.
The Federal government has designated marriage and family therapy as a core mental health profession along with psychiatry, psychology, social work, and psychiatric nursing. However, marriage and family therapists alone are required both by their unique training and also by law to treat people in this systemic way. They must graduate from training programs accredited by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy which meet specific academic and clinical training standards. Following graduation from an accredited training program, a two-year period of post-degree supervised clinical experience is required before licensure. When this supervision period is completed, they are eligible to sit for their national board examination. Therapists at The Warner Clinic have met training and licensure requirements and are clinical members of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The Clinic has enjoyed being a practicum and internship training site for MFT graduate students in the past. Individuals, couples, families, and other groups of people are cared for in this specialized way, which is recognized by decades of research to be a highly effective way of caring for people and relationships.
Additional information about marriage and family therapists can be obtained by visiting the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy web site, www.aamft.org.