What is a Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT)?
I often feel that as an MFT my services or scope of practice is frequently misunderstood by others. This totally makes sense! If I wasn't in the field, I'd misunderstand what an MFT does too. I'm called a Marriage and Family Therapists but I'm so much more than that! Below I've provided some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about what I do and what I don't do. Hopefully this clears things up a little bit! If not, please feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to answer any other questions you may have.
Since you're an MFT does that mean that you only work with families or people who are married?
No! I have special training in working with couples and families, but it's not the only thing that I do. I work with individuals (men, women, teens, children), AND couples and families.
Then why are you called a Marriage & Family Therapist?
Because in the states of California and Oregon (where I am licensed), that is the name for a Master's-level clinical therapist/counselor. California and Oregon have a few other Master's-level counselors out there (LPCC & LCSW), but we each focus on different areas. I chose to pursue Marriage & Family Therapy, because of its emphasis on interpersonal relationships. The world is made up of interpersonal relationships. This just made sense for me.
What kind of education and training did you have to complete to become an MFT?
In addition to a Bachelors degree, I had to complete a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage & Family Therapy. I then had to complete 3000 clinical hours and pass three state licensing exams: an MFT California (and Oregon) Law & Ethics exam and another exam on absolutely everything else plus the kitchen sink. And yes, I passed them both on my first try. Yay!
What can't you do as an MFT?
I can't prescribe medication (you'll need to see a psychiatrist or a primary care physician). There are some psychological tests (e.g. MMPI) I'm not trained to do and although I could do this if I had adequate training, I personally do not work with severely mentally ill patients (e.g. schizophrenia). Other than that, the world is my oyster!
So how can you help me?
That's an excellent question! Hopefully I've answered that a little more thoroughly on My Approach page. But if you're still uncertain, then please contact me and let's talk about it. If I'm not a good fit for you, then I will happily refer you to a trusted colleague, who might be better. There's no hard feelings! You don't marry the first person you date, do you? Well...maybe you do. :)
**In case you'd like to know what the law says about Marriage and Family Therapists, here is a very vague and confusing definition of an MFT. According to Business and Professions Code Section 4980.02: “The applications of marriage and family therapy principles and methods includes, but is not limited to, the use of applied psychotherapeutic techniques, to enable individuals to mature and grow within marriage and the family, and the provision of explanations and interpretations of the psychosexual and psychosocial aspects of relationships.”