Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) is a form of psychotherapy that addresses the behaviors of all family members and the way these behaviors affect not only individual family members, but also relationships between family members and the family unit as a whole. As such, treatment is usually divided between time spent on individual therapy and time spent on couple therapy, family therapy, or both, if necessary. MFT may also be referred to as couple and family therapy, couple counseling, marriage counseling, or family counseling.
The range of physical and psychological problems treated by MFT include marital and couple conflict, parent and child conflict, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual dysfunction, grief, distress, eating disorders and weight issues, children’s behavior problems, and issues with eldercare, such as coping with a parent’s or grandparent’s dementia. MFT practitioners also work with mental-health issues such as a family member’s depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia, and the impact these issues have on the rest of the family.
While traditional therapy focuses more on the individual, MFT examines how an individual’s behavior affects both the individual and their relationship as part of a couple or family. The theory behind MFT is that regardless of whether a problem appears to be within an individual or within a family, getting other family members involved in the therapeutic process will result in more effective solutions.