I cannot help but beam when someone asks me what I do. Not only do I find it an honor to be in a helping profession for the mental health field, but I get an extra sense of sweet gratification when I tell people “I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist.”
Why? What is so unique and distinguishable about this title? What is it about this specialty that you should know about and seek if needing help for your relationship challenges?
Whether you’re an individual, a couple, or a family….working with a licensed marriage and family therapist can provide you with an exceptional experience. Allow me to explain…and if you could see me now while I’m writing this…….I have a big smile on my face:)
THE PROFESSIONAL, CLINICAL, AND PERSONAL TRAINING IS GROUNDED IN A SYSTEMIC FRAMEWORK INCORPORATING A SPECIALIZED FOCUS ON THE RECIPROCAL, INTERACTIONAL PROCESS THAT TAKES PLACE BETWEEN PEOPLE.
So what does this mean? It may sound a bit like psychobabble..but I will pull out the key words that are true to their meaning and may be better understood.
SYSTEMIC: As a marriage and family therapist, I will not only take into account who you are as an individual, but I will listen to you and help you within the context of your family relationships, your upbringing, your culture, and the other layers that have brought you to this very place in your life: your family system.
If I work with you as a couple, your relationship is my client, although I may work with you individually at times. If you are a family of four, your family is my client, although again I may work with one or two of you at a time during the process to gain a richer perspective and help you accordingly.
THIS IS A UNIQUE TRAINING to be able to know when to keep you together, when to give you individual time, and when to have you talk to me versus face each other. In fact, it is a unique training to be able to work with multiple people in the room.
These are not skills that can be read or merely studied. We are TRAINED to know how to work like this…I’m smiling again:)
RECIPROCAL: As I meet with you and your loved one(s), I take into account both the reciprocal nature of our conversations in conjunction with the conversations between you. I decide when to enter the dance, when to take a step back and observe, when to coach you, and when one of you takes the lead. A licensed marriage and family therapist can help couples experience the emotional support and understanding needed for their relationship growth during this reciprocal exchange of thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
These are not skills that can be read or merely studied. We are IMMERSED in this approach during our professional and clinical training and field work…Yup..I’m smiling:)
INTERACTIONAL: This may seem similar to "reciprocal", but "reciprocal" is more of what happens in the therapy room, where "interactional" can take into account the different layers and people of your life even if you are alone in the room. It is common in couples therapy to discuss the interactional cycle that takes place between you and others that feels problematic. But I also often use the same interactional cycle to then highlight what it may look like with different solutions discovered during the therapy process.
These are not skills that can be read or merely studied. We are naturally motivated to focus on this and SKILLED to know how to work like this…I’m still smiling:)
Licensed marriage and family therapists have gone through a specialized educational and clinical journey, including the many required hours of supervised work with couples and families in different therapy settings and experiencing a vigorous process of personal, clinical, and professional training that leads them to their full state licensure.
There is more to share about the uniqueness of this field..but I hope this has been a good start and has given you a bit more clarity on why a licensed marriage and family therapist can offer relationship therapy that is exceptional and highly distinguishable.