What is Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy?

Family therapists are generalists.

We typically treat a wide variety of psychological, emotional, and relational problems, such as depression, anxiety, marital distress, childhood and adolescent difficulties, parenting issues, loss and trauma, work and school problems, and so on. We work with individuals, couples, families, and community groups. The hallmark of family therapy is not the type of symptoms we treat, but our systemic and social constructionist approaches, as well as our preferred inclusion of multiple people in the therapeutic process.

Family therapists focus on relationships in context.

We share the premise that human behavior occurs within family, social, and cultural contexts. We understand thoughts, feelings and behaviors/interactions as interrelated across individual, family, community, societal, and global systems. This includes acknowledging individual psychological, physiological and genetic factors as well as family and other relational patterns of interaction. Importance is placed on understanding how race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, abilities, language, country of origin, and other social identities/locations intersect to maintain systems of power and privilege within couples, families, and communities. Family therapists are concerned with how these contextual factors influence well-being and are committed to challenging social structures that maintain individual and family problems.

Learn more.

To learn more about the profession, visit the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy website and the International Family Therapy Association website.

Rarely does it look like people coming to see me in an office. We have the flexibility to visit families in their homes, have sessions on the bus…I’ve even had casual hallway conversations turn into hour-long group sessions that delve into family issues, independence, and what it means to lose then regain personal power.Irina Kolobova, MA in MCFT ’13





Irina Kolobova has developed a unique perspective on family therapy after her clinical placement at Roosevelt High School. Read the whole story here.