What do Marriage and Family Therapists do?

Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, affective, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.

  • Ask questions that will help clients identify their feelings and behaviors.
  • Counsel clients on concerns, such as unsatisfactory relationships, divorce and separation, child rearing, home management, and financial difficulties.
  • Encourage individuals and family members to develop and use skills and strategies for confronting their problems in a constructive manner.
  • Maintain case files that include activities, progress notes, evaluations, and recommendations.
  • Develop and implement individualized treatment plans addressing family relationship problems, destructive patterns of behavior, and other personal issues.
  • Collect information about clients, using techniques such as testing, interviewing, discussion, and observation.
  • Confer with clients to develop plans for posttreatment activities.
  • Confer with other counselors, doctors, and professionals to analyze individual cases and to coordinate counseling services.
  • Determine whether clients should be counseled or referred to other specialists in such fields as medicine, psychiatry, and legal aid.
  • Follow up on results of counseling programs and clients' adjustments to determine effectiveness of programs.
  • Write evaluations of parents and children for use by courts deciding divorce and custody cases, testifying in court if necessary.
  • Provide instructions to clients on how to obtain help with legal, financial, and other personal issues.
  • Provide public education and consultation to other professionals or groups regarding counseling services, issues, and methods.
  • Gather information from doctors, schools, social workers, juvenile counselors, law enforcement personnel, and others to make recommendations to courts for resolution of child custody or visitation disputes.
  • Supervise other counselors, social service staff, and assistants.
  • Provide family counseling and treatment services to inmates participating in substance abuse programs.

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Necessary Skills

  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Service Orientation
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Reading Comprehension