When Family Therapy Makes Sense

Human beings are relational creatures. We tend to thrive on personal relationships, but more often than not, these relationships can become the source of our happiness when things are peachy keen and our source of angst when problems arise.  Sometimes, this angst may lead you to consider talking with a professional who can help, but how do you know when it's time?

When You…Need Extra Support

"Family therapy makes sense when a person or group of people find themselves in need of extra support," explains Dr. Annabelle Goodwin, foundations faculty for Northcentral University's School of Marriage and Family Sciences. "We are systems thinkers, which means we tend to do a good job of considering a person within the various systems that they are connected with (including familial systems, social systems, work systems, etc.)." This unique perspective of viewing issues in the context of a person's relationships is what sets marriage and family therapists (MFTs) apart from other trained mental health professionals.  "As an MFT, we are prepared to walk with our clients on a journey toward improved health," adds Goodwin.

When You….Have a Problem That Needs Solving

While an MFT is certainly concerned with the your overall, long-term well-being, they are problem solvers by nature. Their objective is to diagnose and help treat your issue. In fact, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, MFTs tend to practice "short-term therapy," with "nearly 65.6% of the cases completed within 20 sessions (12 is the average)." So if you're looking for someone who will let you lay on their couch and pour your heart out for an hour a day, week after week, year after year, an MFT may not be for you.

When You… Are Struggling with a Mental or Emotional Disorder

If your angst magnifies and leads to mental or emotional disorders such as adolescent drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, and marital distress and conflict, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional. An MFT can help you better understand underlying issues in your relationships and how they can contribute to the health problems you may be facing.