What Is Marriage and Family Therapy?

Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) is a distinct mental health discipline with a unique body of knowledge, research, clinical approaches and licensure laws. As a profession, MFT was developed out of the field of psychiatry in the 1940s due to a shift in focus from individual pathology to viewing people's symptoms and problems as interactional processes best understood within the larger family or couple context. There are a number of mental health disciplines including clinical social work, psychology, counseling, psychiatry and marriage & family therapy. Although there are similarities amongst disciplines, there are some key differences between each discipline as well.

The Marriage and Family Therapy Field is Growing

According to the 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of marriage and family therapists is expected to grow much faster than average (41 percent) for all occupations due to population growth and the fact that MFTs can serve as a less costly alternative to psychiatrists and psychologists. The field's growing prominence is also due to its family-centered approach and demonstrated effectiveness. “We are living in a time where it has become increasingly important to better manage family relationships and stress in our rapidly changing world,” explains Dean for Marriage and Family Therapy Programs, Dr. James Billings. “The holistic and systemic approach that MFTs bring to the field of mental health has proven to be not only effective but also efficient, with many clients requiring only 12 or fewer sessions to see a significant reduction in presenting symptoms.”

  • Studies show that clients are highly satisfied with the services provided by MFTs. They report marked improvement in work productivity and co-worker relationships, family and partner relationships, emotional and overall health, social life and community involvement.
  • Clients report that MFTs are the mental health professionals they would most likely recommend to others.

Northcentral University can help you become part of one of the fastest growing mental health professions. Regardless of where you are in your education or career, NCU offers the Marriage and Family Therapy online degree programs and personal support that can prepare you for a rewarding career in Marriage and Family Therapy. Visit the links below to learn more about the field of Marriage and Family Therapy, find resources to help if you are seeking licensure or looking for an internship, or find out how to get started in a program at NCU.