MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist)

A Marriage and Family Therapist is considered the Family-Friendly Mental Health Professionals (information from the Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, AAMFT).

Marriage and family therapists are professionals with a minimum of a master’s degree from an accredited university and two years supervised clinical experience. Marriage and family therapists (commonly referred to as MFTs or family therapists) are trained and licensed to independently diagnose and treat mental health and substance abuse problems. MFTs are trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and focus on understanding their clients’ symptoms and interaction patterns within the current environment. MFTs treat predominantly individuals, but also provide couples, family and group therapy. Whomever the client, MFTs approach therapy from a relational perspective that incorporates the family in some way.

Studies demonstrate that therapy is a preferred approach for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, alcoholism, marital problems, child problems, couple enrichment, and schizophrenia, to name a few.

Family therapy is even known to be effective for severe mental illness: it is one of the most well-studied and effective interventions in the mental health literature. Family involvement—including family psychoeducation, multifamily group therapy, and family therapy—have been consistently linked to better individual and family functioning. Research on couples therapy for depression indicates that couples therapy is the treatment of choice for couples in which there is both depression and couple distress. Family therapy outcomes for severe mental illness include improved overall well being, fewer medical illnesses, less medical care utilization, and increased self-esteem.

Family-based interventions are also effective for persons with medical problems. Therapy outcomes show improvement in the person being seen, as well as in other family members. Family therapy is particularly effective with families who are providing care to elders and to a child with a chronic illness (e.g., asthma, cancer, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, etc.).

1Who are Therapists?
  • Licensed or registered practitioners
  • Educated with a master’s or doctoral degree
  • Trained with a minimum of two (2) years supervised clinical experience
  • One of the five core mental health professionals (along with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and psychiatric nurses)
2What Disorders are Commonly Treated by Family Therapists*
  • Depression, Anxiety and related issues
  • Childhood behavioral and emotional issues
  • Marital, relationship and family issues
  • Trauma, or significantly difficult experiences
  • Addictions
  • Domestic Violence
  • Severe Mental Illness
  • Physical Illness
3Who are the Clients of Family Therapists*
  • 6.1 Million People are seen annually by Therapists (2.1% of Population)
  • 2,294,728 Individuals Per Year
  • 808,798 Children Per Year
  • 752,370 Couples Per Year
  • 526,659 Families Per Year <>/li>
  • 3.4% of Households have seen an MFT
4Do I have to be married to go to a Family Therapist?
No. Individuals often seek therapy for help with anxiety and depression, behavioral problems, relationship issues, or mental and emotional disorders. MFTs provide the same services as other mental health professionals, with an approach where the whole family is taken into consideration.
5Can you do family therapy with only one person?
Family therapy is effective with just one individual or with couples, families or groups.
6Do Clients typically appreciate the services of Family Therapists? *
  • 98.1% rated services good or excellent
  • 97.1% got the kind of help they desired
  • 91.2% were satisfied with the amount of help they received
  • 93% said they were helped in dealing more effectively with problems
  • 94.3% would return to the same therapist in the future
  • 96.9% would recommend their therapist to a friend
  • 97.4% were generally satisfied with the service they received
  • 63.4% reported improved physical health
  • 54.8% reported improvement in functioning at work
  • 73.7% indicated improvement in children’s behavior
  • 58.7% showed improvement in children’s school performance
7What is the Cost for a Family Therapist’s Services?

MFTs provide results with lower costs to the client, and are considered cost-effective when considering the kind of healing, repair and restoration they can facilitate.

Costs can range from $75 to $250 per session, and some work on a sliding or reduced scale for limited timeslots.

8Why are marriage and family therapists a good choice to see compared to other counselors or mental health practicioners?

MFTs do work with marriage and family issues, although that is not the only work they do. Their training is in treating individuals as well, and actually tend to see more individuals than entire families.

Our education helps us understand an individual within the context of his or life, including family dynamics and one’s upbringing, as these early childhood experiences significantly affect who we become and the struggles we encounter as adults.

As MFTs, we also learn to take into consideration one’s later life experiences in how it impacts current condition and obstacles to getting better or moving forward. Many times, people get stuck in places in their lives and need help uncovering what it is about. This can lead to helping them resolve, heal and move forward. Other times, relationship issues need mending and MFTs can help repair and resolve those issues as well. In fact, most of the issues we see revolve around relationship issues of some sort, so we can help one’s overall life and relationships become more satisfying.


Tyra Butler is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with extensive, rigorous post-graduate training in various therapy approaches which helps inform her practice and has increased her effectiveness:

  • EMDR-trained
  • DBT-certified
  • Two-year post graduate certified in Advanced Psychodynamic Psychotherapy from the Newport Psychoanalytic Institute
  • CBT-trained
  • Solution-Focused and Solution-Oriented trained
  • Emotionally Focused Therapy trained
  • Affair Recovery for Couples trained
  • Family Systems trained, including Bowen, Satir and Minuchin