If you had a very specific medical condition, would you settle for treatment by a general practitioner, or would you seek the help of a QUALIFIED EXPERT?
Clinicians at Marriage and Family Therapy Services are all Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associates. Marriage and Family Therapy is an area of expertise that requires years of specialized education in dealing with the problems that specifically impact relationships and other systems (families, groups, couples, etc.) This course of study also demands literally hundreds of hours of closely-supervised clinical practice, working with couples and families.
This careful professional mentorship and education process results in highly competent and uniquely qualified practitioners who are able to treat couples, families, groups, and individuals with a multitude of relationship concerns as well as mental illness and substance abuse.
Only Marriage and Family Therapists have been held to the high standards required to truly master "Family Systems Theory" -- the complex study of human beings as they express themselves in family systems and groups.
Many clinicians have spent the majority of their graduate school program studying "Individually-Based Therapy" -- which means they learned how to help one individual-person in the therapy room at a time with individual problems, rather than Systems-Based Therapy. Various challenges arise when multiple members of a family system are present in the therapy room, and without anticipation of these challenges and the expertise that comes with hundreds of hours of supervised practice and study, a therapist can do more harm than good.
Too many counselors who claim they offer "couples" or "family therapy" have not been sufficiently trained to deal with the challenging circumstances that emerge in couples and/or family therapy. One way to assess whether or not you have found a qualified relationship therapist is to ask how many "Relational Hours" they were required to achieve for their licensure. In North Carolina (among other stringent standards), Marriage and Family Therapists must receive a minimum of 500 relational client-contact hours after they complete their graduate school education, before they are eligible to earn their license. Another good question to ask a potential therapist is "How many years of your education focused on studying Family Systems Theory?" The answer to this question should be a minimum of 2 years (an entire Master's Degree program and all of its courses focusing on Family and Relational Systems).
Even the leading Relationship Therapists in America admit that couples and family therapy can be the most difficult of all therapeutic modalities. With so many varying and often divergent points of view requiring attention at the same time, the therapist must possess an educational background that specialized in Family Systems Theory as well as possess a great deal of skill to allow for everyone to feel empowered, listened to, and respected. Under-qualified therapists may have had a small amount of training/education focusing on groups or families, but rarely have they been required, during their education and training, to engage in therapy with more than one person in the room at the same time, and very few have been required to be clinically supervised by superiors as they learn the very demanding skills required for Couples/Family Therapy.
Unfortunately, clients of under-qualified practitioners have handed their often-fragile relationship circumstances over to someone with very little formal training or skill, while the practitioner attempts to practice one of the most challenging forms of therapy without any real competency. And when these mediocre relationship therapists reach their limit of ability, they may often "throw their hands in the air" and steer the couples/families towards painful relationship cut-offs and/or even divorce.
After successfully transforming his second marriage, one very honest client
verbalized very accurately, the phenomenon of what we refer to as
"unnecessary divorce" with the following statement:
"If I had known in my first marriage, what I learned in my second marriage with the help of Marriage and Family Therapy Services, I know my first wife and I could have made our marriage what we had wanted it to be. I'm grateful to have learned what I did, and I have no regrets. But I am absolutely clear that in both marriages, skills are what we were lacking. And once we learned and practiced the skills of how to interrupt and change the old behavior patterns, we knew how to create what we really wanted in the relationship. Anyone can do this. All it takes is hard work, willingness, and practice."
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