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Marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including: depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems.

Research indicates that marriage and family therapy is as effective, and in some cases more effective than standard and/or individual treatments for many mental health problems such as: adult schizophrenia, affective (mood) disorders, adult alcoholism and drug abuse, children's conduct disorders, adolescent drug abuse, anorexia in young adult women, childhood autism, chronic physical illness in adults and children, and marital distress and conflict.

According to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, marriage and family therapists regularly practice short-term therapy; 12 sessions on average. About half of the treatment provided by marriage and family therapists is one-on-one with the other half divided between marital/couple and family therapy, or a combination of treatments.

You may be entering therapy for the first time and not have a sense of what needs to happen other than you want to feel better. It is important to express this as well. Here is a list of what we have seen to be true for many people about therapy:

  • It takes time to establish a trusting relationship with a therapist.
  • It is important to go at your own pace and not overwhelm yourself.
  • We all resist change. Don't be surprised if you are tempted to quit right before some real changes or breakthroughs are about to happen.
  • Becoming more healthy and balanced can feel very unfamiliar and uncomfortable at first.
  • Being committed to therapy will change your life. Be prepared to feel some loss from this.
  • Others may resist your changes and growth and will need time to adapt.
  • Therapy is hard work.
  • Your therapist is not perfect and will make mistakes. Hopefully he or she will acknowledge and take responsibility for those mistakes.
  • Some therapy is short term (usually focusing on one issue and situational) and other therapy may be longer term (more than one or complex issues.)
  • Expect your therapist to have good boundaries, avoid dual relationships, be ethical, and treat you with respect. If not, find another therapist.

Remember that therapy, in the hands of a skilled therapist, is a powerful and life-changing experience.It has been shown to be effective for a variety of illnesses and problems. If you need therapy and work as an active participant in your own treatment, you can expect it will be well worth the time and money you invest.

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