Comparison Chart for Clinical Approaches to Mental Health

Marriage & Family TherapyTraditional Approaches
Common Issues Treated Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, Sexual Disorders, Marital Problems, Child / Parent Issues, ADHD/ADD, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Grief and Pain

In short, MFTs works with the same presenting problems as all other mental health professions but treat it with a unique therapeutic approach.
Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, Sexual Disorders, Marital Problems, Child / Parent Issues, ADHD/ADD, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Grief and Pain.
Length of Treatment MFTs seek to end therapy as soon as concrete, identifiable problems are resolved. Many MFTs utilize a brief therapy model which may last as few as 8-12 sessions. Traditional therapies tend to be developmental in nature. Therapy from this approach is generally a long term process and may continue 6-12 months or even years.
Who is in the Therapy Room MFTs do work with individuals but generally treat the identified patient within the context of the family. They often invite all family members living in the home to be actively engaged in treatment. Couple therapy is generally done conjointly with both people in the room. Traditional therapies generally treat the identified patient alone. In couple therapy they often see the partners concurrently seeing one person at a time until individual problems are resolved before bringing the couple together in therapy.
Focus of Therapy Focus is on the context in which the behavior exists such as the family or larger system like school or work. Focus is on the individual. Problems are seen as pathology which resides within the individual.
Therapist Stance MFTs take the position of active consultants working with client who are seen as experts about their own experiences in life. The role of the therapist is to guide the process of therapeutic change. Other mental health professionals generally take the position of expert and use a directive stance with clients. If the client does not cooperate in therapy this is often seen as resistance to treatment.