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Posts from the ‘Marriage and Family Therapy’ Category

When Family Therapy Makes Sense

Human beings are relational creatures. We tend to thrive on personal relationships, but more often than not, these relationships can become the source of our happiness when things are peachy keen and our source of angst when problems arise.  Sometimes, this angst may lead you to consider talking with a professional who can help, but how do you know when it’s time?

When You…Need Extra Support

“Family therapy makes sense when a person or group of people find themselves in need of extra support,” explains Dr. Annabelle Goodwin, foundations faculty for Northcentral University’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences. “We are systems thinkers, which means we tend to do a good job of considering a person within the various systems that they are connected with (including familial systems, social systems, work systems, etc.).” This unique perspective of viewing issues in the context of a person’s relationships is what sets marriage and family therapists (MFTs) apart from other trained mental health professionals.  “As an MFT, we are prepared to walk with our clients on a journey toward improved health,” adds Goodwin.

When You….Have a Problem That Needs Solving

While an MFT is certainly concerned with the your overall, long-term well-being, they are problem solvers by nature. Their objective is to diagnose and help treat your issue. In fact, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, MFTs tend to practice “short-term therapy,” with “nearly 65.6% of the cases completed within 20 sessions (12 is the average).” So if you’re looking for someone who will let you lay on their couch and pour your heart out for an hour a day, week after week, year after year, an MFT may not be for you.

When You… Are Struggling with a Mental or Emotional Disorder

If your angst magnifies and leads to mental or emotional disorders such as adolescent drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, and marital distress and conflict, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional. An MFT can help you better understand underlying issues in your relationships and how they can contribute to the health problems you may be facing.

7 Signs an MFT Can Help Your Relationship

The first few months of a new relationship are the best, aren’t they? It’s all about the nervous energy, long conversations about the future, meeting the
family for the first time, and spending every waking moment together. Ah, love!

Dr. Roxanne Bamond, full-time NCU faculty member

Dr. Roxanne Bamond, full-time NCU faculty member

If you’re in it for the long haul, get ready, because those months of bliss are the easy part. As a couple, you’re sure to face a few bumps in the road, but don’t stress. Successful couples know it’s the bumps that shape your character as a couple – the strong make it through and the weak fall apart.

So, how do you know when you’ve hit a bump and what can you do? For the inside scoop, we asked Dr. Roxanne Bamond, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and full-time faculty for Northcentral University’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences, for some red flags that can help you prepare for potential bumps ahead and know when to seek help.

1. “Maybe a therapist could help us?”

Many times, one partner suggests going to therapy before the other realizes there is a problem. Even if the suggestion wasn’t yours, don’t ignore this or blame your partner. Take the suggestion as a compliment – your partner wants to make things work!

2. “I wish my partner was as good a listener as you!”

If you find yourself complaining to your friend about your partner’s bad habits, or engaging in long, intimate chats with the person in the next cubicle, take a moment to stop and reflect on your actions. When you begin discussing the intimate aspects of your relationship with other people, you are at risk of creating an emotional bond with a person outside of your relationship.

3. “Have you two thought about going to therapy?”

Oftentimes, our closest friends and family can see our relationship derailing before we can. If someone close to you points out flaws in your relationship don’t take it personally – they are just trying to help. Take the opportunity to open your eyes, look forward, and take an honest look at your relationship.

4. “What happened to date night?”

Life is hectic for people who are working, going to school, raising a family and engaged in community activities. For many couples, the first thing eliminated from the schedule is time spent with each other. If you find that it takes too much effort, you’re too exhausted, or you simply do not want to create the time to spend with each other, checking in with a therapist is in order.

5. “Our kids are driving us crazy!”

Often, differing parenting styles can lead to polarization in a couple’s relationship. Therefore, when your children are having difficulties, it is likely that those difficulties will bleed into your relationship with your partner.

If you find that your kids are becoming a source of division, it’s time to seek help. Marriage and family therapists are specially trained to understand the family dynamic and help the entire family get to a better place.

6. “I am afraid to talk to my partner.”

If your arguments have become violent or scary, it may be time to seek help individually with a therapist. Marriage and family therapists are not only trained to assist with family issues as a group, they are also able to help the relationship by working with one family member at a time. Acknowledging and discussing your fears, anxiety and anger with a therapist can help open more effective lines of communication with your partner.

7. “I don’t know how I feel anymore.”

We’ve all had tough days, but taking out your frustration on your partner causes undue tension. Try talking to a professional on an individual basis about life and the struggles that come along with it. As you start to feel better about yourself, you’ll find that you can invest more positive energy in to your relationship.

4 Tips on Coping with Sibling Rivalry

When we’re young, our siblings are our best friends.  Every free moment is spent together – playing, laughing, bonding through trouble caused throughout the day, and competing for attention. Yes, the seed for sibling competition and rivalry is planted young.  For those that face the task of overcoming it, it’s a lifelong commitment.

Before diving head first into how you can cope with this issue in your own life, let’s focus on a relationship we can all aspire to emulate.

Northcentral University team members and identical twin sisters, Kristen Carter and Kathleen Van Riper, have worked together at NCU for over 3 years and couldn’t be happier.  Both characterize one another as their best friend, express a love for working together, and support each other through all of life’s hurdles.  “No rivalry with us,” Kristen says, “we always want the other to do well or achieve similar success!”

Sufficiently green with envy and longing to mend fences with your brothers and/or sisters yet? The four tips below can help you get started.

Make the Grand Gesture

Swallow your pride, pick up the phone, and make the first call – even if you don’t feel you’re in the wrong.  Nothing can be fixed if you both sit on your hands forever.  Whether you have the occasional argument or your relationship is a rollercoaster that never ends, one of you needs to be the first to break through the wall.  Sure, that first conversation might be awkward, but it’s all downhill from there.

Take a Walk in Your Sibling’s Shoes

We all focus on our own agenda when it comes to conflict, but if you can force yourself to take a step back from the chaos – do it!  Take a moment to actively think about what your sibling must be feeling and thinking.  If you were forced to walk a mile in their shoes, would you feel the same?  A new perspective on an old conflict can help shed some light on solutions you hadn’t thought of in the past.

“Let the Good Times Roll”

Even the most tension-filled relationships have their bright moments.  When your stress reaches a breaking point, try taking a walk down memory lane by looking through old pictures, emails or Facebook posts.  Remembering the “good times” will help you gain perspective on your relationship as a whole, rather than just a few moments in time.

Bite the Bullet – Apologize

For some of us, “I’m sorry” is the hardest sentence we’ll ever say.  It’s tough admitting we were wrong, but we all have to admit that the results are worth the sacrifice, especially when it comes to our siblings.  So, tuck that tail and go for it!

5 Characteristics of Marriage and Family Therapists

Whether you are looking to become a marriage and family therapist (MFT) or are considering seeking treatment from a professional marriage and family therapist, but don’t know exactly what to look for, this blog introduces some basic characteristics of marriage and family therapists so you know what to expect.

1. Effective Relationship Builders
Marriage and family therapists work directly with people on a regular basis and have to quickly build trusting relationships in order to work effectively with their clients. “It is in the context of these relationships that therapeutic work actually occurs,” notes Dr. Darren Adamson, director of curriculum development for Northcentral University’s School of Marriage and Family Sciences. As a result, it is important that MFTs not only enjoy working and interacting with people, but are also effective relationship builders in order to diagnose and treat individuals, couples and families.

2. Problem Solvers
MFTs are committed to identifying symptoms and helping clients solve problems related to behavior, emotional, cognitive and relational processes.  Dr. Yulia Watters, MFT foundations faculty for NCU, compares the role of the MFT to a navigator, exploring and emphasizing solutions, while the client serves as the captain of the ship. Solving problems as a marriage and family therapist requires thorough knowledge of family systems theory and MFT-related research, and highly developed critical thinking and clinical skills.

3. Culturally Sensitive
In our diverse society, MFTs can expect to work with people from all walks of life. For this reason, they must be able to appreciate issues related to diversity, including culture, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation and spirituality. “Respect for culture and curiosity that prompts efforts to understand clients’ unique cultural experiences are critical to success as an MFT,” says Adamson.

4. Ethical
“Ethics are the foundations for every therapeutic practice,” notes Watters. The AAMFT Code of Ethics helps set the standard for ethical practice for American marriage and family therapists. For example, professional MFTs must be able to establish trusting and reliable relationships with their clients, which requires awareness of confidentiality issues and the legal responsibilities and liabilities of clinical practice and research. “While relieving suffering is not always achievable, there is an absolute that we can always achieve as an MFT,” adds Adamson. “And that is to do no harm.”

5. Licensed
“Licensure is an important achievement for an MFT clinician,” explains Watters. “It is a gauge of credibility, responsibility and high ethical standards while providing clinical services.” According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), all licensed MFTs must have a minimum of a master’s degree and at least two years of post-graduate supervised clinical experience. If you’re not familiar with the MFT licensure process, you need to be aware that it is a distinct process that involves meeting the requirements of the state licensing board in the state in which you wish to work.


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