What is a Family Therapist?

A family therapist is an individual with either a Master’s or a Doctoral degree in family therapy. The therapist has at least two years of clinical experience, with many of them possessing much more than that. Family therapy is actually classified as a “core” mental health discipline, standing right beside psychology, psychiatry, social work, and even psychiatric nursing.

Family therapy has experienced a tremendous surge in popularity. There are 50 times as many marriage and family therapists today as there were in 1970. Over 1.8 million people are being treated by family and marriage therapists and the number is ever-increasing. Right now, the lines of open communication within a family are needed more than ever and the family therapist is able to help individuals find their voice.

What a Family Therapist Does

So, what exactly is family therapy and what does the therapist do? Basically, the family therapist has individuals who are in close relationships with each other communicate openly and honestly and safely. According to the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice, a trained family therapist can help individuals within the family navigate difficult areas, acting as a kind of “guide” towards helping the different family members communicate openly. The family therapist creates a safe environment for all members of a family to discuss whatever issues are creating problems within the family unit.

Work, Home, and Family Therapists

One area where family therapist are coming into play can be found working entrepreneurs. The entrepreneur has a business to focus on, but the other family members might find themselves cut off from the entrepreneur. Rachel Sussman, a family therapist, told Entrepreneur that “partners will often say they knew what they were getting into but it’s really wearing them down.” This can lead to serious strain within the family and that’s often when family therapy is sought. The family therapist can help the entrepreneur and members of the family discuss their issues and work with them towards finding a resolution that will satisfy all parties.


Some people might wonder whether or not family therapy is effective. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), its membership has exploded from 237 members in 1960 to a staggering more than 25,500 in 2015. One reason for this is there’s definitely an increased awareness of the need for a stable family life in order for other areas of an individual to be less stressful. The reason there are so many family therapists (with more on the rise every month) is because over 90% of clients surveyed in an AAMFT study claimed to have seen a marked improvement in emotional well-being, with almost two-thirds also showing an improvement in their physical well-being.


When it comes to being a family therapist, all 50 states are involved in regulating the profession. In other words, a family therapist is required to be licensed by whatever state they are practicing in. When a therapist graduates from an accredited program, a period of two to three years of supervised clinical experience must be undertaken before getting licensed or certified. Due to the delicate nature involved with emotional well-being, family therapists are well-schooled in treating all kinds of disorders within the family.

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In today’s fast-paced world, family therapists provide a valuable service in helping to keep individuals communicating and helping them to find a healthy balance between family life and business. Family therapy, once seen as something not to be discussed in public, now serves a vital role in maintaining healthy marriages and relationships.