What is Couple & Family Therapy?

What is Couple & Family Therapy?

Couple & Family Therapy is a mental health professional discipline that uses a distinct biopsychosocial-spiritual, systemic, and collaborative framework for working with patients and their families seeking to resolve interpersonal & mental health problems.

This is illustrated further in this video from the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (www.aamft.org):

Couple & Family Therapists are educated and trained as mental health professionals to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals, families, and couples.  For example:

o   Mental disorders

o   Substance abuse

o   Coping with chronic illness

o   Family and couple conflict

o   Interpersonal and domestic violence

o   Trauma and adverse events

o   Grief and Loss


Family Therapists Play a Key Role with At-Risk Youth by Intervening in Families

Positive family relationships are protective across potential risk factors, for example:

o   Behavioral problems for children in divorcing families, Black and White children in stressed, urban, and high crime areas.

o   Suicide prevention for Black adolescent boys and LGBTQ youth.

o   Sexual risk taking for Black adolescent girls living in poverty.

Family Therapists are trained to Intervene with Distressed Couples

Positive couple relationships promote

o   Greater individual physical and emotional health for the couple and their children

o   Lower risk for divorce

Family therapists in our program are trained to work in medical settings

    • Integrated family therapy and behavioral health services reduces barriers to care for at-risk youth, adults, and their families
    • Integrated family therapy and behavioral health services reduces stigma for accessing services


What Our Students Do

  • Research, presentations, and teaching
  • National Minority Fellows through AAMFT
  • Working clinically at primary care clinics, non-profits, and organizations serving families, children, and couples
  • Assistants and clinicians on federally funded grants
  • Community involvement in the Health Resource Center and non-profit agencies


Resources for Training

Resources for Research


o   Research Division – faculty and staff

o   Grants Development Office

o   SLUCOR (online research degrees and courses)

o   Patient Registry (from EHR)

       Mental and physical health disparities for sexual minority patients

       Comorbidity between depression and opioid use

What About the Medical Family Therapy Concentration?

The field of Medical Family Therapy (MedFT) developed out of the intersection between Marriage and Family Therapy and Family Medicine to help bridge the gap in care between both fields.  Medical family therapists often seek a license to practice in Marriage and Family Therapy that is offered by state licensing boards (e.g., http://pr.mo.gov/marital.asp) and is one of the five major mental health professions (https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43255.pdf) recognized by the U.S. federal government.

Fore more information about Medical Family Therapy, please visit this website.