Thursday, November 22, 2012
Marriage and Family Therapist or Psychologist?
Someone looking for a therapist recently asked me, "What's the difference if we see a marriage and family therapist or a psychologist?" This person wants to work on her marriage, yet didn't really know how to find a good therapist or what would be best for her. I observed how stressful and overwhelming this process could be for a new client. At first I stumbled trying to answer her question, and then I got into it.
Think of it this way, I said, "When a couple begins therapy with a MFT, most likely the relationship will be the focus of conversation. But, the therapist will also want to know about the broader influences on the couple as well. They will probably look for patterns, and effects, and solutions. They will try to see life from each person's perspective. This therapist will probably use collaborative language, and honor that you are the expert on your life.
From what I understand, a psychologist will also be interested in talking about the relationship, but at some point may begin to focus on each individual. They may look to see what is negatively affecting the relationship, what each person could 'fix' about themselves, and often end the sessions with a diagnosis signifying a sort of 'character flaw'. You may leave feeling as though this therapist knows better than you want you need. It may seem that the therapist is privileged to information you don't have and will be an expert on how to change your life".
Neither approach is good, bad, or better. There are some really great therapists from both orientations. I just think it's really important to be an informed consumer. I'm so glad she asked this question.
Dr Corinne Scholtz, LMFT
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