What is an MFT?

Marriage and Family Therapists are relationship specialists who treat persons involved in interpersonal relationships. They are trained to assess, diagnose and treat individuals, couples, families and groups to help them achieve more adequate, satisfying and productive marriage, family, social, and personal  adjustment. The practice also includes premarital counseling, child counseling, and divorce or separation counseling. Marriage and Family Therapists are psychotherapists licensed by the State of California. Required for licensure are a related two-year master's  or doctorate degree, comprehensive written examination and at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience.

Psychotherapy services provided by licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are, in most instances, eligible for insurance reimbursement.

When is Referral to a Marriage and Family Therapist Appropriate?

Knowing when an individual, couple or family needs professional help with a problem or life transition is not always easy. Marriage and Family Therapists can help when people are exhibiting symptoms or conditions such as:

  • Emotional stress or anxiety
  • Child behavior problems
  • Feelings of loneliness, isolation,                 depression, moodiness           


  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Sexual disturbances


  • Unusual eating patterns
  • Unexplained injuries to family members


  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Family conflict or tension


  • Divorce or separation
  • Difficulty coping with changing lifestyles


  • Fear, anger or guilt
  • Grief or emotional pain


  • And much more

How Does One Choose a Marriage & Family Therapist?

Choosing the right therapist is a personal process. Clients should be encouraged to shop, ask questions and listen to their feelings when making this decision. The best therapist will be the one who fits with you, who offers a client both professional expertise and personal empathy. He or she will demonstrate that they are involved in continuing education and are members of professional organizations, such as Desert CAMFT and the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.

What are the Ethics of a Marriage and Family Therapist?

The Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) recognizes the limitations of his/her competence and techniques. The MFT assists clients in obtaining appropriate professional help for aspects of their issues that may fall outside the specific MFT's individual training or expertise.

Safeguarding information about an individual or family client is a primary obligation of the MFT. Information is not communicated without client permission, except when there is a clear or immediate danger to an individual or society, as designated by law. In all other cases written permission shall be granted by clients before information may be divulged. The MFT is responsible for informing the client of the limits of confidentiality.

The MFT terminates or transfers a client when it is reasonably clear to the MFT that the client is not benefiting from their therapeutic relationship. Any sexual contact with a client or client's spouse is unethical and never okay. It is also illegal and may be grounds for loss of license.

The MFT informs prospective clients about any aspects of the counseling situation which might affect the client's decision to enter the relationship, such as the recording of an interview, use of interview material for training purposes, or observation of the interview by other persons.    


Desert Chapter — California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (DESERT-CAMFT)
For general info, please email: desertcamft1@gmail.com. For specific departments, please click "Contact" in the menu above.