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What is a Marriage Therapist?

By Lauren Romano
Updated May 17, 2024
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A marriage therapist is a licensed mental health professional who typically counsels married and unmarried couples in the hopes of helping them get to the root of their problems in the relationship. In some cases, a marriage therapist will see only one half of the couple for counseling. Many choose to be called a marriage and family therapist as opposed to only having the title of marriage therapist.

It is not the job of a marriage therapist to put the couple’s relationship back together, but rather help the couple realize their problems and help them decide if they should stay together or go their separate ways. The therapist provides a form of psychotherapy and brings a different perspective to the issues within the relationship. There is no one specific course of treatment for every couple; each couple is different and their situation has to be treated on an individual basis.

A marriage therapist focuses on and treats the emotional and mental disorders of each person, which can have an effect on the relationship as a whole. It is not just about the individual or just about the relationship, it is about both and how they work together. She also helps them develop skills to use after counseling. In some cases, the therapist can point out issues the couple may not even be aware exists. After all the problems come to the surface and the couple addresses them, a solution can come to light.

Having good listening skills and patience is an absolute must for any therapist. She needs to be able to hear both sides of the story and gain the trust of both parties to get to the root of the problems. In order to keep both parties relatively calm, she also needs to stay calm and help the couple resolve their issues in a suitable manner.

A marriage therapist has either a master’s or doctoral degree in family and marriage therapy; clinical experience is also required. State licensing varies from state to state. Some also get certified by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Considering the degree of sensitivity of the matter and the severity of the situation, it is vital that the marriage therapist and the couple be a good fit for each other. A marriage therapist is an important source for couples who are at a loss on where to go or how to fix their non-working relationship. After helping them sort through the mess, she can finally help the couple get to a solution that makes both parties of the relationship happy and satisfied with the outcome.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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