British Columbia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is marriage and family therapy?

What are the professional qualifications of a registered marriage and family therapist? 

How do you choose a marriage and family therapist?

What do I do if I have an ethical complaint?

Do you have any other information/resources for me?

How can I find out if an online school is COAMFTE accredited?

Is there a list of MFT programs in Canada that are accredited and qualify someone to be an MFT in Canada?


What is Marriage & Family Therapy?

A family's patterns of behaviour influence each individual in the family and therefore may need to be a part of any treatment plan. In marriage and family therapy, the unit of treatment isn't just the person - even if only a single person is interviewed - it is the set of relationships in which the person is imbedded.  Unlike the traditional emphasis of therapy where the focus is on the individual alone, marriage and family therapy takes a more holistic perspective to health and well-being, wherein, the focus of the therapy is broadened to attend to the nature and role of individuals in primary relationship networks such as marriage and the family.

Marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including: depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems. 

Research indicates that marriage and family therapy is as effective as, and in some cases more effective than, standard and/or individual treatments for many mental health problems such as: adult schizophrenia, affective (mood) disorders, adult alcoholism and drug abuse, children's conduct disorders, adolescent drug abuse, anorexia in young adult women, childhood autism, chronic physical illness in adults and children, and marital distress and conflict. 

Marriage and family therapists regularly practice efficient, short-term therapy. Data on treatment of individuals show 13 sessions on average; marital and relationship therapy (11.5 sessions on average) and family therapy (9 sessions on average) often require even fewer sessions. About half of the treatment provided by marriage and family therapists is one-on-one, with the other half divided between marital/couple and family therapy, or a combination of treatments. 

Marriage and family therapy is:

  • brief 
  • solution-focused 
  • specific, with attainable therapeutic goals 
  • designed with the "end in mind."

Research studies of marriage and family therapy also report:

  • Marriage and family therapy is effective in treating a full range of disorders and problems such as: adolescent drug use, depression, alcoholism, obesity, marital distress and conflict
  • Over 98 percent of clients report therapy services from marriage and family therapist professionals as good or excellent 
  • When a mental health service is needed, clients are most likely to recommend a marriage and family therapist to a friend
  • Marked improvement in work productivity, co-worker relationships, family relationships, partner relationships, emotional health, overall health, social life , and community involvement     


Professional Qualifications of a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist (RMFT)

Marriage and family therapy is a distinct professional discipline with graduate and post graduate programs. Three educational options are available for those interested in becoming a marriage and family therapist: master’s degree (2-3 years), doctoral program (3-5 years), or post-graduate clinical training programs (3-4 years). In addition to these educational requirements, two years of post-degree supervised clinical experience is required to meet the required professional qualifications of a RMFT. Marriage and family therapy is considered a core mental health profession along with psychiatry, psychology, social work, and psychiatric nursing and demands strict professional qualifications and standards. All BCAMFT members are regulated by the international marriage and family therapist credentialing organization, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).  As part of their commitment to professional excellence, RMFTs agree to be governed by AAMFTs rigorous code of ethics for the protection of their clients; this code has the highest ethical standards in the marriage and family therapy profession.

Members of BCAMFT welcome inquiries about their training, experience, and theoretical orientation, length of treatment, goals and fees.

How to choose a Marriage and Family Therapist

When you have identified one or more therapists whom are accessible to you, feel free to call and interview each one briefly over the phone. Members of BCAMFT will welcome inquiries about their training, experience, theoretical orientation, length of treatment, goals and fees.

Some questions you may want to consider are:

Do you have experience treating the kind of problem I have?

Marriage and family therapists are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems and qualified to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems. They evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders, other health and behavioral problems, and address a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the family system. MFT’s treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including: depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems. 

Marriage and family therapists broaden the traditional emphasis on the individual to attend to the nature and role of individuals in primary relationship networks such as marriage and the family. They take a holistic perspective to health care and they are concerned with the overall, long-term well-being of individuals and families.

However, not all therapists treat all problems. Sometimes a therapist specializes in certain areas. You will need to briefly indicate the problems you are experiencing (e.g. marital difficulties, stress, anxiety at work, parenting difficulties, addiction problems, etc). If the therapist’s area of expertise is not the one you are looking for, you may ask them for a referral to a therapist who can best help you. 

How qualified are you? 

The MFTs on are a highly qualified and experienced group of practitioners with an average of 13 years of clinical practice in the field of marriage and family therapy. MFTs have graduate training (a Master’s or Doctoral degree) in marriage and family therapy and at least two years of clinical experience. Marriage and family therapists are recognized as a “core” mental health profession along with psychiatry, psychology, social work and psychiatric nursing.

How much do you charge and what is your method of payment?

Fees typically range in B.C. from $110.00 to $200.00, depending on how specialized the therapist's training and education may be.

Many therapists require payment after each session. However, your individual therapist’s payment policy may vary, so ask. 

Would you be covered under my employment insurance policy or any other plan?

Some employers, typically the larger ones, have extended health benefits that provide some counselling/therapy coverage. Read the fine print carefully since each plan is unique. Not all plans cover MFTs. A number of larger companies have employee assistance plans (EAPs) that do cover MFTs. Again, check carefully with your employer’s human resources or personnel department. Although the therapist may not know the answer off hand (as there are many policies and they keep changing) he/she should be able to guide you to find out the information you seek. As well, some employers or insurance companies will add a particular therapist or professional therapy designation to their list of those who are covered if employees make the request.

Where are the sessions held, and what is the length of time of a session, and how often will I have to attend sessions?

MFTs practice in many settings: clinics, agencies, private offices, or home offices. The most common length of each session is a 50 to 60 minute session held once per week. Most therapists will accommodate your specific needs should your circumstances require a different arrangement.   


Making an Ethical Complaint

If you believe that your therapist has handled any situation unethically, you can register a complaint directly with our governing body in Washington DC. Phone the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) in Washington at:

1-202-467-5148 or e-mail: 


COAMFTE Accreditation and Clinical Fellow Membership

All graduate programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), can be found on the AAMFT website. The AAMFT website maintains a directory of COAMFTE accredited programs in Canada and the United States.

If your University is not COAMFTE accredited, submit a Student Member application to verify if AAMFT would be able to accept the program toward the AAMFT membership requirements from this program.

The COAMFTE has recently started accrediting online graduate programs and the following program is the only online education program that is currently COAMFTE accredited:

Northcentral University (MA)


Dr. Branden Henline
Chair of Marriage and Family Therapy Programs
10000 E. University Dr
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314


Phone: (928) 541-7777
Fax: (928)759-6257




Program Accredited: Masters
Renewal Date: November 01, 2017
Program Type: Online/Distance-Based


More Questions?
For more information please contact us.