Communication: Marriage and Family Therapy


Dr. Amy Yates

Have you ever felt alone, stressed, or filled with anxiety? Have you ever felt like you have so much to say, and there is no one to listen? Well, I know the answer to all of your questions. This answer comes in the form of a woman with experience, integrity, and confidence: Dr. Amy Yates. One of her many accomplishments is when she became a certified Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). Yates, has helped many families all over the world. In 1996 she even moved overseas to continue her career in making others life better.

Marriage and Family Therapists encounter different challenges within their field of work. Dr. Yates in particular struggled at one of her jobs. She worked with a company who was run by partners. They would disagree and argue, which left her stuck in between all of their commotion. This made it difficult for her to communicate issues to them. Another challenge MFT’s face is the state laws around the scope of their practice. One question Yates mentioned includes: “Can we diagnose a client? If not, how can they treat them?”

“Communication is extremely important in this field of work,” says Dr. Amy Yates. Trust, collaboration, and transparency are all most effective ways to communicate within this field. When working with clients Dr. Yates prefers to take a Narrative Approach. With this method she helps her client create an alternate perspective or story. This is to help them see that life can be different than it is at the moment and will get better.

Therapists are required to do paperwork and case notes, because everything has to be documented. Yates stated, “You have to be very careful about documentation.” Case notes have to be very detailed. Anything a therapist documents in their sessions can be subpoenaed.

“In therapy you should never ask questions that seems as if you are giving them advice.” This sounds strange, because when you think of therapy you immediately think of giving advice. Yates informed me that “giving advice to a client is what their mother, significant other, and best friends do. I am their therapist and they are paying me to be a professional.” Therapists should not give advice, but guide their client in making the best decision for them.

Therapists and clients have special and complex relationships. Yates mentioned how important it is for the therapist and client to be open. She said, “Secrets are okay to have until the client has reached a level of confidence, but a therapist should never keep a secret from their client.” Building a relationship with someone takes a lot of trust. If a therapist is withholding information from their client, then it makes it difficult for the client to trust them. To start a client and therapist relationship correctly it is important to go over what is expected from both the client and therapist. There should never be a time when the client/therapist have to guess their roles.

All therapists have certain skills. There are times when they don’t have the necessary skills to help a client. In this situation there are necessary actions that has to take place. Dr. Yates stated, “I would refer them to a better resource and walk them through the process of letting me go.”. This statement seems as if the therapist is forcing the client to fire them, but in actuality it is to help their client get the help they need.

Communication is a key factor for Marriage and Family Therapists. Yates stated, “Helping people realize they already have what they need to solve their problems makes my job worthwhile.” There is definitely more oral communication that comes with this profession than many others. It is very important that communication between therapists/clients are clear and therapist are careful with their written communication.

Tianna Turner, guest blogger


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