A Mental Health Moment: Marriage and Family Counseling Vs.  Individual Counseling

Bernadette Joy Graham,
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, CCHt, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor

I often get calls and emails asking for appointments for marriage and family counseling to include couples as well.  I only provide individual counseling and I avoid counseling members of the same family.  Why?

There are many answers to that question but first I will say, it was never a topic that interested me and it is not because I feel marriage and family units are not important.  I had two failed marriages and that is not the reason either, because I personally feel marriage is a wonderful union and there is a such thing as healthy families…not every family is dysfunctional.

While in graduate school, yes, we were required to take a course in marriage and family counseling which actually has its own area and counselors who pursue marriage and family counseling become MFTs for Marriage and Family Therapists and those letters will be behind their names in their title such as Minnie Mouse, MFT.

I urge anyone seeking help with their marriage and family to seek out counselors who have gone above and beyond that one required course in graduate school and trained in that area and received numerous certificates.  Would you want a heart surgeon saying sure I can remove your appendix or perform a tubal ligation.  No, No, No.

Professional counselors are required to acquire continuing education courses in ethics every two years.  One part of ethics is to basically, “stay in your lane.”  A more professional way to say it is do not practice outside of your scope of experience and education.

Now if you happen to have a session with a professional mental health counselor, the letters behind their name stand for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).   Maybe by chance as they accrued their internship hours and practicum hours, it’s possible they could have done so at a private practice that focused on marriage and family counseling.  That’s experience and knowledge obtained in a professional environment oversaw by a professional counseling supervisor.  By all means, if you feel comfortable, book a session with this individual.   So, there is a bit of wiggle room because they still have more experience and knowledge than that one course required in graduate school.

Many individuals I see in my practice who are in need of marriage and/or family counseling, are often referred to an MFT but they still see me to work on their own issues which is very healthy.  I believe both partners should seek out their own individual counseling because it makes a tremendous difference in how you treat yourself and how you treat others.  (For young children there are Registered Play Therapist, RPTs) but it’s not always the case to involve three and four-year-old children in something that you and your spouse are battling.

Take a mental health moment and ask yourself and your family can we do this and will it help?  Regardless of the answer, which I always believe should be yes, yes, yes, just ensure you seek out the correct type of counselor for your needs.  Start with your insurance and ask them are there any MFTs in your network, next search platforms such as psychologytoday.com or goodtherapy.org, or even contact

Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, & Marriage and Family Board.    If you want to save your family, your relationship and yourself, there is help….let go of the stigma and go get your mind right, well in this case…go get you and your family right. 




Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Provide feedback or reach out at graham.bernadette@gmail.com  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929  (Appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 3454 Oak Alley Ct. Suite 300 Toledo, OH 43606 www.bjgrahamcounseling.com  Available for team building, employee empowerment in motivation and better understanding mental health in the work place.  Accepting new client ages 13 and older.