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Marriage and Family Therapy and Pharmacological Treatment

Therapy and counseling have now become valuable tools in terms of handling one’s issues and maintaining overall mental health to live a fulfilling life. However, while some people prefer to handle these issues on their own by vising individual therapy, others feel that marriage and family therapy would be more beneficial in terms of the establishment of a healthy and trusting relationship. The latter therapy model has now become especially common among families with one member struggling with a specific mental health issue, as family therapy helps these families define the behavioral patterns within the unit for everyone to feel comfortable. Considering the following setting, it is of paramount importance for the family therapist to define how communication should be established with the prescribers of pharmacological treatments, along with the professional, ethical, and socio-cultural concerns related to the process.

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To begin with, one should dwell upon the issues of the therapist’s competence in the field as far as communication with patients with mental health issues is concerned. When speaking of such patients and their close surroundings, the counselor needs to realize that their primary concerns in the setting are not to provide a full-scale mental treatment even if the overall professional competence allows such an intervention. A patient with mental health issues already has a prescribed treatment plan, whereas the therapist’s major concern is maintenance, observation, and guidance (O’Leary, 2019). Thus, in the given situation, the counselor’s role is to support the clients and their families in the process of treatment, allowing them to share the feelings and effects of the treatment process.

Considering the aforementioned information, some of the necessary competencies of the professional might be outlined:

  • A therapist is to carefully study the current treatment plan of the patient to define the type of medication he or she is taking and thus, study the possible side effects of the treatment;
  • A therapist is to define the overall patterns of communication within the family to establish a counseling plan that would help both the client with the issue and the family to obtain a better understanding of the existing issue;
  • A therapist is to establish a proper communication channel with the medication prescriber in case the treatment is inefficient or inappropriate in the given situation.

The latter competence should be considered individually to define the possible patterns of such communication. To begin with, it is important to outline that the overall communication between the practitioners who prescribe medication and the clients is not stable, as doctors can see their patients several times per year for the medication course renewal. As a result, they do not have enough time to dwell upon the issues that tackle their patients daily. Family therapists, on the other hand, are available any time the clients or their relatives need advice or support in the process (Zierhut et al., 2017). Thus, the most beneficial model of communication between medication prescribers and therapists would be to schedule a monthly brief on the client’s mental state and current treatment results.

Another issue that should be tackled in the process of treatment is the notion of socio-cultural concern in the process of client counseling, as therapists are the ones who need to find a unique approach to each situation considering the family’s background. According to the researchers, the counselor can’t provide quality support without taking into account one’s cultural background and social status (Canfield, 2020). For instance, the process of coping with a mental issue might be more complicated for clients who are affiliated with ethnic and cultural minorities, as besides having different patterns of social behavior, they frequently experience implicit discrimination. These factors, as a result, hurt treatment efficiency and overall outcome.

Finally, the notion of ethics is also one of the major concepts to take into account when working with clients who have an issue with mental health. The ethical paradigm of a counselor consists of a range of responsibilities that could not be violated under any circumstances due to criminal punishment that might follow such a breach. The aspect of confidentiality obtains a whole new perspective when the issue concerns family therapy, as counselors, besides the obligation to keep the information private, have to consider the aspects of sharing treatment details with family members. In the following setting, a counselor has a professional obligation to more than one client and, thus, has to reach a consensus in terms of providing clients with fragile information.

Taking into consideration the aforementioned aspects, it might be concluded that the very notion of marriage and family counseling presupposes a sophisticated process during which professionals are to adopt an integrative approach to the therapy. The issue becomes more complicated once one of the family members has been diagnosed with issues with mental health. In such a context, the therapist must guide all the clients through the process while paying specific attention to the treatment progress and attitude to the therapy.

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Canfield, B. (2020). Intercultural perspectives on family counseling. Routledge.

O’Leary, C. J. (2019). Enchantment, trouble, and learning: reflections of a couple and family counselor participating in person-centered large group encounters. Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies, 18(3), 274-285.

Zierhut, H. A., Campbell, C. A., Mitchell, A. G., Lemke, A. A., Mills, R., & Bishop, J. R. (2017). Collaborative counseling considerations for pharmacogenomic tests. Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy, 37(9), 990-999.

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