Marriage and Family therapists are trained systemically. This means a few different things. First, it means that we understand that people are one part of a system. This may sound kind of funny out loud, but people are not just themselves. People are an accumulation of their experiences plus their teachers, parents, friends, coaches, siblings, relatives, families, and significant others whom have made an impact throughout their development. All of these people form a system in which that one person is a part of. Second, we (MFTs) work to understand all parts of a system. There is great insight that can be appreciated from a person's family, their significant relationships, the many people that have shaped multiple aspects of their identity as it relates to who they are today.
For me, it seems rather misguided to begin to work with a client therapeutically without comprehending what was happening in their lives prior to them entering the room. Coming to know who is involved in a client's system and how those people impact their life is essential for me as I seek to delve deeper into a client's emotional world.
As a therapist that primarily works with couples, I cannot be more grateful for my training as an MFT. Significant others, partners, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, special someone(s), are often one of the most important aspects in a person's system because they are included in a relationship in which people grow and evolve. My training as an MFT has taught me to approach couple relationships as two individual systems conglomerated into one system. Within each couple, there are two (potentially more based on your relationship configuration) people and each individual has their own family of origin history and meaningful members that are included in their system. When I work with couples, I aim to grow my understanding of their relationship by first getting to know who exists in each individual's system and then working my way to the present in the couple's system.