FREE Practice Question: What to Include in a Treatment Plan?

Posted by Robin Gluck

October 18, 2017 at 9:23 AM

Our practice question blog a few weeks ago explored the topic of assessment. As we discussed then, therapists must conduct thorough assessments at the onset of therapy to understand why their clients are seeking treatment and what they hope to achieve in addition to managing potential crises. Armed with the information obtained through a thorough assessment, therapists are able to collaborate with their clients to develop comprehensive treatment plans, the subject of this week’s free practice question. Similar to assessment, treatment planning is an ongoing and dynamic process. What appears to be indicated at the start of therapy may change as clients’ needs change and treatment moves in unanticipated directions.

Treatment planning is a broad category, which includes identifying the treatment unit, developing short and long-term goals, identifying, accessing and collaborating with adjunctive services and community resources, and takes into account the therapist’s theoretical orientation. When taking your licensing exam, you can expect to encounter a large number of questions testing your ability to address the various components of treatment planning based on the information provided in the vignette/question stem.

With all this in mind, let’s look at this week’s practice question.



A therapist meets with the parents of a 16-year-old boy who was recently suspended from school after being caught with alcohol on campus. The parents share that their son has been fighting and abusing alcohol for several years. The father cries as he expresses his sadness and frustration, noting his son’s behavior has caused a serious strain in his relationship with his wife and that is why they are seeking therapy. The wife nods in agreement, sharing their lack of intimacy and constant arguing that she hopes to address through therapy. The wife states, “our son had a difficult childhood because his sister was constantly sick and he didn’t get the attention he needed. My husband is too hard on him, he treats our son terribly.” Which of the following goals should be included in the treatment plan for this case?

A.Improve problem solving and conflict resolution between parents; Refer parents to Al Anon; Increase intimacy between parents

B.Improve problem solving and conflict resolution between parents; Refer son to Alcoholics Anonymous; Increase levels of empathy between parents

C. Increase positive communication within the family; Refer son to Alcoholics Anonymous; Increase levels of empathy between parents

D. Increase positive communication within the family; Refer parents to Al Anon; Increase intimacy between parents

So, what would we do here? Leave your answer in the comments below and be sure to tune in tomorrow for the answer and a discussion of the rationale!

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Topics: Marriage Therapy, MFT, Family Therapy, Exam Prep, Practice Questions

Benefits of Pre-Marital Counseling

Posted by Amanda Rowan

July 15, 2016 at 2:27 PM

Benefits of Pre-Marital Counseling

They’re excited. They’re in love and the day is quickly approaching when they marry the man/woman of their dreams. The next phase in life looks great. Most soon-to-be couples ask ‘What can possibly go wrong when you finally get to spend the rest of your days with your special someone?’

Why Few People Seek Pre-Marital Counseling

Marriage is a big commitment, yet few engaged couples outside of religious communities go to pre-marital counseling. While most faith communities require couples to attend pre-marital counseling, couples with no faith background shy away from counseling. This has to do with fear. They don’t want to put a kink in a blossoming relationship. Engaged couples can be naïve and believe they can properly sort out their differences later.

How Pre-Marital Counseling Can Help

The benefits of pre-marital counseling, however, far outweigh the risks of addressing potential conflict before marriage. As a marriage and family therapist (MFT), you can offer engaged couples valuable advice. You can give them an unbiased, honest, outsider’s perspective on each partner’s shortcomings and bring up issues that need to be discussed before marriage.

No marriage, after all, will be without disagreements and conflict. Pre-marital counseling is a key component in ensuring that couples will have marriages that last. You can address the communication and conflict resolution issues that lead to divorce and prepare them with a plan and solution for dealing with these inevitabilities. 




Here are the key benefits that you, as an MFT, can offer couples through pre-marital counseling.

  1. Lack of communication and inappropriate communication are the biggest contributors to disintegrating marriages. Many couples don’t engage in proper, open communication until a big problem arises – and by then it’s too late to work on communication skills. Some couples won’t even communicate during a major conflict, which leads to further misunderstandings.


Successful marriages require strong communication skills. Pre-marital counseling can provide the opportunity to develop effective communication skills for both partners. Negative communication habits can also be addressed during these sessions. When both partners go into the marriage with strong and effective communication skills, future conflicts can be addressed quicker and in a healthier way.


  1. Conflict resolution. The strength of one’s marriage is tested when conflict comes. No marriage is immune from disagreements and arguments and those that persevere with appropriate conflict resolution are the ones that will most likely to succeed. Conflict, like unhealthy communication skills, can destroy a marriage. Sessions with a counselor can guide soon-to-be couples on how to handle inevitable disagreements in a healthy and safe way. This knowledge will make future marital struggles easier to handle and discuss.


  1. Outside perspective. When people are in love, they tend to only see the best in their fiancé. Sooner or later, the honeymoon phase will end and they’ll see each other’s true colors. As a marriage counselor, you’ll will be able to offer an outside, objective perspective on their relationship and the strengths and weaknesses both partners bring to the marriage. As an outside observer, you will be able to offer the best wisdom, advice and correction.


  1. Lower chance for divorce. The biggest benefit of pre-marital counseling is that it equips both partners with the tools and knowledge needed to communicate effectively and clearly with one another and handle and resolve conflict. This, in turn, will lower the couple’s chance of their marriage ending in divorce.


Pre-marital counseling is highly recommended for any engaged couple. It is the best way couples can effectively communicate and handle future conflicts in their marriage. Couples who attend counseling have a higher chance their marriage will last and not end in divorce.

As a marriage and family therapist, you’ll have the opportunity to ensure that a couple’s marriage starts off on the right foot. For more information about becoming an MFT or preparing for the licensing exam, you can visit our resources and study guides.



Topics: Counseling, Premarital Counseling, Marriage Therapy, MFT

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