MFT Practice Question: Elder and Dependent Abuse and Neglect

Posted by Robin Gluck

July 14, 2017 at 7:46 PM

Last week’s MFT blog explored a complicated question on child abuse and neglect reporting. This week, we continue exploring the topic of abuse and neglect, but shift our focus to elders and dependent adults. In California, the laws regarding elder and dependent adult abuse overlap quite a bit with those for child abuse, but there are also some differences to keep in mind.


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What are some of the key differences? While this is not an exhaustive list, a few to be aware of include:

1. Therapists are only mandated to report when the elders/dependents are residents of California. If, in your professional capacity, you become aware of elder/dependent abuse occurring outside of California, you are not required to make a report. In contrast, we are mandated to report child abuse and neglect to California authorities regardless of where the victim resides.

2. There are a total of seven categories of abuse and neglect that require us to report: physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial, neglect, and deprivation of necessary goods or services. In cases of child abuse and neglect, the law does not address abduction or financial abuse.

3. When, how, and where to report elder and dependent abuse and neglect will vary based on where it occurred, which is not the case with child abuse and neglect.

These are just a couple of the differences-and you want to make sure you know ALL of the differences for the exam. In TDC's programs, Amanda Rowan explains in further detail the differences in reporting requirements between elder and dependent adult abuse/neglect and child abuse/neglect and provides easy to understand guidelines for your reporting requirements as an MFT.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at our question of the week:

A therapist works with clients residing in a long-term living facility. One of the therapist’s newer clients shares in a session that he is upset because he witnessed an employee rough handling and yelling at one of the residents during their daily activities. In response to the employee’s actions, the resident appeared visibly shaken and began crying. He asks the therapist to please not say anything because he is concerned the employee will know he was the one to complain. Based on the information and concerns shared by the client, how should the therapist manage the ethical and legal obligations in this case?

A) Report the client’s concerns to management and follow the facility’s guidelines for reporting abuse

B) Ask the client for more detailed information regarding the incident before making a report and safety plan with the client.

C) Report the abuse to law enforcement and local ombudsman and process report with client.

D) Report the suspected abuse to a supervisor to address client’s concerns and safety plan with the client.

According to California law, therapists are required to report elder and dependent adult abuse or neglect when they have reasonable suspicion of abuse. Therapists are not required to be certain that abuse or neglect has occurred, nor do they need to investigate once the threshold of reasonable suspicion has been met. In addition, once we have enough information for reasonable suspicion, we must report to the appropriate authorities, even if we have concerns regarding the consequences our reporting could have on the client. Based on the information presented in this question, how would you proceed?


The best answer to this question is C. This question is not only asking how we would manage our legal obligations, but our ethical obligations as well. Based on the information presented, there is reasonable suspicion that abuse is taking place in the long-term care facility. When abuse occurs in a long-term care facility, we must file a report with law enforcement and the local ombudsman. In addition, the second half of answer C addresses our ethical obligations; processing the report will allow us to address any safety concerns and trust issues with our client. Answer A is incorrect because it is prioritizing management’s reporting requirements over the law, which may or may not match our legal mandate. Answer B is shifting toward investigation, which is not our role as therapist. Once there is reasonable suspicion, report what you know! Answer D, while addressing the client’s concerns, again ignores our legal mandate.

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of the law and how you would work in the clinical setting? Or did you learn something new with this scenario? If you have any further questions feel free to check in with a TDC coach. We are here to support you all along the way. And if you came up with the same answer-great job! You are right on the right track to getting licensed.

Still haven’t signed up for an exam preparation program? Our structured, straightforward approach to exam prep will provide you with exactly what you need to pass your social work exam or MFT exam and nothing you don’t. You can learn more about our social work licensing exam prep HERE and more about our MFT licensing exam prep HERE. If you’d like to connect directly with one of our coaches, you can do that HERE.

We look forward to helping you PASS your exam with confidence!


Topics: MFT

Career Outlook for Marriage and Family Therapists

Posted by Amanda Rowan

August 2, 2016 at 1:07 PM



Conflicts within a family are a regular occurrence, and can sometimes require outside help, such as a mediator who can give proper advice to help mend what may be on the verge of breaking. Some people find joy in defusing relationship problems and helping others see what they can do to change. If you feel that you are among these people, becoming a marriage and family therapist may be the right path for you.

 Marriage and Family Therapy is among the most rewarding professional careers. Assisting others and making lives a little bit brighter every day, is a gift that some of the most kind and selfless people possess. If you feel you are among this gifted group, you may have the right mindset to become a marriage and family therapist.

 What is involved in becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist?

 Let’s start with the job description:

 Simply put, a marriage and family therapist is responsible for educating family members so they can resolve their own conflicts within marriage and family. A therapist will use his or her knowledge of family theory and apply techniques and principles to help struggling couples and families find a proper resolution to help them sustain healthy relationships.

 This type of professional should have an advanced degree and be comfortable being self-employed. Very few will work with social service organizations.

 What type of projected growth to expect:

 The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that there were approximately 33,700 of this type of therapist who were employed in the U.S. in 2014. An increase of 15% was projected over the  years of 2014-2024. That is an increase of 5,000 jobs by the end of the year 2024.

 What are the factors of growth:

 Health insurance plays a big role in the career growth of a marriage and family therapist. Health insurance is now required to cover mental health counseling services, which means more people are taking advantage of this service.

 How you can improve your prospects:

 There is a very small number of marriage and family therapist in rural areas of the United States, so these areas offer the best prospects for employment. All professionals must hold a license in the state where they practice. Certification and licenses will boost your career prospects.

 What to expect from your salary:

 This goes back to the findings of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of 2014. They have reported that a marriage and family therapist earned an on average salary of $48,000 annually. However, annual wages for the low 10% was $30,510, and the high 10% was $78,920. Employers that paid the highest wages were both through the government and religious organizations.

If you feel like becoming a marriage and family therapist is your true calling, you now understand what it takes and a general idea of what your career path will look like. You can find all the information you need to become the light for those who are suffering with their marital and family relationships on our website. Bringing loved ones back together is something that comes with a whole lot of patience and heart. Do you have what it takes? 





Topics: MFT

Top 10 Reasons Teens Go To Therapy

Posted by Amanda Rowan

July 26, 2016 at 1:30 PM



Top 10 Reasons Teens Go to Therapy

The teen years are difficult ones. For some, adolescence can be more difficult. Teenagers who are having a particularly hard time sometimes choose take advantage of therapy and find healthy ways to cope with their various troubles and circumstances. Of all the reasons juveniles go to therapy, below are the most common.

  1. Depression

Many teens suffer from self-esteem issues which can lead to depression. Those who feel overly worried, depressed, sad or shy can benefit from therapy because they need someone who will support and encourage them. In many cases, therapy is the first time someone really listens to them and tries to be supportive.

  1. Anxiety Disorders

Some teens get overly anxious, whether that be about speaking in front of class or preparing for exams or being confronted by a bully. Teens who are so anxious that they in some way feel stuck, seek therapy to gain the courage, peace and confidence to overcome their fears.

  1. Behavior Problems

Anger, depression, low self-esteem, sadness and learning disabilities can result in teens making foolish decisions and cause harm to themselves and others. Those who want to stop their destructive habits such eating disorders, addictions, over spending, smoking, nail biting, using drugs, and self-harm can find success in therapy.  

  1. Substance Abuse Issues

Unfortunately, teens are prone to peer pressure and don’t always make the right decisions. Exposure to drinking and drug abuse often occur during adolescence. Teens seek therapy to break free of the addictions and substance abuse issues that they know are harming them.

  1. Stress

The pressure to succeed in school or extracurricular activities can leave some teens burned out and overwhelmed. When teens seek out therapy, they can learn time management skills, how to prioritization and set boundaries.

  1. School-Related Issues

School can be a challenge for some teens, whether they have a learning or attention problem, get anxious, have behavioral problems such as anger, or being bullied. Some teens also seek therapy because they struggle with self-confidence, making friends or coping with peer pressure.  

  1. Legal Problems

Teens struggle with peer pressure and self-esteem problems which can lead them into hanging out with the wrong crowd and making terrible decisions. Teens who get into trouble with the law are usually encouraged, if not forced, to go to therapy. Teens who decide for themselves that therapy is their best option to stop and begin afresh

  1. Low Self-Esteem

Teens need to feel loved, accepted and worth listening to. They are bombarded with peer pressure, bullying and judgment. Therapy offers teenagers with low self-esteem a listening ear and a safe place where they feel wanted and accepted as they are.

  1. Trauma

There are some adolescents who have experienced traumatic events and need someone outside their friends and family to talk to about it. Teens who have experienced a traumatic event seek the safety, listening ear and outside perspective of a therapist.

  1. Grief

Like adults, therapy can greatly help grieving teenagers walk through it and handle it in a healthy way. Grief can be the result of many causes such as the death of a loved one, divorce or separation of parents, alcoholism or addiction of a parent, news of a chronic illness or anything else. Some teens resort to some destructive coping strategies to push through the pain. Therapy provides hurting and grieving teenagers an outlet to process their feeling and make more sense of their situations.


There is a lot going on in the lives of adolescents during middle school and high school years. Teens seek therapy to help them address, handle and overcome a wide range of obstacles and personal struggles. As a professional therapist, you can have a great impact and influence on the lives of teens. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a licensed therapist, we invite you to read some of our professional development resources.



Topics: MFT, Family Therapy, Teen Therapy

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