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What is International Family Therapy?

International family therapy is a new movement within the field of family therapy. It is best described as a collective drive to gather and share experiences of family therapists from different countries.

Family therapy, as with almost all psychological research and publications, has historically been centered on Western cultures and family systems. International-based family therapy conferences are designed to promote cross-cultural understanding.


The International Family Therapy Association (IFTA) is the primary promoter of this unique new movement. They host global conferences that strive to strengthen the quality of relationships within families and improve the quality of family therapy for diverse clients. IFTA collaboratively works with major professional organizations around the world to develop continuing education and quality standards for marriage and family therapy therapists who work in diverse communities. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of master degree programs in the U.S. and other countries that seek accreditation through IFTA. The Universities of San Diego and Massachusetts both offer programs approved by the International Accreditation Commission for Systemic Therapy Education (IACSTE).

International Marriage and Family Therapy Degrees

These degrees are designed to strengthen healthy families by preparing qualified therapy professionals who embrace inclusive perspectives of society and culture. These program's curriculum consists of basic professional counseling courses that provide comprehensive frameworks for working with diverse family units and relationships. These courses drive students to view families as individualized entities within larger, more complex social systems. This positive approach promotes collaboration, mutual understanding and better communication. In addition to taking an inclusive and integrative systems approach, the curriculum offers students hands-on opportunities to support local individuals through supervised interactions. Anyone interested in family therapy should seriously consider an international specialization in order to meet the changing meets of people.

The Benefits of Family Counseling

Families that experience stressful events and strained family relationships will benefit from therapy. This includes divorce, trauma, chronic illness, substance abuse, financial hardship, interpersonal conflict, mental health issues and the death of a loved one. Family counseling aims to promote understanding among family members in order to solve multiple problems. However, this process is severely hindered by misconceptions and miscommunications that arise from differing cultural values, beliefs and traditions. For example, Asian cultures tend to emphasize strenuous educations in order to guarantee future career and financial stability, but American culture takes a more relaxed approach to formal education. If a child with diverse parents was experiencing academic problems, their parents might each take very contrasting approaches that creates internal conflict.

Where to Learn More about Family Therapy?

The best places to start is through the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). Prospective students can search for jobs, accredited programs and educational opportunities. The AAMFT also offers legislative support, networking opportunities and exclusive membership benefits. There are free webinars, annual conferences, regional events and approved learning resources. AAMFT's quarterly Journal of Marital & Family Therapy (JMFT) is the most well-known and influential family therapy journal in the world. AAMFT supports and advocates for over 50,000 family therapists around the world. To learn more, research your state's marriage and family therapy board or accrediting organization.

International family therapy is a global movement to improve the depth and quality of therapeutic services for diverse families.

See also: Top 25 Most Affordable, Accredited Graduate Degree Programs in Psychology and Counseling in the West