Alumni, Community and Student Engagement Initiatives

Psycho-Education as an MFT


Sara graduated from Fairfield’s MFT program in May 2009. She is a former graduate assistant and currently works as a Clinician at St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health in Westport, CT. 


When starting out, I thought I had to do “family therapy” with every client and family I had. I realized however, that that is not always possible. Working in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, I see a lot of different levels of acuity. Some people and family’s I can engage in therapy, while others I simply can not for various reasons (most of the time it is due to severe psychosis or delusional thinking). The question in my mind soon became, how do I best serve these families in a therapeutic way? I realized, through talking to some of my more seasoned colleagues in the field that psycho-education is the best way; and it still is therapeutic for the families as well as the client/patient. I was also happy to learn/realize that it still can be systemic. Through psycho-education a therapist can bring a new level of understanding of/or about the “illness” to a family system. In doing so, we as therapists can change the dynamic of how the family communicates with each other, and with the IP (identified patient); thus (hopefully) changing the dynamic of the system for the better. With the use of psycho-education, I have seen the levels of anxiety drop in families, and literature states that it can also lead to less readmissions of the client/patient.  So although it may not be the “classic” form of family therapy, I find it to be an invaluable one, and one that may too often be over-looked. This experience has definitely reinforced the adage that therapy is not a “one size fits all” profession; and although it may not be the most cutting-edge form of therapy families can still benefit from psycho-educaiton in a therapeutically systemic way.

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