Theology in Marriage

In marriage and family therapy, value conflicts are often challenging. If MFT therapists try to impose values on their clients, issues related to the client’s autonomy come up. MFT therapists, in this case, should adopt an open-minded and nonjudgmental approach. Over the years, the AAMFT Code of Ethics prescribes the requirements standard by law, and guides therapists in understanding their responsibility in healthcare. MFT therapists should adopt an open-minded approach and be nonjudgmental no matter the decisions their clients make or the beliefs their clients adopt.  

Addressing “Marriage” from the Client’s Viewpoint

The development of science over the years is related to the social-cultural milieu in the Western world. This milieu is ripe for a greater religion-social science dialogue. As Thomas & Roghaar (1990) note, religion has continuously asked questions relating to the meaning of life and spiritual reality beyond the empirical world sense. Value conflict in marriage and family therapy is a common phenomenon where some therapists may try and impose their values on clients. However, this should not be the case. MFT therapists should be open and nonjudgmental and willing to support clients.

MFT therapist may conflict with a counselee over various values, including religion, beliefs, and norms. Thomas & Roghaar (1990) notes that religion and the way it interfaces with family is the most critical influence in life since it gives meaning to the family’s daily encounters. Nowadays, there are many religions in the world in that there is a likelihood of a therapist serving clients from a religion they do not ascribe to.  Killian (2013) argues that psychotherapy has always been value-neutral. Despite the spiritual angle that a client may take, MFT therapists can use the client’s religion to explore and resolve their issues.


As an MFT therapist, it is imperative to approach a marriage client from the client’s viewpoint based on his or her religion and avoid judging even when a client has funny beliefs. MFT therapists should know that most clients tend to seek for spiritual input when they are going through issues. In such a case, they work towards living a life defined by them as meaningful spiritually. In other instances, clients take multiple paths of fulfilling their spiritual needs, and hence an MFT therapist should have multicultural counseling skills.

It is a good gesture that nowadays, various denominations are even welcoming social scientists to study their religious phenomenon. According to Thomas & Roghaar (1990), both religion and family play a significant role in an adult’s well being, and they are interrelated. However, Thomas & Roghaar’s (1990) work proposes that the importance of keeping the two separate and therapists should never impose their religious values on their clients; they should also understand that spiritual issues are therapeutically significant, ethical, and of a considerable impact in a counseling setting.

AAMFT Code of Ethics and Therapist’s Responsibilities in the Area of Separation Client

While most people define MFT therapists as marriage solutions, most traditional trained MFT therapists tend to espouse a more neutral role. In this case, their work in marriage therapy is to facilitate a constructive resolution to the couple’s marital problem even in situations where the resolution ends up in separation or even divorce. In a counseling setup, Killian (2013) argues that the autonomy of decision making resides with the client/patient.  According to the AAMFT Code of Ethics (2001), Code 1.8, MFT therapists should always respect clients’ rights and decisions. However, they should always help their clients in understanding the consequences of their decisions. When making decisions such as cohabitation, marriage, divorce, among others, therapists should not propose or even coerce clients to change it.

As the AAMFT Code of Ethics indicates, MFT therapists should only work as impartial mediators. The standard 1 of the AAMFT Codes argues that therapists have a role in enhancing the families’ welfare and finding appropriate equilibrium between contradictory objectives and goals within the family system (AAMFT, 2001). Killian (2013) notes that MFT therapists may not guide clients in making decisions but offer a safe and neutral environment where the couples or families can talk about the issues affecting them. They act as a mediator by ensuring that all the parties are given equal chances to express themselves. In this case, they should not have hidden agendas. Code 3.1, on the other hand, argues that MFT should maintain their competence in therapy. Maintaining such competencies will even require a therapist to undertake a multicultural skills course. With such a course, it is easy to respect all clients regardless of their denominations, values, and beliefs.

In summary, MFT therapists make a significant contribution to families. Many people believe that such therapists have all the solutions to their marriage, but that may not be the case. MFT therapists use the client’s strengths and beliefs to assist the clients to overcome family and life challenges. In this case, they only work as impartial mediators who facilitate a constructive environment for effective decision making. Before making a decision, therapists may assist the client in exploring its pros and cons.    

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American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. (2001). AAMFT code of ethics. Retrieved from

Killian, K. D. (2013). Interracial couples, intimacy & therapy: Crossing racial borders. New York: Columbia University Press.

Thomas, D. L., & Roghaar, H. B. (1990). Positivist Theorizing: The Case of Religion and the Family. In J.Sprey (Ed.), Fashioning Family Theory: New Approaches (pp.136-170). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

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