Medical Family Therapist Roles


Medical Family Therapists may have a variety of roles. The responsibilities of a medical family therapist change depending on their position. The various positions include work in clinical settings, leadership roles, research, and supervisory roles. Each position includes different aspects of medical family therapist roles.

Clinical Approaches

 Medical Family Therapists (MedFTs) have had a large impact on the reduction of health disparities for underserved populations. Tyndall and colleagues (2014) were able to find numerous studies in which MedFTs worked with diverse patient populations and marginalized populations, which included specific diagnostic illnesses. MedFTs are well equipped to provide culturally sensitive care to individuals, couples, and families experiencing illness, trauma, health, or loss.


 A background in Systems Theory, the biopsychosocial-spiritual framework and healthcare collaboration make MedFTs ideal leaders and clinical administrators within integrated healthcare systems. Leadership positions currently held by MedFT trained individuals include clinical directors, directors of behavioral medicine, national organization administrators, directors of behavioral sciences, and heads of family medicine programs.



 MedFTs bring a systemic, biopsycholsocial-spiritual approach (BPSS) to their research. The scientist-practitioner model has been identified as a valuable approach for MedFT research (Zak-Hunter, Berge, Lister, Davey, Lynch, & Denton, 2014). There is also an emphasis for MedFTs to address the clinical, operational, and financial worlds of health care through their research (Mendenhall, Pratt, Phelps, Baird, & Younkin, 2014; Peek, 2008) To address this complexity of issues, MedFTs use a variety of research methodologies (Mendenhall et al., 2014).


Medical Family Therapy (MedFT) supervisees require specific supervision and training to achieve competency to practice collaborative or integrated care within healthcare settings (Hodgson, Rambo, Boyd, Koehler, & Lamson, 2013; Lamson, Pratt, Hodgson, & Koehler, 2014). The goals of MedFT supervision include helping the supervisee adjust to brief behavioral health encounters, learn, understand and apply the medical language, and to navigate the medical world hierarchy and culture (Lamson et al., 2014).