Clinical Approach

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. Cultural humility, which is defined as a commitment to lifelong evaluation and reflection that considers the power imbalance of patient-provider relationships (Lewis, Myhra, &Walker, 2014), allows for continuous growth while working with various clients of diverse experiences, SES, cultures, ethnicities, gender identifications, sexual orientations, levels of ability, etc. MedFTs are often clinically active in integrated care or collaborative care environments, which are defined as an approach for integrating the biological or physical and psychological or behavioral health of diverse patients (and their family or support system) within any health care setting (Unützer, Harbin, Schoenbaum, & Druss, 2013). Tyndall et al. reported several clinical competencies for MedFTs, based out of a modified Delphi study that was conducted with several experts in MedFT. Clinical competencies in MedFT include the following: “demonstrate skills in providing integrated care; demonstrate the ability to empower patients to advocate for themselves in the healthcare system; demonstrate awareness of and sensitivity to cultural and contextual variables pertaining to health, illness, loss, and trauma.; recognize the various disciplines involved with medical care and their role in the healthcare environment; and facilitate communication between patients, families, and healthcare providers and invite coordination of services.” (Tyndall et al., p. 50).