How marriage and family therapists arrived at their theoretical orientation: A qualitative study
The purpose of this study was to explore with licensed practicing marriage and family therapists (MFTs) how they formulated and arrived at their theoretical orientations. The participants were 20 licensed practicing MFTs seeing more than 1 0 clients a week for more than five years. Semi-structured, audiotaped interviews were the source of the data for this phenomenological qualitative study. After careful and triangulated data analysis, two themes emerged. A theme of an initial theoretical orientation was revealed first with a progressive process, as more experience and practice were gained, to a theme of convergence to a personal practice model, a process where personal and professional experiences merge with theoretical orientation until congruence occurs. These two themes are illustrated with quotations. Conclusions of this study, as well as the implications for therapists and for training, continuing education, and academic programs, are made along with the limitations of this study. Recommendations for future research are also discussed, especially regarding the person of the therapist.