Perhaps the greatest push within the field of marriage and family therapy came from the family therapy movement (Broderick and Schrader, 1991; Guerin, 1976; Kaslow, 1980; Nichols and Schwartz, 1998). The early family therapists were researchers and clinicians working with intractable problems such as schizophrenia and delinquency. Traditional individual models such as psychoanalysis, play therapy, and client-centered approaches were either not helpful for or applicable to these problems. The mental health field was restless and looking for new ways to treat these problems.
It is not surprising that family therapy had a stronger impact than marriage counseling. Historically, the mental health profession was built on treating pathological disorders. Even today, training in psychopathology and knowledge of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual o f Mental Disorders (DSM) is considered a crucial part of a clinical education. Often in marital problems there is no identified patient, or individual family member identified as having a specific problem; instead, there is a marital problem between two basically healthy people. It has always been viewed within the mental health establishment, whether correctly or incorrectly, that it is more important to treat diagnosable problems than relational issues that cause extreme pain. This is further supported by the number of insurance policies that do not reimburse marital therapy, but will provide payment if one of the spouses suffers from depression due to marital problems.