It has been my experience that people ask essentially the same questions:
A therapist's job is to accompany you, teach you, mentor you, and help you on your journey through this moment in your life.
Whether your issues fall into the traditional categories of psychotherapy (e.g., depression, anxiety, trauma, sexual abuse, grief, divorce issues, behavioral problems, etc.), or areas requiring specialized training or expertise, or spiritual or religious issues (e.g., clergy abuse, meaning and purpose, spiritual direction), together a therapist will discover the best way to bring out the BEST YOU.
If these statements describe you, you might benefit from professional assistance:
If you have a troubled marriage or romantic relationship, then you will require therapy (aka marriage counseling, couple's therapy).
A therapist must have plenty of tools and skills with which to help you repair, build, and grow your marriage/relationship. Your relationship is probably not as bad as you think it is, and couple's counseling doesn't have to be as scary as you might think it will be. A therapist can help you create the relationship that you want.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, dissociation, chronic depression, and anxiety are HIGHLY RESISTANT TO CHANGE. Depression, in particular, is extremely resistant to treatment, yet, through a combination of psychotherapy, hypnosis, vitamins, herbs, and education, many chronically-depressed clients have conquered their depression.
Counseling and/or hypnosis may open up a brighter future.
In and of itself, psychotherapy (without hypnosis or medications) can be very beneficial in treating PTSD, trauma, depression, and anxiety. In the skilled hands of an experienced therapist, a client can reasonably expect to have a good future. However, if the problem is bio-chemical (and of course, it will be after months and years of living with depression), and you do not address the biochemical changes in your body, then conducting psychotherapy alone is a lot like pushing back the ocean with a Dixie cup.
Just for the record, antidepressants have many side-effects, can be expensive, and, frankly, prescribing is a process of trial and error. Please read about respected natural ways of dealing with the biochemical after-effects of depression and trauma. However, if you want an antidepressant, a mood-elevating drug, or something for anxiety, you will need to see an M.D., which includes internists, psychiatrists, and your primary care physician.
No. Marriage & Family Therapists cannot write drug prescriptions in the state of California, nor are they allowed to practice medicine, however, they can (and are expected to) educate, provide resources, and recommend referrals.
No. "They" say one person can change the world, so, surely one person can begin to change a relationship, yes?
Yes, and the Code of Ethics and Professional Behavior of the Ca Association of Marriage and Family Therapists has a strongly-worded positive policy on this matter.
Inasmuch as it is marriage/couples counseling, they should provide benefits. However, it depends upon your insurance company and specific policy. Some provide benefits only for individual counseling. Some cover marriage counseling, but not family counseling. Some cover for 10 sessions, 15 sessions, or 40 weeks. Call your provider to determine coverage limits.
Some do, others expect clients to pay for services when they are rendered.