Friday, February 10, 2006

Do Marriage Counselors Do More Harm Than Good?

Good experiences or were they bad? I'd like to hear some real opinions on this one.


Larry Bilotta said...

Before you begin screening marriage counselors to help you save
your marriage, you MUST consider the potential drawbacks of
marriage counseling so you can get all your facts straight
FIRST. This article will help you avoid making a costly mistake
that could not only set you back financially...but cost you your
marriage as well.

In July of 1999, at a conference for professional marriage
counselors, a credible marriage counselor by the name of Dr.
William J. Doherty, gave a shocking report on the state of
marriage counseling to his fellow professionals.

According to Doherty, most marriage counseling is HAZARDOUS,
not helpful to your marriage.

Therapy-based, American style marriage counseling (practiced by
most marriage counselors) can actually do more HARM than good in
your marriage.

All hope is NOT lost however, for the rising number of
struggling couples. There ARE more effective alternatives to
marriage counseling - they are so effective in fact that even
professional marriage counselors are admitting that couples
need MARRIAGE EDUCATION more than they do marriage therapy.

In June of 1999, USA Today reported that, "Even fans of
marriage counseling are saying disturbing things. Research
shows that it doesn't work as well as we once thought and it
might not last." That report reinforce the research that shows
a great majority of marriage counselors conducting therapy have
had no formal training at all.

This research further documented that two years after couples
went through marriage counseling, 25% of the couples were WORSE
OFF than before they started the therapy.

Up to 38% of them actually divorced.

Perhaps what's even more shocking is the fact that therapists
who actually work with COUPLES, are in the minority.

80% of all private practice marriage counselors in the U.S. say
they conduct marriage therapy, yet only 12% are in a profession
that requires them to take EVEN ONE course on dealing with

If you ask marriage counselors about their approach, the vast
majority will tell you that they find working with individuals
much more "productive" than working with couples.

Dr. William J. Doherty stated, "Couples therapy is the most
difficult therapy of all because every session starts with the
threat of divorce".

After training marriage counselors for a living, in his 1999
address at the conference for professional marriage counselors,
Dr. Doherty called the methods of marriage counselors,
"Hazardous to your marital health."

He established four ways that marriage counselors have produced
DESTRUCTIVE outcomes in marriages.

According to Doherty, there are four ways marriage counselors
can do more harm than good in your marriage...

1. By being incompetent
2. By being neutral
3. By pathologizing (telling you why your marriage is "sick")
4. By being overtly undermining (attempting to break up the

INCOMPETENT: In the case of incompetent marriage counselors,
the counselor has not been trained to work with couples
together. They believe working with two people is an expanded
version of working with one, but it is not. An individual is
easy to listen to, but a battling couple is not. Working with
couples requires skill, structure and a very different approach
than one-on-one therapy.

NEUTRAL: These marriage counselors, Doherty claims, are not
neutral about marriage at all. When a counselor appears to be
neutral, but actually takes sides with the more self-oriented
spouse, they are undermining the marriage. "When a counselor
uses the language of individual self interests, it undercuts
the moral commitment that is owed to the marriage." Doherty

PATHOLOGIZING: Pathologizing is when marriage counselors build
a case insisting that the couple has a "sick" relationship.
They actually ENCOURAGE couples to get a divorce by saying
things like, "Why SHOULD YOU hang in there? Why be a victim?"
These marriage counselors make couples believe that they're
being abused, which causes both spouses to draw their only
conclusion: "If the professional thinks this is over, then I
should too."

UNDERMINING: While telling couples what they should do is
against the code of ethics of the American Association for
Marriage and Family Therapy, many therapists still do it. These
therapists say phrases like, "You should probably end this
marriage." or, "If you're going to stay sane, you should move
out." Undermining therapists urge husbands and wives to sever
their relationships with family members and spouses.

If you're looking for a good marriage counselor, Dr. Doherty
urges you to ask questions first. Learn about the therapists'
values by asking questions like these:

1. Are you self taught, workshop-trained or college educated in
working with couples?

Bad Answer: College educated.

Good Answer: Self taught or workshop trained and they speak
convincingly about how their program saves marriages.

2. What is your attitude about saving a troubled marriage vs.
helping a couple break up?

Bad Answer: "It's not my decision. Couples have to make their
own decision." (This is an evasive answer...not a good sign.)

Good Answer: "I help couples find ways to stay together and
help them understand and overcome their problems."

3. Where do you stand when one spouse wants to stay and the
other wants a divorce?

Bad Answer: "I try to get people to understand their own
feelings." (This is a focus on the individual, NOT the couple.)

Good Answer: "This is normally what I see with couples. I have
ways to help them both handle this in positive ways."

4. What percentage of your practice involves both husband and

Bad Answer: "I find working with husbands and wives
individually to be more practical."

Good Answer: "All of it. When both people are with me and
following my process, I find they have the greatest success

5. Of all the couples you treat, what percentage stay married
and have a better marriage in the end?

Bad Answer: "100%" or "I don't keep that type of information."

Good Answer: About 70 to 80% stay happily married, while the
rest drop out of my process and are unwilling to finish.

The difference in the answers you receive from marriage
counselors is the feeling you get when you talk with them. Bad
answers feel evasive or vague while good answers are confident
and positive.

Now that you know the right questions to ask, you can
confidently screen marriage counselors, separating the GOOD
from the bad. But if you're hesitant about bringing a marriage
counselor into your marriage, as Dr. Doherty suggested,
marriage education might be the answer you're looking for.

About the Author: Want to get back on track with the one you
love? Find out if you’re already on the "Secret Path" to
Divorce and learn how to stay off it forever. Get your FREE
Special Report at

Source: http://www.isnare.com

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I have read through one history
Each of you has your personal story; it is your history. Keeping a diary or writing your feelings in a special notebook is a wonderful way to learn how to think and write about who you are -- to develop your own identity and voice.

People of all ages are able to do this. Your own history is special because of your circumstances: your cultural, racial, religious or ethnic background. Your story is also part of human history, a part of the story of the dignity and worth of all human beings. By putting opinions and thoughts into words, you, too, can give voice to your inner self and strivings.

A long entry by Anne Frank on April 5, 1944, written after more than a year and a half of hiding from the Nazis, describes the range of emotions 14-year-old Anne is experiencing:

". . . but the moment I was alone I knew I was going to cry my eyes out. I slid to the floor in my nightgown and began by saying my prayers, very fervently. Then I drew my knees to my chest, lay my head on my arms and cried, all huddled up on the bare floor. A loud sob brought me back down to earth, and I choked back my tears, since I didn't want anyone next door to hear me . . .

"And now it's really over. I finally realized that I must do my school work to keep from being ignorant, to get on in life, to become a journalist, because that's what I want! I know I can write. A few of my stories are good, my descriptions of the Secret Annex are humorous, much of my diary is vivid and alive, but . . . it remains to be seen whether I really have talent . . .

"When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? I hope so, oh, I hope so very much, because writing allows me to record everything, all my thoughts, ideals and fantasies.

"I haven't worked on Cady's Life for ages. In my mind I've worked out exactly what happens next, but the story doesn't seem to be coming along very well. I might never finish it, and it'll wind up in the wastepaper basket or the stove. That's a horrible thought, but then I say to myself, "At the age of 14 and with so little experience, you can't write about philosophy.' So onward and upward, with renewed spirits. It'll all work out, because I'm determined to write! Yours, Anne M. Frank

For those of you interested in reading some of Anne Frank's first stories and essays, including a version of Cady's Life, see Tales From the Secret Annex (Doubleday, 1996). Next: Reviewing and revising your writing

Anonymous said...

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