After reading an article by Elizabeth Weil for the New York Times, I felt compelled to share some important observations with you here. Her article was titled “Does Couples Therapy Work?” Here is a short excerpt:
The fact that couples therapy stresses out therapists has long been an open secret.
“It’s widely acknowledged that couples therapy is the most challenging,” says Richard Simon, editor of The Psychotherapy Networker. “You often feel confused, at odds with a least one of your patients, out of control.”
Part of the problem is that the kind of person who tends to become a therapist — empathic, sensitive, calm, accepting — is generally not the kind of person who is a good couples therapist. “The traditional, passive uh-huh, uh-huh is useless,” Dr. Real, a prominent psychologist, says. “You have to like action. To manage marital combat, a therapist needs to get in there, mix it up with the client, be a ninja. This is intimidating.”
“It’s frightening to be faced with the force of two strong individuals as they are colliding,” he says.
William J. Doherty, a University of Wisconsin professor of family social science, says, “A brilliant therapeutic observation can blow up in your face when one spouse thinks you’re a genius and the other thinks you’re clueless — or worse, allied with the enemy.”
Okay, first things first. A properly trained marriage counselor has absolutely nothing to be afraid of. If the marriage counselor knows the precise reasons a marriage goes off the rails, fear of what patients may say or do never enters the scene.
Secondly and probably just as importantly, if you apply the correct technology to bring a married couple together, you don’t need to make brilliant, therapeutic observations. As a matter of fact, you don’t need to make ANY observations. You apply the exact technology and the married couple works their way through it. They have THEIR observations and realizations and we have a very positive outcome.
The properly trained marriage counselor does NOT need to be ninja-like. He does not need to get in there and “mix it up with the client.” A marriage counselor needs to steadily and effectively apply a known procedure that routinely restores the communication between two people. Yes, I said “routinely” — the correct marriage counseling procedure routinely restores the affinity, reality and communication between two spouses. And it accomplishes it fairly quickly.
A married couple could sit around for hours and hours telling the therapist what they don’t like about the other person, what bothers them about the marriage, on and on and on. Or the properly trained marriage counselor can ask very specific questions that get right to it. It is quite a sight to see two previously upset spouses with little to no hope for their marriage have a complete turnaround after the correct marriage counseling is applied. It can be done and is being done every day throughout the world.
I wrote an earlier blog post on how you can tell if you have a great marriage counselor. Give that a read and that will help you when making this important decision.
I also wrote a book to help marriages succeed. Some of the material in this book is used in our marriage counseling to bring two upset (or even very upset) spouses back into great communication. For a limited time, I’m making the entire book available as a free download. More info on that here.
There’s an awful lot of people out there counseling married couples. The article from the New York Times is revealing a very unfortunate fact. A good number of these counselors are fearful and/or intimidated by their clients. And too many of these counselors believe THEY need to come up with answers for their clients. They do not. Properly counseled couples will come up with their own answers and will be much, much stronger as a result.