On April 19, 2005, Susan Gilbert wrote an article
in the New York Times
revealing the failure of marriage counseling.
The article explained that every year thousands of
people go to marriage
counselors to try to repair their marriage. But researchers say it
like it should. Two years after therapy twenty five percent of couples
doing better, in fact worse, than before marriage therapy. Within 4
thirty eight percent of those same couples are divorced.
Most of the typical marriage counseling
strategies, like communication skills
and conflict management, can be helpful for a year or so, but in the
make no difference on the overall quality of the marriage.
Many counselors and therapist do not have the
training or the skills to work
with marriages in real crisis. So many professionals resort to either:
each spouse take turns talking week after week.
This, of course, accomplishes nothing.
them to divorce after having given up
themselves on the marriage reconciling.
One professor of psychology was actually quoted as
saying that some
therapists do more harm than good.
One couple was reported to have seen 2 marriage
therapists over thirteen
years. One of them was credited (or accused) of having caused the
But the article does acknowledge that sometimes
counseling helps. And counselors
were quoted as saying that they could be more productive if couples
to them sooner. People wait for an average of 6 years before reaching
help. At that point, it’s challenging to help.
The article mentions alternatives to marriage
Behavioral couples therapy, for example, has been
more successful than
Traditional marriage therapy tends to help couples
solve problems. But integrative
therapy aims to help couples accept differences. This approach is based
fact that marital success is not dependent upon couples not fighting
how they fight.
Some therapists themselves have become so
discouraged with their own results
that they’ve stopped taking clients and instead urge people
to do marriage
education courses, practical workshops like Mort Fertel’s
Marriage Fitness Tele
Boot Camp, and other programs that teach people how to succeed in
Marriage education is more empowering. Therapy can
be a blame fest and cry
session, which is not productive.
research shows that couples who
do marriage education courses lower their chances of divorce. But in
where one spouse is depressed, therapy might be necessary.