Marriage Therapy: Doing More Harm Than Good?

And although some people think that their therapists are able to tell when a person should stop trying to work on his or her marriage, therapists really don't have this sort of knowledge. If they say things like, "It seems that you are incompatible" or "Why are you willing to put up with this?" or "It is time to move on with your life," they are simply imposing their own values on you. This is an unethical act, in my opinion.

5. Make sure you, your partner and your therapist set concrete goals early on. If you don't, you will probably meet each week with no clear direction. Once you set goals, you should never lose sight of them. If you don't begin to see some progress, or if you don't start to feel somewhat better within two or three sessions, you should address your concern with your therapist.

6. It's my belief that couples in crisis don't have the luxury of analyzing how they were raised in order to find solutions to their marital problems. If your therapist is focusing on the past, suggest a future-oriented approach. If he or she isn't willing to take your lead, find a therapist who will.

7. Know that most marital problems are solvable. Don't let your therapist tell you that change is impossible. Human beings are amazing, and they are capable of doing great things ‑- especially for people they love.

8. Most of all, trust your instincts. If your therapist is helping, you'll know it. If he or she isn't, you'll know that too. Don't stay with a therapist who is just helping you tread water. Find one who will help you swim.

9. Finally, the best way to find a good therapist is through word of mouth. Nothing says more about the quality of therapy you will receive than the feedback of satisfied customers. Although you might feel embarrassed to ask friends or family for a referral, you should consider doing it anyway. It increases the odds you'll find a therapist who will really help you and your spouse.

So don't give up on therapy ‑- give up on bad therapy. You be the judge of what works for you. There's a lot to be gained from seeking the advice of a third party who can help you find simple solutions to life's complicated problems.

Copyright © 2005 by Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW. All rights reserved.
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