Marriage Therapy: Doing More Harm Than Good?

2. Make sure your therapist is biased in the direction of helping you find solutions to your marital problems rather than helping you leave your marriage when things get rocky. Feel free to ask him or her to give you a ballpark figure about the percentage of couples he or she works with who leave with their marriages intact and are happier as a result of therapy. Although your therapist is unlikely to have a specific answer to that question, his or her reaction will speak volumes. You should end up feeling confident that your therapist's primary goal is to help you work out your problems so that you can remain together.

3. You should feel comfortable and respected by your therapist '- and feel that he or she understands your perspective and feelings. If your therapist sides with you or your spouse, that's not acceptable. No one should feel ganged up on. Good marriage therapists understand both sides of the story and help couples negotiate solutions. If you aren't comfortable with something your therapist is suggesting '- like setting a deadline to make a decision about your marriage '- say so. If your therapist honors your feedback, that's a good sign. If not, leave.

4. The therapist's own values about relationships definitely play a part in what he or she is interested in working on with you. When it comes to being '- and staying '- in love, there are no universal rules. So if your therapist insists that there is only one way to have a successful marriage, find another therapist.

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.

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