Your marriage finally reached the point that you decided to try counseling. Together with your spouse, you bravely reached out and bared your most intimate struggles with a therapist. You finally felt like progress was going to happen and things would improve. But, each session ended with an argument and you left feeling the same or worse than when you arrived. Even though you want to work it out, your therapist tells you that they can’t help you, your relationship is too far gone, and you should end it.
While part of you feels shocked, another part might think calling it quits makes perfect sense. You ended up in couples counseling for a reason. But, wait a minute… wasn’t your therapist supposed to help you? Isn’t it their job to work with you and your spouse to help you make changes that improve your situation?
A few truth bombs about couples counseling
We’ve seen this time and again with couples who BRAVELY reach out AGAIN for couples counseling because they DO NOT WANT TO GIVE UP and they realized… MAYBE WE WEREN’T WITH THE RIGHT THERAPIST!
Not every therapist is right for working with couples
While it’s true that any therapist that has a license can provide couples therapy, it doesn’t mean that they’re trained to do it. In fact, couples therapy is known be the most difficult of all types of therapy for therapists! And the majority of counselors obtain a Masters degree without ever taking even one Couples Therapy course! You want to make sure that the therapist you choose has the right education and experience in working with couples.
Licensed Clinical Marriage & Family Therapists have specialized training and additional requirements for relationship counseling that other therapists don’t receive. They work from a unique model, called Systemic Family Therapy that teaches them to look at issues through a relationship lens. Your relationship is the client, not each of you as individuals and Marriage and Family Therapists approach their work with you and your spouse from this highly specialized perspective.
While there are theoretical frameworks that are highly advertised, like Gottman, EFT, Imago, it is best to work with a trained couples therapist to get their guidance on what might work best for your situation. Otherwise, it’s like going to your doctor and telling them what medication you want to take without a proper diagnosis! So, if you work with someone that isn’t licensed in Marriage & Family Therapy, they might not have the specialized skill set to really help you work through your marital challenges. It doesn’t mean they are a bad therapist, just that they might not be right for your situation.
The therapist shouldn’t decide the fate of your marriage
The only time that it becomes a therapist’s job to tell you that you should leave your marriage is in the case of safety. When there are obvious dangers to your safety, that needs to be their first concern. However, if that isn’t the case, then it’s not their place to tell you that your marriage is over. The fate of your marriage does NOT rest in their hands. It’s in yours.
It might not be about you at all
Think about it this way. If you needed to have open heart surgery, would you go to your family physician and expect them to perform surgery on you? Of course not. That wouldn’t make any sense. You have a serious concern and it requires the attention of a specialist. So, if you need marriage counseling do you think you will get the more expert opinion and support from someone that works in every kind of therapy, or someone that is a specialist in helping relationships?
It’s most likely that the therapist you were seeing didn’t know how to help you if they told you to divorce. Instead of admitting it and referring you to someone with a different set of skills you were shortchanged and blamed. Before you throw in the towel, it’s worth a second opinion from someone with specialized training.
YOU are the decision makers for your marriage!
Remember that you and your spouse are the decision makers for your marriage. I urge you to try a different couples therapist if you tried couples counseling before only to be told you should get divorced (outside of safety reasons).
At Together Couples Counseling we are all specifically trained in Marriage and Family Therapy. We specialize in working with couples. We will help power you to make changes and strengthen your connection as a couple beyond communication skills so that you create deep lasting change. Call us at 410-440-1413 because we’re here to help.