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How do you identify a good marriage counselor? #35587
12/14/10 07:56 PM
12/14/10 07:56 PM
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The Dark Side of the Moon
AntigoneRisen Offline OP
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This week's keywords are marriage counselor. This is an important topic. How do you identify a good marriage counselor? What are the traits to look for? What are the traits to avoid?

Have you looked for a marriage counselor? If so, what is your advice to others?


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: AntigoneRisen] #35602
12/14/10 08:11 PM
12/14/10 08:11 PM
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Colorado
LovingAnyway Offline
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When I did my online search for a counselor, I used the keywords "pro-marriage" "christian" "marriage counselor" and my area.

Search returned a list and I emailed ones closest to our home first.

I said that our marriage was in crisis due to infidelity and asked if they could help.

Turns out, asking for crisis counseling is important. Brings actions into the present, provides a different type of counseling than non-crisis.

I think it's wise to inform as to any active addictions, too. The MC we chose specialized in sex addiction, which we had not heard about prior to seeing him.

I learned through a year and a half with the MC that I'm half of the counseling relationship--that part of the therapy is asking for what I want from MC, sharing what I don't want, and not making him the fixer of the marriage.

I'd make sure that homework is assigned...exercises, reading, required time spent together without distractions weekly.

I would avoid any MC that put aside infidelity as the symptom, not the issue. Ours directed WH to end his affair immediately, citing that source outside of the marriage, as an unreasonable and deceptive influence on WH, and his goal to figure out if he wanted to end the marriage or work on it.

Again, crisis counseling versus non-crisis. One addresses the immediate and the other, learning tools to grow and thrive in the marriage.

LA


The Paradoxical Commandments

Married 28 years/Together 30
Recovered 10 years
MALovingAnyway@gmail.com
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: LovingAnyway] #35621
12/14/10 08:27 PM
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AntigoneRisen Offline OP
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Good thoughts. I first looked for a marriage counselor using different criteria than I would today. My search terms were pretty much the same as yours.

Now I'd be interested in someone from a cognitive behavioral paradigm. I have little to no use for psychoanalysis as a tool. I'm not waiting around for someone to heal their inner child. That's not a marital problem; it's a personal one. Unfortunately, personal issues affect the marriage, but I'm not sitting around waiting for someone to heal their inner child to change their behavior.


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: AntigoneRisen] #35639
12/14/10 08:42 PM
12/14/10 08:42 PM
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LovingAnyway Offline
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Our MC moved from crisis into non-crisis counseling.

We did work on our inner children and how they engaged one another...much like Al Turtle's Lizard, really.

Part of breaking the enmeshment, keeping the new differentiation, crucial to leaving the power struggle behind.

We'd learned the crisis boundaries around our behaviors. Similar for non-crisis. I doubt we would be married had FWH not addressed his SA for two more years past the MC part. I didn't have to wait for better behaviors...sure did for better intimacy and connection skills.

A lot of the permissions for horrid behaviors resulted from our personal issues. Change the behavior and don't change the belief and you'll have those behaviors back.

If in crisis, both spouses changes their behaviors for the other, to get through the crisis, then they will change them back when they make it through.

LA



The Paradoxical Commandments

Married 28 years/Together 30
Recovered 10 years
MALovingAnyway@gmail.com
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: LovingAnyway] #35702
12/14/10 10:15 PM
12/14/10 10:15 PM
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Posts: 5,381
Texas
Larry Offline
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One question that can be asked is: "In completing your Masters, did you take the marriage counseling track?"

Beware the therapists who advertise: Marriage Counseling, Child development issues, Addiction, Aroma Therapy and Hair Care Center.

grin


It's often the truth we hide from ourselves that causes the most damage in life.

My old email address no longer works.
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: Larry] #35710
12/14/10 10:33 PM
12/14/10 10:33 PM
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right here waiting Offline
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Another good question: Have you ever been divorced? Remarried? What are you doing differently in your current marriage that makes it different?

I would find it awkward to ask such questions, but would force myself through that discomfort. Sooo many marriage counselors have been divorced--I'd want to know they've learned something from the experience!

Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: right here waiting] #35754
12/15/10 12:30 AM
12/15/10 12:30 AM
Joined: Aug 2010
Posts: 2,309
Colorado
LovingAnyway Offline
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Al Turtle loves that question, RHW. Good one.

smile

LA


The Paradoxical Commandments

Married 28 years/Together 30
Recovered 10 years
MALovingAnyway@gmail.com
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: LovingAnyway] #35819
12/15/10 03:19 AM
12/15/10 03:19 AM
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right here waiting Offline
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He does, huh? I guess I haven't read ALL of his website yet. Really good stuff there, but I spend most of my online time HERE.

Note to self: Get out more.

Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: AntigoneRisen] #35857
12/15/10 05:55 AM
12/15/10 05:55 AM
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flowmom Offline
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A year before our separation we started about four months of marriage counselling (every week or two).

What I wish I had known at the time was that the MC was a half-hearted effort on STBXH's part that reinforced the plan that he likely already had to end our marriage.

I picked a counselor who specialized in EFT (http://www.iceeft.com/whatis.htm). I chose it because research shows that it is dramatically more effective than standard marriage counselling.

But IMO it doesn't matter how great a method of counselling is if a person is looking for justification to leave the marriage.

Relatively quickly, the MC put the onus on STBXH to shift and said that I was already doing what I needed to do. She kept pushing it with him, and finally suggested a few individual sessions with him. Things ended up with her repeatedly saying to us "it seems that you are at an impasse, how can I help you?". It was so frustrating. Naive idiot that I am, when we ended the counselling I thought that we were agreeing to backburner the MC approach for a while until we were ready to tackle our problems again.

When we first separated I was very angry at the MC, feeling that she had let us down with her lack of effectiveness. In retrospect, though, my STBXH is extremely hard-headed. He was not prepared to work on our M or on himself in any way. He was probably ready to leave the M, and was possibly looking for external justification for leaving or least validation that the problem was all me.

Finding a good marriage counsellor is very hard. My sister went to a MC who advertised on his web site his professional relationship with Michele Weiner-Davis. I had seen him a couple of times (individually) and thought he had some useful insights. When my sister and BIL went to him with their problems, the MC proceeded to verbally attack BIL and they almost got into a fight! The MC was likely drunk at the time. This is a person who trains other counsellors around the world, but who clearly has serious personal problems. He was really expensive too.

From what I know of my own and others' experience, MC is less effective and more risky than IC. Caveat emptor!


we: me44 + my husband Pookie :9: + S9 + D6
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: flowmom] #36492
12/16/10 03:29 AM
12/16/10 03:29 AM
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California
jollynot Offline
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I wish I would have known to look more closely at our MC. My H went willingly about a year ago. I found a woman who took our insurance. I thought she was interesting, funny and wouldn't let me fast talk my way out of anything. (I only say that because I can lead anyone to believe I am "fine" when I am not).

My poor H went with me every week for 5 months. He had never been to therapy before so he didn't know what to expect. We left there feeling worse than before we arrived. We didn't do anything proactive, no homework, no exercises. Nothing even remotely close to the stuff I've learned from the books recommended on this site.

The second one we went to told me that "based on the laws of attraction, I brought this on myself", and that she never forgave her husband for an indisgression and regrets it b/c she lost him. She said I needed to forgive him so I don't lose him.

How about that? So now my husband will not go to MC again because he said "we tried that and it didn't work." Honestly, I'd be afraid to go too, I am a bit scarred now.

Jolly

Last edited by jollynot; 12/16/10 03:31 AM.
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: jollynot] #36614
12/16/10 03:45 PM
12/16/10 03:45 PM
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Posts: 503
Somewhere btw'n here and there
R
Rambling Man Offline
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W and I have been to 2 different Marriage Counselors and had very different experiences.

#1 (MC married) Never really pushed us. Too laid back. Almost 1 year of spinning wheels.

#2 (MC divorced) Pushed us from first appt. Some days he was hard on me about by CB. Other days he was hard on W's CB. Never really focused on solutions to problems at the time though. We do now talk about some of the seeds that he planted.

Treat a MC like an interviewee:

1. What makes you different from other MC's
2. What is your M like?
3. Do you have any personal experiences that help to identify issues in M's?
4. What would you say to a couple where one of them is in an affair?
5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
6. Why should we hire you to help us through this very difficult time?
7. Are you Pro-Marriage?

W2W

Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: Rambling Man] #117269
06/07/11 02:05 AM
06/07/11 02:05 AM
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Posts: 12,611
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AntigoneRisen Offline OP
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bump


Critical Thinking: The Other National Deficit

"That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: AntigoneRisen] #117530
06/07/11 05:27 PM
06/07/11 05:27 PM
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flowmom Offline
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If I could do it again, I would pay more attention to gender dynamics in picking a marriage counsellor. STBX tends to be a dominant male and has some subtle respect issues with women (including his mother). I think an alpha male type MC would have been a far better choice for us (than an intelligent and assertive, but female MC). IMO, the priority should be picking a MC that the less-motivated spouse will respect.


we: me44 + my husband Pookie :9: + S9 + D6
Re: How do you identify a good marriage counselor? [Re: flowmom] #117600
06/07/11 07:37 PM
06/07/11 07:37 PM
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I agree with those who say that focusing on cognitive behavioral therapy is key. An analytic MC will help you understand why you are getting divorced. You need a CB MC if you hope to change behavior sufficiently to stay married. It also helps if the MC is skilled at explaining to the reluctant spouse why it is in THEIR interest to change.

In the end, however, whether MC will work depends on whether both spouses are willing and able to change their behavior. The MC is merely the facilitator of that change. If the MC doesn't ask for / suggest any change, it is less likely to occur. But even if the MC presses fairly hard for change, if either spouse refuses to change, then the marriage will not improve.


Solutions? There are none. There are decisions.

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