Marriage Friendly Therapists

Is individual therapy safer for marriages?

Individual therapy may undermine more marriages than even poor couples therapy. Because relationship problems are the main problem people bring to individual therapists, individual therapists are treating marriages whether or not they realize it. Unless the therapist has values that support marriage and is careful not to turn the non-present partner into a villain, individual therapy can undermine a marriage. Every experienced marriage therapist has heard these stories: a spouse goes into individual therapy, receives support for a one-sided view of the marriage problems, and becomes increasingly pessimistic about the marriage. The therapist then questions why the person stays in an obviously bad marriage. The other spouse is clueless that the marriage is unraveling in therapy, and is not informed until it’s too late. These therapists do not intend harm, but often their orientation is to the personal happiness of their individual client who is distressed in a marriage, without enough regard for the welfare of the other spouse and the children—and for the lifelong commitment that the client once made to the marriage for “better and worse.” Sadly, it is not uncommon for therapists to recommend divorce after a few individual sessions without a real assessment of the marriage and its possibilities for survival and renewal.

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