Does couples therapy work?

03.04.2012, 10:18 AM

In today’s NYTs, an article, Does Couples Therapy Work?  Contains this nugget from my friend Bill Doherty: 

“For starters, there’s an ever-present risk of winning one spouse’s allegiance at the expense of the other spouse’s,” explains William J. Doherty, the University of Wisconsin professor of family social science, in his groundbreaking 2002 article on the topic of awkward couples counseling in the Networker, titled “Bad Couples Therapy.” “All your wonderful joining skills from individual therapy can backfire within seconds with a couple. A brilliant therapeutic observation can blow up in your face when one spouse thinks you’re a genius and the other thinks you’re clueless — or worse, allied with the enemy.”

Timing is also crucial, far more than in individual therapy, and it causes stress for therapists as well. “Let a couple interrupt each other for 15 seconds, and pretty soon you have them screaming at each other and wondering why they need you to do what they could do at home,” Professor Doherty says by phone.


3 Responses to “Does couples therapy work?”

  1. Fifth Season says:

    “Allied with the enemy”? That’s the first mistake of these couples. You’re working together, not against each other.

  2. marilynn says:

    Couples therapy sucks. You can’t trust them. They are dangerous and in it purely for the money – not that they get rich from being couples therapists but they alter their theraputic approach from what they’d tell you if you were there alone. If your spouse is a manipulative, dishonest control freak – alone you would be encouraged to explore why you have these feelings of worthlessness that keep you tied to someone that treats you poorly. But walk into therapy with that person and all the textbook definitions of appropriate behavior go out the window because your paying them to help you try to stay together. Honestly they will take money and try to keep a person wth a mentally abusive spouse just to keep them coming back each week. They talk out both sides of there mouth. I have seen probably 7 or 8 family therapists to work things out and I have come to the conclusion that they are useless bottom feeders. Not that I expected them to fix everythng, I just expect them to have one single definition of appropriate/inappropriate behavior and respectful/disrespectful behavior – but they don’t they change that definition for couples counseling. They’re sleazy

  3. hello says:

    Elle columnist E. Jean once wrote a hilarious, deceptively short, epic advice piece for a woman contemplating divorce. It is the first question on the linked page, titled “IS THIS MARRIAGE BAD FOR THE PLANET?” and should be read in entirety but here’s the quote relevant to this subject:

    “Whatever you do, stay the hell away from marriage counselors. They will encourage you to air your grievances and that will doom you to divorce”

    http://www.elle.com/Life-Love/Ask-E.-Jean/Ask-E.-Jean-May-2007