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.