Three Dangers of Marriage Counseling
#1 The Counselor is not trained
IT wasn’t long ago that a very credentialed professor from the University of Minnesota wrote an article on “Why Therapy can be Hazardous to your Marital Health”. Being a marriage therapist and mentor his title jerked my attention. He was sounding an alarm to couples about bad counselors. He states, “You’d be interested to know that, according to a national survey, 80 percent of all private practice therapists in the United States say they do marital therapy and only 12 percent of them are in a profession that requires only one course or any supervised experience. Only marriage and family therapy as a profession requires any coursework or supervised clinical experience in marital or couples therapy. So most people who say they’re doing this work picked it up on the side or not at all.”
I frequently experience this in my own practice. I’ll hear opening comments as, “Well, we’ve been to see four counselors and you’re number five.” It’s a ‘buyer beware’ market, as is the choice of any coach. You can’t use a successful NFL coach to teach intricacies for a successful girls Olympic gymnastics. In the same way, we need to be watchful as to who we choose as a counselor.
I teach people to interview their counselor.
- What training have you had? Get an idea of what they have done to learn, train, and improve themselves.
- What strategy will you use? See if they even have a strategy, a plan, a format they follow because it tells you they are prepared.
- What courses have you taught? Many of us teach seminars and it is a good way to check areas of competency.
- What Biblical principles will you hold to?
- What is your view on accountability?
- What is your success rate with couples? Ask others about their experience with a certain counselor. Get recommendations
- What do you do on a daily basis to walk with God?
Actually the first questions are great and they tell me much, but if you are a Christian and you believe in Biblical Guidance, then that last question is the deal breaker. If they don’t have a walk with God then what and how will they teach you?
I see so much of this in counselors. They think if they understand one concept they are experts in multiple areas. I have a lot of training and experience in Dysfunctional Family Origin, Attachment, Early Teen Development and Marriage Counseling, but when it comes to Drug and Alcohol or Addiction therapy, I’m in the back seat. I listen attentively to what they say and marvel at their expertise, but I wouldn’t coach in their specialty field.
For myself, I live, eat, and sleep in the areas God has called me to. If you are going to undergo heart surgery would you want someone who can’t stop thinking about your surgery or someone who can’t wait to get on the golf course?
I remember seeing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indiana Jones, famed adventurer and archaeologist acquires a diary that holds clues and a map to find the mysterious Holy Grail. Upon retrieving his father in Nazi territory, the rescue mission turns into a race to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis. It boils down to a final moment. They have passed the tests and found the cave where a 900 year old knight guards the water of eternal life. Before them is a table of cups, the guardians asks, “Which cup will you choose?” The Nazi runs forward to grab the most beautiful gold challis. Drinking the fountain water, he steps back in a grin…. Then changes from a smile, screams, his face melts, and he explodes. It’s pretty graphic. In the quiet that follows the shock of this man being reduced to a pile of dust, the guardian knight says matter of factly (which makes it ever more hilarious) “He chose poorly.”
Well duh… what do you think?
But bottom line life can be full of poor decisions, so do your homework and choose wisely; the choice is yours. Winners use Winning Coaches.