My DH and I disagree on this. I think you need someone in the picture who is objective. He thinks they are a waste of money since they'll tell you what you already know.
I don't think it works if both people don't put an effort into it. Then again, that's why most marriages fail to begin with. The question is, what does DH already know?
Therapy will only work if you want it too. Personally I wouldn't waste my time or money on something like that. I think most therapist are crazed anyways. You get out of it what you put into it.
Speaking from experience, I agree with with previous posters. When I went with my ex-husband he just said what he thought I wanted to hear and nothing was resolved.
It does work if both parties are 100% committed to making an honest effort and by finding the right therapist. One problem that many people make going into therapy is not giving it enough time. Many couples quit after 2-3 visits or even 3 months and think "They're cured" or "It didn't work," when in fact, they didn't give it enough effort or time. Another reason why therapy doesn't work for many couples is the fear of being honest and real. Placing the blame on another person is easy to do; however, taking responsibility for your own behavior is much more uncomfortable. Often, people can't "handle the truth" about themselves, take responsibility for their actions, or are comfortable with confronting a problem. It's no surprise to find couples discuss a problem for the very first time in a therapy session, where the other partner had no clue.
Think about it...it takes years for your relationship to break down based on coping, behavioral, and relationship skills learned in a lifetime. What makes a person think they are going to unlearn these behaviors in 2-3 counseling visits? Thorough counseling takes a long time and requires maintenance after that.
My ex and I went to a marriage counselor (his idea-wow), but she only listened to about half. We went together, then each of us when seperately, then we went together again. About five minutes after walking into my single session, she told me that I should get out. I did not follow her advice, and it ended anyway, but what about the person who does follow the advice and could have made it work? I no longer believe in "counseling". I think that this is a good way to get many people's perspectives on the situation. Then THINK for YOURSELF! - nothing critical intended; I just wish that I had done so.
Meghane said, "The question is, what does DH already know?"
Brilliant. Yes, that is the question.
I knew that my Ex was the way he was, that there were reasons for it stemming from his childhood, and that he was not likely to change because he didn't think he had a problem.
My friends told me my Ex was a jerk and that he'd never change.
The marriage counselor diagnosed him with Narcisistic Personality Disorder and said that if he realized and admitted that he had a problem, and honestly committed 'starting today' to solve it, that in ten years, he might successfully change enough to start making a difference.
So yes, I knew it. But hearing a professional put a lable on it and agree that Ex's behavior was wrong and abusive -- THAT gave me the validation I needed to leave, and know that I was doing the right thing for myself and my child.
Counseling worked WELL for me -- not so well for him... ;-)
I believe that it can, but as others have said it takes real work on your part - extreme honesty and willingness to dig around in yourself until you get to the truth. If you go into it expecting the therapist to "tell you what is wrong" you won't get far. YOU have to do the work; the therapist is there to keep you on track and moving.
In my own case, counseling did not save my marriage. But it did save my life and I mean that literally.
I think in some cases (rapes, tramautic events, etc) it can be very beneficial and is often needed.
But for marraige problems, I think it can often make matters worse. I think it all depends on the specific problems you're having, and even more important, the specific counselor you see.
As an attorney, and a mediator I end up listening to lots of people with an amazing array of problems. If just talking to somebody helps--thats one thing. Your grandma could do it.
Problem is--Very often people hope that a counselor or therapist is going to say something that will stop their psychotic spouse from being abusive. or they think that a spouse who is involved in an affair is suddenly going to see the light because of something the psychologist says. or a couple that fights all the time is going to stop.
Mostly they hope the therapist or mediator will say to the other person--this is all your fault, straighten out.
The spouse who is being abused doesn't even take good advice, so why would the other one listen? I think when people go to a marriage counselor they are hoping for a miracle.
I'm afraid saving a marriage/straightening out your life, etc. simply takes lots of work on the part of everybody in the family, not magic words.
Sometimes the counselor tells you things you already know. (See my post above) In my case, the counselor said basically the same thing I already knew and was hearing from my friends.
But sometimes, just having an impartial "authoritative" or "expert" opinion is what we need to get through to us. It has worked for me very well.
But as Marge points out -- You have to be prepared to really listen and to act on those insights. If not, then it's a waste of time and money, and I've seen that too.
I have no idea how many visits most couples go to counceling Gardengrl, but I have friends that have gone for "years". And no, they haven't changed and sadly, I have not seen any difference in their life. I have tried it at two different times in my life when things were particularly hard, and I needed perspective desperately. I always felt better after I left, but I think that is because I was able to say things that I would not tell a friend, because even the best of friends can gossip, and I did not want things being said that would hurt me, or people I cared about, even though I was really upset with them at the time. I needed perspective, validation and to be able to trust that the professional would respect their obligation to be confidential. Where from experience, even close friends have shared a confidence with someone they did not realize would blab to everyone. Because of that lesson, I no longer share things I want to remain private. I think human nature makes them want to just tell "someone"...trusting that person to not tell, and we all know how well that works!
And the first time helped a bit, because if you keep going, your behavior/or that of your spouse, is somewhat accountable to the therapist, and can keep the behavior of a spouse on track. However, I have not seen it "change" people, and make them suddenly "see the light" and become different. I think that is what we hope, but I have yet to see it actually happen. You begin to understand, that the behavior of others...well, it is what it is, and it gets to a point where you must make a decision...can you live with that persons behavior. It seems that people can change for short periods, but go back to old behavior rather quickly.
I think alot of people use counceling to change "the other person". Fix them. Blame them. Validate their feelings. I think marge is right. Few people are willing to go in and get to the real, painful, ugly, horrifying, truth about "themselves". They want to go to talk about the painful, ugly truth about someone else. And they get angry and defensive when it shines a light on "them". But without the courage to face it...real change will never take place. Some will talk about their faults, ( gloss over them in an attempt at being honest) but not willing to do the deep, serious work necessary to "really" change...or to take seriously, and really believe that they cause others enormous pain with their behavior. They will look for ways to excuse and justify their behavior, not actually change and be responsible for it. To actually be responsible for their behavior and do the work to change it and not repeat it! IMO, they want to look good and be liked by the therapist...because that person has the ability to validate our feelings, and therefore "us" and you do not want to pour out all your feelings, and feel that the therapists judges you negatively. So people paint themselves in a "good" light. They want the therapist to agree with them...they want to justify their behavior and have the therapist validate their behavior and therefore them. Or they tell the therapist only what they want to hear.
But you are also right in that "who" you choose as a therapist is so important to the process. Is the therapist willing to challenge your behavior, or that of your husbands, or is he intimidated by your husband, and cannot actually challenge him? I believe that this sometimes happen with a male therapist, and a husband if it is the husband who is the stronger male, and the therapist knows it. Yes, it can help to gain perspective, and validate a direction you are taking, etc., and can work, if people are willing to actually take a good, hard "honest" look at "themselves". If you are going to have a therapist take you side, and fix someone elses behavior...save your money because the other person will resent it, and will not change...