Every so often patterns seem to emerge from the diverse clients I see. Here's what I'm noticing now:
Couples in my area are coming to counseling at higher distress levels.
In our initial conversations, they easily say their problems go back
years, not months. This often translates into one or both of the couple
completely emotionally "finished," and only coming to counseling out of a
sense of obligation or the expectation that the divorce process in
their county will expect some kind of counseling to occur.
often, men in these marriages are slow to agree to get counseling help.
They may view the marriage differently, or be reluctant to reach out for
support. When the wife begins to seriously talk about separation, the
husband wakes up and says he's ready and will often make the initial
phone calls to therapists.
2. Couples have less confidence in
counseling. Perhaps it comes from more choices for treatment (online,
email therapy, coaching, prescription drugs) or a growing reluctance on
many people's part to give permanent change the time and energy it
requires. I wonder if more people are willing to try therapy but quit
when it gets hard to schedule or invest in, or if more people are
choosing therapists by price alone. Many people will start therapy with
less experienced counselors, but stop attending when the process gets
Each of these issues makes helping couples heal and
grow a true challenge. Therapy works best when there is less damage to
heal, and works best when everyone is ready to invest themselves.
Sometimes these factors don't happen between partners at the same time.