The above quote comes from a counselor and Life Coach with over 30 years of experience in the world of personal growth, relationships and more.
So why would a counselor, and life coach, who specializes in relationships, which includes divorce guidance, helping couples save marriages, and even helping people learn how to date effectively, tell people never to attend traditional marriage counseling or marriage therapy with a therapist, counselor or life coach?
Why marriage counseling doesn’t work
For the past 30 years, number one best-selling author, counselor and life coach David Essel has been radically helping people in the world of love, dating, marriage, and relationships, and yet he has a very strong opinion about the inadequacy of traditional marriage and, couples counseling or marriage therapy.
Below, David calls out his own profession and gives tips on how to get the best help in the world to counseling.
“Up until 1996, when a couple would come to me in the throes of divorce, or ongoing squabbles, or addiction, or abuse, I used to work with that couple together either in person or via phone.
But in that very same year, I came to this incredible understanding: marriage counseling, traditional relationship counseling where a professional works with both people the same time is an absolute waste of time, money and effort!
What happened that year shocked me: I was sitting in a session, the husband and wife were sitting across from me, 55 minutes have gone by and both of them were still yelling and screaming, taking turns, of course, LOL, but yelling and screaming for the entire session of marriage therapy.
Which, unfortunately, is extremely normal.
At the end of it, a lightbulb went off in my head and I told them: “hey, you guys can argue and yell and scream at home for free. Why are we sitting in this room, where you are paying me for marriage therapy, to do what you can do at home for free?“
I came to the realization that I was wasting my time, but more importantly, I was wasting my clients’ time and their precious money on supposes marriage therapy.
A new approach to marriage therapy
So in that year, I radically changed my approach to marriage therapy and relationship counseling, and the results have been nothing short of fantastic.
Just 30 days ago, a couple contacted me after using four other therapists to try to save their relationship, and when I met with them one time together, which is my limit, I told them that I would only be working with them this one time together but from then on I’d be working with each of them one on one so that we could figure out what their individual challenges are, and as I told that couple in 1996, I can help you to take care of your shortcomings, your fears and insecurities at the same time strengthen your strengths in the marriage.
This most recent couple looked at me and said “thank God! Every counselor or therapist we have used for marriage therapy has done the same thing, had us sit in their office, while my husband and I acted out, yelled and put each other down for the entire session. We knew it was a waste of time, but we had no idea that anyone did marriage counseling different until we found David.
What a blessing, we have seen in 30 days more improvement in our relationship than we did in six years doing the traditional marriage counseling work.“
A formula to helping couples to either stay together
So here is the formula that I created in 1996, and I share this openly today with other therapists and counselors, that they can borrow and use if they want to become even more effective in helping couples to either stay together or to amicably split and end the relationship.
The first session, if both people are interested in doing counseling, I try to do it together. On the phone, Skype or in my Florida office. But if only one of the couple wants to work with me, then I obviously just begin with one.
About 80% of my client base I work with via phone and Skype because we have clients from all over the USA, Canada actually from almost every country in the world.
In this first session I get a chance to see how they interact, if they’re respectful or if they disrespect each other but that’s all I need, one session and I can get to the bottom of so many issues, just by watching them interact, but to continue to meet with both of them on a weekly basis on the phone or Skype or in person is an absolute waste of time.
And the reason? Like I said above, couples can argue for free at home, don’t pay a damn counselor or therapist to do what you can do at home for free.
After the initial session of marriage therapy where I work with the couple together, I then split them up and work with them individually for a minimal of 4 to 8 weeks, once a week for an hour, to help them get really clear about what their own personal challenges are in the relationship.
As I share with everyone, if I can help each person to begin healing their challenges, insecurities, and resentments, the marriage or relationship will naturally start to flow back together.
At the end of four or eight individual sessions, if a couple is interested and if I think it could be beneficial at all, I might bring them back for one more session together, where the three of us would interact during this one hour.
But that is rare. I’ll admit, it’s rare that I ever bring the couples back together.
I have found since 1996, that most couples can heal without having to be with me together, and they can heal faster than if we trudge along allowing them to argue and fight during the session. An absolute waste of time. Pure insanity.
They are free to say whatever is on their mind
The other extremely important benefit of working with couples individually is that they are free to say whatever is on their mind, they’re free, to be honest, vulnerable, and share with me information that they may not feel comfortable sharing in front of their partner, because it will simply lead to another fight.
So this is what I recommend:
To marriage therapists and counselors. Drop the old way we were taught in school, immediately! Quit wasting your time and your clients time and money by forcing them to sit together when the relationship is in chaos and drama.
For every potential client reading this article, when you’re choosing a counselor and/or therapist make sure you choose one that uses the program we created in 1996, and if they don’t ask them if they will.
You can easily just explain to them, that you don’t want to pay them money to sit in their office and argue when you can do that at home for free.
And if your counselor and or therapist disagrees with you? That answer is easy. Leave them immediately, and continue your search until you find someone who’s willing to work with new information, new data, and a new program for helping couples to heal.
Now not every couple that I work with heals, but I still use the same system that I created years ago, even if I’m helping them to separate with respect.
Do marriage counselors ever suggest divorce?
Marriage counselors guide you to bring things to the front, that will help you take the right decision. They do not take the course of action for you.
In my opinion, marriage therapy and or relationship counseling isn’t always meant to be done to save relationships, in all honesty, some relationships should not be saved. That always calls for the question, “Do you have to go through marriage counseling before getting a divorce?” Well, for spouses who are on the edge of separation or divorce, marriage counseling can be a good way to know if they have a chance at saving the marriage or if it is headed for an imminent breakdown.
So, what’s the success rate of marriage counseling
I am so happy to share this new way of marriage therapy in this article, because our success from 1996 to today has been so much more powerful when we switched and got away from the ridiculous marriage counseling techniques that we’ve learned years ago, into something new, relevant and logical.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More By David Essel