Not necessarily. Most couples probably don't know that there is a long-standing debate among practitioners over whether therapists should actively try to save a marriage or whether they should remain neutral and treat the couple as two individuals for whom divorce possibly could be the best outcome.
William Doherty, a veteran marriage and family therapist at the University of Minnesota, is among those who take the marriage-saving view. He believes therapists have been too neutral, particularly since the 1970s, and have focused on the individual. He blames the period for the trend that he believes has rendered therapists so neutral that they are sabotaging marriages.
He also is among those who say that too many therapists aren't sufficiently trained to counsel couples and that the profession isn't regulated consistently, so consumers don't really know what they are getting.
So this week, Doherty is launching a therapist-finder registry called the National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists (www.marriagefriendlytherapists.com). It is designed to weed out those whose skills don't meet his standards. And his list will include only therapists who sign a values statement supporting marriage and vowing to seek consultation if the therapist believes the couple is moving toward a premature divorce.
"The registry is about training and competence and about values, because most couples assume the therapist is pro-marriage, but many therapists feel they have to be neutral," he says. "The values thing comes into play when there seems to be a discrepancy between somebody's personal happiness and their commitment to the marriage."
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