PSYSSA 2019 Practice Guidelines

Does marriage counselling really work?

Therapists have described Marriage counselling as being similar to piloting a helicopter do a hurricane. This leaves us to ask the question: does marriage counselling still work? 


The traditional approach where a therapist will sitting in a room talking with both spouses is only making the problems worse. This is prone to cause distrust with at least one of the Spouses. It can make them believe that you as a marriage counsellor are sided with the other.


Another approach has been seen by many experts as much more effective.  is where the Counselor would use a combination of individual therapy and couples therapy. This lets the counsellor get a much better perspective on both spouses points-of-view. It changes their role from hostage negotiator to Messenger. There are many factors that can influence each spouse’s thought processes and perspective, especially in our country. These factors can include class, race, gender and culture. This makes it especially important and difficult for the therapist to have an incredibly good perspective. 


One of the most difficult couples to deal with is the mixed agenda couple. This is where one of the spouses wants to break up but the other one doesn’t necessarily want to. In this case, it’s left up to the counsellor to try and figure out if the couple has come to try to stay together or to break up.


 There are many different reasons why a couple would have to go for marriage counselling. All of these reasons, in turn, would require different approaches. It is very important that you do your research and get a competent marriage counsellor.


While it has been proven to work for many people, If the couple doesn’t want to stay together, their marriage is doomed to fail. The reverse is also true of course. If a couple is devoted to each other and determined to stay together, it becomes much more likely for their marriage to succeed and get through difficult times in one piece.


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Health Professions Council of South Africa:
Registration number PS 0057843

Board of Healthcare Funders:
Practice number 0580635

Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA)

International Association of Applied Psychology

International Psychology Network