Flexibility and an Open Mind for Marriage Counseling

The counselor should hold himself free from preconceptions as to the cause of the difficulty, should not jump to conclusions, should avoid hasty and unwarranted generalizations, and should scrupulously avoid preconceived and ready solutions. He must be prepared to follow the evidence wherever it will lead him.

Many persons doing marriage and family counseling, especially those who come to it with a definite religious perspective, find it extremely difficult to maintain unbiased and openminded attitudes. The problem of right and wrong is almost always present in such counseling, and the counselor is hard put to it to avoid rendering value judgments and taking sides, particularly where extramarital sex relations are involved or where other ethical and religious values enter into the conflict between husband and wife. Nevertheless, the counselor should eschew such judgments and hold himself free from prejudice, if he desires to win and hold the confidence of his clients and to be of help to them. The counselor should be careful, however, not to give the impression to his counselee that he, the counselor, is lacking in such values for himself. He should be aware of his own cultural and emotional biases and the emotional blocks they may produce.

This may be due to ignorance, reticence, shyness, or initial lack of confidence in the counselor. Or it may be due to a lack of insight and understanding, or to a lack of courage or emotional inability in facing the facts on the part of the counselee. Occasionally, it may be due to an unconscious or even deliberate attempt to mislead the counselor and get him to take sides or identify himself with the counselee. It is important for the counselor to bear this in mind, or he may be misled by the surface situation, making the problem much more difficult of ultimate solution.

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