Marriage Counseling Opening Communication Between Partners

One of the most useful processes in marriage counseling is to encourage, when it is lacking, fuller and freer communication between the partners. As was pointed out in the discussion of the joint interview, this may in itself have great therapeutic value. At the root of many marital difficulties lies the inability of husband and wife to talk about their problems without great tension and hostility. "We never talk," a wife or husband may say, "we always argue." "It is impossible for us to communicate," a husband comments, "we just knife each other." Changing argument to discussion, changing destructive undermining to the beginning of mutual support, may help a couple to new patterns in the resolving of their conflicts.

A consultation with an understanding, sympathetic, nonjudgmental professional person can, in itself, be a constructive therapeutic measure. It gives an opportunity for the troubled and distraught individual to ventilate his grievances, to discharge his emotions, to free himself from accumulated resentments and hostilities. This is the process of ventilation and catharsis which is a basic part of psychotherapy. How often does a counselor hear the statement after the first interview: "You know, I feel so much better for having talked to you." This "feeling better" may not carry over for long, but it is an indication of the value of the release of emotional tension.

In practically every case presented in this series, emotional support and reassurance was an important part of the counseling process. The objective of the counselor throughout was to build up the ego strength of the counselee, by developing his self-confidence, his ability in handling reality, and by giving him reassurance when indicated. Supportive therapy is a well-recognized aspect of psychotherapy generally, and plays an important role in marriage counseling.

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