This requires a recognition on the part of the counselor when a situation is beyond his professional skill and competence. It also requires the possession of a sense of professional security with respect to what the marriage counselor is as well as what he is not equipped to do, so that he will not feel that resorting to other professional skills would be considered an admission of incompetence. Failure to recognize his natural limitations may do incalculable harm to the counselee and may bring discredit upon the counselor. This applies especially to the use of medical, psychiatric, and legal assistance as soon as the need for such assistance becomes evident.
There is probably no single phase of the counseling procedure in which counselors differ as greatly as in the degree of their activity and permissiveness. The counselor must bear in mind that the interview serves several purposes, including that of providing a catharsis for the counselee. This is likely to be nullified if the counselee is not given the opportunity and encouraged to talk freely and fully. Besides, if the counselor does too much talking he may stop the counselee from presenting his story in the most telling way, may give the narrative a different and false direction which in turn may mislead both counselor and client.
Here is another area in which counselors differ greatly. It is impossible to say what the correct procedure would be in a given case because it will depend upon the situation and the personalities involved. This, however, may be said with a fair degree of certainty; those plans are best which emanate from the counselee under helpful guidance and suitable stimulation. Furthermore, the counselee is much more likely to identify himself with and execute a plan which he, himself, has made than to participate in a plan which stems from the counselor, regardless of how intelligent and logical it may be.
Many people who accept the view that compromise is necessary in marriage have a tendency to set rigid and arbitrary standards and limits as to how far they will go in compromising. It is essential to remember that an unyielding attitude or a mechanical and fixed set of rules in what should be a fluid and easy relationship, may lead to disastrous results and that the art of adjustment lies in knowing when to yield and when not to yield. Give-and-take in marriage is a desirable ideal, but it is sometimes better and wiser to give all or take all. The goal should be a flexible arrangement which will take into consideration the values involved in the issue and the personalities, rather than a hard and fast line which is adhered to regardless of the consequence.