Natural interest on the part of both professional and lay persons

There is a natural interest on the part of both professional and lay persons in knowing how those wanting help with a marriage situation get to a marriage counselor. This is of practical importance to the troubled individual as well as to the counselor or marriage counseling service. A review of the sources of referral in these forty-one cases shows a wide dispersion. In some 40 per cent, they came from professional agencies, from physicians, lawyers, teachers, courts, and a county medical society; in another 40 per cent, from educational sources such as college classes, magazine articles, books, and other communication media; and in the remaining 20 per cent, from self-knowledge, former clients, friends, and relatives.

Counseling with One or Both Partners : Should the same counselor see both partners? This was considered dynamically important in the counseling process. It appears that in the practice of marriage counseling, when an individual or a couple comes with a marital problem, the marriage is regarded as the patient, and every effort is made to see both partners. When both are available, it is also apparently deemed best for the same counselor to work with both partners. Although both partners often avail themselves of counseling, every marriage counselor is undoubtedly familiar with situations in which one partner seeks help and the other is not interested or refuses to co-operate. Under such conditions, the counselor can still focus on the marriage and serve the client constructively even though the situation is not ideal.

In certain instances in addition to counseling with both partners, it is necessary and helpful to interview other persons connected with the case in order to obtain adequate information and perspective about the situation.

Joint Interview : Another point is concerned with the value and dangers of joint interviews with both partners. It was pointed out that joint counseling can become a valuable technique but that it should be used with utmost care. There will be times when the counselor will wish to bring two or more individuals in the constellation together for a conference with him. Such a conference usually takes place after the counselor feels that he has a good understanding of the various facts in the marital problem and is in a position to begin to approach it therapeutically.... In a discordant marital relationship there are painful areas which the marital partners either have shied away from entirely or have found impossible to discuss without acrimony. From his neutral vantage point the counselor is able to direct the discussion to those areas.... With his previously gained understanding of the inner state of each partner, the counselor skillfully asks leading questions first of one partner, then of the other, in a way to open up these silent areas and to create a new communication between the two. This may have great therapeutic impact."

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