It is generally a misnomer that the primary job of a counselor is to give advice and be a relationship advisor. Some say counselors should never give direct advice, while we believe it is an advanced skill to be used with caution. After all, you are the experts of your own life, and you have to live with the consequences. Couples counseling is more directive and counselor-led than traditional individual counseling, however.
Aren’t Marriage Counselors Experts Who Should be Able to Tell You What to Do?
That doesn’t mean a marriage counselor shouldn’t help guide you and give you the tools to make the best decisions. Sometimes advice is needed if you are in a state where you cannot make decisions, but that should be used with caution. For instance, we do not directly tell people that they should get a divorce. We can tell you if what you have is unhealthy. We can tell you how couples in other situations usually fare. However, we can’t make a decision for you that could impact your children, your finances, your home, and your relationship. Even Julie Gottman points out that she doesn’t know for sure how any relationship will fare over the long run. The Gottman’s may be able to make predictions with high levels of accuracy, but they do not know anything for certain. Many people worry that a relationship advisor will tell them to get a divorce by going to couples counseling. That is not a worry at Cardinal Point Counseling.
We can, however, guide you toward meeting your shared relationship goals or developing shared relationship goals. Evidence-based methods from the Gottman Method or Emotionally Focused Therapy can help you understand and work on your goals. You might be advised what to work on or communicate more effectively. You might be advised that some of your individual or collective behavior is generally not beneficial toward meeting your relationship goals. You might be advised what homework assignments to work on or what to practice in a therapy session.
A relationship advisor is often found more by reading blogs (like this one) and articles on marriage. These mediums have value, but remember that any one-size-fits-all advice may not fit you. The couple’s counselor does need to be a leader, however. If you come to counseling and have the same fights you have at home, you can just do this for free at home. It is for this reason that marriage counselors need to occasionally take charge of the conversation.
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