Psychological Self-Help

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who are talking therapists, are excellent. In many clinics, the MA-level
social workers are assigned most of the marriage counseling cases, so
they sometimes (but not always) have lots of experience. Discipline is
important but not as important as experience and reputation. 
There is an old but still relevant book focusing specifically on
helping couples find professional help (Koch & Koch, 1976). Get
recommendations of therapists from several people--your family
physician (tactfully letting him/her know you don't need a MD), your
minister, your lawyer, a local Mental Health Center, Psychology
Department, or from other people with experience. Select one who is
well recommended and try out the therapist for a session or two. If
either you or your spouse has doubts, try another therapist until you
both are satisfied. At the first session, find out about the counselor's
training and level of experience with your kind of problem. Don't
hesitate to ask all the questions you want. In a later stage of
counseling when you are deeply involved in telling your stories and,
hopefully, starting to gain some understanding, it is very inefficient to
switch to another therapist. In fact, if you become very dissatisfied
with the therapy after 4 or 5 sessions, don't just drop out. Instead,
matter-of-factly confront the therapist with your concern or complaint,
e.g. that he/she seems biased in favor of your spouse, that there
seems to be no progress and the therapist doesn't seem to be doing
much, that the focus isn't on the main problems as you see it, that you
have negative feelings towards the counselor, etc. These are not
uncommon feelings in marital therapy (even when progress is being
made) and it is often to your advantage to work them out rather than
leave therapy prematurely. Important topics often offend or upset us
but must be faced. Of course, if you are wasting your time, get
another therapist. 
 
Coping with Divorce
For hundreds of years in Europe, marriage and divorce were
religious matters, not civil matters. This meant, as it does today in the
Catholic Church, that there was almost no way to get a divorce. Only
130 years ago, divorce became a civil matter to be handled by the
courts in England and the U.S. Very few divorces were granted initially
by the courts; a spouse had to be proven to be "at fault," i.e. guilty of
adultery or extreme cruelty. Gradually, more grounds for divorce were
added, but someone still had to be at fault. In the 1920's, there was
one divorce granted for every 7 marriages; recently, there has been
one divorce granted for every two marriages. Starting in 1970 in
California, several states have adopted "no fault" divorce laws
permitting anyone to get a divorce who wants one (if they pay the
court and lawyer's fees). Thus, only in the last 25 years have there
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