Saturday, August 2, 2014

Why I Won't Do Marriage Counseling

The Therapist's Office....
***Warning****Depressing! ****WARNING**** 

I've chosen to go into the field of forensic pscyhe - criminal psychology.

Let me give you a brief rundown of things, mental illness aside - which is so prevalent in criminal cases - people do what they do in criminal cases because: they want to.

Factors, needs and influences aside, the reason people commit crimes is because: they want to.

I'm by no means an expert criminal counselor - I'm fairly new to the field - however I do have a few strengths that put me very far ahead in the field that you can't pick up in any classroom: people trust me, and we build rapport together. 

I'm not saying I'd be their first pick of people to talk to, but since talking with the psychologist is mandatory in a hospital or prison setting, the fact that we can build a therapeutic alliance is a major bonus for them, and for me professionally.   Patients can hate you.  And they can work to destroy your life and career.  So!  It is better that they like you. Or at least not hate you.

Criminal psyche?  It can be depressing.  You deal with some dark stuff.  Most of the time its dealing with thinking errors and helping people overcome psychosis and delusions and engage in treatment.

Every now and then we head into the dark stuff and have to deal with the details of a crime and pin someone down to fess up that they actually did do it, get them to describe how they did it, and find out why they wanted to.  That's when I have to go outside for a walk afterwards - but otherwise, it isn't usually that way, though that lurks in the background.

Now you might think that marriage and family counseling would be a better bet.  Nope.  I dabbled in that a bit over this past week and I've decided...I never want to do it again.


Criminals?  They know what they want (or at least think they do) and they go for it and damn the consequences and collateral damage on the way.  When they start blaming people, is when they don't get what they want, or they blame people for them "having to" get what they want at all costs.  But either way, they go for it.

Divorce?  Now I know many of you out there are divorced or are in an unhappy relationship - so if you feel like this is pointed at you - take a step back.  You might learn something.

That's part of the problem in marriage counseling is the partners are both quite defensive, both are looking to feel validated, and if the counselor says something to one or the other, it is either ignoring the one and vindicating the other, or visa versa.   Usually the counselor is seen and used as a pawn in the relationship by the couple to harm the other or justify their point of view.  And the case with so many couples, not all, is that one member seriously wants to save the relationship, the other is only going because they are expected to be there and just passing time. 

And why I never want to do marriage counseling.  You think criminal psyche is sick?  I deal with them after they've been arrested.  Try sitting in a room with two people who profess to love each other but are really in the act of committing a crime in your office against each other, leading each other on, and trying to get a professional to slam their spouse just to gain emotional satisfaction out of the proceedings.

And in all situations, one person is more than likely to be doing something worse than the other.  One often has a higher profile....issue (e.g. alcoholism) and the other spouse often has the mentality that because they aren't an alcoholic, they are doing absolutely, zero, zip, nothing wrong in the relationship and it is entirely the fault of the other spouse.  They are above the relationship!  The relationship is beneath them!  Go back to what was said above about them looking to vindicate themselves and use the therapist to do it.  Often, they aren't ready for criticisms or anything that sounds like criticisms, and come into the therapy setting, defenses high and expecting unrealistic outcomes - be they unrealistically high or simply pessimistic.  One may think that because they are being emotionally abused they are justified in doing whatever they want to "survive" can see how much of a mess this can be.  It is appropriate to point out that for some reason, the....lesser-guilty? spouse picked the abusive spouse.  So clearly there is a need for recognizance on both parties parts.  Neither of them is in a relationship all by themselves, and both are affecting and affected by the relationship.  But when you're sitting in a room with them both...good luck pointing that out.  Not only that, the "Well what he did is worse!" argument is most likely to be true in many cases, but...does that make other things that are bad....okay?   (The correct answer is one word here and it is "No" and yet millions of people struggle with that reality which is why they are in the office in the first place.)

However, there is a question that I really like when it comes to sorting things out though as you get to know a couple and that is: How did you two meet?

Often the question its self is therapeutic as it is the first time, often, they've thought about those times when they loved each other before things got complicated.

At any rate, going back to what I was saying earlier, criminal psychology or marriage counseling?  At least my criminal patients aren't in the act of committing the crime that is causing them problems against their victim right in the therapist's office.  And I don't have to worry about my feedback to my patient being used to inflate the ego of my other patients thereby harming them.

I would rather work with my patients one-on-one and keep there from being more victims in the future rather than sit in a setting where they commit the very crime that brought them in, in the first place, or be used myself as an accessory to their crime as they continue to try to hurt each other while professing to want to fix it.

I have heard it said by the general authorities "any righteous man can be married to any righteous woman" and I believe it.  And unfortunately, the lack of righteousness is, in many cases, the problem.
Now there are people whose relationships are saved by counseling.  ABSOLUTELY!  It can and does help millions of people!  But it just is not my thing and walking forensic psyche's tightrope is tough enough in a group therapy setting, I'm not about to walk into the potential lions den that is so often (not always) marriage counseling. 

Cynical?  Absolutely - but that's why I'm not doing it.

But that's...just me.

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