When Couples Therapy Doesn't Work


When Couples Therapy Doesn't Work
Where do you turn when therapy fails to fix your relationship?

In the face of looming problems that range from abuse, blending families, to who does the chores, couples are encouraged to seek couples therapy. Yet, what happens when therapy fails to address the problems in a relationship. What options are left?

At the age of 42 with two children in elementary school, Mary Ann Lowry was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition. Lowry explains her husband had a hard time coming to terms with her illness. "He frequently used verbal abuse to try to convince me to be healthy," she says. "The therapists tried to help him see that sickness, death, pain…are part of life. He couldn't come to terms with my physical limitations and despite their best efforts the therapists weren't able to break through the hard core resistance to accepting my health situation.  When I finally had to leave work and go out on full disability, he was not able to support the decision."


Despite the money, time and effort spent in counseling trying to work on their marriage, it failed. Lowry and her husband went to individual and couples counseling on and off for 11 years and still the marriage ended.

I.G. Frederick went through a similar situation. "I signed on for couples counseling thinking it could help repair a 20-year relationship. Instead, it convinced me that my marriage was irreparably broken." Frederick explains, "I have learned that our choice of counselors may not have been the best—I found out she's Courtney Love's mother and has been divorced three or four times herself."

Irina Baranov of the Council for Relationships has seen several examples where therapy didn't work for a couple. While there are many reasons, Baranov points to a five key elements that make it difficult for success in therapy.

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