Do Marriage Counselors Do
More HARM Than Good?

Willard Harley, Jr., Ph.D. a Licensed Psychologist and author of, His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage (selling over a million copies) spent years as a frustrated part-time marriage counselor with little success in helping couples.

He discovered he was not alone in his failure to save marriages -- almost everyone in the marital therapy profession were also failing. Note how he looks around at his fellow professionals success rate in stopping divorce and realizes something…

“In my effort to overcome failure, I made a crucial discovery: I wasn't the only one failing to help couples. Almost everyone else working with me in the clinic was failing as well! My supervisor was failing, the director of the clinic was failing, and so were the other marriage counselors that worked with me.

And then I made the most astonishing discovery of all: Most of the marital experts in America were also failing. It was very difficult to find anyone willing to admit their failure, but when I had access to actual cases, I couldn't find any therapist who could prove their own success or train others to be successful in saving marriages.

In fact, I learned that marital therapy had the lowest success rate of any form of therapy - in one study, I read that less than 25% of those surveyed felt that marriage counseling had helped. A higher percentage felt that counseling had done more harm than good."

According to Dr. Harley, most marriage counseling is HAZARDOUS, not helpful to your marriage. Therapy-based American style marriage counseling (practiced by most marriage counselors) can actually do more HARM than good in your marriage.

All hope is NOT lost however.

There ARE more effective alternatives to marriage counseling – they are SO effective in fact that even professional marriage counselors are admitting that couples need marriage education more than they do marriage therapy.

In June of ’99, USA Today reported that...Even fans of marital counseling are saying disturbing things. Research shows that it doesn't work as well as we once thought and that it might not last."

That report reinforced the research that shows a great majority of those conducting couples therapy have had no formal training at all. Perhaps what’s even more shocking is the fact that therapists who actually work with couples are in the minority.

"80% Of All Private Practice Marriage Counselors in the U.S. Say they Conduct Marriage Therapy...

... Yet Only 12% Are in a Profession that Requires them to Take Even ONE Course on Dealing With Couples."

If you ask marriage counselors about their approach, the vast majority will tell you that they find working with individuals more "productive" than working with couples.

“Couples therapy is the most difficult therapy of all because every session starts with the threat of divorce.” Dr. William J. Doherty.

Doherty talks about four ways that Marriage Counselors have produced DESTRUCTIVE outcomes in marriages, important, since Doherty's trains marriage counselors for a living.

Four ways marriage counselors do more HARM than good in marriages:

By being incompetent
2) By being neutral
3) By pathologizing (telling you why your marriage is ‘sick’)
4) By being overtly undermining (attempting to break up the marriage).

Incompetent: In the case of incompetent marriage counselors, the counselor has not been trained to work with couples together. They believe that working with two people is an expanded version of working with one, but it is not.

An individual is easy to listen to, but a battling couple is not. Working with couples requires skill, structure and a very different approach than one-on-one therapy.

Neutral: These marriage counselors, Doherty claims, are not neutral about marriage at all. When a counselor appears to be neutral, but actually takes sides with the more self-oriented spouse, they are undermining the marriage.

“When a counselor uses the language of individual self interests it under cuts the moral commitment that is owed to the marriage.” Doherty states.

Pathologizing: Pathologizing is when marriage counselors build a case insisting that the couple has a ‘sick’ relationship.

They actually ENCOURAGE couples to get a divorce.

They say things like, "Why should you hang in there? Why be a victim?”

These marriage counselors make the couple believe that they are being abused, which causes both husband and wife to draw their only conclusion: “If the professional thinks this is over, then I should too.”

Undermining: While telling couples what they should do is against the code of ethics of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, many therapists still do it.

These therapists say phrases such as “You should probably end this marriage.” Or “If you are going to stay sane, you should move out.” Undermining therapists urge husbands and wives to sever their relationships with family members and spouses.

If you’re looking for a good marriage counselor, Doherty urges you to ask questions a FIRST.

Learn about the therapists’ values by asking questions like these:

1. Are you self taught, workshop-trained or college educated in working with couples?

Bad Answer: College educated.

Good Answer: Self taught or workshop trained and speaks convincingly about how the program saves marriages.

2. What is your attitude about saving a troubled marriage vs. helping a couple break up?

Bad Answer: “It’s not my decision. Couples have to make their own decision.” This is an evasive answer and not a good sign.

Good Answer: I am in the business of finding ways for couples to stay together and helping them understand and deal with problems.
3.Where do you stand when one partner wants to stay and the other wants to divorce?

Bad Answer: “I try to get people to understand their own feelings.” This is a focus on the individual, not the couple.

Good Answer: “This is normally what I see with most couples. I have ways to help them both handle this in positive ways.”

4. What percentage of your practice involved both husband and wife?

Bad Answer: “I find working with husbands or wives individually is more practical.”

Good Answer: “All of it. When both people are with me and following my process, I find they have the greatest success.”

5. Of all the couples you treat, what percentage stays married and has a better relationship in the end?

Bad Answer: “100%.” Or “I don’t keep that type of information.”

Good Answer: “About 70% to 80% stay married happily, while the rest drop out of my process and are unwilling to finish.”

The difference in the answers you receive from marriage counselors is the feeling you get when you talk to them over the phone. Bad answers feel evasive and vague. Good answers are confident and positive.


After saving my own miserable marriage and being happily married now for over 36 years, I’ve since devoted my life to helping couples save their marriages using a program called the Environment Changer program. The Environment Changer program is your SHORTCUT to winning your spouse's heart back again (and avoiding making things worse).

At the core of this program is the little-known skill of eliminating your negative feelings in 60 seconds. This allows students of this program to genuinely feel POSITIVE and calm no matter WHAT their spouse does or says.

If you've tried other things like marriage counseling, books or courses, but nothing has helped, it's not because it's hopeless.

It's because you don't have the right skills.

If you've been trying to act happy around your spouse to avoid making things worse, you may see some slight improvement, but if you don't GENUINELY have complete control over your emotions, it's just all too easy to "lose it" and set yourself back in all the progress you've made.

And every time this happens, you confirm your spouse's worst fear -

"Is this temporary? Is this a bait and switch? Is it only a matter of time until things go back to the way they used to be?"

If you've been supressing your negative emotions with willpower, sooner or later you will give in. Why? It's exhausting to do this. You need something much more powerful than willpower alone if you want to eliminate your negative feelings in 60 seconds.

To find out more about what this program can do for you and see how it has impacted other couples, visit my site where you can learn how to stop your divorce and win back your spouse's heart again.