The new issue of the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy is out, and it gives me the rare and happy opportunity to put in a plug for my own work. It includes a couple of surprises.
In a study I coauthored on marriage and family therapists’ attitudes toward marriage, MFTs suffered the same steady, age-related decline in positivity toward marriage previously seen among non-therapists. The big surprise was that experience doing couples therapy more than offset this decline. As therapists gained experience working with couples over the years, they grew more positive about marriage — a strong testament to the power of our field to influence clients and therapists alike.
So, ideally, if you want a supremely marriage-positive therapist, you should find someone who is about 30 years old and has about 40 years of experience.
Other findings in the new JCRT:
- The RELATE test can identify fairly easily those couples at heightened risk of divorce, from the time before they even marry. Once couples are identified as being at-risk, they can be targeted with specific services. Some of the biggest roadblocks to strengthening the at-risk marriage: time and money. Lack of knowledge is a factor too. Score one for the marriage education movement.
- Demand-withdraw cycles of communication in couples are strongly linked with attachment style. Attachment-based therapies may be the best option for couples caught in such cycles. But then, we already knew that.
- Couples with internet access might benefit from specific writing tasks assigned as a part of the therapy. Emphasis here on “might,” as this article is just a proposed process, and not an outcome evaluation.
As an aside, I’ll be spending the rest of the week and the weekend at the AAMFT Annual Conference in Memphis, TN. I look forward to sharing what I learn upon my return to beautiful Los Angeles.