The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.

I can reveal a bit more than my husband Shlomo can (therapist) about what’s REALLY going on behind the scenes in the therapy world as the wife of a therapist and not having the limitations of being one myself.

It’s so wonderful that we are in a world where talking about mental health and therapy is no longer taboo! I wouldn’t want us to go back to that place as a society. Yet there are certain effects that I feel everyone should know about as it has an impact on what is most precious to us!

I speak not only as the wife of a marriage counselor but as an adult child of divorce that went through its own share of parental alienation and loads drama back in the 80s where it felt like my parents divorce was the first in our small out of town community. More on that later 🙂


Because I’m heavily involved in working with therapists through networking and therapy trainings and also get to work with couples (which I love!!) alongside my husband in our Getting the Love You Want™ couples weekend workshops, I get to see a little bit more of what goes on behind the scenes of the therapy world.


Here’s what I’m seeing in the world of working with couples and therapists.

Therapists often counsel couples but have no specialized expertise in working with couples. In most states it is not mandatory to get any training in couples work. Any graduate of social work school can say they see couples along with kids, families, and individuals with 0 experience or training. This is like going to your tax attorney to represent you in criminal court.

– Because insurance requires diagnosis codes, therapists feel the pressure to provide a diagnosis for their client. This is almost like an invitation to fail for a couple coming in for help where a diagnosis of one partner sows seeds of doubt and is often the beginning of the end. Once those seeds are planted its hard to get rid of them.

-On top of that, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual which is the reference manual of disorders gets updated from time to time and for whatever reason, some things that used to be seen as a problem are no longer seen as an issue. This has very much to do with what society now views as moral/immoral.

– Individual therapy operates from an individual paradigm. The best couples work operates from a relational paradigm. In the Individual paradigm the therapist needs to look out for their individual client. In a relationship, the individual paradigm is destructive. For example, a wife brings up her husband’s recent behavior to her therapist. As it’s one person sharing from her individual perspective, the therapist becomes alarmed at hearing what sounds like abusive behaviors.

They talk about this together and all of a sudden the wife thinks her husband is abusive and is thinking of ending the marriage. The therapist never watched the dynamic of the two, never met the husband, and poof a family is about to be destroyed. This individual paradigm is also seeping it’s way into friendly advice, coaching, and even pastor/rabbinic advice. No one is saying that someone should stay in a dangerous and unsafe marriage. But this happens more often than not. We’ve been able to bring couples healthily back from this place through the relational paradigm.

Couples that each have their own individual therapist have a harder time succeeding in couples therapy. They come together to couples therapy, make progress, and then go back to hearing doubts about their spouse from someone who is seeing them through the individual paradigm. It’s counterproductive. Ideally, the couple works in a connected and healing way that deals with both of their respective pasts, not only healing the relationship but also the two selves at the same time; turning towards each other and using the opportunity of their conflict to be the driving force in their healing process.

–  All kinds of people are fighting to save their marriage- no one particular segment of the population seems to value their marriage over another. We work with non-religious couples as well as all religious sectors, and everyone who reaches out to us highly values their relationship!

Stay tuned for a follow-up article and let me know just how behind, behind the scenes you want to go! There’s always more 🙂

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If you need help with your marriage, don’t hesitate to reach out! Talk with us to gain some clarity about your unique situation. Read more about our approach to counseling at intensive retreats here and reach out. 

Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact or