"My now ex and I were told to break up about a half hour into our first couples therapy session. Of course we didn't listen. She also tried to get us to call a pet psychic who could read our dog's minds over the phone for $100 an hour. So..."
"My friend went in couples therapy for some girl he was dating. Dating, not engaged or married. She sucked. She wanted him to sign over his car, so she could 'trust' him (a Ferrari). She installed a tracker app on his phone. 'What were you doing at Joe's Tavern at 9 pm, you said you were home at 8:30?' She also put a listening device in his house. She got those tentacles in deep. Luckily, they've been officially broken up for a while and I'm certain they won't be getting back together."
"I have seen couples in therapy for many, many years. I learned early on that the problem is usually an interaction effect. As I tell people, it's like bleach and ammonia - two excellent things that simply become toxic when mixed together.
Years ago in addiction treatment, we had the coke addict husband and the wife who really didn't want him to recover because the coke meant $10K income per month (early 1980's). Who's the problem?
We have the cheater and the spouse who hasn't wanted to sleep with their spouse for 10 years. Who's the problem? Who created that distance, who perpetuated it? What happened to create this schism?
We have the one-income household and the spouse who had no idea this called for a 1950s lifestyle where the stay-at-home took care of the household responsibilities like kids, cooking, and cleaning. They never negotiated what their one-income household would look like. Who's the problem?
To answer your question, I would say I can pick out the 'problem' person perhaps 20% of the time. Usually, it is truly an interaction effect, two people who simply do horribly as a couple. Sometimes I can see very clearly that one person is over It. There's nothing anyone can do to save this relationship.
Most of the time, I can see what broke in the couple. I would say it is rarely one person's fault. I definitely tell the truth to the couple as to what I am seeing, fully aware that I am a new visitor to their life, fully aware that I could be totally wrong.
Usually what I have in my office is two people wanting to be heard."
"I was considering marrying my long-time girlfriend, but she insisted there were issues we needed to address in couples counseling before she could consider it (second marriage for both of us). We went and she laid out a series of ridiculous complaints, such as what I did in her dreams and sometimes I might be five minutes early or five minutes late when I said I was going to meet her (who can plan around that much uncertainty!). Therapist looked incredulous, but suggested we could work on these issues if my girlfriend might be open to changes as well as me. She wanted none of that and two weeks later, she announced that we were breaking up.
I had no idea how much crazy I was dealing with until she talked to the therapist, and even then I tried to make it work (denial is a powerful force). I dodged a bullet because of that therapy session."
"My significant other is a therapist that specializes in working with teenagers. Reports say that in cases where a parent brings a child to therapy with serious issues (substance abuse, school performance, or interpersonal issues), 95% of the time the problems are caused and/or exacerbated by poor parenting."
"Pretty often one person is the problem - but the other person is the issue. The issue is communicating, acceptance, or indecision.
For example, one spouse is lazy and a lout and the other person has had to deal with it and grown resentful. A lazy lout after 15 years will never be significantly different to you or erase the frustration you have. You being angry about that won't stop them from being what they are."
"A number of years ago, my wife and I were having some pretty serious issues. We were on the edge of divorce and we finally agreed to couples counseling.
We had four sessions, one together, one where we each talked to the therapist alone, then another with the two of us.
Right off the bat on the fourth session, the therapist sat us down, looked at my wife and said something I couldn't believe.