She Had Stern Words Of Advice
She Had Stern Words Of Advice

My ex-husband was exhibiting signs of a schizo-affective disorder. He was talking in circles, rambling sentences, etc. He'd always been that way and I just figured he was odd but I was so used to it and it felt like my normal. The therapist was worried for the kids and I. So, I ran because she gave me enough evidence. It was the best decision of my life, for the kids' sake. He and I are still good friends a decade later. He agrees that he had a mental break with reality back then, and it was good for everyone that I left."

On A Scale Of 1 To 10...
On A Scale Of 1 To 10...

"I'm not a therapist here, but I'm training to be one.

My professor was a couples therapist for 25 years. She said on the first session, she would take each person in her office separately and ask them, 'On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you want to work on this relationship and stay together?'

She said that she could construct a treatment plan based on where the numbers were relative to each other. So her plan would look different if a couple answered like 8 and 9 than if they looked like 1 and 2. She said the saddest were when it was like 1 and 10 because then it was more about helping that person who was a 10 slowly accept that things weren't going to work out."

Gotta Ask The Hard Question
Gotta Ask The Hard Question

"I never tell them something isn't going to work, but I ask the hard questions at appropriate times. 'Do you want this to work?' 'What needs to change to have the kind of relationship you want to be in?' 'Are you willing to make changes or compromise on some things for the sake of the relationship?'

I've had clients who were obviously heading towards breakup do it during a session. I've told clients when their behavior was abusive. I've had clients who literally would not stop fighting during the session long enough for me to make it through an exercise that illustrates how different perspectives on the same thing doesn't make the other person wrong or a liar. I've had clients that would cancel their session multiple times a month because they had broken up but then reschedule when they were back together within 72 hours.

Basically, the whole premise of therapy is not to tell people what's wrong with them or what they should do, but to help them figure it out on their own."

Positivity Is Key
Positivity Is Key

"In the majority of therapeutic orientations, the goal is to help the clients understand their lives better and give more positive options. One awesome case study I found, of a married couple who had a child, had the phrase: 'I'm not here to save your marriage, I'm here to save your relationship so your child can be cared for.'

Nearly always, if positive behavior is shown, the client will either try to move towards that situation, or they won't and you'll uncover more of the underlying problem. If you find enough of the problem, you get to a solution point or a separation point.

Unless there are serious issues, like physical abuse. Then, the steps are entirely different."

A Guide, Not A Dictator
A Guide, Not A Dictator

"It depends on the situation, but I generally do not tell people to split. I explore the relationship and see if this is the kind of relationship the client likes or wants. We'll then compare and contrast the two relationship types and explore how to either 1) make the relationship fit or 2) change relationships.

The reason it depends? Abusive relationships. They tend to require a different approach. You can't sit and watch your client being beaten while you process through positive and negative relationships. You have to be a little more proactive when safety is involved.

For me, generally, 'This is a bad relationship you don't need' comes after the client identifies the relationship isn't one they need. It's used as a confirmation instead of a demand."

It Was Strangely Vindicating
It Was Strangely Vindicating

"When my ex-wife and I were divorcing, I managed to get one court-mandated counseling session because I wanted to try to work on my relationship with my kids. I did the leaving and there was a bit of Stockholm stuff going on with the kids.

I suppose it was almost sneaky of me, but I was the voice of calmness and reason (or is that just what reasonable people do?) and my ex just did her usual psycho thing.

The most interesting thing of all was the therapist's face.

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