If you’ve done much marriage counseling, you’ve probably experienced “problem-focused” counseling. This is where you go to counseling, talk about a problem and return the following week to rehash the same problem. Or, perhaps you’ve encountered another problem and focus instead on that problem.

This is, sadly, a common approach to counseling. You go into the counselor’s office and it goes something like this:

“Tell me how your week has gone.” You proceed to do just that and since you’re there because of problems in your marriage, you share the problem of the week. You fight before counseling, during counseling and often after counseling. This is no fun!

The Problem with Focusing on the Problem

The problem with this approach is that the focus is on the problem rather than the solution, making it unlikely that you’ll learn any new skills. You feel discouraged and stuck in the same patterns. Problem-focused counseling tends to leave clients feeling frustrated, with a tendency to drop out quickly.

What if you had time to share the history of your problem so that you felt fully heard and understood AND could focus on replacing old, dysfunctional patterns with new, solution-focused skills?

In our approach to counseling at the Marriage Recovery Center, we focus on Solution-Based Counseling:

  • Your Story

    We listen to our clients tell their story, how they got to where they are today, identifying troubling patterns, but then teach new skills that will connect them to each other.

  • New Skills

    We teach them how to identify troubling patterns and replace them with new skills. The focus is on new skills, forward thinking.

  • Problem Solving

    We also teach couples how to effectively problem-solve. We encourage couples to ask questions such as, “What would you like different from me right now?” and “How might I listen better to you?”

  • Your Marriage Identity

    We also ask, “What do you want your marriage to be known for, your marriage values, and what do you need to do to bring those into the center of your relationship?” Asked in this way, couples are more inclined to offer helpful suggestions, be future, solution-focused and strive to have healthier interactions.

 Solution Based Results

By taking an approach the focuses on solutions, couples learn how to:

  • Be Fully Present

    They learn to empathize with one another and validate the other’s experience.

  • Listen Well

    They hear and encourage each other, and can anticipate problems.  They can hear the concern their mate brings to them even before they fully say it.

  • Affirm Each Other

    They “catch their mate doing it right,” rather than criticizing each other. They affirm each other when they appreciate their mate’s actions. This, of course, prompts their mate to do those affirming actions even more.

Taking the Next Step

So, if you are tired of talking about “problems, problems, problems,” and rehearsing the fight of the week, seek a therapist who focuses on solutions instead of problems. Find someone who teaches new skills and then holds you accountable for learning them and putting them into practice.

If you would like a complimentary copy of our helpful manual, Getting to the Core, contact us today to get your copy. Or you can call our Client Care team to learn more about our solution-based services at 206.219.0145.