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When would a therapist recommend a divorce to a client?

Many Sacramento couples who are considering a divorce will first consult a therapist for advice. Do such counselors ever recommend divorce? The answer, according to a recent study, is both surprising and unclear.

Most therapists will go to great lengths to avoid giving specific advice on whether a divorce is a good idea. Even though a couple may disagree sharply in the therapist's office, the therapist will try to avoid direct advice and instead try to help the couple reach an independent decision. Most therapists try very hard to avoid even subtle suggestions about whether a struggling couple should end their marriage. Most therapists will attempt to direct the couple to consider emotional understanding and behavioral modification that may save the marriage.

Even when a therapist senses that the couple's marriage may be finished, the goal is to direct the couple to consider the values that brought them together. Therapists also try to focus their clients on the sacrifices that may be necessary to keep them together. This process often looks at communication strategies and potential marriage-saving sacrifices. The one issue that will almost always lead a therapist to recommend divorce is evidence of physical abuse. Therapists have an ethical duty to broach the subject of divorce if they detect physical abuse in the relationship.

Couples who are struggling with the question of whether to end their marriage may look at a therapist as little more than a neutral referee who brokers their disputes. That attitude can be wasteful and hurtful. Instead, a therapist should be viewed as someone who is trained to consider and evaluate all aspects of a relationship without taking sides. Even people who have retained attorneys in anticipation of ultimately ending their marriages may wish to ask their lawyer about how a therapist can help save a marriage instead of ending it.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Do Couples Therapists Ever Suggest Divorce?," Brittany Wong, April 2, 2018

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