Questions on a Counselor


My dh and I are seeing a marriage counselor. I don't like him, but my dh does. All we have done is fight more since seeing him. My cousin has her doctorate in Psychology and I told her my concerns about this counselor. I did not give details of what is being said, but how this counselor works. She told me he is a counselor that works with the here and now and not the past. I think she called it Cognitive Counseling. I don't think that will work for us. My dh was abused as a child and as a result as a lot of unresolved anger. I got more out of a CD from Catholic Brighthouse Media from a Dr. McDonald, I believe titled Anger and Forgiveness, than this counselor. In this CD, this psychiatrist who is also a Deacon in our Church, talks about an anger that comes from unresolve feelings from the past. He said something in the present triggers something that happened in the past and makes him angry on the love one who is closest to him, in my case me. This is what is happening in our marriage. According to this deacon, this kind of anger can only be helped with psychotherapy and prayer of deliverance from a priest. When I try to tell this counselor that all this "communication exercise" that he wants us to do is not going to work because when my dh gets angry forget it doesn't work, he is not listening. I have begged my dh for another counselor but he said I just want one that is in favor of me and this man is in favor of him and that is why I am unhappy. This counselor is in favor of him. I don't know why, but from day one, he has told me that I am criticizing my dh, when he asked me to tell him what the problems are with our marriage. When I told him that I can't communicate with my dh because at times he becomes irrational, the counselor's response was, "He is the irrational one, not you?" I was so upset. He has no idea what I have been through in my marriage. How dare he? He doesn't know the years of anger and verbal abuse I had to put up with. My dh is much better now and is not like that now, but still has issues with anger and issues of denial of this anger. A priest who we saw us picked up on that, so how can this counselor miss that?

I don't know what to do. We are suppose to see this man again this week, but I tell you, I am really to explode and tell this man that he has dismissed my feelings. He has not listened to me and how can he not think the past is important in the healing of the present? Am I crazy or thinking right?


You can read about CBT here on Wikipedia.

It isn't really possible to get a counselor to change their basic approach. You need to find a counselor whose already existing theoretical basis or foundation is compatible with what you want and need. For example, see here.


[quote="nana3, post:1, topic:209447"]
I don't know what to do. We are suppose to see this man again this week, but I tell you, I am really to explode and tell this man that he has dismissed my feelings. He has not listened to me and how can he not think the past is important in the healing of the present?


Go to your session and tell the man exactly how you feel. Explode if you feel the need. He needs to know what you're thinking in order to be of use to you at all. Say what you said here.



These issues of the past are definitely going to need to be resolved before you can work out a future together. A counselor who only works in the here and now is only going to try and get you to change your behavior without looking at the underlying reasons for your husband’s issues. You might have to start going to a better counselor alone at first. Maybe you should talk to your husband about going to both if it’s possible, the one that he likes and the one that you like.


This is my personal bias so take it for what its worth. I am a very here and now kind of person. So this type of counselor would be right up my ally. I'm not a big believer in stirring up old wounds and reliving painful things as a way to move forward. I'm sorry in advance for anyone who I offend but the whole inner child thing makes my eyes roll. I do completely realize this my own bias and it has developed over time because generally in my own life that is what has worked best for me -and I do also acknowledge that there is more than one way to approach psychological issues and different ways can work equally well.

So...there are bad counselors out there. There are mediocre counselors. And then there are counselors with different styles and approaches -or come from different schools of thought -which can be great counselors but not necessarily the right fit for each individual or each couple.

So first I would tell the counselor you feel he dismisses your feelings. Feelings are feelings, not right or wrong and we are allowed our feelings. Then I would look to see if there is truth to what the counselor is pointing out. Do you behave irrationally? Are you critical of your husband. Do you feel justified in your behaviors (if you actually have them) because of the way your husband behaves or behaved in the past? Someone has to step off the crazy train, may be what your counselor is getting at. If you both react in the same ways that you always have, nothing changes.

You said

He doesn't know the years of anger and verbal abuse I had to put up with. My dh is much better now and is not like that now, but still has issues with anger and issues of denial of this anger.

I am the wife of a recovered alcoholic so I get "the years of x,y &z I had to put up with". But this is not really an issue for your husband to resolve -this is yours. Especially from a Catholic perspective -its working toward forgiveness.

Trust me I went through anger, and bitterness, and resentment -and feeling like I was justified in treating my husband a certain way because of the years of x,y &z. This is a normal reaction. You have unresolved anger (not to say that your husband doesn't either) But there is no time machine, he can not go back and change the past. Your "emotional bank" is in the negative from the years of abuse so each argument, each incident only pushes you further and further into that hole even if things are much better now.

He sees "look at how far I've come why aren't happy?" And your going "are you nuts? Look at all the stuff you put me through, I deserve better -you should be glad I'm still hanging on buddy." Neither perspective is abnormal under the circumstances -but neither puts either of you in a better place.

I think since your husband really favors this counselor maybe seek an individual counselor for yourself. I think you would benefit from someone who can address your need to have your feelings and especially your pain and resentment acknowledged. Maybe after a time you can bring your husband in for a session or two.

In the mean time I would give the counselor a chance and really try his suggestions to see if there is improvement. And it takes practice to change your reaction so give it a some time.


I was married nearly 20 years and my husband was very difficult, and certainly had an anger problem, which was always my fault. He also was successful in work and was a good neighbor with a hand for anyone but not for me. If I asked him for help he got angry. I took the always given advice in my Evangelical Protestant faith to honor and respect him, fruitlessly tried to live in such a way to not make him mad, and basically placated him, but he got worse. But I kept trying on this path which I was told would stir my husband one day to want to be Christlike.

We made a couple of attempts at counseling, when I could rarely talk him into it, both bad for me. I had almost the exact experience you had, with a counselor reccomended to us by our pastor. We had been going for several weekly sessions and things seemed worse, not better, but I was willing to hang in there, thinking the counselor needed time to do whatever it was he did. I remember noticing how unhappy everyone else was who waited in the office for the next appointments, and wondering if he was as useless to them as he was to us. My husband was very relaxed and supremely confident because there was “nothing wrong with him” and anything he accused me of the counselor questioned me on, prodded me to improve upon. All the “correction” was aimed at me. I was so vulnerable because it was so hard to get him to counseling in the first place, and this experience just broke me. So I guess I looked like I needed fixing the most!

At our last appointment there, my husband and I had come separately, he from work and me from home with our son. He was already there, yukking it up with the counselor about hunting. After a time, the counselor turned to me and asked me how my week was. My husband had had a huge blow-up that week I was still unnerved from, and I thought this would be the safe place to talk about it, so I began. Immediately my husband got very, very angry. The counselor looked at me accusingly, and said, “Look at him. He was happy when he came in here. You made him angry.” I was shocked. I may not be a psychologist, but I knew this was bad psychology. And now I knew this man would never help me. So it was a gift. So I never went back.

A few years later, one May, Mary’s month, I stumbled on a book, Verbally Abusive Relationships, How to Recognize them and How to Respond by Patricia Evans. I read it because I was going to ask my husband to go to counseling again, with money I inherited, and I knew that my suggestion it would make him angry and verbally mean, and I wanted to know how to respond to those things, for this predictable instance. Instead, I was in for the shock of my life when Evans described what a verbally abusive relationship was, and how it affects you, and I was reading a perfect description of my married life. I had read a plethera of marriage books, personality books, personality typing books of every sort, Men from Mars, communication books, etc. all in an effort to understand my husband and my marriage. I learned enough to teach a few classes I am sure. But it never really explained things. Now this book out of nowhere explained everything. It was shocking especially because I never considered myself “abused”. But according this really reasonable definition, it was my everyday existence. I was immersed and it was affecting me, and she described everything i was feeling and experiencing. No one ever had.

In the back of the book, she goes on a lot about counseling. (Because when you see the problem laid out, big as it is, you want to get counseling!). She strongly emphasizes that in a VA relationship, marriage counseling does not help and instead usually makes it worse. She explains why, and it makes sense. With most counselors, who do not understand the abuse dynamic, traditional “communication” counseling makes matters worse, and the victim gets blamed.

Well I don’t know if thats your problem. It just sounded so much like what I went through I thought I should share it.

It is interesting that a Catholic Deacon counselor gave the most helpful advice. When I converted, I was still married, but the holy priest I first consulted immediately said, “That’s not a marriage! You can have it annulled!” I rather scandalized; I was not going to divorce. I figured this priest had everything else right but that. Later, two other priests said almost the same thing. The Catholic Church does seem to have a good awareness of the abuse dynamic, I have found.


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