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University develops collaborative approach to couples counseling

A professor at a large northern university has proposed a piece of legislation titled the, "Second Chances Act." He says it was written as a way to help reduce the number of unnecessary divorces. He is also the director of a university project called "Couples on the Brink." His hope is to create an approach to marriage counseling that focuses on keeping couples together, rather than allowing them to throw up their hands in defeat, or listening to friends and relatives who keep telling them to "divorce the loser."

In addition, he co-found The National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists who have a pro-marriage approach to couples counseling, rather than a marriage-neutral approach. The list includes counselors who start out sessions recognizing that they are going to try to save the marriage, rather than place blame. The assumption is that couples who seek counseling probably still believe somewhere that there is a chance the marriage can survive.

But, sometimes one partner is trying to save the marriage and one is just placating the other while looking for the door. He considers those folks "mixed-agenda couples" and has created a new revolutionary approach to counseling called "discernment counseling." This in-depth look at the couple's relationship helps each party take a long, hard look at their goals and expectations for the marriage.

Either way, this type of counseling allows couples to work toward reconciliation or actually divorce amicably and collaboratively, making the best decisions for their family and children including custody and visitation schedules. It even allows some couples the space to just enjoy a little rest stop before deciding which path to take.

Source: Deseret News, "Marital counseling helpful, at right time, with right counselor," Sara Israilsen-Hartley, July 15, 2012

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