I am asked on a daily basis what it is I do. I explain that I am a certified relationship specialist and I teach comprehensive skills for building great relationships. Then I am met with a silent stare. I realize this look of "why is this important" leaves me explaining in detail the difference between marriage counseling versus marriage coaching and why one approach is successful over the other.
If you, like many others, are curious about the difference in marriage counseling versus marriage coaching I have outlined here how I came to be a marriage coach and how my success rate of saving marriages shot through the roof.
When my own marriage was in trouble counselors were telling us we would just be better off getting a divorce. No one seemed interested in teaching us to STOP FIGHTING!
In fact, what I learned later was teaching couples anything is often frowned upon by many counselors. They are of the opinion that the role of a counselor is to help couples gain insight, make their own decisions, and take responsibility for those decisions. This way, the counselor is off the hook for failing to do what he or she has been hired to do -- save your marriage! They can't be held responsible for being ill-equipped to do what they are being paid to do. Of course, since many counselors don't have an effective plan to save a marriage they should tell clients that they don't really know what they are doing... but this is not the case.
When I decided to take matters into my own hands and become a relationship coach, marital satisfaction was one of the many personal objectives I tried to help people achieve in my earlier days. Couples would come to me on the verge of divorce, and I would try to steer them toward a happy marriage. My problem, at first, was that I did not have an effective structured program to offer -- even when they did what I suggested, almost all the couples I tried to help eventually divorced! So I took courses and read existing books and articles about strategies for improving marriage.
But much to my disappointment, the courses, books and articles did not offer me a plan that even tried to improve marriages. Much of what I learned was to help couples make the most of their upcoming and inevitable divorce! There was almost a deliberate effort to demonstrate that the couple should never have married in the first place, and that divorce was their best choice for future happiness and fulfillment.
What I Discovered
When I finally came to the realization that marriages could not be saved by this popular approach to marriage counseling, I broke ranks and started to create my own program based on lots of research into human relatedness and behavioral change. Much of what I learned about saving marriages came from trial and error. Then the most effective approaches were fine-tuned many times.
Why My Approach Works
When a couple first comes to my office, one of my goals is to help each individual identify their actions and behaviors that are sabotaging the relationship. That's where my job as a relationship coach begins -- to motivate couples to see that no progress can be made until EACH ONE of them recognizes and makes an effort to change their behavior.
As a relationship coach, I teach couples how to express "true" feelings and needs and motivate them to take each other's feelings/needs into account with every decision they make. Eventually they learn to protect each other from their old destructive behavior, because they condition themselves to get into the habit of being kind and thoughtful instead.
Historically, marriage counseling doesn't begin with a structured program or plan, nor does it try to motivate couples to look at their own behavior that is causing the demise of the marriage. But relationship coaching does. That's why it succeeds where marriage counseling fails.