I am a Marriage Friendly Therapist!
Because of their professional training, many therapists hold a "neutral" value orientation towards whether a marriage survives or whether the couple divorces. In fact, this is the most common stance even among therapists who identify themselves as marriage and family therapists. In a national survey of over 1,000 marriage and family therapists, over 60 percent indicated that they are "neutral" on marriage versus divorce for their clients. Only one-third said they "I am committed to preserving marriage and avoiding divorce whenever possible." Disturbingly, 2.4% said they frequently recommend divorce. (You can contact me for the citation for this peer reviewed journal article.) The bottom line: most therapists are neutral when marriages are in trouble, whereas I aim to directly support the viability of troubled marriages. This is a big difference, and it’s why I use the term "marriage friendly."
Because relationship problems are the main problem people bring to individual therapists, individual therapists are treating marriages whether or not they realize it. Unless the therapist has values that support marriage and is careful not to turn the non-present partner into a villain, individual therapy can undermine a marriage. Every experienced marriage therapist has heard these stories: a spouse goes into individual therapy, receives support for a one-sided view of the marriage problems, and becomes increasingly pessimistic about the marriage. The therapist then questions why the person stays in an obviously bad marriage. The other spouse is clueless that the marriage is unraveling in therapy, and is not informed until it’s too late. These therapists do not intend harm, but often their orientation is to the personal happiness of their individual client who is distressed in a marriage, without enough regard for the welfare of the other spouse and the children—and for the lifelong commitment that the client once made to the marriage for "better and worse." Sadly, it is not uncommon for therapists to recommend divorce after a few individual sessions without a real assessment of the marriage and its possibilities for survival and renewal.