Feedback in Marriage Counseling Reduces Divorce Rate Significantly – Study Shows

Incorporating feedback, or responses from therapy clients, into psychotherapy sessions, has been shown to have a dramatically positive effect on the success of recovery and healing. But such studies have not included instances of marriage counseling, providing the inspiration for a new study aimed at determining whether feedback has an influence on treatment for relationships.

The ambitious research project, which was performed with an extensive group of couples in Norway, focused on incorporating four simple feedback questions into the beginning of each therapy session. The questions were based on reported thoughts and feelings about how each individual client felt in individual, interpersonal, social, and overall bases. With these responses in mind, therapy sessions then proceeded to either address reported issues and change the direction of the therapy itself, or continue down the prescribed path in instances of satisfaction with progress. The therapists participating in the study were also given training in order to help them adapt therapy styles and subjects according to the changing needs of their clients.

As a result of this feedback, therapy sessions were able to work with progress as it happened, rather than pick a direction and hope for the best until the full treatment had been carried out. The results of the study highlighted the potential for the implementation of a simple feedback system to dramatically improve therapy results: Those couples who used feedback as part of their sessions reported an over 40% decrease in rates of divorce and separation than the control group six months after therapy, and were also significantly more likely to report relationship satisfaction. The findings may help feedback systems become more prevalent in a broader range of therapy types and situations.

Reference:

Medical News Today. (2009, August 4). Therapy technique cuts divorce/separation rate by nearly 50 percent. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/159655.php

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Dr Pendleton

    Dr Pendleton

    August 8th, 2009 at 6:01 AM

    thanks for the important news GT…i always incorporate feedback, but I had no idea it could produce such positive results in marriage counseling..thanks to for including the link so I can read the study and review their feedback model. you guys are great…keep up the good work!!

  • Fletcher

    Fletcher

    August 8th, 2009 at 6:51 AM

    For more indepth information on the Outcome Rating Scale (ORS) you can download this PDF, The Outcome Rating Scale: A Preliminary Study on the Reliability, Validity and Feasibility of a Brief Visual Analog Measure by Scott D. Miller PhD and Barry L. Duncan PhD et al. Results and implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.

    The Outcome Rating Scale: A Preliminary Study on the Reliability, Validity and Feasibility of a Brief Visual Analog Measure (PDF)

  • Francis W.

    Francis W.

    August 8th, 2009 at 9:10 AM

    When a therapist neglects to ask for feedback, how can they know when and if a couple in marriage counseling feel progress is being made? Their own assessment is important too as well as the professional one. Knowing which way the wind is blowing guides you on when to adjust the sails.

  • VictoriaL.

    VictoriaL.

    August 9th, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    Some couples attend marriage counseling because they can’t communicate with each other. Feedback at the end of a session has to help them gain an insight into how their spouse feels the counseling is going too.Partners or one of them might not want to discuss the counseling session outwith the therapist’s space.

  • Yolanda

    Yolanda

    August 9th, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    Counseling only works when they are both wanting to go. If the husband or wife is against it what’s the point? I asked my ex to go with me and he laughed in my face. Nothing wrong with him he said. Yeah right LOL. There wouldn’t have been a box big enough for his feedback and it would have all been cussing.

  • Dionne S.

    Dionne S.

    August 9th, 2009 at 5:36 PM

    I don’t agree you would have to miss out because your partner won’t go Yolanda. When he or she’s not wanting to even go once and see what happens, you go alone and take care of you. I would recommend going to therapy alone and looking after yourself as a priority.

  • Craig H

    Craig H

    August 9th, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    Not many men think of going to therapy as a good day out. We need prodded enough to do it. Having to give feedback as well would be another hurdle.

    Ronald Nathan has an article here on Good Therapy. It’s good.
    How to Get a Man to go to Therapy

  • Bethany

    Bethany

    August 10th, 2009 at 5:00 PM

    Does this type of therapy mean that it is driven and guided by the therapist rather tan the couple? I know that when my husband and I went through couples counseling it was very much baout what we wanted to talk about for the day and that was how the session went. I am not sure that I would like having a pre determined set of talking points if you will because there might be days when I just really need to get something totally different off of my chest. I do think that it would be great to have therapist feedback at the end of the seeion to kind of give you a hint as to how someone else may be hearing what you have to say and how things could easily be misconstrued by your spouse or partner.

  • Holly

    Holly

    August 15th, 2009 at 1:28 PM

    My husband is adamantly against going to marriage counseling of any kind. Is there anything that I can do to change his mind?

  • Dionne S.

    Dionne S.

    August 15th, 2009 at 5:39 PM

    It didn’t read as the therapist being in the driving seat to me, Bethany. It’s at the beginning of the session. Would that not make it more like a “how are we today?”. The questions are very simple and at the end of the pdf Fletcher linked to.

  • Gabriel

    Gabriel

    August 15th, 2009 at 6:21 PM

    Who’s going to answer honestly in front of their spouse and be heard? I’d have to gag mine to get a word in if I started saying how I felt. She would be telling me and the therapist I don’t. How does a counselor prevent that? This is why I wouldn’t go to couples counseling. She would humiliate me. She doesn’t know me anymore.

  • advice for divorce

    advice for divorce

    September 24th, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    Marriage counselling works as long as both people are willing to work on the marriage. If one person is committed and the other is not then it’s a futile effort.

  • LaVinia

    LaVinia

    March 21st, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    Counseling is an excellent help whether the spouse will attend also or not. Therapists are trained to allow both people to speak fairly and can see through more than you think of the other person’s “tendencies” or accusations. It is very worth the time and money given to it. I am a different person than I used to be and my kids especially are very grateful. They speak of a before and after Mom. They all prefer the after.
    All we know is what we know until we are shown a different way to live and think. Of course therpist very in their talents as any profession does. Listen and learn. It IS worth it.

  • Julia S

    Julia S

    September 5th, 2014 at 1:16 AM

    Yes,I agree with the blogger as I think there are some benefits if you are taking the helping hands of the therapists.Opting for any kind of professional help,always assure a better life.

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