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Relationship Counseling: Does It Work?

Something for Everyone

The Hendricks's method is not for everyone because it means that each partner has to take 100 percent responsibility for their experience in the relationship. But with the overwhelming number of approaches to relationship counseling available, just about everyone can find one that works for them.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom (Bantam, 1998) and The Wisdom of Menopause (Bantam, 2003), has tried and recommends the Hendricks's approach to relationship counseling. "I am a big fan of marriage," she says. "I think everyone can use a little help with beliefs and behaviors when it comes to relationships." Although divorced, Dr. Northrup advocates doing all you can to make your marriage work, unless it's a physically, psychologically or emotionally abusive relationship. If so, you need help, not relationship counseling. Organizations such as Family Crisis (1-800-537-6066) are available 24 hours a day.

Dr. Northrup also recommends Michele Weiner-Davis's approach to relationship counseling, along with her book, Getting Through to The Man You Love: The No-Nonsense, No-Nagging Guide For Women (Golden Books Pub. Co., 1999), and Dr. Phil McGraw's approach, which is outlined in his book Relationship Rescue: A Seven-Step Strategy for Reconnecting With Your Partner (Hyperion, 2000).

Weiner-Davis, an internationally renowned relationship expert and psychotherapist, has said that everything a woman needs to know about changing her man can be learned from a good dog-training manual. Weiner-Davis, who only counsels women, teaches skills to help women create the type of relationships they want.

Dr. Phil, a psychologist, takes a more confrontational approach to stopping the "blame cycle" by asking couples to decide to be happy, not right. His seven steps involve: Defining what's "wrong" with you and your relationship; ridding yourself of "wrong" thinking; switching from negative thoughts/behaviors to positive thoughts/behavior; internalizing new personal relationship values; developing a winning "relationship formula"; reconnecting with your partner; and learning to maintain your relationship.

With all the help available today, most experts agree: There's no reason to resign yourself to a bad relationship.