Many times I’ve seen Non-BPs mention that couples counseling doesn’t really work for them. One member of an Internet support list I used to be a member of posted a message about his BP “snowing” the couple’s therapist. In fact, just about every message (of hundreds) was about this subject. Clearly, Non-BPs are upset about the dynamics of couple’s counseling and feel that they get “dumped on” by the BP. The Nons end of feeling blamed for everything. When this subject came up in the ATSTP group recently, I turned to a knowledgeable member about this subject. She posted the following message (which I’ve edited slightly because I wanted to remove any reference to others in the group). BTW, I don’t normally repost messages from the group here on my public blog – I only do so when the message contains as much wisdom as this one does, doesn’t contain any identifyable “marks” and is not “personal” in nature.
Well, my experience has been that marital counseling doesn’t really help
much when a BP is involved, because counselors really don’t understand the
dynamics of BPD. While their goal is to promote better communication
between partners, they tend to focus on resolving the complaints.
Of course, BPs have LOTS of complaints (which
really are not the problem), so nons just end up feeling attacked… even by
the counselor at times. When counselors do this, it tends to validate the
BPs feeling that their nons really are the problem. It sometimes even
leaves the non feeling like he/she really is the problem.
I suspect you may want to continue this “counseling” approach, since it is
SOMETHING your BP has agreed to. If so, my suggestion would be for you to
be as honest as possible with the counselor about YOUR FEELINGS. Don’t
waste your time (and money) defending against your BPs accusations and don’t
point fingers back. (This only makes you look bad to the counselor… like
you never let your BP talk or express himself… ha!, I know!) Simply ASK
for advice on how to communicate better (since that is the goal of the
counselor to get you communicating with one another.) Try the suggestion a
few times, and if it doesn’t work, then you can come back the following
session and express your disappointment and confusion about why it isn’t
working. Eventually, after enough times of doing this, your counselor will
(hopefully) recognize that he/she cannot help you and will refer you to
someone more qualified in emotionally focused therapy.
My only comment on this statement – which is wonderful IMO – is the idea that the complaints are “not really the problem.” If those complaints are not really the problem, what is? Well, I believe it is that the BP FEELS bad (negative emotions) and judged (so they judge back). I think if someone who DOES understand the dynamics of BPD works with a couple, the therapist can hopefully deal with the real issue: the painful emotions.
If you are facing some marital issues that you want to address before they get out of control, you should try Couples Retreat Wisconsin, as the experience is significantly different from the traditional counseling sessions.