Marriage counseling is based in the field of psychology, but most people who seek marriage counseling are not mentally ill. Most couples who need help in their relationship would benefit from an alternative to marriage counseling. Relationship coaching is brief, and focuses on communication skills.
Psychotherapy started with the work of Dr. Sigmund Freud who began treating medical conditions by looking at how thoughts and emotions affected physical health. To this day psychotherapy is designed to treat mental illness. What if you are not psychotic, schizophrenic, or suicidal? The majority of clients seen for marriage counseling are no psychotic or mentally ill.
This awareness that working with families and couples is not the same as working with the mentally disturbed has started new terms like marriage counselor or marital therapist. But these ideas are still too closely tied to treatment. Other new ideas have also sprung up such as life coach and marriage education which have moved us even further from the medical model.
With the rise of the computer age, let me suggest a new more meaningful term; relationship coach. We have all experienced at times the need for phone technical support. The support we receive is problem focused and brief, while hopefully picking up some new skills along the way. It is typically one call and the issue is handled.
The goal of relationship coaching is to provide our clients with the kind of technical support they need to address the relationship issues and conflict in their lives with the same brief format. The best part is that support can now be provided over the phone. A person can call individually or with a partner.
No blame, no analysis, no psychobabble, just the structure and skills you need to say everything that needs to be said and to hear everything that needs to be heard. Relationship coaching offers an alternative to marriage counseling for people who are not mentally ill; they just need a little support communicating.