Values Statement of Marriage Friendly Therapists
The Registry seeks therapists who see themselves as supporting couples' original commitment to their marriage unless there is a compelling reason not to. Because this is a complex issue, we do not have one catch phrase to describe this values stance (for example, "pro-marriage" can imply that the therapist wants everyone to marry!). The term "a balanced pro-commitment stance" comes close to capturing our view. "Pro-commitment" suggests that the therapist is not neutral about the outcome of marriage therapy; rather the therapist views preserving a marriage as a desirable outcome to be pursued. "Balanced" suggests that marital commitment is not the only value at stake; some marriages are dangerous to personal well being and sometimes clients have already made an irrevocable decision to divorce.
A requirement for the Registry is that the therapist agrees in principle with the following statement about marriage and the practice of therapy. Affirming this statement indicates agreement with its spirit and overall content; many therapists would use different wording or emphasize certain points more than others. But since couples and referring professionals will be trusting that therapists on the Registry hold certain values about marriage and the practice of therapy, it is important that all registered therapists be on board with the value orientation of the Registry. Over time, we will develop a fuller exposition of the philosophy and rationale for the values statement, and we expect that the values statement will evolve over time as we build a reflective community of therapists and other stakeholders in the Registry.
An important distinction: This statement is framed in professional language, akin to language in an ethics code, and not in clinical language ready for use with clients. Therapists must always adapt their language for specific clients and clinical situations. The decision to share one's values directly in therapy, and how to share them, involves complex judgments. However, a therapist on the Registry who is contacted by a prospective client should be able and willing to articulate something similar to this statement.