Marriage Counseling: A Christian Approach to Counseling Couples (Paperback) by Everrett L. Worthington

In writing a critical evaluation of this book, positive and negative features were found. Dr. Worthington’s basic philosophy was that marriage counseling should allow couples to draw closer to Christ as well as eradicating the “presenting problems” (174). His book, however, did not illustrate how a counselor was to draw a couple closer to God if both spouses were non-Christians.Dr. Worthington’s subscription for forgiveness seemed more appropriate in building intimacy: “Read scripture and pray together,” “Share information with spouse,” “Share meals together,” “affirm commitment to each other,” and “incorporate rituals” (58). Even though Dr. Worthington had no evidence to make such a claim, he stated, “bitterness is often revealed in diseases of the body” (154). It seemed farfetched to believe that people who complained of a stiff neck were actually rebellious, or that a person who suffered from back pain was being “nagged” by someone.

Dr. Worthington’s suggestion for couples to reenact an argument, reverse roles, and then redo the original reenactment was insightful. He predicted that people would grow tired of replaying the event multiple times, thus reducing hostile feelings and yielding “improvement” in the area of conflict (281). Dr. Worthington pointed out that a simple assignment such as having the couple read a book aloud together could result in either building intimacy or causing additional conflict, which is why he subscribes to a three-session assessment.

The last chapter of the book was devoted to “professional commitment,” however Dr. Worthington did a poor job in conveying the magnitude of responsibility bestowed upon counselors. He urged people to “examine yourself seriously to determine your competency,” but he never suggested that counselors examine their hearts to see if it is aligned with God. He neglected to mention that daily self-examination was critical in providing Christ-centered intervention. Instead of “What would Jesus do,” counselors should ask, “What can Jesus Christ do through me?” and “How can I align myself to be more like Jesus?”

Overall, the book is a good marriage counseling “handbook” since it offered useful counseling tips, especially in the areas of joining, assessing, goal setting, and changing behaviors. Although the book was written for “professionals” in the counseling field, Dr. Worthington refrained from the overuse of “technical” words. His conscientious effort to keep the book informative yet practical made the book fairly easy to read. From a Christian standpoint, he did an excellent job in incorporating Christian principles into the traditional method of counseling. Every pastor or Christian counselor ought to read this book because it provides a detailed “blue print” of how to conduct marriage counseling. Even if one does not intend to counsel married couples, this book would enhance one’s understanding of communication patterns and distancing behaviors.

Copyright © 2007 M. Teresa Trascritti

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