Now Offering Online & Office Counseling

Don't know what his job was

by Bill
(Tennessee)

My wife & I went through "couples counseling" when we lived in Louisville, KY back in the mid 1980's. Guy called himself a "pastoral counselor" even had a degree in that field from the local Seminary.

My wife went to see this "counselor" twice. After the 2nd session she came home and told me "He said he thinks we have theological differences and he'd like to help us work them out. That should have been my 1st clue that this was not going to end well. But I said I'd go with her next time.

When we get there his 1st question is "What brings you here?" And I'm thinking you should know this already, you wanted me to come here to work on our "theological differences" me & the wife have." This should have been my 2nd clue.So I go along and say: "She came home after her last appointment with you and said you think we have theological differences and you want to help us with them. So I'm here for that"

His next question is "Tell me about yourself."
"What do you want to know?" I ask.
"Just whatever you want to tell me." is his response. Now I'm thinking: "I believe I told you something about myself when I asked my question." Namely that I need a starting point, a road map, some direction to go in.

So I start with a physical description of myself: height, weight, age, birthdate, place of birth, parents, siblings. Stuff like that.
And I still don't know what direction to go in.

In the several months we saw him together we never once talked about "theological differences". I believe it was a ploy to get me in the office.
I told him
once the I felt he was on my wife's side on any issue we talked about. His response was "It's not that I'm on her side or your side. It's that I'm on the side of the marriage." Two or 3 weeks later he says: "If there aren't some changes made the only solution I see is divorce." He repeated this line the following week. Great way to be on the "side of the marriage:.

To this day, whenever I think back on this time I still have no clue what this Seminary graduate with a Doctorate Degree in Pastoral Counseling job was. Or even whet he believed it to be. He wasn't a facilitator - didn't try to move the conversations along. He didn't give advise or instruction. He never asked us for release forms to contact the counselors we were seeing individually. He wasn't even a good referee - often he'd just sit and listen to us argue.
In a similar situation today, after about 3 to 5 sessions I'd be asking if there was someone else in the organization I could talk to or someone he could refer me to.

My wife's estimation was that our anger was so great that he didn't know how to deal with it. She said this after he told us hw has this one client whose anger made our anger look like child's play.

He may have been a great individual counselor: And I have to give him great leeway on that assumption based on the times he and I talked individually. But he couldn't couples counsel his way out of a wet paper bag.

I fully believe he had no clue how to do his job. Whatever he thought that job to be.

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to horror stories.

If you would like to receive the Couples Guide Newsletter containing articles on relationships, please sign up below.


Visit  The Relationship Forum  to get and give advice on your relationship issues.

If you're struggling with your relationship, this is the place to talk about it!
Our counselors will answer your questions.
And you, our readers, can offer advice from your experience.


"You gave us counseling without making either one of us feel that you were taking sides.
You always maintained your impartiality with us. You encouraged Rita to be more assertive in stating what she wanted to get from your counseling sessions, as well as what she wanted to get from the relationship.
You taught both of us better communication between ourselves, which lead to an emotional comfort level between us that didn't exist before.
You took control of the direction of the session if things were not moving along.
Thanks so much
for helping us."

Rita and Mark

Eugene Kayser, MA, MFT's profile on the Gottman Referral Network