is this...right?

I just got a call from my husband that disturbed me greatly. He was crying and near panicked. He has been in therapy for roughly a year dealing with effects of a severely abusive childhood. He is also working on his own emotionally abusive behaviors toward me, and he has only recently opened up to his therapist about those, as he was only recently able to acknowledge them. One behavior pattern he brought up was minimizing/rewriting blatantly negative things he'd done, and then repeating them or actively being angry/abusive if I brought them up.


So apparently today she told him that his behavior was a coping mechanism from his childhood, was ingrained in his personality, and could not be changed even if he wanted to. She further indicated that if we did not divorce, he would just continue hurting me and it would never change. He asked if she could recommend any abuse groups in the area along the lines of that recommended in Lundy Bancroft's books. She told him she didn't think a group like that would help.

Needless to say, this was crushing to him. He was essentially told that the issues he was trying to address were hopeless.

I'm furious. There have been other things I perceived as red flags with this therapist, but didn't say anything at the time because he seemed to feel comfortable with her. For instance, she has advised him multiple times to quit his job, and at one point she insinuated I was cheating on him (I was not and never have) - with her basis being that I was trying to lose weight and had purchased clothing. She has never spoken to me in any way.

I think in particular telling him he literally can't change is beyond the pale. She did not suggest alternate therapists or anything like that. Just basically wrote off his marriage and his life. I'm not familiar with how therapy works in general. Is this as wonky as it seems to me?

Ben's reply:

Yes this sounds wonky. Of course I don't have all the details, but basically, a therapist should have more hope and belief that change is possible, then the client does for himself. If you see your client as incapable of changing then you are not doing your job, or you're simply not the right therapist for that person. If a client reaches the limit of what you can accomplish with one therapist, then they should at least suggest another avenue.

But as his wife, only you can decide what is acceptable or tolerable in your marriage in regards to any hurtful or abusive behavior on his part. If you believe in him and believe in his desire to change, then it is worth looking for other therapists, and choosing carefully.

There are definitely good anger management groups and groups for abusive men that can be quite helpful to many people.

Take Care,
Ben

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