Marriage encounter casualties: A preliminary investigation

William J. Doherty, Brian J. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


The purpose of this exploratory study was to investigate the relationship between participation in Marriage Encounter, the largest marriage enrichment program in the world, and subsequent marital or family distress. Analyzing 13 case reports from seven marital therapists, the authors suggest that Marriage Encounter weekends can cause marital or family deterioration for some couples through increased marital conflict, avoidance of constructive problem solving, or marital enmeshment at the expense of children. It appears that the most harmful aspect of the Marriage Encounter experience is its induction of intense couple-centered communication, leading to emotional overload in some couples. The authors offer several recommendations intended to lower the risks associated with participation in Marriage Encounter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Family Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1982

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