chapter  Eight
Couple therapy—social engineering or psychological treatment?
ByAndrew Balfour
Pages 14

In the 1930s the Marriage Guidance Council was born from the British Social Hygiene Council, and in earlier years couple therapy was more explicitly linked to social engineering than mental health. Couple therapy tends to fall between the two stools of adult and child mental health. Couple therapy is often seen as an outsider, without a natural place among the psychological therapies. Couple therapy is the modality that historically has been vulnerable to being associated with promoting a particular socio-political agenda—"nuclear family values" one might say, but is often outside the mainstream, with no natural home in current service provision, most consistently found in the voluntary sector. In the UK, it has mostly developed outside the statutory services, chiefly in the voluntary sector. Social engineering itself has tended to have a bad press, understandably perhaps, given that its most famous exponents have included Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot.