The approach to the problems of marriage and family life is often exceedingly difficult. The men and women who come to us seeking counsel and guidance are as a rule disturbed, distressed, and bewildered. Most of these
men and women hope for and even expect a confirmation of their own opinion and position in the case, and they are disappointed when we venture to disagree or disapprove.

The young men and women who come for counsel appreciate to some degree the legal, economic, and biological aspects of marriage. These are subjects that have come within the range of their experience and that they are able to understand. But not all young people realize today the importance of the psychological factors in marriage.

Many of us are inclined from time to time to act as opportunists, to deal with conditions and situations as they arise from day to day or from visit to visit or from conference to conference.
The truth is that it takes time and patience to plan out a program of work for a day or a week or a month; and we know that unless we plan out with care and foresight, we shall waste time and we may fail to achieve our objective. In marriage and family counseling the plan of care or social treatment requires not only time and patience but full knowledge of the
facts, severe training in methods, and extended experience with men and women.

The scope and purpose of social treatment that we accept derive in part from the social philosophy in which we believe but more from the social program that we daily translate into social practice. If we believe in the
principle of competition, we shall adopt one program of social treatment; if we believe in the cooperative principle of social organization, we shall proceed with another plan of social treatment.

Many men and women believe in the sacredness of the human personality as a matter of principle, but in practice they are ready to subordinate and even to sacrifice the individual to the interests of the State. These concepts and practices undoubtedly determine the degree to which we are willing to assist people in distress and the manner in which we operate.

A study of marriage and family counseling centers in the United States at the present time reveals many differences in the form of organization, in methods of administration, in the composition and equipment of the staff, and in the program of service. This is what one would expect. For marriage and family counseling is still in the first stage of its development. In every community there have always been men and women who have been sought out by others and who have given what advice and guidance they could as a result of their experience and understanding of life.

The problems, however, are seldom simple; they are as a rule complex. The distress is due not to one but to a number of factors.