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Some form of counseling "is significantly more effective than no treatment," according to one 2005 analysis of 30 studies.

Effective relationship counseling encourages people to stop avoiding their conflicts and helps them communicate constructively, University of California–Los Angeles researchers found in 2012, in a study that established five "common principles of couple therapy," including "increasing constructive communication" and "eliciting emotion-based, avoided, private behavior." Increasing amounts of talk about "emotion-based" and "private behavior"? There were well over 700 reality shows on cable TV alone last year, and though they share common elements, how they are actually produced behind the scenes varies as much as the individual people working on each show.

Has reality TV been demonstrating some healthy relationship strategies, along with its pulpy pleasures, all along?

, whose 20-season run has spawned an array of copycats that riff on its core structure—one person, often a suitor who is emotionally fragile or hyper-competitive, choosing from a pool of potential mates.

They might pull her aside, she says, and say something like, "What are you going to do to show him you're sorry?

She says involved outsiders aways impact a relationship—often, in positive ways.On , for instance, participants agree to marry and move in with a complete stranger in front of nearly a million viewers, according to season one finale ratings.But maybe reality-show contestants have something figured out the rest of us don't.Shortly after marrying a complete stranger in a small hotel conference room, Jamie Otis excused herself, walked to an empty hallway, and slid down the wall.She pulled her wedding veil across her face and cried, still holding a bouquet of yellow and white flowers.

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