marriage counseling is a total crock. it's all about catering to the woman and trying to force the man to conform to her "needs"
Experiences will vary. Back before I got married, my wife and I received counseling from an older couple in our church working in the marriage ministry. While this is not "professional" counseling, I think what happened to us is very explanatory of the perceived usefulness (or uselessness) of professional counseling.
In a nutshell, the couple agreed with me on most things and it really pissed off my future wife. Not only did she discount all of their advice and labeled it as useless, but also, she accused me of vilifying her. To me, the lesson seemed pretty clear:
If a counselor takes a side, and the person on the opposite side isn't receptive to the idea that he or she is wrong (at least in part), it will lead to his or her discounting of the advice. If furthermore, the person on the opposite side disagrees with how his or her spouse represented the marital conflict to guide the counselor's opinion, it will lead to the premise of vilification.
If both husband and wife go into counseling with the right attitude (both people accepting some culpability), if they both believe the counseling will help (are ready to work and think the marriage is salvageable), and if the counselor is not overly partial to either husband or wife, I think counseling can actually be helpful. But only under these conditions, few of which are known a priori.
My wife and I just went to a preliminary session with a "professional" counselor, and I'm predicting doom. The wife is already signaling she doesn't think she needs counseling and I'm the one mostly at fault; she's already is fierce disagreement with my perspective of our conflict; and she's labeling me (in advance) as a vilifying wretched man (her words are less harsh, but idea is the same). Oh, and she hates the counselor.
For apparent reasons, I predict utter failure, and I assume given the wife's state most MC would result in the same. If people don't have the right attitudes going in, failure is almost guaranteed. But MC is not a complete waste of money. Anyone who goes reaps benefits in the long-term, should their marriage crash and burn. It's a check in the box of "I tried".