I am appalled by The Post's front-page story ''Therapists Rethink Attitudes on Divorce'' {Jan. 29}. The article implies that the mental health community believes couples are to blame for not putting more effort into their marriages, for divorcing too easily. This anti-divorce backlash blames the victim and takes a simplistic approach to a complex situation.

The Post story reads as if all divorces are the same. This is as ridiculous as the idea that all marriages are the same. The statistics used in the article do not differentiate between the effects of poverty, abuse, parental conflict, alcohol and drugs and divorce. Nor does the article differentiate sufficiently between those children who do well after divorce and those who do not.

Abstract discussions of the divorce rate and the problems of children after their parents divorce are not helpful. We do not know what would have happened to these particular children if their parents had stayed together. I often see adults in therapy who wish their parents had divorced rather than continue active or passive hostilities. As a therapist, I have seen a lot of ''messed-up'' adults who grew up in an ''intact'' family.

Divorce is difficult for everyone, including children. The ideal for children (as for most adults) is a functional and relatively harmonious two-parent family. However, not all couples are able to build such a family. Most couples go through an agonizing period of trying to resolve their marital problems -- often without sufficient help -- and they take years to make a decision to divorce. It is true some couples could work harder at developing a successful marriage. Why don't they? For some, the reason is exhaustion: a lack of resources and a lack of hope. Other couples believe they should be able to fix the marriage themselves and lack the knowledge of other options. In any case, making divorce harder or stigmatizing it is not the way to hold families together.

During the past 20 years, our society has increased the help available to separated and divorced families. Twenty years ago, divorce counseling was unheard of. Until 1969, when California became the first state to institute no-fault divorce laws, one spouse had to prove the other was at fault to get a divorce -- creating havoc within the family. Up until 10 years ago, the legal system did nothing if child support was not paid. Fortunately, our society has increased the help available to separated and divorced families in that time. It would be folly to go back to the way it was.

The greater problem is that as a society, we teach children more about fighting than negotiating, more about shopping than about relationships. Strong families breed strong families. What are we doing as a society to help strengthen families? EMILY M. BROWN Arlington